1. Some of Claudia LInk’s shots that Karl showed in the video reminded me of something I noticed just yesterday in much of the beautiful food photography work of Francesco Tonelli––using a background color that is a cooler version of a hero foreground color. It makes the photo unified while simultaneously projecting the hero forward toward the viewer and making the hero seem more scrumptious. That baguette photo by Claudia Link on her site, which I think Karl showed in this video, got me thinking about this use of color temperature. I see three layers in that flat lay. The baguette and parchment on top are the warmest browns. The cutting board they sit against is a cooler brown, and the background wood table is the coolest brown. The hero baguettes are the brightest value and have the finest detail, and are therefore most attention-grabbing (the cutting board stripes and handle mimic the baguettes and support their shape, while all the directions of background textures stop the baguettes from becoming an eye trap)…. but also, their increased warm brown color makes them come the closest to us and creates depth in what is a fairly flat visual space.
    (Im looking, for instance, on Tonelli’s site at a flat-lay shot of white mashed potatoes poised on top of a bed of green asparagus, all on a white plate, which is in turn against an apparently pure white background. The mashed potatoes are a warmer white than the plate, which is, in turn, warmer than the white background.

    It seems like an interesting and subtle trick….using color temperature along with value to bring up the hero?

    1. Another thought. In a landscape painting class, we were taught a common technique of landscape painters of pushing the background color considerably cooler than it actually was. for instance, a fairly green mountain behind a village was pushed into bluer tones than the eye saw it, dramatically increasing the space. I was watching a video on ON1 upgrades this week, and they demonstrated a mask by making the background behind a bird cooler to highlight the bird in the foreground. I suppose I’m just seeing the same trick being used by some of the top food photographers in the much shallower space of a table.

    2. Good commentary and yes anything that creates easier visual absorption is effective, layering, colour temperature change, colour change, textural, lighting and primarily contrast are all part of the tricks you can use.

  2. Marta

    Hi Karl!

    First of all, nobody (unless they’re Polish) can pronounce my family name, so no worries. 😉
    As a former professional cook, I understand precisely what you mean when you say ” it’s overcooked”. Your choice of words couldn’t be better and I find it hilarious.
    I want to specialize in food photography so your feedback here is very much appreciated. I agree with your critique as I’m aware I tend to exaggerate in my editing. I will turn the fire down from now on.

    Many thanks!


    1. Thanks Marta! I’m happy you appreciated the feedback and also are ok with my terrible pronunciation 🙂

  3. Regarding Emily’s shot of pie slices: I disagree with your comments. To me, it looks like a good fresh editorial layout with space for text on the left.

    1. Thank you, APAQ, I appreciate your comment since that was exactly my intention. Usually, my photos are more cropped, but I wanted to do a more editorial-style layout with purposeful negative space. If there was room to describe the concept or envisioned purpose of the image, I would surely have added it. -Emily

  4. Hi Karl

    Thanks for the criticism, but it was not a glass but a small aquarium.

    I wanted to transmit the sense of freshness of sushi coming out of water because sushi is eaten uncooked.

    Well important that the photo is done well.

    PS : If you understood that it was a small aquarium and not a glass the photo might have made sense???

    Thanks in advance

  5. thanks a lot for your comment, Karl on my “pasta on yellow” photo. I’ll definitely improve the balance of the two sides of the image and all the suggestions you gave me. Thanks again, happy to be on this platform.

Leave a Comment