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'Grill It!' photo contest Top 10

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  October 17, 2011 01:04 PM

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By Paul Marotta
Perfect Bokeh Photography

One of the problems with shooting food is lighting. (Well, there are numerous issues, not least of which is NOT judging photos while you’re hungry, but that’s another story!) Aside from the usual issues of color and composition, light presents a significant issue for the photographer because of the deep contrasts between flaming embers and fire and shadows. There must be light in some way, whether natural or flash, but being aware of the light differences can make all the difference in the world.

Photographer Paul Marotta.jpg
Judge Paul Marotta
The difference in f-stops between the flames and the food can be vast. For example, if the grill hood is casting a shadow on the food and the fire is flaring up, the food can be dark or muddy or in deep shadows. Shooting at night or in dark conditions is especially problematic.

Another problem potentially is that sometimes raw meat can appear unappealing to the viewer. Photographers are to be lauded for attempting to shoot a narrow depth of field, but it is important to make sure the subject is foremost in the viewer’s eye.

Oh, and smoke … wow, smoke presents both a huge problem - it can be too prominent - or it can present a terrific opportunity to provide an additional element to the image. In the end, the image has to be well composed and structured, have carefully balanced lighting and color, and above all, make the viewer salivate!

The Top 10 images here conquered most of those challenges, presenting images that are fun and stylish while capturing the essence of the fun of eating and cooking outdoors! The majority of submissions went for close-ups of the food on the grill. That is terrific, but the Top 3 I selected also showed action and movement in some way.

Let’s eat!

FIRST PLACE - $100

ChefAtWork.jpg

"Chef at Work"
by Samuel of Boston

Wow, black and white, a grill-master’s hand at work, high contrast, smoke rising off the burgers … nice. I love black and white, and I think this shot is wonderfully artful.

The composition is terrific; it's well-structured, the sense of action and motion is fabulous, and the black and white conversion is nice with its high-contrast effect.

The smoke rising is as strong an element or character as both the burgers and the hand, yet is not intrusive. And the extremely shallow depth of field at f1.2 is wonderful.

It reminds me of old-school black and white film photographers shooting with Leica cameras and just refusing to shoot in focus because the clarity, in essence, would ruin the moment.

This is terrific - well done!

SECOND PLACE - $50

ThursdayNightGrilling.jpg

"Thursday Night Grilling"
by Lisa Zizza of Quincy

I think this shot captured the moment of flipping a piece of meat and the searing flames shooting up perfectly. The composition and structure is terrific, the movement of the blurred utensil is terrific, and the meat looks delicious!

The only point of detraction, in my view, is that perhaps I would have focused on the meat in the foreground so that it is better in focus. The moving utensil and the flames are going to be blurred no matter what, and having that foreground subject in focus would help the viewers’ eye a bit more. The meat looks fabulous and would have looked even more so!

THIRD PLACE - $25

Shanghai.jpg

"Shanghai-style cookout"
by Mike Cuccarese

I love the journalistic nature of this shot. Outdoor, open market, smoke rising, shot into the light, grill-master hard at work. Well done.

This image has a lot going for it: I can smell the food and virtually be in that moment as a viewer. A shot like this is complex and hard to get just right.

I wonder if shooting around this moment a bit more would help with the composition somewhat. There is a bit too much space at the bottom, and it seems to me there could be room to skew the angle even a bit more and center the grill-master as opposed to having him at the top of the image. Shoot something similar again if you can.


Congratulations to all of our grillers and photographers. Here are the rest of the winners:

TOP 10 GALLERY OF 'GRILL IT' CONTEST WINNERS


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