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Winners of The Observer’s first food-photo contest

By Kathleen Purvis
kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com

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You lift your camera before you lift your fork? Me, too.

For a recent column, I went through six months’ worth of food images in my iPhone: Burgers at Johnson’s in Siler City, BLT at Merritt’s in Chapel Hill, Saturday morning breakfast in my kitchen.

Readers enjoyed it so much, we held a contest for your favorite food pictures.

You people certainly do travel: You sent pictures of tapas in Spain, flaming woks in Thailand and barbecue in Texas. You eat at home, too: shrimp cocktail with fresh flowers, cupcakes on a rack, and pizza – lots of pizza.

Bert Fox, the Observer’s director of photography, picked the winner of the grand prize, a $50 restaurant gift certificate. He went with a beautifully composed picture by teacher Julie Ruble, who bakes and shoots for her blog Willow Bird Baking.

Second place goes to Joyce Chandler, Charlotte; third, Morgan Hinton, Charlotte; and honorable mention to Sean Cooper, Concord.

If you’re trying to capture your food, here are my tips:

• Use natural light. If you want to flatter your food, go during the day and get a table near a window.

• Vary the angle. Don’t shoot every plate from a 45-degree angle. Try the occasional bird’s-eye view or vertical.

• Get close. You want people to imagine eating the food, so make sure the food is the biggest thing in the frame.

• White grows. If you use a white plate, make sure the food doesn’t get lost. Look for something – a fork or a sprig of herbs – to interrupt the border.

• Check the background before you shoot. Pay attention to tree branches growing out of people’s heads and tablecloths with distracting patterns.

Don’t clean it up too much. Remember: Martha Stewart always leaves a crumb on the plate.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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