Shooting Challenge: Food Porn

It's better than food. It's food porn. Like a 20 year old sucked of fat and stuffed with silicone, it's food idealized into something reality can never be. And it's this week's Shooting Challenge.

The Challenge

Take a photo of food porn. Make it a hyperbolic, magazine-cover-worthy creation. (Let's pass on Instagram-like filters this week.) Remember our Thanksgiving challenge? That was emotional—that was lovemaking. That has no place here. We want food porn.

The Technique

So here's the deal: We're allowing any cheats you want in terms of the food itself. In other words, not everything on the plate needs to be edible (you can use glue for milk, for instance). That said, there are a few tricks of the trade. I love this list, which includes gems like fake ice cubes, even though it lacks photos. Serious Eats has some good ideas. And in terms of an overall tutorial, check this out. I love its tips on capturing steam, especially. The thing is, there are a lot of ways to go with this. You may want to use lights. You may want to use natural light (maybe with a reflector to fill in the dark spots).

Some people claim you should never use directional light on food, but then again, this video I embedded here, of Francesc Guillamet's photography of Ferran Adriàs dishes pretty much proves that ideology wrong. So as with all other photography, put your own voice into it, but it's probably best to get the basics down before challenging the movement.

The Example

Shooting Challenge: Food Porn

Our lead shot is from Zach Slootsky from our original food challenge (turned sideways for our lead). Here's the description: "8 Bigmacs. Two SB-800 speedlights and on-camera flash (nikon CLS kicks ass) Nikon D80 I think at 1/125 f/5.6. Fast enough to shoot hand-held before it would tip over. The macs are skewered with two wooden kebab skewers to a piece of plasticine (unfortunately visible). Some photoshop curves and black and white mixing."

The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to contests@gizmodo.com, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.

Send your best photo by Monday, July 16th at at 10AM Eastern to contests@gizmodo.com with "Food" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameFood.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameFoodWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.