Tuttele https://tuttele.com Enrich your life with bookshop. Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:33:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 We Drive the Wild Toyota C-HR R-Tuned! https://tuttele.com/we-drive-the-wild-toyota-c-hr-r-tuned/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:32:15 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2986 A great deal of care has gone into creating and maintaining this Toyota C-HR R-Tuned, a one-off, race-tuned special first exhibited at the 2017 SEMA show. Multicolored paint marks are on almost every bolt head, and there’s a log of cylinder-leak-down test results written atop the thick, aluminum radiator. Tastefully modified body panels fit snugly, unsightly electronic components are tucked away, and the welds on the eight-point roll cage are perfect. This attention to detail ensured a successful SEMA debut, but don’t confuse this for a lifeless concept car.

A great deal of care has gone into creating and maintaining this Toyota C-HR R-Tuned, a one-off, race-tuned special first exhibited at the 2017 SEMA show. Multicolored paint marks are on almost every bolt head, and there’s a log of cylinder-leak-down test results written atop the thick, aluminum radiator. Tastefully modified body panels fit snugly, unsightly electronic components are tucked away, and the welds on the eight-point roll cage are perfect. This attention to detail ensured a successful SEMA debut, but don’t confuse this for a lifeless concept car.

The deputy chief engineer for the C-HR, Hiro Koba, is a racing nut who celebrates Toyota’s concept of waku doki, which means “heart-pumping excitement.” Koba insisted that the C-HR (which stands for Coupe High Rider) have a stable chassis, balanced steering, and be dialed in on the Nürburgring.“The more you steer it, it turns exactly that amount more,” says Gardner of the stock C-HR. “The more you push on the brake pedal, it brakes exactly. It’s not overboosted; it’s responsive.”

We find his characterization fair but overstated when we drive a standard C-HR around a short road course at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California. The C-HR is well damped and fun enough to toss around at speed, sure, but its meek engine and moaning CVT are turnoffs that had us calling it “okayish by default” in our test report of the stock model. We do a few laps, head back to the pits, and ask Gardner to tell us more about the R-Tuned and walk us through the build, which he says required more than 10,000 hours of labor.

Setting the Bar Really High

“[Koba] didn’t know how far we could take it, but we set the bar at supercar performance,” says Gardner. It’s a target that Toyota announced at SEMA had been achieved by lapping the long course at Willow Springs in 1:25.22, which is quicker than serious machinery such as a Nissan GT-R NISMO and a McLaren 650S Spider, although well off the pace of a McLaren 720S or a Lamborghini Huracán Performante.

“We went simple everywhere we could, and then the things that were complicated, we took them on as we had to, system by system.” Gardner and his team quickly realized they couldn’t make do with the stock 2.0-liter inline-four and continuously variable automatic transmission, so they swapped in a 2.4-liter inline-four (Toyota’s 2AZ-FE) and a five-speed manual (Toyota E-series), positioning the engine and gearbox as far back and as low as possible. It’s still a front-wheel-drive vehicle, though, like every C-HR Toyota sells in America.

The team tested six different turbocharger setups and settled on a unit from Garrett that routinely produces 23.0 psi of boost, fed by a four-inch intake. At full bore on racing fuel, the C-HR R-Tuned makes 600 horsepower and puts down 550 lb-ft of torque, we’re told. We won’t get to experience all that output, but that’s getting ahead of our story here.

Overcoming Hurdles

Its transformation didn’t come easily, mind you. Who could’ve guessed clearance issues in the pedal box would require DG-Spec to raise the car’s floor two inches? And when you replace the bulky OE exhaust with a three-inch cat-back system, you don’t expect issues. “We didn’t predict how much airflow would go up into the rear bumper cover when we went to a small, transversely mounted Burns muffler,” says Gardner. “We introduced all this void area. It wasn’t a problem until the car went 150 mph. At that point, we melted the whole freaking thing off.”

Gardner and his team also had problems with the massive rear wing, which is mounted to the C-HR’s hatch. It had little lateral rigidity and swayed in the wind, so DG-Spec affixed cross supports to firm up the structure. Then the hatch itself started to crack, so the team welded and installed some impressive bracing to offset the pressure. Complementing the wing is an adjustable carbon-fiber front splitter that helps the C-HR R-Tuned produce about 300 pounds of downforce at 120 mph and about 400 pounds at 150 mph, Gardner says. You’d not run into these issues if you settled for merely matching the performance of a 215-hp Nissan Juke NISMO RS, but all of these headaches emerge because someone at Toyota thought that this C-HR should perform on par with a Nissan GT-R.

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2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-class / CLS 53 AMG https://tuttele.com/2019-mercedes-benz-cls-class-cls-53-amg/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:28:45 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2976 In 1976, Mercedes-Benz introduced the legendarily bulletproof W123, which was followed in 1984 by the W124 that carried the line into the early ’90s and the arrival of the round-lamped W210. Literally and spiritually, these cars are E-classes, made up of various sedans, coupes, wagons, and the odd limousine. But around the time the W211 generation hit showrooms in 2002, the designers and marketers decided that the segment could be further split and introduced the “four-door coupe” Mercedes-Benz CLS-class in 2004. The E, you see, had always carried a whiff of stodginess, even when massaged into such memorable speed barges as the AMG Hammer of the 1980s and the Porsche-developed 500E of the 1990s. Now Mercedes has split the segment even further, with the new AMG GT 4-Door taking the place of the hottest CLS models, leaving the CLS itself to occupy a middle realm that suggests more style and sport than the E but less of the ineffable stuff than the family-size AMG GT.

The Positive Power of Further Electrification

To muddy things further, the base-level AMG GT 4-Door, the GT53, and the top CLS, the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53, share a powertrain that’s not strictly an AMG proposition. The 53s employ a 429-hp 3.0-liter inline-six with both a twin-scroll turbocharger and an electrically driven supercharger. It also features an integrated 21-hp motor/generator sandwiched between the engine and transmission that Mercedes calls EQ Boost and is fed by (and feeds) a 1.0-kWh battery. The motor seamlessly fires the engine after an auto stop, the electric supercharger eradicates any lag at low rpm, and the turbo makes the whole thing sing. It’s a corker of a power plant, utterly harmonious in operation. There’s no stop/start stumble, no waiting for the turbo to spool up to speed, plus the inherent balance of the straight-six means that there’s no unbecoming harshness or graininess, traits that have sometimes bedeviled Daimler’s V-6 engines.

The inline-six goodness also applies to the 362-hp CLS450, which mainly suffers for lack of the electric supercharger (but it does have the same EQ Boost motor and 48-volt electrical system). Power is certainly adequate, but the delivery feels a bit lazy and uninspired compared to the instantaneous torque everywhere that’s available from the AMG variant. It is smooth and quiet, a Beverly Hills boulevardier for five passengers (up from four in previous iterations), but it lacks the eagerness and holistic excellence of the CLS 53.

Both versions of the six are backed by a nine-speed automatic. The CLS450 is rear-wheel drive as standard, and its optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive system employs a fixed 31/69 front-to-rear torque split. The CLS53 gets the carmaker’s 4Matic+ system, which offers fully variable torque distribution.

In the handling department, the cars feel just a smidge stiffer than their E-class counterparts, but while the CLS450 carries the rheostatics ally numb steering that has come to plague too many German automobiles in recent years, the CLS 53 offers a surprising amount of feel through the wheel. On winding byways outside Barcelona, we found the 53 dirt simple to place on the road, while the 450 proved itself a vaguer co-conspirator. As much as we love the 10Best Cars–winning E43, the CLS53 improves upon the proposition, offering just a little more edge and an extra modicum of sporting sure-footedness, without stepping on the everyday-usable drivability and comfort. We can’t wait to see what the E-class is like with the new inline-six powertrain, and sources suggest that we won’t have to wait long to find out.

For the E-class stalwart who simply can’t wait for the new engines, this latest CLS is the most E-like example yet. With its larger back seat, the CLS swallows two full-size adults easily, although the slicker roofline will still have taller rear occupants ducking to get through the aft portals. The large expanse of screen real estate inside the car will immediately be familiar to anybody who has sampled a recent E-class. The most obvious difference between the E and CLS interiors is the vent design. Even there, it’s a distinction the casual observer might miss were it not for the illumination of the vents in the CLS to match the ambient interior lighting.

Exterior Softness

Outside, the CLS53’s mild shark nose wears the twin-bar grille design previously reserved for V-8–powered AMG models, presumably because many of the V-8 models are migrating to the vertical-bar Panamericana grille design first introduced on the AMG GT3 race car. The CLS450’s nose employs the brand’s stylish and slightly whimsical diamond-pattern grille. Mercedes would also like you to note that the CLS features “very flat headlamps.” Owners of European-specification 1970s-era S-classes might have a word or two to say regarding the relative extremity of headlamp flatness. Compared with the two previous-generation cars, the new CLS seems positively slab sided, wearing only a soft shoulder and a relatively subtle lower character line to ever so slightly hint at a fuselage shape. Out back, the CLS 53 sports a short ducktail spoiler and bold quad rear pipes integrated into the bumper, where the spoilerless CLS450 houses a pair of trapezoidal exhaust outlets.

The case for the CLS used to be simple. For the past 14 years, it’s been a mid-size executive sedan aimed at the style-conscious buyer with a yen for personal luxury. After riding in a development prototype of the CLS450 last summer, we wondered if Mercedes had brought the four-door coupe too close to the E-class sedan, cutting out too much of the car’s previous character in the name of increased size and user-friendliness. The arrival of the AMG GT 4-Door brings the mission of the new CLS into clearer relief, although one can’t help but feel that the sportier AMG car has stolen some of the CLS’s thunder. For fans of traditional Mercedes virtues, the new CLS—the CLS 53 especially—offers up muted style, plenty of technology, and stellar ride quality, while goosing the package with a healthy injection of involving sportiness. In a mid-size Mercedes lineup rife with choices, it’s a standout.


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2018 Audi R8 RWS https://tuttele.com/2018-audi-r8-rws/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:24:18 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2965 On the great list of maladies you may consider likely in transforming the benign all-wheel-drive Audi R8 into a rear-wheel-drive special model—Death himself riding shotgun, wizards and fairies controlling the car’s otherwise innate balance, thrill-turns-to-regret oversteer—you can add zilch and nada. In virtually every use, this supercar remains the almost-too-tame, composed partner it has always been. It’s not boring—a 540-hp V-10 stuffed between the axles of any package this size doesn’t beget boring—but it’s certainly not batty.

As special models go, the new R8 RWS (for Rear Wheel Series) isn’t one you’re going to pick easily out of a crowd. Given that it’s the brand’s first rear-wheel-drive car since its origins in Auto Union, its assorted distinguishing features—an optional red vinyl decal across the hood and roof, matte-black grilles, gloss-black upper side blades, and body-color lower side blades—don’t exactly make a statement. To that list, however, we’d add another: on-demand oversteer, which is something you’ll not discover as easily in the R8 Quattro.

We spent a day wheeling the RWS around Madrid, Spain, which was burdened by unseasonably cold weather, including snow in the foothills. Accordingly, the R8s we drove were on Continental winter rubber—a factory 20-inch fitment. Pirelli P Zero summer tires on 19-inch wheels are standard, and 20-inches are optional.

Remarkably little was changed in transforming the R8 into a champion of rear-drive dynamic purity. Removing the center differential, front differential, half-shafts, and driveshaft net a 110-pound weight savings according to Audi, bringing the coupe’s claimed weight to 3505 pounds. That is still 316 pounds heavier than the last McLaren 570S we tested, which has more power (and beat the all-wheel-drive R8 in a comparison test).

The RWS passive Bilstein dampers are about 10 percent stiffer in compression and rebound than those fitted to the base R8 Quattro, which also shares its springs with this car. Rear-wheel camber increases from 0.8 degrees to 1.3. The front anti-roll bar is made 10 percent stiffer to aid rear-axle grip, and the electrically assisted power steering is recalibrated for less effort than in all-wheel-drive R8s. A 15.7:1 fixed-ratio steering rack is standard, and dynamic steering, which is available on Quattro models, isn’t available. Nor are carbon-ceramic brake rotors. Two-piece iron rotors with an aluminum hat matched with eight-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo calipers do the stopping.

The Rage

Under the glass rear decklid resides one of the last great remaining salutes to unforced induction. The Hungary-built 5.2-liter V-10, which the R8 shares with the Lamborghini Huracán (also available in RWD form), stands out like Sriracha sauce in vanilla pudding. It is a Saturn V rocket in Monowi, Nebraska. A raving 10-cylinder shrine to all that is right with internal combustion. Even as its counterparts embrace the weighty breath of turbo- or supercharger boost in their manifolds, this V-10 soldiers on, oblivious to its absence.

Even here, in its mildest state of tune producing 540 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque, this powerplant is a thing of greatness. It remains paired exclusively to the same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle as the standard R8 Quattro, lacking only a front-axle output—no manual transmission in Audi’s arsenal can accommodate both mid-engine packaging and this much torque. Inspect its underside and you’ll find cast into the plate between the engine and transaxle a Lamborghini logo—a bullish hidden reminder that, although its skin might be stoic and German, its heart is raging and Italian. And rage it will. Few things on this planet are as alluring, or as explosive, as this engine at 8000 rpm. All this is to say that despite a distinct and sometimes obvious attempt to do the supercar limbo under a circus of look-at-me competitors, the R8 packs the right goods in the right places.

Then, just as we began to figuratively nod off from all its sameness, this latest R8 did something as unsurprising as it was fantastic. Rounding a bend on a makeshift road course, with nothing to hit but orange cones, the RWS, at half throttle and half power, slowly stepped its rump sideways and held it there. Its tires spun modestly, and its steering arced intuitively to manage the slide. Then it did it again. And again. And with each slide came confidence. And with confidence came more speed and more noise. The eagerness of its actions and the comfort of controlling them was rewarding. The rear-drive R8 began its crescendo of glory. Revs climbed. Intensity ramped. The rage, we sensed, was certainly coming.

But it never arrived. Instead, as the engine wound, the tires spun, and the tail swayed, the hallelujah call of the rear-wheel-drive R8 RWS began to set in. It made its mark—many of them, actually—as this new, old Audi danced like never before. Yes, the Quattro version, which also exhibits a distinct rear-drive balance, is quicker, easier, and on some level equally engaging. But the RWS asks more of its driver at the limit. And there’s something special about that experience that all-wheel drive will never deliver. Audi knows this. And it’s why this car exists.


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2018 Mercedes-Benz C-class Coupe and Cabriolet https://tuttele.com/2018-mercedes-benz-c-class-coupe-and-cabriolet/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:20:44 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2954 As with the four-door sedan on which they are based, the Mercedes-Benz C-class coupe and cabriolet offer style that mimics that of the larger E- and S-class models. The svelte junior Benz two-doors serve as an entry point to the motoring high life, where sleek lines and luxurious cabins mean more than practical considerations such as interior space or luggage capacity. Driving either the rear wheels or all four is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides adequate, if not exactly thrilling, power. Some rivals offer sportier handling, zippier acceleration, and smoother rides, but the C-class coupe and cabriolet are prettier and coddle occupants in one of the nicest interiors in the segment. Tech features pioneered on the brand’s more expensive offerings have trickled down as well, including available automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist. The C-class coupe and cabriolet are lovely, impressive pieces that are well suited for drivers who prefer relaxing in style.

What’s New for 2018?

For 2018, the coupe model ditches its seven-speed automatic transmission for the nine-speed unit from the convertible. Coupe models now come standard with blind-spot monitoring, push-button start, and a new 18-inch wheel design. The droptop gains a semi-automatic trunk separator, new wood trim for the interior, and an analog clock on the dashboard. Both models now offer Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a heated steering wheel as options. A new color—Designo Selenite Grey Magno—freshens up the palette.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

We can’t decide between the coupe or the convertible, so we’ll leave that $8000 decision up to you. We would suggest a few upgrades to each of them, though, starting with the $1090 Advanced Lighting package, which provides LED headlamps with automatic high-beams, illuminated doorsills, and interior ambient lighting. Next, we’d add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for $350, and finally, we’d select the Premium package ($1900 on the coupe, $1650 on the convertible), which, among other things, adds:

• Power-folding side-view mirrors
• SiriusXM satellite radio
• Premium Burmester audio system
• Pop-up wind deflector (convertible only)

As equipped, our chosen rear-wheel-drive coupe carries a list price of $47,185, while a similarly equipped convertible retails for $54,935.

Starting in 2018, the C-class coupe and cabriolet (both dubbed C300) come with a 241-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine matched up to a nine-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or all-wheel drive. Both cars offer enough scoot for zipping around town or merging onto the highway, but among this set, they’re at the bottom of the list for acceleration times.

Not only is the C300’s acceleration the most relaxed of this test group, its four-cylinder emits a droning, agricultural sound until you’re at cruising speed and the engine revs drop. It’s not loud, but it’s not nearly as refined as the best-sounding inline-fours. The nine-speed transmission shifts more smoothly than the outgoing seven-speed unit and downshifts quickly when called on for extra oomph.

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6 Tips to Master Panning Photography https://tuttele.com/6-tips-to-master-panning-photography/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:15:18 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2940 You must have seen those photos where the car or the motorcycle appears sharp and in focus whereas the background appears to be in motion with a blur effect. At first, you might have thought that it is a Photoshop trick or assumed it to be something only a professional sports photographer can achieve. Well, let me tell you it is called panning photography and this technique is easy to learn.

All you have to do is keep practicing this technique until you master the art of panning photography. To help you do so, I have listed six easy to understand tips that will help you capture perfect panning photos.

1 – Set your camera on Shutter Priority mode

You must have seen those photos where the car or the motorcycle appears sharp and in focus whereas the background appears to be in motion with a blur effect. At first, you might have thought that it is a Photoshop trick or assumed it to be something only a professional sports photographer can achieve. Well, let me tell you it is called panning photography and this technique is easy to learn.

All you have to do is keep practicing this technique until you master the art of panning photography. To help you do so, I have listed six easy to understand tips that will help you capture perfect panning photos

2 – Choose a slow shutter speed

As we discussed above, the most important exposure element of panning photography is the shutter speed. So in order to make the subject appear sharp and the background to appear in motion, you must allow the shutter to remain open for an adequate amount of time.

To capture perfect panning photos, the ideal shutter speed is anything between 1/30th of a second and 1/125th (the faster the subject is moving the faster the shutter speed needs to be). This range of shutter speed allows enough time for the camera to register movement in the photo, while keeping the subject in sharp focus.

3 – Use a tripod

Clicking photos handheld at a slower shutter speed might introduce slight shake in your photos. To ensure that you capture sharp panning photos, mount your camera on a tripod or a monopod to minimize the camera shake during panning.

It is possible that while you are panning your camera along with the moving subject, you are also moving your body and that shall introduce a slight shake in your camera. Using a tripod or a monopod will minimize the upwards or downwards movement of the camera and will only allow the camera to pan side to side.

4 – Focus accurately

As the subject is moving swiftly across your frame, so it is really important to lock the focus on the subject accurately. There are two ways you can do this in order to make the subject appear in sharp focus, whereas the background appears to be in motion.

  • Automatic focus technique: If you are just starting with panning photography or if you are not sure about the distance of the subject from the camera, always use the automatic focusing technique. To make sure that you focus on the subject accurately, switch on the continuous focus tracking mode (AF-C on Nikon, and AI Servo for Canon). This helps your camera to continuously focus on the subject as it moves across the frame.
  • Manual focus technique: If you are sure about the distance at which your subject will pass by, then the best method is to use a manual focus technique. Focus on the point where your subject will be beforehand and then switch the focusing mode to manual. This ensures you to click at a much faster rate as your lens will not be constantly hunting for the subject. Simply pan your camera along with the moving subject and click multiple photos, later choose the best among all.

5 – Position yourself correctly

Try and keep some distance between your camera and the moving subject in order to allow your camera enough space to swiftly lock the focus on the subject. If you position yourself too close to the moving subject, there are chances that your lens will fail to focus on the subject because of the distance being shorter than the minimum focusing distance. It’s also harder to keep the subject in the frame when it is really large (close up).

Panning photos look eye-catching when there is a contrast and there are at least two or more colors in the background. Imagine a background which lacks contrast and has only one color, it would hardly add any impact to your panning photo.

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7 Ways to become a Better Photographer https://tuttele.com/7-ways-to-become-a-better-photographer/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:04:27 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2929 Let’s face it, it’s the new year. Your heart is full of hope and your head is bursting with ideas on what you want to do this year, be a better photographer, and how you will go about executing it. You have so much hope in your heart that you will achieve your all your  goals, that you walk around with a goofy smile plastered on your face!

1. Rock the gear you currently own without buying more

Do you feel limited by the gear you own? Are you telling yourself you really need to upgrade your camera, lens or both? Great! you are exactly where I need you to be.

Challenge yourself to use your existing gear consistently for a few weeks or months. Try to get creative with what you already have instead of hitting purchase on that gear that is sitting in your cart or Amazon checkout.

2. Photograph in every possible lighting situation

I really believe there is no such thing as bad light. Light is light – it is just different at different times of the day and night. One of the best ways to understand light is to photograph in different lighting situations and challenge yourself to create something unique and different that you are proud of.

Each lighting situation will demand different things from you and your gear. Harsh midday sun will have you rethinking shadows and light. Early morning light or golden hour will have you thinking of ways to create magical images that highlight that golden light. Blue hour may challenge you to bring out the external flash so you can get creative with colors.

3. Treat every subject as a rock star

Not every subject is going to be your ideal client. Until you are in a position to only attract your ideal clients, use every opportunity to work towards building your portfolio for your ideal clients. Each client deserves to be treated like they are rock stars. So it is your duty as a photographer to give them the best experience possible – be it in posing, editing, styling or general customer service.

4. Deliberately limit yourself

Today’s DSLR cameras are quite sophisticated pieces of equipment with multiple shutter clicks per second (continuous) and creative photographic modes (Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority) that do a lot of the work for you.

Instead of using those, I challenge you to limit yourself. Think like a film camera photographer and only use 24 or 36 frames to tell your story. Change to Manual mode and try to figure out how shutter speed, IS, and aperture really work to help you take more control of your photography.

5. Take an art class

This has nothing to do with photography, yet at the same time, it has everything to do with it. Sometimes stepping away from the thing that we love the most or obsess about can be a really good thing. I have found art, particularly drawing and painting, to be very therapeutic and relaxing. It also gives me a chance to look at creativity with a new lens. As I analyze shapes, sizes and brush strokes – I look at color, patterns and composition in a new light.

6. Study your camera’s manual

I remember taking a technical writing class in graduate school where we had to create a user manual for a product. It was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken because we really had to think as a layman user to design, craft and write the manual. It made me realize that manuals, if done correctly, are incredibly powerful learning tools because they really break down every aspect of the product individually as well as collectively. So don’t be so quick to throw away the camera manual – it might be just the thing you need to really understand the workings of your camera.

7. Study the work of other photographers

I am sure you have a lot of photographers that you really look up to for various reasons – how they compose, how they handle difficult lighting situations, how they interact with their subjects or even how they run successful photography businesses. Follow them, study how they do things, figure out what makes them tick and how they succeed, and use those ideas to reflect in your own road to improving your photography.

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Five Essentials of Doing Dark Food Photography https://tuttele.com/five-essentials-of-doing-dark-food-photography/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 12:55:51 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2918 Over the last several years, several identifiable trends have developed in the world of food photography, including one towards dark, moody images, often with a rustic feel. These photographs call to mind the interplay of light and shadow in the paintings of the Old Masters, such as those by Vermeer and Rembrandt.

The style is often referred to “chiaroscuro” photography, a painting term borrowed from the art world. It means “light-dark” and refers to the contrast between the shadows and light in an image. The technique guides the viewer’s eye to a specific area in the frame and creates a dramatic mood. Mystic Light is another phrase used to describe this dark and moody style.

However, a dark style won’t necessarily suit every image. Sometimes a dark, shadowy approach is not appropriate to your subject. Developing strong food photography requires thinking about the purpose of your image. Your lighting, props, styling, and camera settings all work together in service of the story you are trying to convey.

Dark Props and Backgrounds

The idea in dark food photography is to keep the background in shadow and draw the viewer’s attention to the main subject—what in food photography we call the “hero”. Therefore, a selection of dark or muted props, surfaces, and backgrounds is vital. White or light dishes and props will draw the eye away from the food and create too much contrast, which is distracting and can also be difficult to expose correctly.

When sourcing props, look for vintage utensils with a patina, which will not reflect the light as much as new ones. Matte dishes will also be less reflective, and are best in darker, neutral tones. Reflections can be hard to manage and cause a lot of problems in food photography.

Some good places to look for these items are thrift shops and vintage or flea markets, where you can find them for a fraction of the price you would pay for them new. Many food photographers use old, mottled cookie sheets in their work, which create a stunning surface or background, which subtly reflects the light without being to bright.

Wood is also a great material to utilize, both in the background and as props. It is easy to work with and lends a rustic feel. You can use weathered items such as an old cabinet door or tabletop. Ensure that whichever wood you use isn’t too warm toned. It will look quite orange in the final images and therefore unflattering to the food. A deep espresso color always looks great.

horizontal overhead of charcuterie

You will most often find the dark food photography style in editorial as opposed to advertising work. Advertising photography is meant to look perfect, with highly stylized food. Anyone who has ever seen a fast food burger ad and compared it to a real burger knows what I’m talking about.

But editorial food photography, such as that found in cookbooks and foodie magazines, has a looser, more candid style. The food is often perfectly imperfect, with scattered crumbs or artfully placed smears and drips, as if it has been freshly prepared or someone has just begun to tuck in.

This is not to say there is no deliberate effort in the styling because there is. The line between rustic and real and downright sloppy is a fine one. It takes a practiced hand to make food styling look casual and random.

When producing darker images, it is imperative to carve and shape the light to bring attention to your main subject. You will need to determine how you want to light your image and where you want the shadows to fall. For moody images, I often use side and backlighting. My light placement is at about 10:00 if I am imagining the face of an analog clock as my set.

It’s best to use indirect lighting so no lights pointing directly at the set or food. In the case of natural light, placing the surface at an angle to the window.

Use small black reflector cards, like black cardboard or poster board cut into squares, to kick in shadows where you want them, and place them around your set depending on where you want to cut down the light. Alternatively, you can roll up pieces of black poster board and staple the ends together; these rolls can stand on their own and do not need to be propped up against anything.

Typically, with chiaroscuro food photography, you want to slightly underexpose the image in the camera. Chiaroscuro can have very bright treatment of food with very deep shadows, or the image can be low key with not a lot of contrast. Whichever approach you choose, the main subjects should be placed in the brightest part of the frame, which attracts the eye first. Make sure the highlights are not blown out and the shadows are not too black with no detail.

Post-Processing

Using the luminance sliders in Lightroom or Camera RAW to brighten colors individually. Use global and local adjustments to bring out the best in the food, instead of bumping up the exposure in the whole image, which can cause your shadows to fall flat.

And remember, warm colors bring elements forward, whereas cool colors recede. The best food photography has a balance of both, as it gives a three-dimensional feel to your image. With chiaroscuro food photography, white balance and tint can be used creatively, since you are not using white dishes and backgrounds. Split-toning can also be used to great effect, as long as it is done with subtlety.

Finally, no matter how you carve the light, a bit of a vignette adds a bit more mystery. It also prevents the eye from wandering out of the frame by bringing you back to the brightest part of the image — the food.




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How to Make the Most out of Still Life Photography https://tuttele.com/how-to-make-the-most-out-of-still-life-photography/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 12:44:36 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2910 Still life photography showcases subject matter that’s not living. Things like a chair, a group of glasses, and even pictures of potted plants are all examples of this art form. Still life photography is probably one of the oldest and most attempted types of photography in the history of man.

This goes back to a bit of photography history. In the early days of photography, exposures were pretty long, which made it ideal to take shots of inanimate objects. Of course, as technology improved and time wore on, still life photography is still incredibly popular because of product shots. Whether it’s for magazines, catalogues or websites, product shots and still life anything is very much in-demand.

Here’s how you can get closer to mastering this time-honored and rather lucrative style of photography.

Picking Interesting Subjects

First things first: You have to select a subject that’s capable of drawing viewer interest to your still life.

It helps to select a subject with this in mind. Does it tell a story? What do I want my still life to say about this subject? This will help you narrow down the interesting subjects from the mundane ones.

You’ll need a poetic and even artistic eye to spot good subjects for your still lifes. For instance, when you’re working with multiple objects for your shot, it really pays to find a common bond among your various subjects. This could be a common theme, color, shape, function or even period of origin.

When you choose the right subject for your shots, you can get great-looking still lifes since you’ve already piqued your viewers’ interest.

Lighting Considerations

Now, lighting’s always important in photography, but perhaps it’s even more so when still life is concerned. The pros normally rely on either a light box or a soft box to shoot their still lifes because it provides even light on the subject matter. Even lighting makes for better, more attractive images.

Here’s an alternative: You can also take your still life photography outside a studio. That’s because certain outdoor conditions provide wonderful light that will really help to illuminate your still lifes. A bright or high overcast sky is great at producing a natural, soft-box effect while not creating any severe shadows.

Different Angles

As with other styles of photography, still life is made so much more interesting when you vary the angles from which you’re shooting. Don’t get boring or creatively stifled. One of the easiest ways in which you can change up your shooting angles is by simply adjusting the height of your shots during still life photography. This is particularly applicable if you are using a tripod.

Besides shooting right at the level of your inanimate subject, you can also try shooting higher or lower. For instance, a bird’s-eye-view shot will have you looking down on your subject, which can create a much more interesting effect. Of course, as you’re moving around to get different angles, don’t fall into the trap of getting into a position that casts a shadow on your subject.

Filling up Your Frame

Maximizing how much of your still-life subject you show in your frame is always a best practice. In general, you want to only see your subject in either your LCD or viewfinder. You want a clean shot that’s not tainted by including anything in the background that shouldn’t be there – like distractions. That’s why having something as minimalistic like a solid-colored wall or a plain sheet of paper is always smart.

If you’re shooting smaller subjects – like a vegetable or a piece of chocolate – then the plate or saucer on which they’re on will suffice as the background.

To ensure that your subject comes out sharp, utilize macro mode on your camera, or a dedicated macro lens. Otherwise, your subject may come out fuzzy, which isn’t a good look when the subject’s the only thing in the shot your viewers will be looking at!

Shot Composition

If you don’t compose your shot well, then all the effort you’ve put into the photograph thus far is for nothing. There are various composition techniques that you should consider for still lifes. Naturally, something as useful to all photographs like the rule of thirds is a must because it can increase the integrity of your image.

To get the perfect composition, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when arranging the elements in your shot. For example:

  • Where you lead the viewers’ eyes in the picture
  • The use of negative space in the image to potentially make your still life stand out
  • The defining features of your subject
  • What the subject is used for in everyday life
  • Can it work as a standalone object, or can you somehow put it into context for the shot?

Draw Inspiration

We admit: It’s not easy to create a dynamite still life… no matter how hard you try. Sometimes, experience can really help, but what happens if you haven’t done many still lifes in your career? Simple, Just get some suitable inspiration.

Look on the internet for some classic, still-masterpieces of days gone by. The Renaissance periodproduced many a great still life in the form of paintings, so that’s a very rich resource from which you can draw inspiration for your present-day still life. You’ll get great ideas on everything from shading and colors to how form works in a shot.

Still Lifes: A Classic to Master

If you want to consider yourself a consummate photographer, you have to master still life photography. This is truly one of the oldest and most traditional forms of photography, so it’s in your best interest to learn how to shoot it well if you want to up your photography game.


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10 Sure-Fire Ways to Take Breathtaking Nature Photos https://tuttele.com/10-sure-fire-ways-to-take-breathtaking-nature-photos/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 12:34:02 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2899 Few things are more inspiring than exceptional nature photography. Whether it’s a bear ambling across a field, a bird in flight.One of the great things about photography is that it allows you to freeze time and capture a moment that you’ll be able to look back on. With nature photography, this is certainly the case. The natural world holds plenty of unique opportunities just waiting to be captured.

Learning how to spot those moments, and discovering how to effectively convey what you see in person, through the lens of a camera is what great nature photography is all about.

1. Be Prepared

While many photo opportunities are unexpected, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared when heading out with your camera. Having a general idea what you hope to capture allows you to know which gear to bring, and can help you to time your outing. For example, if you’re hoping to photograph a certain type of bird or animal, knowing which times they’re most active will help you to know when to go.

2. Bring a Tripod

While it’s not strictly necessary, nature photography can often benefit from slow shutter speeds – and the use of a tripod. Long exposures require the use of a tripod to help prevent camera shake, and blurry images.

3. Use the Right Lens

Bring along the best lenses for the job. If you have a wide-angle lens, you’ll want to bring it with you, especially if you’re doing landscape photography. A telephoto lens is another great lens for nature photography, allowing you to get up close to elusive animals. You may also want to bring along a macro lens to capture close-up images of minuscule flowers, leaves, water droplets, and other micro subjects – although in a pinch, a telephoto can work to capture images that are fairly up-close.

4. Use a Filter

Filters are an often overlooked tool in nature photography, but adding a simple polarizer to your kit is a great way to capture photos with richer, deeper colors. A polarizing filter helps to darken light blue skies, rendering the sky a richer shade of blue. It also helps to reduce glare – which is especially useful when photographing bodies of water since it allows you to capture rocks and sand at the bottom in the shallows. A graduated neutral density (ND) filter is another great option for landscape images. When photographing images that include sky and foreground, the sky has a tendency to become washed out while the ground often appears underexposed. An ND filter essentially acts like sunglasses for your lens, allowing you to ensure that both the sky and ground are perfectly exposed.

5. Find a Focal Point

Nearly every composition can benefit by having a strong and well defined focal point. Having a clear point of interest in the photo directs the viewer’s interest exactly where it should go, and results in a strong and visually pleasing image.

6. Include Foreground Interest

Be sure to include plenty of foreground interest in your landscape images. Adding foreground helps to set the stage for your photo, adding a sense of context and depth to your images. It can also help to draw the viewer into the photo, directing attention to the focal point. You can also use foreground to frame the image, giving the image a more real, three-dimensional feel.

7. Consider the Rule of Thirds

Consider the rule of thirds when shooting nature images. This rule calls for the subject to be placed to the side of the image, instead of dead center. The rule of thirds is often used to create images that are more dynamic than photos that have the subject in the center, which tend to be more static. Although it’s worth noting that some compositions will be better served by having the main point of interest in the center, so keep this in mind when composing your images.

8. Look to Convey Movement

Consider adding some ‘movement’ into your nature shots. Movement can be in the form of running rivers or waterfalls, trees blowing in the wind, or birds flying. When capturing smooth running water, or soft, streaky clouds – use a slow shutter speed and a tripod to steady the camera. A long exposure will render the moving object as softly blurred, and can result in some spectacular images.

9. Look for the Light

The right light can make all the difference in photography, and can often result in dramatic and exceptional nature images. Golden hour is an excellent time for capturing both landscape, and close-up images. The lighting during this time bathes everything in a soft, golden glow causing images to have an ethereal, almost otherworldly feel to them. The lighting just after a storm can also produce some exceptional and dramatic lighting – perfect for landscape images.

West Red Bluff, CA at Sunset. 2010

10. Watch Your Depth of Field

Watch the depth of field in your images. When capturing close-ups, you may want to use a wide aperture (small number) for a shallower depth of field. This will draw your subject into focus while blurring the background. For landscape images, you’ll want to use a small aperture to ensure that most of the image is in focus.

Go Off the Beaten Path

With nature photography, it’s usually best to take a mixture of both close-ups and landscape images. Sweeping landscapes, and close-ups of flora and fauna both make great images, so be sure to look out for hidden opportunities and details while taking nature shots. Great opportunities are often directly underfoot – a flower hidden amongst some mushrooms growing against a log or some tiny sprouts growing through some moss. Close-ups can be a great way to showcase the beauty of nature.

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A Look At 7 Underused but Very Useful DSLR Features https://tuttele.com/a-look-at-7-underused-but-very-useful-dslr-features/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 12:29:39 +0000 https://tuttele.com/?p=2890 Modern DSLRs come with a huge array of features in their menus. Some of them are obviously important, but there are lots of really useful things buried in there that you might overlook.

Flash Exposure Compensation

Most DSLRs (apart from the top end pro cameras) come with a pop-up flash. A lot of people don’t really use it though, because the light it produces can be overly bright and hard. But, of course, it’s really designed to be used as a fill-in flash.

And, by using the flash exposure compensation tools in your menu, you have the ability to better control its output. I tend to recommend reducing the power by -1 to -2 to get a softer quality of light. This way you’ll soften the shadows rather than overpowering your subject with harsh light.

Highlight Alert

Generally, this feature is turned off by default so you’ll need to go into the menu to turn it on. Highlight alert simply shows you the precise areas of your image that are overexposed (by the way, it’s commonly referred to as ‘the blinkies’!). This makes it very easy to quickly adjust the exposure or change your composition to eliminate washed-out areas. And it also has the added benefit of reducing time spent in postproduction.

Back Button Focus

Another really useful menu feature is back button focus. Here you can instruct the camera to use a separate button on the back of the camera to handle focus. Once activated, you use your thumb to press this button to focus and your index finger as usual to press the shutter. The big advantage of back button focus is that it allows you to set the focus once, and that focus will stay set until you change it again manually.

This negates the problem of focusing via the shutter and then accidentally taking your finger off said shutter, causing the need to refocus.

Histogram

Every photographer worth their salt knows that the LCD screen isn’t particularly accurate and, in addition, it’s too small to see detail clearly. The Histogram is a great tool for photographing bright tones and getting true white. To get those bright whites, you want to get the data on the right hand side of your histogram as close to the edge of the graph as possible.

This also allows you to capture as much of the dynamic range of your camera as you can. You can also use the histogram in conjunction with the highlight alert to check that you’re not blowing out any highlights.

Live View

The live view mode is most commonly used by those shooting video on their DSLRs, but it can also be useful for photographers. It’s particularly helpful if you’re shooting at night and want to use autofocus, or do a lot of macro work.

By using live view you can zoom in on portions of the subject at either x5 or x10 magnification. This means you can adjust the focus on sections of your image and make sure your subject is perfectly sharp. Do remember that the enlarged view on your LCD screen isn’t representative of your lens’ effective focal length. (NB – for the very best results use live view with a tripod and manual focus.)

Self-Timer

Generally found in the ‘drive’ mode as opposed to the menu, self-timer is a really useful feature for digital cameras. It allows you to take long exposure shots – either on a tripod, or even balanced on something, without getting any camera shake. It’s a great alternative to the traditional cable release. Obviously, you’ll get slight camera shake as you depress the shutter but, by the time the self-timer releases the shutter, your image will be sharp!

Single AF point

Modern DSLRs often have a plethora of AF points, which you can use singularly or in clusters. But invariably I end up using a single AF point (and indeed leave my DSLRs defaulted to the centre AF point). By choosing a single AF point, you have finite control over where the camera auto focuses and takes away any guesswork. As a portrait photographer, I often find that a simpler approach works best!

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