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Better pictures of your bread – part 1

May 3, 2020 | bread

The hobby side of my bread baking takes me often to the Facebook Group called Sourdough Nation which is run by the lovely people at Hobbs House Bakery.

On that forum during Coronavirus Lockdown I found myself offering to do a Facebook Live (which was my first – eeek!) and then blogging some of the information from that session onto here.

It was high time I did a post similar to this. My old post of “how to get better iPhone photos” from my old website was based on Christmas images a few years ago.

Time for some bread based stuff!

At time of writing I’ve done one session – on using the phone camera and finding the light. There are two more sessions planned – one on finding locations, one on adding props.

Before I start though – a BIG THANK YOU to all those who attended my first Facebook Live or that watched it after. Thanks for bearing with me. My apologies for the audio: I shall use a headset next time. Live and learn! It’s also tricky taking photos with your left hand whilst holding a reflector with your right and all the time holding that lot in front of an iPhone that’s recording the lot. (That is how the last image was achieved!)

Setting up your iPhone to work best

There are a few settings on your iPhone that are handy to change (Android phones may have similar but I use an iPhone so I can’t tell you for certain). The first one I advise is to turn the grid on to the camera. It helps you lining things up like verticals and horizontals. It helps you to position your subject in the frame too.

Go into Settings>Camera and turn Grid on.

See how we go from no white lines on this first image to white lines on the last image.

Phone settings - Camera

Under Preserve Settings in the Camera Settings I also turn on Camera Mode.

That’s a handy one to set if you’re shooting (as I often do) in Square format (for example if you’re an Instagram fan) as it stops the camera re-setting each time you open it.

Getting flashy – tips for actually using the camera

These two images show the benefit of turning the flash OFF. The first image shows a horrible flat flashed image and the next one a simple image with no flash.

If you look at the first three icons at the top of my viewfinder you’ll see the zig-zag for flash (with a line through to show it is turned off), then HDR (with a line through) and then a “sunshine” (with a line through). HDR is high dynamic range and if you don’t know what it is, for shots like this turn it off. The “sunshine” is live mode. It is used for moving subjects so we don’t want it here. Maybe another day I’ll explain where to use it but for now, turn it off.

To turn any on/off/auto tap on it and choose.

This is how I have my phone set at all times.

Don’t struggle to press the shutter.

If you use the +/- volume buttons then they act as a shutter. You can grip the phone firmly and still take an image. There’s no need to try to press that button on the screen.

Indeed, if you have a headset plugged in the volume on there will fire the camera – you have a remote control!



Choose what you want in focus and how bright it is.

The final “camera use” tip was that if you press on the screen a little box comes up. That tells you where the image is to be focussed. It also tries to set the exposure for that too.

If the exposure is too bright or too dark for you all you need to do is slide your finger up/down on the screen to adjust it to what you want.

Find the light

Now that we’ve got your phone set up and showed a couple of tips on how to use it the next thing I did was to plonk my loaf on a table in my loft and walk around it. Originally this was with a full loaf but as I didn’t take photos at that point I’ve had to re-do this with what is left of my lunch!

This first image is as horrible as they come, light-wise. The light is coming directly from over my shoulder. It’s what we photographers call “flat lit”. There is very little shape or form being revealed in the image.

Now I’ve simply rotated the bread-board through 90 degrees anti-clockwise as I look down on it. The light is coming from the left of the camera.

Look how much more shape and texture is revealed in that bread crust.

Moving another 90 degrees around. You can clearly see where the light is – behind the loaf.

Those on the call saw me also use my bread peel, covered in tin-foil, as a reflector to bounce some of that light back into the front of the loaf to reveal a little texture in the shadows.

And finally another 90 degrees and the window light is coming from the right of  the camera.

Note that I’m not saying one of these images is “right” or “wrong”. I’m simply pointing out that they are all different and create different moods/effects.

For me, I tend to want my light coming from slightly behind and one side for this kind of image.


The final shot for this session was thrown together really quickly. This is only a small cafe table, a throw that I had in the loft draped over a ladder (you can still see the wall to the right of the image to know which way around the light was coming).

I added some props (the rest of my lunch).

In front of me is my iPhone. I took this with my wife’s iPhone in front of that. I had a reflector bouncing some light in from the right, in my right hand. In my left hand (I’m right handed) was my wife’s phone and I focussed, adjusted exposure, and took the image with my left hand.

That explanation isn’t to give excuses for how bad the image is (though I can see quite a few things to improve if I was doing it for myself) but rather to say that you can easily achieve this sort of thing for yourself if you’re not trying to do a Facebook Live at the same time!

I hope that little lot is useful to you and helps you to improve your bread photos (or indeed any other photos you take with your phone).

Next time the session (and following blog) will try to look at finding a location for your image around your home.