Feast for the Eyes: Food Photography Tips & Tricks

Camera phones have become the standby tech-weapon-du-jour for many of us. Like little documentarians we wander about recording our daily lives. We steal photos of our environments, pets, plants and people. A critical component to many of our lives is a habit that hardly escapes our scrutiny or our trigger finger, our meals.

Photo: Eunsan Huh

Photo: Eunsan Huh

Do you enjoy the aesthetics of a well prepared spread? Have you sought to record the radiance of a seasonal bouquet of produce? Maybe you’ve tried to nab a shot of your crispy chicken and sweet stamped waffle at brunch only to find that the image is anything but appetizing. Do not be foiled.

Consider this your first foray into the glamourous world of culinary creativity via your mobile phone. In the following weeks be on the look out for additional installments to this food photo compendium.

Each installment of this series will focus on both a behind the lens photography skill (so you get the perfect shot) and an Aviary editing tip (to help you enhance your image).

Behind the lens: Start by electing to take shots of vibrant, colorful, bright foods and meals. It doesn’t matter if your dinner is divine, if the color is monochrome and the texture is mushy, it’s hard to make the food look appealing. If dishes are covered in heaps of brown sauce (like Poutine), it will probably fall flat on your screen too. The more fresh and new the ingredients you select in cooking are, the better they will translate for your audience. Same with meals, do your best to edit yourself. Beautiful foods = beautiful photos.

Edit with Aviary:  Once you have pushed the “button” and taken your shots, you have another opportunity to spice up your masterpiece with the Aviary Food enhancement. Simply open “Enhance” once you’ve selected  your photo from the camera roll. Next, go to the Food tool. The sweet secret about this enhancement is that it boosts the vibrancy (not the saturation) of your provisions while increasing the contrast between smaller details, adds greater sharpness, and creates a vignette to draw the viewer’s eye toward the fetching fare.

Photo: Eunsan Huh

Photo: Eunsan Huh

Give these simple techniques your best shot and surely the quality of your images will improve. Practice with different light angles, surfaces, and amounts of food to see what works best for you. Remember to have fun and find your Food Photography Signature Shot (see hyperlink to my last blog post). Bon Apetit!

 

Undo / Redo Comes to Photo Editor by Aviary for Android

We're delighted to announce that today we’re bringing Undo and Redo to Photo Editor by Aviary for Android, v3.5.0. This has been our #1 most-requested feature, and we’re thrilled to finally be able to offer it to our users.

The more creative you get with Photo Editor, the more you’ll want to be able to undo or redo your edits, so you can experiment with different combinations of our tools. The feature is super simple to use - simply swipe left or right on your photo after applying an edit. That’s it!

Another great addition to this version is Sticker Flip.  You can now flip the direction of a sticker by tapping on it while it is on your photo.

This update also includes some important bug fixes and other optimizations. Check it out in the Play Store and let us know what you think on Twitter. We hope you love it!

Chow down with Aviary's New Foodie Stickers

Looking for a way to spice up your food photography? Check out the latest addition to the Aviary shop - Foodie stickers! Beautiful and fun word art graphics to add to photos of your favorites meals and culinary experiences. 

android_detail.jpg
Photo Sep 12, 4 51 12 PM.jpg

Use them together with our Foodie Effects pack to create mouthwatering shots and give all your friends a serious case of food envy. Bon appétit!

Feature Highlight: Splash

Did you know you can use Aviary to make color splash photography? The Splash tool lets you highlight certain colors in your photos while leaving others in black and white. 

If you scroll a little way over in the tool tray, you'll find the paint bucket icon for the Splash tool.

  • Free color lets you fill in wherever you tap/brush
  • Smart Color only fills in the first color you touch
  • If you accidentally color outside where you intended, use the Eraser tool to bring it back to black and white. 

And of course you can jazz up your color splash photography with simple word art stickers like this one from the Love pack. 

Happy editing!

Meet the Flockers: Annalyn Lavey

We here at Aviary are proud to have a flock of talented, passionate, interesting, and hilarious people. Each and every person plays a special roll in making this company the awesome place it is and we want to introduce them to you. This week we are featuring our hardworking, adventurous Annalyn Lavey.


Annalyn Lavey, Finance

Resides in: East Village, Manhattan
Originally from: Denver, Colorado
Studied: Accounting & Business Management
Follow Annalyn:  Twitter | Instagram


Theme song to your life: Right now : Drake Pound Cake. An Uber bumped this for me on his killer sound system and I fell in love with it.

I collect: Interesting people's contact information.

Do you have a secret talent?: Master Scuba Diver

My spirit animal is: Elephant

Guilty Pleasure: Airplane Tickets

Tell us about the most incredible place you visited: Mabul Island, Borneo : Scuba & Soccer & Stars & Music

How long have you been with Aviary?: 11 months

How do you approach your work?: Everyday with an iced cappuccino from Else Where Espresso or Abraco.

What influential factors have most shaped your career?: Fabulous mentors and a bit of prepared for luck.

What is the best part of working at Aviary/in Cooper Square/East Village?:  I walk 5 min to work.

What are you currently reading?: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz & The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

What are you currently listening to?: Uner - Pallene Check it out! 

If you could time-travel to any era, where would you go and who would you meet? 1920's, the ring leaders of prohibition.

What do you want to be remembered for? Fabulous adventures & stories to match encouraged over great meals.

Where do you find inspiration? On the ski slopes and at 3 hour dinners with my friends/new acquaintances.

Favorite thing about NYC: Meeting new people.

Favorite Quote: "Saying goodbye is like saying hello but in reverse"

Favorite Aviary pack: Era FIlters.

Favorite Aviary tool: Focus


Gear up for Fashion Week with Aviary

New York Fashion Week is in full swing and we're bringing you a special sticker pack for the occasion. Introducing the Fashion Sticker Pack - chock full of stylish word art, graphics, and Instagram-ready hashtags to help you create your most on point, stylish selfies.

Here's the fashionable Shiba Inu Bodhi of Menswear Dog edited on Aviary with Runway Effects and stickers from the Fashion Pack. 

If you are using Aviary on iOS, you can also buy the Fashion Stickers in the Fashion Week Pro bundle alongside Angle Frames and Runway Effects at a discounted price! 

Monitoring a Scaling Infrastructure at Aviary

Serving photo editing effects, frames, and stickers, as well as photo editing tools to millions of users around the globe requires an infrastructure that can grow as demand grows, and a tightly integrated platform to monitor it. At Aviary, we leverage both Amazon’s large suite of tools as well as a number of third-party and custom products to ensure all our environments are operating at peak performance as well as to catch potential issues before they affect our end-users.

NAGIOS

At the core of our infrastructure monitoring platform is the well-known tool, Nagios. We run Nagios with a custom frontend known as Opsview, which provides a clean user interface for the management of hundreds of hosts, as well as an API which we use in our autoscaling environments. At its most basic level, Nagios is an infrastructure monitoring platform which can be endlessly configured to perform checks on various aspects of the infrastructure. At Aviary, a majority of these checks are performed against Amazon EC2 hosts and include disk and memory usage, CPU load, network traffic, and, in the case of hosts serving web pages, page response time. We have assorted other checks in place that test other infrastructure components such as the availability of S3 buckets, expiration dates for certificates, and DNS.

AN AUTOSCALING CHALLENGE

While Nagios is a very configurable system...

5 Experiments To Help You Find Your Signature Shot

Have you ever scrolled through a friend’s photos and thought, “Wow, they have such a great eye. Why don’t I ever think to take photos like that?”

 

If you find yourself experiencing pangs of camera roll envy rest assured there are a few tips that will help you shape up your technique. Here’s a very basic beginner’s primer on experiments that will lead you to develop interesting shots and help you find your style:

 

1. Get up close-

 

  • If your subject does not exceed the size of a horse or car then try taking a couple steps forward. The more of your frame you fill with the subject the more interesting the photo will be. If you use the zoom feature on your phone too much you could get a grainy or blurry photo so try to move closer first.


2. Move it out of the center-

  • Rather than feature the primary subject in the middle of your frame, imagine a grid (like a tic-tac-toe board). Experiment with the main focal point being at the cross section of two grid lines or even off a bit into other quadrants of the photo.



3. Try using your flash outdoors-

  • To avoid potentially ugly shadows on your subject experiment with the flash settings on your phone. Try using the flash while it’s sunny outside and notice whether or how light is dispersed differently than if you hadn’t used the flash. See whether you need a big bright flash or whether your phone has a way for you to use a fill-flash setting.  


4. Don’t stagnate/Be dynamic-

  • Do you love straight on shots? Why not try shooting from a birds-eye view or an ants-eye perspective? Have you thought about asking your subject to move or propping the subject against varying backgrounds? Discover for yourself whether those snacks look most enticing against a white or wood background. By comparing various sources of light, varying distances to your subject, turning your phone from horizontal to vertical (and visa versa), moving to totally different locations you’ll understand how you like to see your subjects and develop your style.



5. Compare editing to applying filters-

  • Do as much as you can in your composition process but don’t be afraid to get real artistic post-production. Save your original photos to your camera roll but then go ahead and try cropping, enhancing, and focusing to find your preferred style. Sometimes you may be surprised at how simple editing could change the look and feel of your image while other times slapping a moody filter could give you just the look you love.


Now that you have a few tools in your backpocket go out and start capturing the universe! Remember that all rules can be broken and to have fun. Try out a variety of techniques until you find your style and then show it off proudly.