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(article, Liz Crain)
[%pageBreakSettings nobreak=true] Novice graphics. Minimal photos. Even fewer good photos. That was blogging several years ago. These days, as blogging software evolves and sites like Flickr and YouTube popularize easy online imagery, blogs are becoming more visually sophisticated. Photos? Done that. Video? Getting there. Lara Ferroni, of the photo-licious food blog Cook & Eat, says she’s often more concerned with capturing food from behind the lens than with eating it. Ferroni recently hosted Does My Blog Look Good in This?, a food-blog event that invited bloggers to submit one food or drink photo they’d taken and posted to their blog during the month of the competition. The pretty-blog contest concept originated several years ago on the site Is My Blog Burning? Since then, bloggers from Panama to Australia have hosted it. [%image chips float=left width=250 caption="Fer Food's award-winning shot of a bag of chips." credit="Photo courtesy Cook & Eat"] In Ferroni's contest — which inspired more than 100 entries — the winner for best overall image was a bag of homemade potato chips from the food blog Fer Food. Ferroni believes in helping bloggers create better blog art; she even started a blog about it, called Still Life With. "I guess the first thing I'd say is take the time to read the manual for your camera," she says. "Most digital cameras today have a macro mode that lets you focus close to the subject. If you don't do this, the food will be blurry. And of course there's the usual — don't use your flash, fill the frame, etc.” Another recent food-blog photo event with an impressive turnout was A Taste of Yellow, hosted by Barbara Harris of winos and foodies. Harris, who is currently battling cancer, organized the event in support of Livestrong Day, an event managed by the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support The Cancer Screening, Treatment and Survivorship Act of 2007. Entrants shared personal stories about cancer and submitted photos of yellow-colored foods they had made. “I'm pleased many people felt comfortable sharing their heartbreaking stories," says Harris. "It was also wonderful to hear the happy stories of those who had overcome cancer. The happy stories give us all hope. Not everyone wants to run around a field clocking up kilometers, but they still want to support Livestrong Day.” Other photography-advice blogs include Strobist, Food Photography Blog, and Food Blog S’cool. Food blogs with image-advice pages include 101 Cookbooks and Simply Recipes. [%image promo-image float=right width=350 caption="The Simply Recipes entry into A Taste of Yellow: Lime Mango Sorbet." credit="Photo courtesy Winos and Foodies"] Meanwhile, food blogs that simply feast on visual aids include An Obsession With Food (And Wine), My husband cooks, and Smitten Kitchen. Finally, beyond still lifes is the motion picture. Yes, some food-blog videos feature poor lighting, choppy editing, and stiff acting. But others practically dance with infectious personality and joie de vivre. Well-known food bloggers, including Pim of Chez Pim and Nicky of delicious:days have been experimenting recently with the moving image. But Adam Roberts, the hilarious, infamous Amateur Gourmet, has been incorporating videos into his blog since he launched it three-and-a-half years ago. “I like to see originality, creativity, honesty," Roberts says of blog videos. "I can't stand cheery, here's-how-you-slice-an-avocado videos that are quiet and boring and staged. I like spontaneity and humor.” Sample Amateur Gourmet videos include "A Video Message From Lolita," "David Lebovitz in Paris," "Project Sourdough," "Bulimic Tomato," and "Failure." All the bloggy photos and videos do more than just facelift. These days, more and more food bloggers are transitioning to book publishing or TV hosting. And presumably, the increasing complexity of blog offerings will only encourage more such cross-pollination. p(bio). Liz Crain is a writer in Portland, Oregon.