Heidi, from 101 Cookbooks, has posted a very cool article on using High Dynamic Range (HDR) for food photography. Cameras, or in fact, the human eye, can only see a certain range of tonal values. Remember the histogram? You can move the tones around, but as you move one end, the other end moves too. So, what happens when your image contains extremes, lots of shades of dark and lots of shades of white? You lose out on one side, or the other, or both and end up with something in the middle. As you lighten up to get more detail in the blacks, the whites get blown out. As you tone down the lights, the darks get clipped.
However, if you take multiple shots at different levels of exposure, you can combine them and end up with a shot that has the full “dynamic range” of tones.
Heidi does a good job of explaining all of this, and has created a new Flickr group for sharing and discussing HDR and food photography. If you are looking for new things to try, check it out.