The Colors and Delboeuf Effect in Culinary Photography



     The color contrast between food and plate creates an optical illusion known as the Delboeuf Illusion or Delboeuf  Effect. This contrast has a psychological effect in Culinary Photography.


      The Delboeuf illusion is an optical illusion; a visual perception which is caused by contrast and assimilation. This principle was named for the Belgian Philosopher, Mathematician, Experimental Psychologist, Hypnotist an d Psychophysicist, Joseph Remi Leopold Delboeuf (1831 – 1896), who created it sometime in 1887 – 1888. 

According to the principle of Delboeuf, if you have two dots of equal size but surround one with a circle, the dot in the circle appears bigger.

Delboeuf Illusion from Food to Photography

In Culinary Arts the principle of Delboeuf is reflected in the appearance of the plates and how you spread the color on the plate. If you put a piece of food on a large plate, your eyes will tell you the portion is too small. But if you put the same food on a small plate and you think the portion is too large. It’s an optical trick our brains play on us.



The shape and color of the dinner ware can affect taste as well. In general, round, white plates tend to enhance sweet flavors in food, whereas black, angular plates tend to bring out more savory flavors. Also, we know that the contrast of the colors on a plate affects the perceived sense of portion size. Thus, we can say that the Delboeuf Illusion it can also be a psychological effect not just a sensory illusion.

Delboeuf Illusion Effect in Culinary Photography

The key point of Delboeuf Effect in Culinary Photography is the contrast between food color and plate (the color and shape of the plate). In Culinary Photography both aspects (the aspect of the colors and the aspect of the shapes) have the same importance. Both create the subject and the message of the photography.

Also the Delboeuf effect in Culinary Photography, it is found in the difference between subject and background. All the time, the subject must be in the center of attention. (the dot surrounded by circles ).The background supports the subject, but it is more intense than it. Otherwise, we will lose the message and the effect of the photography.

There are significant studies that proves which colors effect appetite, and also there are a number of substantial studies that prove that colors, or more so their tone, can affect our moods. These relationships between colors and their effects must be incorporated in photography to get a photography with subliminal messages.

The relationship between Delboeuf Effect and appetite in  Culinary Photography

 As we have mentioned before, The Principle of Delboeuf  is a visual perception  which is caused by contrast and assimilation. This process of contrast and assimilation it is made by colors and shapes. In this case, the colors of the food produce different effects in photography.

Scientists agree that color has a significant impact on how appealing or unappealing a food is for you. Just seeing food causes all sorts of reactions in your body. Neurons in a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite, start firing up. In culinary photography these reactions can be produced using different psychological instruments like shapes and colors.

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About gourmetsnapshot

Gourmet Snapshot is a studio of Culinary Photography and Food Styling from London , United Kingdom. Gourmet Snapshot aims to achieve a communication between colors and appetite through photography.

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