Another Demo for the Lighting Class: Food

This week we shot a demo using “plated” food in the lighting class; again it was shot “cold,” i.e. not knowing what the subject would be until it appeared in the studio. “Plated” is the generic label for real food as prepared by the chef without any trickery to make it “better than real.” All that is at your disposal is styling/arranging, lighting, and editing and sometimes something as simple as a brush of olive oil to make things shine better. By contrast “studio” food is fair game for any techniques you can bring to bear from some fakery to sometimes taking real food and rendering it inedible with coatings, etc.

Erika brought in some custom desert treats from where she works and did the arranging of the pieces on a white platter.

We needed a larger table surface but all that was available was an upended apple box so we made do with that. It forced us to cut off the shot where the apple box ended so I used a black backdrop to try to add some drama to it. Also that would be very easy to replace with almost anything else that might fit in there better.

A large softbox was the main light, pulled in over the subject and positioned so that it not only provided a nice overall light but also was reflected in the “syrup” droplets that were placed alongside the items to show them as shiny and semi-liquid.

A back accent light was used to make the items stand out and another accent light from the right side was used to bring out some of the texture in the pieces.

Fill came from a light in front to the right of the camera and a white card was used to bounce a hint of light back on the front cylindrical piece to give it a better sense of form and dimension.  The fill light is actually a small soft box but the diagram shows it as an unmodified light.

Here is the light plot of the set up

Lighting diagram/plot for the food demo

Lighting diagram/plot for the food demo.  All of the lighting instruments are Photogenic Studio Max 360 W-S monolights

I shot the first version with an 85mm f1.8 lens. To obtain sufficient depth of field since the camera was looking down a flat rectangular try of goodies it was shot at f22. I normally do not like using a lens stopped down that far due to imposed softness caused by refraction but this would guarantee depth of field and we were not needing any serious enlargement. Had it been a “real” shot I would have preferred using a 90mm Tilt/shift lens at around f11.

First version of the food demo.  Shot with Canon 5D MkII and Canon 85mm f1.8 lens.

First version of the food demo. Shot with Canon 5D MkII and Canon 85mm f1.8 lens.

I wanted to be able to move in a bit tighter so with the lighting remaining the same, I switched to a 180mm macro lens and did several shots working my way around the plate. This second version was my favorite of those.

Version 2 of the plate of desert treats.  Shot with Canon 5D MkII and Tamron 180mm Macro

Version 2 of the plate of desert treats. Shot with Canon 5D MkII and Tamron 180mm Macro

When the shoot was over students rushed to sample the goodies but for some reason no one went for the chocolate piece. Oh too bad… I love chocolate and I can tell you, this one was delicious.


About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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