Soup. On location.

I was working on a story about a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast for a spa magazine out of California and we needed to do some "studio" shots of the various presentations coming out of the home kitchen of the writer.  I kept scouting around for a good location in the 1980's style kitchen but not finding anything that would work well with the various dishes and the stylish bowls and plates we were using.  I took a moment to walk outside and re-center my thoughts.  This would be the moment the photographer goes outside for a cigarette except that I don't smoke.

While I was standing in the writer's back yard looking at a small, kidney shaped pool, my eyes rummaged across the remains of a home improvement project.  Probably tile used in the rehab of a bathroom on the second floor.  I grabbed four pieces of the tile and headed back into the house.  I built a small stage with the tile on the floor of the living room because it was the space with the least traffic, the closest proximity to the kitchen and the most space in which to set up lights.

The lighting was very straightforward.  One electronic flash in a medium sized softbox from the top left of the frame and one big piece of white foamcore as the fill from the opposite side.  Incident light meter reading with the ball of the meter aimed directly at the camera.  Power on the pack juggled until I got f16.  I used a Bronica SQ-Ai, medium format camera with a 150mm lens and Fuji ISO 100 transparency film.  We took Polaroid tests to make sure we had the exposure right and then proceeded to shoot ten or so dishes.  The soup was my favorite.

The chef brought the soup in a pan and carefully poured it into the bowl, which was already positioned on the set.  He then garnished the dish and added the olive oil drops.  When he moved out of my light I snapped a three shot bracket and we moved on to the next dish.

The story ran eight pages and looked good.  Sometimes work is straight forward, once you figure out what to shoot on and where to shoot.


Chris Belcher said...

Ah Man, I've got nothing thawed to cook, its 29deg F outside and now I am hungry.

Very Appetizing photo!

Peter said...

A very nice simple picture. You keep showing us what can be done with the most basic of equipment.
I followed the suggestion in your pre-Christmas post to take some portraits of the family during the festive gathering, and got my best pictures of them in years. - Perhaps the flash/umbrella set-up quelled the usual protest. Thanks again!

What was the rationale for the Bronica?

Bronislaus Janulis said...

I would very much like your thoughts on the assymetrical tile placement. I was ... struck by it, but like it very much now, as the serendipity of the tile itself.


kirk tuck said...

Peter, I liked the square?

Wolfgang Lonien said...

First I saw the soup in the bowl, and thought: "Oh man, that looks too good to be true!" - but the tiles are indeed interesting; thanks for the story!

Oh, and thanks for all these stories and photos in late December as well!

Markus said...

Just out of curiosity: You tilted the final image a bit more to the right than it was already on film?

I think this stronger tilt works better than the original one, which to my eye seems to be a bit undecided.

Don Schulte said...

I like how the edge of the soup within the bowl lines up with the edge of the top of the bowl. Almost makes it look abstract (circle touching another circle) rather than soup within a bowl. Happy accident or planned?

Take care,

James Weekes said...

The soup shot is wonderful. Very Japanese and yet very Kirk Tuck as I have learned from this blog.

I am very glad you're testing comments again. I know the internet harbors some real monsters but your regular readers are wonderful and insightful.

Bruce Walker said...

From now on, I am adding tiles to my lighting kit. :-)

Gorgeous shot, Kirk. Now I'm really hungry.

Anonymous said...

Kirk is a cool artist. The asymmetric circles are misaligned enough to draw interest to his subject but not so much to be distracting. A slight tilt towards you is inviting you to see more of the bowl. Could be intentional or a natural feel for "yea, that looks right".

- Anthony

Linus said...

Sony: The top end of their offerings needs a big time refresh. The 900 and the 850 need to be mirrorless and video able.

I guess they aren't technically mirrorless, but aren't the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65 the replacements for the A900 and A850? Or do you see the SLTs as a bump in the road from SLRs to mirrorless?

kirk tuck said...

The SLT's are currently DX format while the 900 and 850 are full frame cameras. I think they need to upgrade their full frame cameras to mirrorless. And yes, the SLT's are an interim step. With PD-AF on sensor (as implemented in the Nikon V1) there is no reason for even a translucent mirror.