Ice Cream and Bread Pudding. Sony and LED lights.

I'm so happy I took a refresher course in food photography by buying Nicole S. Young's book on food photography. It was easily my most effective purchase of continuing education in all of 2013. The underlying principles of the craft are pretty much the same as they've been for quite a while but Nicole did a nice job explaining them and reminded me to use certain techniques that just make food look better. The printed book is a whopping $14 on Amazon. And it's useful even for people who don't necessarily shoot food. Just buy it and put it in your library. Pull it out next time you plan on cooking something great and you just want to show off your culinary chops to your friends.

So, why was I re-reading Nicole's book? Because I'm working with a gifted marketing guy on a restaurant project. My part of the project (as I'm sure you've guessed by now) is to make heroic and tasty shots of the food. The image above is one of many we shot last week. Right before my immersion into boots.

This image was lit by two big 1000 LEDs above and behind the food. The two LED panels are scrimmed or modified by a white diffusion panel on a 24 inch by 36 inch frame. They are color corrected with 1/4 minus green gel filters. While they are called minus green filters they are actually magenta. The magenta cancels out the green, hence minus green in the name. I get them at a movie supply house here in Austin called, GEAR.

The backlight is reflected back into the front of the food by two big, white reflectors. The reflectors are used as close to the food as I can get them and still keep them out of the shot.  I love the way the back lighting makes the green mint leaf translucent.

I shot this wonderful combination of ice cream, drizzled caramel and bread pudding in a hurry to I could catch it before it all melted into itself. But at least the melting process was slower than it would have been with tungsten lights. Even the tungsten lights in electronic flash modeling lights.

Before the dish arrived on the table I did a careful custom white balance using a small, collapsible Lastolite gray/white balance target. Getting the color balance nailed down in the shooting process means more consistent files in post production and, by extension, more consistent exposures. Get one of the targets and stick it in your bag. It will improve the technical quality of your work. Really.

I used my Sony a99 camera with the 70-200mm f2.8 G lens to make this image. I used the lens near 180mm and as close as it would focus, cropping a little bit to get the exact composition I wanted.

We wrapped our Austin food shoot around 6pm and I was in San Antonio by 8pm to get ready for the next day's shoot. The economy seems like it's really thawing out. I'm busy and loving it.


Craig Yuill said...

Mmmm! That looks absolutely delicious. I agree - the "glowing" mint leaves are a nice touch. My kids also really like this shot.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Time to head out for dessert!

Mark the tog said...

Thanks for the recommendation on the book.
Have been doing some food shooting as an aside to some regular clients work. Positive feedback from that is getting me calls from others who want food only.

This book should help me from doing a face plant in the turkey gravy.

Rodney said...

Lovely shot, but why do you and Nicole Young use relatively shallow depth of field in your food photos? Given there's no background to hide, why not show the whole plate sharp?

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

It's more fun. We're not making a catalog we're creating a mood with the food.

Rodney said...

OK, thanks.

LED Lights Brightness said...

I just want to eat this yum.