Introduction To Class
Welcome everybody, this is sort of uncharted territory for a food photography class, but I hope you guys enjoy it, and thank you all for coming. I know some of you have traveled from across the country to be here, and we really appreciate you being here, and the online audience as well. We really appreciate you joining us. We welcome any questions during the show pertaining to this. I know there will be a lot of questions, 'cause this is sort of a unusual style of photography that people don't normally do, maybe in their home, or a smaller studio, and I kind of want to show you in this class, how that can be done, because I started out as a chef, and then I moved on to be a food stylist, and then a private chef, and then a food stylist, and then a food photographer, and I started out in my home, and the ceilings were really low, there was a lot of limitations. I did have to clean ketchup off the ceiling doing that, but you can make images in a small space, and I kinda want to show you ...
how that's done. So, we're gonna start off, just by kinda going over some of the images that I've captured over the years, and how they were captured, to just kind of give you a taste of what's possible and what I do, in regards to this style of shoot. "I want to capture compelling and dynamic food images at home or in a smaller studio on a budget. How do we get there?" Now, a lot of the tools I use are specialized, and a lot of them have much cheaper alternatives that you can explore on your own, and I'll kinda go over what those alternatives are while I shoot, and also the equipment I do use, is also available to rent. So, this is very equipment and gear centric, because I require a certain type of gear to make this happen. Without it, I can't capture those sharp images. So I'll kind of go over the different flash options and the strobe options that you have, and what's possible, and what's not possible. So that's really the goal of this entire class. So, this image right here, this is a cereal splash. I'm often asked to do this, it's really a common thing to just ask for, you know, clients will ask for small splashes, they'll ask for big splashes, you have to be able to produce those on demand, and a lot of it is done in Photoshop. At the end of this class, we're gonna take the two images that we're gonna shoot, and I'm gonna show you how I composite images. We won't do these massive 30 layer files, but we are gonna show you, maybe a five or six layered Photoshop file, and how we clean it up, how we manipulate the liquids in Photoshop. So we'll be shooting two images. The first one's actually gonna be a New England Clam Bake, and it's gonna be in a stock pot, and we're just gonna throw it across the room, over and over again. It's gonna get stuff everywhere. It's gonna be a messy operation, but I'll explain to you how we control those liquids from getting all over the place. So, the important thing to remember, is that there are some safety concerns. That's another portion of this class. Safety concerns in regards to keeping fire, keeping liquids out of electrical outlets. It can be dangerous, so I'm really gonna go over that, and a lot of this is, sort of, we're gonna make this from a do not try this at home to, maybe I can do this at home without killing myself. So that's my disclaimer right there, but yeah, I mean cereal splashes are really common. Some people might ask, what do I use as far as liquids, do I use glue, do I use, I ten to use heavy cream. I use cold heavy cream for a lot of my splashes. Cold, because it just has a certain viscosity when it's that temperature, and glue won't splash for starters, it tends to be too thick, and it doesn't create that splash, and milk is too thin, so when you drop something in it, it just sprays everywhere. It has these little fine particulates that aren't as pleasing. It doesn't look as lush. So this right here was heavy cream, but we shot the splash first and then photographed the granola going into the milk splash. I create the splash often by, I'll get like these washers that you get at Home Depot, and I'll use those as the splash trigger, and that creates a really nice, but there's a variety of things you could use. Don't let that be the only thing that you try. You can use marbles, they tend to go down in the water too fast though. So it depends what you're looking for. In this instance, I used a really heavy large washer and just threw it right into the milk. You can get it in one shot, it's just very difficult to do. There will be limitations as far as what you can achieve in that regard. This was a shot, so this involves fire. I do like to capture fire and liquids together. I think it's really dramatic. I do it in some of the cocktail shots. This was captured in two images. So we were able to capture quite a bit. The only thing that I Photoshopped was the flame on the right-hand side. So, when I threw this, I had, I actually lit fire, I used rubber cement to paint on to the surface, and then I lit it on fire, and then I threw graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows into the fire. So this wasn't, these weren't on fire themselves, as I threw 'em. I threw the graham crackers and marshmallows into it. So it kind of created this really big explosion, but rubber cement burns out really fast. It doesn't get everywhere. The only time we've had an incident with rubber cement, is when the actual rubber cement jar catches fire, and then it falls off the set, and then you kick it. (laughs) (audience laughs) Then you have the trusty old fire extinguisher handy, and then you take care of business, but regardless, it actually burns out pretty quick. You just don't want it to get, so you really want to keep anything flammable away from the set. That's only happened once in my entire career, and the only time we've ever gotten anything on gear, was when I first started out, and I didn't understand how important it was to make sure everything was completely covered, and I'll kind of do a demonstration of how, later on in this intro, how important it is to protect your gear. I'll kind of show you how that works using a prop that I have on hand, but yeah, so capturing, we're gonna capture splashes, we're gonna capture actions, we're gonna freeze action. We're not gonna be doing fire in this, but it is pretty straight forward, it's just a matter of having your exposure right, and being careful with, making sure you have the proper safety in place. So I'm gonna bring my Digital Tech on set. This is Jack Hunter. I work with him on all my projects, especially the large advertising projects, and especially the splash projects, because when I'm doing splash work for an advertising job, I trigger by hand. I don't use mechanical triggers, I don't use lasers, I do it all by a feel, and to do that, I need to have Jack kind of, he needs to be in charge of checking focus to make sure the splashes are front to back in focus, which is the most crucial thing to remember when photographing splashes. I'll go over the settings that I use, because there are standard settings that I use to capture a scene with front to back sharpness of this size, and I'll sort of show you how to go smaller and bigger, because a lot of the stuff that I'm gonna be trying out and testing with in the next couple of months, are gonna be in macro, kind of macro splashes, really tiny splashes, but captured really closely, so they look big. I think that's gonna add kinda a really unique look, and a unique take to various macro scenes, so we're gonna be doing that, and that's something that you can try at home, because you don't, it doesn't need this massive, you don't need this massive protective coverings on all of your gear. So this was a shot that Jack and I created, I'm gonna reference this project a lot, it's for a Canadian milk company, and of our splash projects, this one kind of most represented my style. This style that the Art Director came up with, was identical to the way I shoot, and it just happened to work that way. It was a fantastic project to work on. So we were really on the same page, which isn't always the case. So I'm really, it was really a blast to work on, I know Jack had fun, but we'll kind of go through how this image was created. We went to Bakery Nouveau and got their awesome macaroons, and we, they were almost heroes in their own right, they were just perfect, they were just absolutely beautifully done, so we got tons of those, and a lot of these videos and behind-the-scenes videos are on my blog, so you can check those out as well, and so what we did, we had to, the solution, when we got this sketch, it was drawn up almost just like this, so we had to recreate the sketch piece by piece perfectly. So what we had to do is, how we're gonna get the milk table, or how we're gonna get the milk to just lay flat, and it was a black background, because they requested a black background. So what we did, is I had Jack build a, Jack is a master of many trades, and he does a lot of, you know, medium-sized construction, he can set build as well, but I had him create this acrylic table, which is just pieces of plexi, and it's just kind of a shallow plexiglass fish tank, but really, really shallow. What kind of glue did you use? What kind of adhesive, do you remember?
I used a general acrylic weld that the (mumbles) sort of sold me when I said I need some clear plastic and I need to glue it together. I have no idea what kind it is.
Yeah, we kind of paste this together, but it has a wood frame on the bottom to support it, and it sits on two sawhorses, and, so it's just a really shallow tank. The taller the sides, we had to fill this all the way to the top, so the taller the sides, the more milk you have to put in to this, and even this tank took 12 gallons to fill or something, or even more maybe.
Something like that.
Yeah, it takes a lot of milk, so I would even go shallower, and go even shallower at home, but I think, will (mumbles), or companies like that, actually build this for you if you request it, I mean are there people who-
I know that there are people out there who will build things for you.
Most of the plastic stores won't do more than just basic cutting.
Okay, so they can cut the pieces you need, they just won't weld it.
To a degree.
Yeah, it really, it was just a matter of gluing the adhesive, the high-strength adhesive together, but you want a water tight seal. When we first built this, there were some drips, and we had to kinda go around and make sure it was filled, but there's a drain on the side, so you can actually just drain the liquid out of the bottom when you're done, but this is, I have this on set when I do splashes, even if we don't need a tank, just to catch everything, because you don't want stuff going to the floor if you don't have to. So it's a good way to avoid having a big mess on your base there, but I will go through a sort of set construction and how we get there. This image in particular required a tank to be filled perfectly flat with milk, and then we used armature wire to adhere the macaroons in to the set. So we put them in the exact location. So the biggest thing I remember, is when you have an advertising job, and they want stuff in a very specific location, you don't have the option of just building a rig, and kind of having these random things happen, they need a macaroon right there. They need a macaroon right there, in exact position. So you have to make that happen using composite it in Photoshop, and I'll kind of go over that later. It's really not, if you're not familiar with Photoshop, this isn't really that technical if you cover, if you really do it right in camera, this is just a matter of layers and brushing, and it's really simple, and we use a little bit of the Liquefy tool, and a little bit of the Warp tool in Photoshop, but the second you start using those, especially in advertising billboards, where they're blown up really big, or something you're gonna see really close, you can see warps in the liquids in a hurry. So I'll show you an example of something where we had to warp the daylights out of this image, but, so we used the washers to get the, we had washers the same size as the macaroons, and the reason we did that, is 'cause macaroons will not make splashes like that. They'll just float, they'll just hit the milk, and they'll just float. So we used washers to create the splashes. Did it over and over again until we got the exact splash in the exact position that we needed, which took some time, 'cause if you have a light on the left side that's stronger, and you shoot over here, when you try and put it back to where it is, the lighting's gonna be completely off, even if you do cross lighting, which I do to kind of cover my bases and we used the exact same setup that you see here in this image to a tee. This is exactly what it looked like. Except for the black plexi in the background, or (mumbles) in the background. But so we created the splashes, we put the macaroons exactly where we wanted 'em. This we shot with a medium format camera, which gave us some trouble, because the shot isn't instantaneous. We had a trigger, and the shot was just a half second behind my click. So we had to deal with that on set. I had to be shooting by hand with a trigger that was half a second off, so I had to time it. It was pretty tedious, but we got through it. It just took a lot more shots than we were expecting to do. So, lets go on to the next one. This is one of my first splash, you know, splash crashes that I did at the beginning, and this was the donuts I actually adhered the donut to a piece of tubing, or to an arm, just like we have over on the camera, it's like a (mumbles) arm, and then I actually took a cup full of coffee, and just met the donut. So that's the first image you see is I flung the cup into the donut, and then the other donuts I put in post production. This one is a knife cutting a tomato, and this is more subtle. I really like subtle stuff like this, especially with product, 'cause it creates these tiny little splashes, and it kind of shows the product in action. So that's something you can do with products as well. It tells a story about how sharp that knife is, and, you know, how exacting it is. So this is the one that, this is the same project for the Canadian milk company, where we had to warp the daylights out of those splashes. I just flung stuff in the air as fast as I could, and then we used the Warp tool, the Puppet Warp tool, to actually bend it, 'cause you can't create these splashes in reality, and I'll kind of show you why that's the case. This is one of my more recent images. This is just a bunch of tropical fruits, kind of flowing, it's kind of like something we could see for a rum commercial or a tropical mixed drink commercial, and so we just had every single item was photographed separately in this image. So this is major composite. This is everything, and I even created color casts in the milk. If there was something nearby, like an orange, you would see a little bit of orange in the milk next to it, which is missing in a lot of photographs. So we were able to capture that pretty well. It took a lot of time. This is the one that went into (mumbles) Archive, which is a international, you know, kind of magazine, featuring photographer's work, and kind of local ad campaigns. So, I'm gonna kind of get you, I'm gonna show you why, physically why, this stuff has to be protected. I have a piece of really thin kind of painters tarp. This is not what I use on the actual floors, this is thinner, but it's good to kind of cut and just throw over stuff. We've got our computers protected. We've got plexiglass, and I'm gonna kind of get things started and show you exactly why things, 'cause I'm gonna test this set. I want to make sure this set is completely able to handle everything that comes to it, so we're gonna go a little bit (mumbles) here, and we're just gonna smash this, and see if I did a good job, and if I didn't, than goodbye goes the camera, and we have to put a new one in there. All right, so you guys ready for this? This is the reason you have these ponchos on. So here we go, one, two, three. (watermelon thuds) (laughs) (audience laughs) All right, who's gonna clean that up? (laughs) (audience laughs) I hope you're gonna get actions on that. I was actually thinking it might fling in the air more. There was no water in that watermelon. All right, so back to seriousness. (laughs) So the goals of this class, the goal of this class is to actually have fun. This is a fun thing to do. I enjoy doing it. It's kind of, between my lighting style, which is really contrasting and saturated, as you can see in this image right here, I love subtlety in splashes like this image, but I love the big explosive images, and advertisers want people who can handle everything from the most complex image, such as this, to something very simple, like this. This is just meant to be a really nice back lit shot, but I want you guys to know how to do this with very minimal tools in your own house, even by yourself, because this, the shot of the donuts I showed you, that was just me. I mean it took, I mean it's just me and a camera. I put my camera on a timer, and I just timed it, and I rented the (mumbles) from a local rental house, and it was, if you rent it over the weekend, a couple hundred I think, for two strobes and a pack. So it's not cheap, but if you have a shot list set up and you are ready, you can nail eight to 10 shots in one weekend for $200, and you don't have to buy the strobe pack, you can rent it, and I'll show you also how I you use speed lights, 'cause speed lights are really known for their short flash duration. Those are something you might already have, or something that you could purchase and have in your bag, which I do recommend. So we'll kind of go over the tools. It smells great in here now right? (audience laughs) Can you smell watermelon? (laughs) And also the cover of variety of spaces. So I have a studio here, but this is not where I started doing my splash photography. It was in a home, and I'll kind of show you, how the mistakes I made, 'cause this is mistake central, you make tons of mistakes doing this, and the only way to get better at this is to do it, and so we're gonna go over, kind of how I build a set, how I maintain cleanliness. That's actually improved a lot over time. At first, I could care less, I'm like, I just want these shots, and then I'll deal with it later, but I was actually cleaning, like mustard, out of the vent grades in my house, and it like got into the, it was, so I made a lot of mistakes, it did not happen over night, and just kind of going over personal safety. The electrical thing is really crucial here. That's why I have all of my gear covered, or I have all the plugs way off set where they're not gonna be in anyone's way. So it's important to have all of your electrical stuff handled. So when you do splashes, a lot of the images that I create are at first, we're just for fun. It's easy to kind of get wrapped up in the moment of creating a splash image that you forget that there needs to be a reason for the splash image to be there. So when you're practicing, you'll probably do the traditional coffee and donut toss, I mean that has value, but what you need to start doing is kind of getting over the fact that you're creating these cool splashes, and kind get over it a little bit, and study the image like you would study any other image, and realize that it does have to have a meaning. It can't just be, the one thing I never understood is cosmetic, I know there's something behind this, but cosmetic shots where there's a bunch of perfume and someone just throws water at it. I mean, is it supposed to be refreshing, is it supposed to be, there is a reason for that, but when I do an image, I want there to be a really good reason for the image to exist. How does it make you feel? How does it make you, so I kind of step back, and say okay, that's a great shot, I mean it's always gonna look cool when you fling something in the air, but how can I improve it, and to not let just those basic shots be enough, to kind of really push it further, and you can do that in one shot, just as much as I do it, and there's images I'll show you where I got it in one single shot. So Splash Photography Gear, gear always comes up in classes, so we're going to cover it. The gear isn't necessarily camera gear, although I will quickly go in to the gear I use. The gear is important because you have to have certain gear to achieve certain results. There's no way that you can capture this with an iPhone. There's just no way to do it.