DIY Light Table


DIY Light Table


Lesson Info

DIY Light Table

It is my pleasure to welcome to the creative live a photo week d I y light table with andrew scan doozy are excusing scalvini, so sorry about that, and andrew scalvini is a new york based freelance commercial on editorial photographer, food stylist and writer. His work has been seen in magazines and newspapers, a world of lot wide, including the new york times, wall street journal, newsweek and la cucina italiana. Welcome, andrew, you doing okay, right? Well, I'm back, and we're going to do something a little bit more hands on this time, we're obviously going to try to solve solve a little bit of, ah, like a studio dilemma with on a low budget with a little bit of space, so on dh, then I'm going to teach you all how to do food styling with a hand saw, so, you know, this is really good for cutting things really delicately and, you know, getting really fine cuts, and then, of course, you might want to measure himself, whatever. So I wore my lumberjack shirt just so that we could, you kno...

w, do some some construction, but basically, what is this light table? And I'm going to build, and basically what it does is it's, if you've ever seen a commercially built studio table that is be able to be lit from the bottom and behind it, and then you put lighting on top of it. It kind of looks like a barca lounger it's kind of looks like a chair it's got this big bend in it, and I owned one of those commercial tables when I was first shooting and I found it to be flimsy, and it didn't really suit my needs as food photographer, because basically, when I'm shooting on one of these tables, I was tending to either be completely over the top of it or at this kind of diners perspective where I was shooting at this angle, so I had coverage on the entire table without needing the sweep. Now, in the off chance, I did need the sweep, I would have basically just put a white backdrop behind it, and it kind of blows itself out it's not like traditional product photography, but that's not what I was doing anyway, you know, when you're shooting product. Ah, a lot of this stuff can it kind of has a little bit more architecture's, so you need that kind of that scoop behind it when you shooting food, it's a lot lower, tow the table, and then you can actually shoot it from angles that are a little bit different. So I found that my solution was just to build my own table that was really rigid, so that when I put stuff on and they didn't sag because I was trying to put heavy objects on and things like that, and it was sagging in the middle, and I found that it wasn't really suiting my needs, so the one that I built had, like, a quarter inch piece of acrylic, and it did exactly the same thing, but it was really rigid, and it serves my purposes and a commercial table with that kind of rigidity would cost you probably upwards of five hundred bucks, so the one I built and I'm going to show you how to build here, the materials cost about sixty bucks, maybe even a little less, depending on where I bought mine in the middle of manhattan, so they're probably a lot more expensive. So and basically, all you're going to need to build this table are the things that you see here, so I'm going to go through the process in our kino and show you what kind of an example of the kind of shot that I've taken with this table, and then what we're actually going to do is build it, and then we'll take some shots with it so that's where we're at, so, um let's get started, okay? So this is the type of shot that I'm looking to take and this is one of the shot that I like the most of what I've done with this table now I didn't want to do like a standard stand up picture I kind of wanted to be able to really see the stuff that was inside of it, so I wanted the light really penetrate the bottle, so I laid the bottle on its back flat on the table like that and then I was able to kind of shoot right through it, so we got a kind of a recreation here with with a clear bottle and then we have another bottle that's just got coloring into so show you the difference and we put that on the table and then some of the other things I'd like to do with it and it's kind of more like conceptual food photography, not traditional but it's it's sort of that hybrid between product photography and still life by using the light table to penetrate through objects like oranges and tomatoes and kiwi to kind of get that kind of cool look where light comes through things and then you know what? Maybe just set up another little kind of a still life that's good for silhouette herbal things because there's also times when you're asked to photograph things that are just going to be dropped into another background particularly like fruit and things like that that there might use for stock so kind of stock imagery is usually stripped down to its bare bones and a lot of times they ask you to shoot objects on white so this is also another solution to that where you get really really crisp edge around your object because it's being lit from both sides so that's where we're at so let's go through and this is another example of something I had published this is another little example of something we'll try here today it's it seaweed and when I was asked how we're going to illustrate seaweed for this story I was like I don't know how to shoot seaweed let's figure it out because art director kept sending me pictures of underwater photography I'm like yeah I don't think I could do that in my studio so let's try to figure out an option so one night I said the light table and I put together the bowl and I soaked out all the thing rehydrated and I started shooting test shots with this and then we went the next day the photoshoot happened and we shot it all again and we did all different colored sea weeds and blah blah blah blah and sure enough they used the first shot I took in the tests that that wasn't even part of the photo shoot that was part of the test so that I ended up in this magazine and then somebody else saw it and it was published in other magazines so the test shot ended up being published in two different magazines so sometimes the testing helps okay, so here's our purchase list and this is all wrong material so the thing that you're you see there with that looks like cardboard that's actually a piece of translucent acrylic about a quarter of an inch thick that has hasn't backing on it for protection so when you buy it at the when you buy that the store it is it's covered and they cut so they can cut through it this one has a particular number so if you go to a plastic store in any city the one in new york is called canal plastics and it's on canal street in chinatown that's where everybody goes to buy all this stuff and has a standardized number the pie it's his pine number two four four seven that's actually the plastic sheeting that's two four four seven so that's the number off the one that you buy and you could didn't buy it and his biggest you like or small as you like it's a standardised number like I don't know like paint or something so I bought the sheet and I use a twenty four by thirty six table in my studio so I had mine made to the same size as my studio table twenty four by thirty six then we use one by two pine lumber, which is this stuff and it's really cheap. And it comes in like eight foot lengths. You could buy it longer, but then it starts to warp metal corner braces, which is this stuff and just the self drilling screws it's good to have in case you don't have, like, a power drill to do pre drilling. But when you work with this, you want to pre drill because if you shoot screws through acrylic in my crack and washers, so we measure the lumber. But I kind of take the cheap route and rather than measure it out, I do measure it with the tape measure. But I also just measured up against the against the peace and indra line and cut it. Now you best have it's better to have a miter box to do this with so mighty boxes like this long thing when this sits right in the slot and I'll cut a straight line unless you have, like, some kind of compact miter saw some other power tool, the girl's looking at me. Like what? Um, pencils always handy. Okay, so we're gonna cut the lumber, obviously, and we're going to fit it to the perimeter of the sheet. So we want to make sure we're making basically, like a like a picture frame around the outside of this thing, and then we're going to measure again, and we're going to try to fit the gap in between the two sheets I mean, in between the two long pieces, so you got too long and too short and they actually fit inside one another like this that really helped the audience, right? You could really see that, and we're going to cut again, and now we're going to get our supplies together because we're going to need screws, we're going to need washers and different size screws for these brackets and different longer screws to go through the plastic that have to be at least about an inch long power drill helps we're going to connect the braces on the corner, so this is going to give the outside of the frame rigidity, and now your frame is complete, so you're you have a full four frame and this is going to fit the exact perimeter of your table, and now you're gonna install the acrylic, which, again, you want to market? I'm screwed, I'm going to say there was a jokester, I I work with my with my presentation, so that was meant for me to as a lay up to able to make a joke, they dropped the ball so we're going to mark the screw holes kind of like every twelve inches, so we have, like, kind of consistent look to the outside of it so it's like twelve, twelve, twelve, twelve all around the market with him with a sharpie pre drill for both the long here's the pre drill. This is very important says this is very important and we're going to collect the supplies we need about ten screws for each side and then again with my guy who decides he's going to mess around with my slide show and we're finished, okay? So that's basically the walkthrough of how we're going to do this thing and I have all the supplies here, and I thought maybe it was rather than just kind of walked through that because before we we decided we were going to actually build the whole thing right on set we we built this thing just to kind of give a quick walk through with for the benefit of everyone in the room were goingto build this thing for real, so here's this frame that we this is the acrylic for real, this is the piece we use and you could see it doesn't flex you could put something of, you know, once this thing is attached to that frame, you're gonna be able to put something on here that's fairly waiting and it's not gonna flex or bend so before we get into what we're going kind of how we're going to set up lights for this thing, I'm going to show you howto put this thing together real quick and show you how easy it is because I think sometimes you look at this year like that's going to take a long time or that's gonna be a pain, but it really is easy and when it comes to these kind of photographic studio solutions, there are lots of ways to do this stuff on your own I've seen people build this with pbc I've seen people build it, I've seen people who go whole hog and like, you know howto well then build like metal frames and do all kinds of stuff, so okay way have five pieces of lumber I don't think we need this one, so the wood's been free for me according to what we talked about before and we're going to set these up I'm gonna put this aside for the for the time being, okay? Because I'm the food guy they put my screws and nothing little ramekins so it's all been nicely done andan only going to take so even if I was doing this from scratch, it would still you could see it actually not that different that's a great sound so who's timing me anybody put the clock on me how well how fast can I do this if you have questions uihlein be thrilling things watch me multi task all right uh dave twenty ten is asking what are you your thoughts on using an adhesive to attach the acrylic I don't think it's necessary but it's definitely something that I feel good about that I don't have a problem with mean there's really good you know commercial that he's is like you know stuff like what they call a liquid nails or so even silicone would attach it to this but I think over time it's probably going to warp a little bit and you're probably better off just doing it the old fashioned way chris walt is wondering why would you need the frame wouldn't the acrylic alone work well that's fine but the reality is that you want as much rigidity as possible okay so it's I think it's probably better to build the frame plus if you want teo you can use the frame for other things to remember now I have one that I built just like this that fits the entirety of my big studio window and I put different sheets of you know plastic or whatever to diffuse light through so you khun do use this this wouldn't be like suitable to diffuse daylight it would be it's too thick but it would be you know the frame itself if you wanted to amuse it for something else and just take it easy I took the took the acrylic often what under a minute it would be really simple to do so I think that's the benefit of it give ads rigidity to it and what is um definitely multipurpose so I just want to give you a shadow from laura sita who says now that's what I'm talking about build it in the studio not just tell us about it doing here thank you yes so that's like okay so we're two down and two to go tim allen was a big hero of mine uh oh we did something wrong that's the problem see this is the joys of doing things live when you make a mistake everybody gets to see okay yeah that's it I'm my timing is ah losing time here my my uh so you have another question I d'oh what the uh what is wondering could you please repeat the specs for the acrylic it's twenty four by thirty six the acrylic number is two four four seven two impressive. Remember that and it is about a quarter of an inch thick so I think anything thinner than that like even an eighth of an inch is still going to have a little bit too much flex and quite honestly if you wanted to go thicker it's more expensive but it's perfectly doable because they're going to cut it for you store okay keely is asking you mentioned you've seen others make this out of pvc how would that differ from your methods here? It's just a preference I mean, I think pvc especially if you have a saw that cut it pretty easily because it's plastic it's pretty easy to cut can be assembled in different you can build a whole table out of pvc really easily see, I do this also as a tabletop size because everything in my studio is twenty four thirty six because that size in my studio table and when I store all my surfaces I stacked them up against the wall so I built this one to be just the same as all the others that I use and I set them upon so horses in the in my my studio window so that there's some consistency and ease of storage so that's my twenty four thirty six is kind of my go to size table top so when I need something bigger all use something bigger I have some bigger things in the studio all work outdoors but for the most part have a pretty large collection of twenty four, thirty six panels that my my prop assistant will paint over and he'll do give me different surface saw surface some options he's uh we have kind of a whole different love punctuating money thoughts with my inner my inner guy out right now isn't it there's a commercial like that isn't there with some guy and he zion is there's some he's talking to a girl and there's like all kinds of wild sounds like like animal sounds and it's like oh no that's just your need to go build stuff another question from a cm eighty three why did you use a frosted she instead of a clear sheet? Well, the point of it is to defuse the light so in order to do that I need the it's always that last one right? You have to defuse the light that's the whole purpose of using and a light table so that the light will penetrate it not just blow through it because then it wouldn't uh it wouldn't be an even look behind the objects if it was just clear on with that we have a frame wei have one screw left the months will put it back. You mentioned that you had other surfaces. What other things to do with these other surfaces? I used the mist tabletops and backdrops basically in the same way I have sheet metal picnic tables or doors that I've ripped off of like old barns stuff that's been hand painted for me marble, granite uh slate like everything and I try to get everything is consistent in size as I can I have one piece of uh black granite that's about that thick at twenty four by thirty six it weighs about three hundred pounds so that only gets moved once in a while okay so so now the frame is complete so here's what we saw in this thing flip it over okay that was six and a half minutes while you're answering questions wow on dh having trouble because I wouldn't get it wrong the first time I get a handle on the five minutes all right so now I'm gonna put this here and this the holes have already been drilled for me so I don't have to worry too much and I try to stay off the corners I tried to stay off the corners simply because I didn't want to screw to kind of go through and then get into the gap so I'm screwing at the top here and then through the sides top sides and I stay away from the corners because I know I'm going to get a solid grab on the wood because this pine is very soft anyway so you also got this you're worried about it cracking and so I have these little plastic washers that's also going to help defuse the pressure on the glass so it doesn't crack and when you're screwing this down you have to kind of be careful not teo uh not too screwed down like as hard as it'll go just snug it up because if you go too hard you're gonna crack the glass and it'll let you know it's not so as soon as you kind of get it just has to hold it it doesn't have to be like super super tight anymore questions one just came through from kelly h is the acrylic the same on both sides yes it's consistent everyone really loves the multipurpose use out of this well, sure the frame you can put fabric in the frame you could do a lot of different things with the frame and it's um it's really easy to build so it's good to have another person here to hana hold stuff down maybe I'll maybe kate will come out and help me a little bit you ever run into the acrylic cracking while you're drilling holes? Well not if you're pre drilled them with with with a regular hand drill and drilled pre drill the holes can you squeeze that lines up like that? Yeah, I just need to get one in there and then it'll hold itself wait go much better um yeah, you have to pre drill plastic because you really run the risk of cracking it if you don't work lighting when you're doing underneath you you put the gel on the lighter do you put it on the acrylic acrylic and it's actually a pretty cool effect um so I wanted to have like a purple or green or something like that you would just tape the gelato underneath and then it would just blow through and just the same as you would you don't need to wrap the light in it it's actually easier to just put it right on the plastic do you know how many stops this plastic for is not important? It's you know I don't, but I'm not sure exactly it's not that important with digital photography because you can kind of just play around with the exposure plus you may with different with different items, you're going tohave, you know, obviously different setting, so but I don't think it's that necessary, you know? But I don't know once you start wearing the gels, though, you can start losing quite a bit that's true, I mean, but I think all of that I would say is experimental like anything with photography now you just you want to experiment with it? Why don't I have extra not you missed two. Oh, I know why? Because mine only has six and they put two extra ones. Look, this is what mine looks like. You could only has six old um, so people are wondering if you could do this with any size frame you could build a bigger or smaller depending on what you're yes, the other frame that I built my it is about that wide and about six feet tall so I've built a frame that fits exactly inside the window and then I leave it blank and then when I'm ready to put something in it, ali was staple it in or tacking it in or tape it in and then put it right in the window so there are times when that's ah that's a necessity because I have, like, southwest light, which is really beautiful photography, but sometimes the sun is right outside the window, so okay, so the table is complete, and what we're going to do at this point is show you how to arrange the lighting that the way I do it, but there are multiple ways to do this. The first thing that's important is to understand that you need to illuminate the bottom so one of the were using pro photo heads here. I use quantum q flashes at home because there they're a little bit lighter and easier to carry around, especially if I'm going to bring this particular set up anywhere and I do use a soft box just like this. Andi I usually set it up either with this kind of facing like this or kind of mounted it right over the top of the table, depending on how I'm going to approach the table with my camera, I will set it up that way, but like I said before with food photography I don't necessarily get down like here I don't necessarily go like this that often when I'm using something like this there's no point to it the whole point of shooting is to be able to see what's being illuminated through the bottom so I'm usually either at what I called the diners perspective so if I'm sitting here eating that's what it's gonna look like or I'm right over the top of it or somewhere in this in this area because I want to kind of get a graphic look or whatever so I kind of picked a few different things that were going to photograph in a little bit and yeah sure the total cost to just make what was the total cost to just make that about sixty bucks I mean I think the acrylic cost me about forty and then the rest of the supplies were probably around twenty books and then about from start to finish you know, after the materials were back at the studio you know with cutting the lumber and assembling it of course with two people in two sets of hands who could symbol and under thirty minutes so under thirty minutes under a hundred bucks you can build one and then you know, whatever lighting you have you mean you don't have to have expensive strobe lights to work a system like this? I mean, there are definitely affordable strobe systems that you can work on great. So a lot of people out there wondering exactly the part numbers and a list of materials that you just used for this and I want to let you guys know that there is a pdf that under put together s so it has all the details and all the equipment that you need all the parts to put this together and that's included as a bonus with this class. Actually, so if you've already purchased it that's yours and if you are going to purchase it, you will be able to get this yes, and then I will personally come to your house and help you build on it. So okay, so let's sum let's, just talk about this for a minute before we go up and do anything else. So what light tables usually are used for is like a still life in product photography already went over that a little bit, and there are some interesting uses for food, photography and the different things that I tend to do with it, and I've seen other people do with it. But it's also another option because I work primarily in daylight most photographers do or we use a strobe set up that is mimicking daylight, you know, so the strobe setup that I use in the studio is not anything like this it's it's a much different kind of a setup um we can also, you know, kind of use this to set up like a makeshift light box, so if I wanted to put the strobe completely over the top in the soft box and then surround this other than where I'm going to shoot with white way to get a true light box kind of effect, and when you're doing that again for silhouette, herbal, kind of images and things that your editor or whomever wants to be able to drop out of picture and drop it into another background that's a great tool and it's really inexpensive to do, um, you can also set up multiple strokes, and I've seen this set up in different ways where you have kind of you surround the whole table with strobe light, so you have another soft box here and another soft parts here, and then you're shooting from the front and you getting light from from from four sides, you know, the three and then underneath again, perfect for that kind of that, that kind of ah, you know, silhouette, herbal image. Um, right. Oh, you actually answered the questions I had on my note because I had the whole you can use that from colored acrylics and were put gels underneath it to get that kind of an effect, so we're going to go over a couple of different things I have a few different things we can shoot and then we can answer some questions and if you have any questions going along the way and it doesn't necessarily way can anything kind of vaguely related to what we're working on we can talk about, but so let me go over the setup we have here, so again, I used so horses all the time, but for what I want to use like pull my surfaces right on top this is this is very comforting for me to see because it's my size it's on the same soil horses I have in my thing, I like to use the shelves here to kind of be able to put things on and often be ableto have like a nice clean workspace we sandbag everything that we use because you do not want this to move now I don't need to sandbag my, um one's in the studio because that three hundred fifty pound, four hundred pound piece of granite is sitting on top of it so it doesn't budge, but here we sandbag things because we don't want them to move. We got these these light stands with this swing arm, which is helpful because you could just put this on there, you can just put this on the light stand and have it angling down but if you do want that option where you want to boom it up and over the table you need this kind of swing arm to put it on and you really need a lot of weight at the bottom two counteracted so being able to do that really helps behind here we have like a typical kind of sweep you khun do this with paper you could do this with fabric you could do it with more of this kind of clear stuff even if you want to throw another light back here and blow that up too you can buy something that mimics this that's flexible and soft and do that same thing two light stands in a cross arm couple of clamps and that's good too so even given take the lights out of the equation but just the grip you know the two light stands all this stuff you're still not talking about a thousand dollars not even close you know you start we're still talking about something that's reasonable to build and disassemble that's the key is that if you're working from home or if you have a small space that dedicated as a studio and maybe it serves there's another space you gotta kick the kids out you know get him out of the playroom and set up your photo studio this is great because like I said, the reason I build this this way is because then it's profile is that that's all it is in my studio it's a couple inches off the wall rather than this sweeping studio table that I have to kind of push off to the side and use or once every six months and it takes up lots of space. So in new york, you know, even the studio which is a decent size studio still because of the propping and because of all the equipment we're pressed for space so you know, we want to be able to be as efficient as possible, so this has been soaking that's our seaweed shot we're gonna see what that turns into and we got this. Okay, so we should probably test these lights, kate want to come out? Well, john will test these lights and get ready. I have a question yes, with wood in your frame do you ever get color cast from a bouncing off the wood? I haven't because the light is so it's, so powerful that it kind of pushes it out, but I don't I haven't had that experience, but if you feel that that would be a problem or you found that it was a problem with your setup, I would just spray paint the spray paint this so that, you know, paint it all white now that problem is eliminated or if you build it out of pvc because pvc is white so that'll help but I mean technically I I haven't had that problem we're testing to see what our aperture and r shutter is going to be for this and then we can adjust from there so basically what they're giving me is a base I work with and with digital obviously because we're not shooting polaroids and testing the light that way okay a cz long as it's close enough and aiken test it on john would you mind if we find an apple box? Yeah cool and can you tell us again this exact lighting set up well these air to pro photo heads their wall plug ins there's no ballast or um power pack so there this is stuff that you can use at home now I don't own this equipment this isn't what I used but it's uh these are all pretty accessible you know, reasonably priced lighting equipment if you're gonna work with strobes pretty often I wouldn't buy him if you're only going to use them once in a while I do something you can't even do this with speed lights so I mean not that speed like cheap but the reality is they're cheaper than pro photo gear so I'm going to take a test shot my tethered now am I ready to go okay wow okay so we're really blown out that's because we're not set where did you say john? It was eight eleven well, that makes sense okay tonight it's horrible. I'm not quite in the right meter yet so okay light room is misbehaving and what kind of this is my fifty millimeter macro that I shoot a lot of food with so, um this is I like this lens it's inexpensive adorable and I like the effects it gives me I actually have a much more expensive zeiss lens that I used as well but this is sort of my war course lens I don't resumes at all I only own two and I only use them outside of food photography I use a fifties and hundreds pretty much and thirty five pretty much exclusively for food photography let's see where we're at get a test so we're close but we're a little too bright we're getting a lot of shine but we're getting the effect we want and we're just a little too sharp because they think that this needs to go up turn it down that should be turned down a little bit and we're gonna re angle this. So this is that kind of you have over here we have to kind of eliminate some of this and this is basically not this is the reflection of the soft box so if we move the soft box back a little bit and just kind of throw light over the top that might help a little bit we'll see how that looks but you could see that we're getting we're getting what we want kind of at the edge and we're getting along we're not getting in anymore if I walked back close to it will disappear again okay but we're getting the shot but you could see were still a little blown out around the edges so I would I would say we probably need to go and give it a little bit more aperture and test again now we're a little now where you see how we're gonna get in the reflection of the of the baffle that's the problem there is down the lights not strong enough to blow it out so now that we dialed that one down a little bit to throw a little less power and that's where we're getting that reflection because there's not enough power to match we're gonna try again okay we're still getting it okay what's the power on the one on the bottom you're probably used to go up a little bit all right is there a way to take the grid off off the soft box or do you need that john because I think that's just right okay it's been there forever oh no okay, so when when there is a issue remove it okay, almost there this is fascinating television say that again this is great to troubleshoot this live because we all have to go through this yeah, great yeah and it'll take you a while to dial it in at home yes it does you know this is you know, to get the one shot it will take time to kind of troubleshoot when you're working with strobes and you're working with glass objects and particularly when you're working in a situation where we're eliminating a glass object from three hundred and sixty degrees it's a it's a balancing act to get the amount of like kind of flair that you could come to be comfortable with so once the lighting is there let's see if that help thea let's see if that help yep that helped a little bit okay, so we're getting closer to where we want what ideally would like to do is try to get this to go away completely so let's see if we can pull over the top of it completely yeah, I know I mean, usually I'm if I'm gonna stand let's test it yeah there that did the trick because usually what? I'm shooting that the last one I showed you the test shot see now we can live with that tiny little flare on the top that could even be removed out photo shop if you really didn't want it but the reality is that I'm getting the detail inside here that I want I want to be able to see through I want to be able to see that this is kind of so if I can I can even pull this down here toward me a little bit and get more straight over the top shot tribal more so when shooting any glass where you're always gonna have some measure off like flair because there's no there's no other way to deal with it you would put cards around it you could block it off is much as you like sometimes you add black to glass objects so that you can get the edge it will read the black edge and give you a little bit more defined but I would say that we know we're pretty close here and especially if this is a silhouette double image we're going to be able to drop this into something else pretty comfortably yes would it help to flip the bottle around because I noticed that that edge of the glass is pointed towards the light I mean that way no I mean flip it around rotate that this way because that edge of the glass towards the top is angled towards the light that's actually a really good suggestion let's check it out come on up exactly so all right so that's kind of the recreation of that shot with a little bit of you know the normal kind of trouble shooting you have to go through when you work with strobes now again I'm somebody who who works with primarily daylight so that when I do work with strobes it is that kind of I always go through that that learning curve allover again you know I know how to use the equipment I know how I want to do it, but then I'm always kind of doing that back and forth troubleshooting and then of course having a good assistant or somebody around who can kind of think out, you know, outside of my head that actually helps a lot. So what we did with this last time is I stirred it up so that would float a little bit more so no it's fine, I can use my finger it's I said it before it's the best styling tool that we own yeah, perfect. Ok, so what? I'm going to do it before I'm getting ready to shoot and I'm going to kind of just give it a little bit of a stir and get this stuff to float a little bit better and honestly, when we did this for the other thing, the photoshoot I probably did that twenty times to see like the best flow that I could get um and and what we would do is trouble shoot by looking at it saying, okay, that's kind of crazy we might have I mean it's kind of interesting as well, but I think we need more light penetration from the bottom, so maybe turn the power up and if that doesn't work and we don't get the solution start to take some of this stuff out because I want to be able to see the light coming up through the vegetation how are we okay, let's try it that's not a good idea I didn't take a picture okay see what that one did a little different pushed it up a little bit now I think the lighting is where I wanted but I think I'm going to take some of that vegetation out and maybe get a little bit more light penetration through it it's definitely going to hit a tent but that's actually if you it's gonna be all right let's try it again yeah it's definitely the water has attend to it but that's okay what? I don't like his old life white stuff floating on the top so maybe now we're back to food styling everyone I could help a little bit of weight the action the light should be able to freeze the action pretty well. So now the shot that I showed you of the one that they used in the magazine was probably about a crop like right in right into that bowl so it wasn't the whole bowl so I kept experimenting and pushing and trying different things until I got what I wanted and then I cropped into the photo to give that kind of abstract look you wouldn't see me directly on the light table uh, it could be interesting, but you know, I hadn't done it and technically I would be this camera would be mounted above here on a stand, I'd have a trigger release and I'd be starring stepping away and shooting wouldn't be trying to do it this way, and then you got a different kind of a cool or effect because everything is kind of spreading out, right? So that's kind of that's kind of the goal of what I was, you know, going for, but the reality is just show the the way the light reacts with the food so, like, even if what you just said, all right, grab a handful of this stuff, all right and let's play around let's see what we get this is great because l k p and the chat rooms is wondering this exact same thing if you put food onto that late team well, that was the next thing we're going to do there's a guy who did this whole photographic siri's like this where he took all kinds of different object and data, it was almost like x ray because it was penetrating light through objects, and it was so interesting because he was doing using the negative space as well in the art, and then he was playing around with the photo shop so it's like from from an art perspective it's pretty cool I only show you what that's actually a little bright so let's sum let's go and see what else we can get with this yeah so it's I mean it's interesting and honestly depending on the application and depending on what you're trying to accomplish you can throw anything on here and see what you can get so we've recreated kind of recreated the two shots that I showed you in the opener and let's try to do a couple of the objects that we have and show maybe some of the other things that is like table khun do a regular paper towels find to clean their critics yeah I mean that that stuff is pretty indestructible I mean you just don't want to use anything really harsh or caustic on it basically soap and water will clean it up vinegar and water will clean it up that's what I use in my studio a lot because there's so much food in the studio we try to stay away from thanks we started stay away from really chemical e kind of cleaners on all our surfaces because we're cutting food on everything all the time so we use just vinegar and water in the studio to clean up so I got a whole bunch of different fruits and vegetables and stuff and stuff that obviously light will penetrate through so if we kind of do something a little graphically interesting here with this. And this is the kind of stuff that I find fun to do with this. Because it's, different than what we normally do, it shows a little range. You want to pick out a hero like usual, the one that you think might have the best potential toe look pretty on camera and that's. I picked that one. Going to get close. Yeah. It's. Cool. Careful with court. Your cut on the horse is cool. So I mean, it's a cool effect. I mean, it really gives you that idea of what that is and it's kind of fun to play with. And the better looking the produce you throw on there that you can get some really cool stuff. If you get really nice and tight on one. I like that. I think that's kind of cool and that's unprocessed. I mean, by the time we we get through it that that could be really cool. We try some other stuff. Way could make it to make a salad. Give me a little basil and some garlic sound cocks over in colorado is wondering if you or could you put goebbels between the bottom light and the underside of the acrylic to create interesting shadows? I would say sure I mean I think it's kind of anything that you feel that you khun you khun use to manipulate the light to make things interesting now I have some photographs that were published in a magazine last year of cocktails and we were using this acrylic tio a different type of a colored acrylic as the surface it was we weren't lighting it from the bottom but we were using the reflections of the glass so the glass would be reflected in the surface and it was similar to what we had going on with those stripes we had the outside of the window of my studio window is a fire escape from a certain angle when the sun is coming through it'll shine the shadow in the shape of the fire escape on the table so we have scream it out but when I did that for whatever reason because of the acrylic acrylic picked up the shadow differently and it made all these crazy shapes behind the drinks and we were shooting tethered so everybody could see what what it had come out of the camera and they were like that's brilliant let's use that so sometimes you get a happy accident too so it's good to play around with these things and see what else you could do any other questions before I shoot anything actually look let's talk ok another question do you have do usually shoot without a tripod no not this stuff I mean I will hand hold some of it but sometimes when you're trying to manipulate food and shoot at the same time it's kind of impractical and laura sita is wondering if you ever could you use the same basic procedure and lighting for shooting jewelry yes that was one of the things I was going to talk about is that a lot of these things that I'm doing here really are more applicability to product photography you know I'm just using it because I'm trying to do something a little different or be able to have a really easy solution to a silhouette herbal image but the reality is that this is really a great solution to product photography with the exception jewelry's good because it's flat with the exception of anything that has architecture because then you're going to need the sweep behind it but I mean we could show you that the reality is we can you know you'll see the potential in an image like this hopefully this is gonna work but you could see I lose the eye if I can lose the horizon line if I lost that horizon line you'll see if we look if we managed that light a little bit better I mean that's you know and we lost the horizon line in photo shop that could be another solution to doing a product shot you know without having to spend money on a table with a sweep built into it. So I mean, even the and that, quite honestly, that line is the is the table edge would so back to the other question, can we do it without the edge? This is rigid enough first certain things where, if that's the kind of photography we're trying to do with it, I would take it off the frame, because now you're not as concerned with being as rigid as especially if something is light, and then that line disappears and then you have a clean, white background. So again, you're working, you, khun do product, you can do electronics, you could do anything you quite, you know, has the application of product photography here. So for sure, laura seeger is wondering if you she really wants to know the little props you used to prop things up, like translucent, translucent things like bottles at an angle? What do I use things to prop them up? Yeah, do that, yeah, I would have to be translucent themselves were not necessarily because you could take it out in photo shop, because none of these pictures are kind of like we're not looking at food photography in a traditional sense where we're worried about it being like, oh, is that really? Is that not really? Did you not photoshopped that if you put like a piece of white fun tak or something to hold something in place and you can photoshopped it out pretty easily but yeah, I mean I would try my best to do it without that but if I had to I would do it joanna andrea is wondering if if you're shooting from overhead can you show us a diners angle perspective on the table on what the table can actually d'oh sure I'll do that with these we got these cool um figs we get to eat these props at the end right? Of course of course if you don't mind my hands being all over everything so we got these nice looking figs I'm going to arrange them in some kind of ah natural way so sticky so again I got my macro lens and I'm going to kind of focus in on one of these and let everything else kind of drop away now the problem being here is that I don't have any light redirection on this so it's not so bad but I would know you know you're getting a really nice crisp, clean kind of focus on that one thing but what I would do with this is kind of build a little bit of a light box around it and get back to my more traditional kind of food photography standards you know this is my window light now and this would be my redirection but now that I'm illuminated from the bottom, that kind of gives me another dimension, it gives us this thing looking like it's floating on air, but for sure I could shoot this just like I shoot food with the eliminated bottom and it would give me some kind of a different effect, so I would just, you know, to white cards right here on either side, they are actually I have some white cards in the camera bag, why not let's try it camera bags right there, john, right there under my sweatshirt because you need all this information out on the internet where my bag is where my sweatshirt here is my little kid that I carry with me all the time with my little white in my black and silver cards, and even though I don't have my clamps, I don't need them because this is really small, so if I go like this and I go like this and I leave myself a little bit of a window to shoot through, we're going to get a different effect and if that's too bright, then I'll back them off there it is, and that gives you a much different look than traditional food photography it's super focused it's very, very sharp there isn't any real fall off, but if that's what you need as faras the stock image or something that you want to do for a silhouette that's perfect so again that hoping that answers that question of what this could do in a more traditional food photography absolutely uh kind of going to like the gear that you can use with this d away table can you use on camera flash such as a ring flash and also someone earlier was wondering if you can use uh like a chicken light or regular tungsten light underneath to light it? You know I don't you know I would try it an experiment with it, but I don't know that it's going to push enough light through the table to give you the same effect I mean that's pretty bright right now and those kind of yes, yeah for sure and how about continuous led lights led again? Probably not powerful enough unless you're spending expected making expensive they don't push that kind of light, you might as well get a stroke if you're going to spend the kind of money it would take to get in led to eliminate that from the bottom, you're probably better off just find a stroke so anybody in the audience I see somebody hand earlier and probably answered your question all right? Another question from the internet kook from new york is asking rather than the overhead shot and the side slash forty five degree angle shot are there any other angles slash techniques you enjoy experimenting with well, I mean, like I said, if I'm going to do this, you know, kind of I'm going to need to have some type of a backdrop so what I shot before when I dropped down to that table level I mean, we can even kind of play around with even something like this where, you know, gives me the opportunity to get in here and it's going to be side lit and dropped down really low, maybe even like, almost underneath it and I'll show you something I hope it comes out it kind of came out and we can work on it I'll show you what I mean thank you. Ok, you see what happened here, right? I went below table level and if I again, if I can lose this horizon line, that kind of almost looks like it's floating in air and it's a cool effect and again that's something that you can normally do with ah standard light table but that's you know, this is that home version that you can make adjustments to that really gives you a cool effect. The other thing that I'm looking at here is that I got the reflection here it's very faint you probably see better at home if I just my lighting just a slightly I might be able to pick up the full reflection of that in the glass so it's ah it's a cool thing it was it's actually something you do without the light on the bottom to pick up the reflection so you could try to manage it both ways kind of turn the light down underneath still want to get that kind of halo effect around everything but if you contrive it without that's kind of cool to just like experiment and see what artistic vision you come up with, you want to try that? Yeah, if you baffled this light you know you can baffle later you contented off a little bit and kind of soften it even further and that's going to help increase the amount of reflection you can get off the bottom yeah, let's see if that works because I'm seeing the whole reflection in the camera. Yeah, we would probably need to adjust the lighting even further, but you can see with that it's starting to get by tenting off the light at the bottom and we did that in a very crude way were just sticking a hard over it, but if you manage it a little bit better, you're going to get you know you can get that full reflection and give a kind of an interesting an interesting approach to that so that's another kind of fun technique to play around with until you master it um you know, in general, you get the sense of how to adjust, you know, take some light away, add some light in different places, put your cards up, take them away and see what, and see what you get fined until you find a technique that you like, okay, cool and a couple people were interested about making cocktails or drinks and photographing that on this table. Yeah, that's totally something we can do it. Is that something? I know that when you photograph drinks that they have ice in the glass sweats, but if you don't want that affect, you use fake ice boys, warm drinks, okay, so if yeah, if we can, we can play around with this for a moment. I want to try out these oranges and kiwis, and then I think we're going to get a drink and we'll test it and it'll be cool. And that is from pap photo and steve savior in new orleans. Yep, yeah, we talked to steve before we're going to need, like something colored in that so but, like, if we can put a soda or something or not a soda, but like a lemonade or iced tea or something that has color, um, let's, try a combination of things and see how the light reacts with different ones. Do you mind questions while you're shooting? No, this question from dave twenty ten how big of a shooting area do you have? And I think the follow up to that would also be, you know, with the d I y table, can you just have it in a really small room and or do you have to have a large studio work in like, no, because you see, I'm I'm in a footprint here of maybe, what, five by five? Oh, that's cool, allie, you could make this in your closet at home, couldn't you? Yeah, you might not want to be running lights in your closet. I mean, the reality is that it's, I'm in a ten by ten foot prints here, and I can do pretty much everything I need to do. So if you can carve out a little space that you can set up your stuff in and then be able to store it in the closet, that might be a really good way to do it. I'm going to try to get a little more light out of this and see if I can push a little bit more through, but I love the detail that's the thing that this thing gives you as you get this really, really rich detail in all of these, like little seeds and a little pulpy things you don't and then if you want to like once you start the process a picture like this and you zoom into it and you get like a really abstract kind of interesting thing to do that could be great so we have a few drinks we can play around with it's not traditional glassware but we can we can make it work actually you know what I'm gonna do is I'm going to do what I do with studio I'm going to create something out of something else I'd rather shoot real glass we have a couple of wine glasses coming in as well that's what you'll have options this might be interesting you're gonna have wine in them for me hope hope hope way could make that happen if you like after the class is that paring knife still around here somewhere another mind you've been wanting to do that way don't do that at home I have money okay I'm gonna teach you how to make white wine I can try to do it with what I have you know you actually have white wine so that's even better but if you don't have white wine and you don't want to keep wine in your studio all the time because you know it's expensive you open it it goes bad you can't use it get a cheap bottle of sherry or a cheap bottle of such anything that's amber colored and in water and water and a little bit drop of cherry to get the different colors that you like the wind like a lighter wine like a pino grigio or a darker one or whatever you could do that really easily and then cranberry juice and it's much easier, much cheaper to do it that way and quite honestly imperceptible on camera I'm teaching you how to cheat just a little bit these are great tips thank you so this is actually pretty close to the set up that I use to shoot drinks um it's similar in that I wanna have enough surface behind here and in the front to be able to kind of blow all around that it's definitely too hot I'm adjusting this is creating big shadow because of where the lightest we're gonna get rid of that would be you know I'm doing this on the fly but you know you get the sense of what cape oh that's even better all right, let's try that red one's a little harder because it's some it's really dark but we'll try it cecil bad see, now I'm going to try something and show you a little bit about shooting glassware I don't know that this applies as much about shooting glassware on a light table, but in general you shooting glassware, keeping black cards out of the frame helps this might be a little short well try anyway you'll see that what this does that's the concept of what I see now look at the glass you have a little bit of edge being lost so what black cards do in this situation is it gives the glass somethingto look at so now it's looking at instead of just white is looking at black and that edge should come back a little bit so let's see if we can make that happen here like I said I'm not yeah it came back a little bit but the reality is that because you were illuminating this from the bottom this is going to blow a tte least enough of this away where it's not going to help I mean if I move closer and might do it but if certainly if I turned the lights off which I don't want to do with the moment cause that's kind of off topic it will help moving them a little closer helped as you could see it you see the difference especially in this upper ring it's picking up this from here you could see its casting red there and then it's casting black there and it's coming around and again down here so this is that kind of glassware technique that helps you reduce your flares and helps you give some edge and some definition to clear glass where so if you can kind of pull some edge on a light table in a white background then you know that when you're working in daylight for you working with just a stroll for some soft lights that you're going to really be able to kind of pencil that edge and around your glassware so that's pretty cool week I've found that cut outs of shape covered in ten flow behind it do a lot to bring the light back through it sure, I mean, and I think all of that kind of all of those kind of like homemade techniques and the things that you kind of experiment with are really helpful I mean, one of the things we did one time was I had to shoot a bowl of porridge on a table like this, you know, it wasn't lit from the bottom, but it was definitely we would strobing it and we wanted to get an effect of ah, what do you say then getting right, but I want to do it in camera I didn't want to do it in post production, so what we did was we took pieces of black paper and and actually made the shape ofthe with circle so it was when the strobe fired it fired in the shape of a circle and we actually got that vignette ing in camera and it was really cool but that's the same concept, you know, you're kind of you're creating the shape of light the way you want it so what what is this now because now that they put it in my water oh it's good I thought it was maybe cleaning fluid or lemonade with I was going to drink the wine but they took it away from me they knew no it's cool you know let's try let's throw everything on this thing why not it's fun yeah okay so we got like little sheets of nori and maybe we can kind of do some of this stuff this is the same stuff that was in water it's dehydrated this might kind of add some interesting kind of shadows because the light will not penetrate this and that's the kind of thing too that you can really have fun with because you know that light will penetrate some things and won't penetrate others and that's that play in negative space that you kind of have some fun with and see what you get the hardest part so yeah I mean that's really neat the way that comes comes through I like it even better without all this it's amazing to me how forgiving it is because it's very dirty out here but you don't feel through the image where is the rest of your bender is this table something that you will take with you on location I could you know if if there's something that it was necessary for me to do that I totally would do it because it's it's light enough it's durable enough you're not worried about getting beat up scratch you don't destroy, but you definitely can banging around, throw it in the back of the car and, you know, get going on it. Yeah, that's neat with the negative space lots you'll see one of these days, you know, that's really kind of cool how you can kind of play with shapes and stuff. I did. I did shot like that one time with white crackers on a black surface where it looks more like negative positive and you could do some, you know, playful things with it. It is pretty, pretty dirty now. Thank you that we have anything else over here that I can shoot. I don't know what a mess I'm going to do a really close macro of this. I want to see how much light I could get to go through it. Now you're just getting to watch me play around, which is actually the internet loves this part, but they do absolutely oh, yougot thank you. They're learning a lot there inspired a lot of people want to know, shoot fruit e I have a better idea. Not bright enough. Yeah, not as much fun as I thought it would be actually, I've got I've gotten daylight to penetrate raspberries better than that actually had where it looks like you know when you put a flashlight in the inside your mouth I know you'll do that like old time when you were a kid but that's that kind of effect that I was but I've been able to get that with daylight but you know it's not quite the same so let's take some more questions here how about we talk a little bit of color and reflection of the color so b h argue is wondering how can we get rid of the extra color since everything you keep near to the glass with the acrylic in this case will reflect that color as well? You know, that's I guess that's a kind of ah postproduction question and instead in essence that if you're really trying to eliminate the color of the actual object that's kind of hard because it's going to cast on white um you khun you know you can push the light up higher if you really don't want to see that cast at all but you may you know affect your your exposure pretty dramatically that's pretty that's a pretty tough one to try to eliminate the cast of the actual object on white so I mean I would say the best case scenario is you just push u you're underside light you know the light under the table push it up a stop or two and see if you don't lose too much in your exposure, that would be my suggestion to try it that way. Okay, great christian has a question and it's something my same my mama thought might have training of thought on my mind right now and wondering if you would bring the sawhorses on location or could you also use two chairs? And I was thinking at home, would you ever use two chairs at your home? Are there mark? I don't know, I guess you could own studio I guess you could, but I mean, I would I would prefer you to even use apple boxes like this or something chairs, because the seat isn't flat it's going to rattle and you're gonna have to push it to the edge so it's not showing underneath it it's kind of tenuous and I well, I wouldn't recommend doing that because I've done some of that stuff and, you know, stuff breaks you fall, you mess stuff up and then you're starting from scratch, so I I'm not necessarily a big fan of that. Okay? G photos wondering, can you use the plastic sheet or, in this case, the acrylic but a larger piece of acrylic on the floor and have models stand on it for a reflection in a portrait shoot? Is this something that can while send idea why light table can transcend into other genres of photography? Yeah I mean you want to build a platform that would be really cool I mean you could totally do that I mean you would need to be you know, six by six platform raised it up like four five feet off the ground and then light it from underneath and then put a sweep in behind that would be awesome and it would be you know uh you know, I'm trying something here because actually saw somebody do stuff like this and I just want to see how it works so I wanted to see if this is kind of cool all right, well turn this one off for a second oh, it's all right we can't do it I saw somebody used that kind of like a light table like almost like an x ray table where they were shooting things from the top unlit on the top live from the bottom sure let's uh okay kind of like this what is that? Those potatoes that's pretty cool coop from new york says that he's learning a lot from seeing you actually experience experiment here right now cool the purple one's probably won't react as well is this white one so I made the white one the hero it's interesting detail is incredible you know what happens if we had a little black see what happens see now I'm kind of just I'm satisfying some of my own curiosity is because I don't get the chance to play around as much anymore with this you know, I could just throw junk upon the table and photograph it see what happens I have an idea how well do liquids translate when you pour them onto the surface of the I know you won't find out if you were doing a puddle with with like food car you see a real start that you know that could be really cool I mean, I haven't tried it but it's definitely something that could be really cool or something like a squished that's neat what? This is pretty cool squashed grapes did you say that squished groups well, we got grapes around here somewhere that's meat I mean, I think there's too much kind of stuff floating around in there with so much oh that's you know, you would have to do the timing on that would be really hard and this strobe lighting would have to be sink to certain way because in order to capture splashes thes they're not slow enough right now they'd have to be a slower sink to get that the splash oh, you mean like just drop it in there and see what kind of bubbles I get? See what happens let's wash a great as they watch you like a great suggestion and with more bugs like if that was bubbly, more bubbly that would be even cooler this is like when david letterman would like, get on the five storey tower and just start throwing stuff off thiss reminds me of stuff at home squashed on the street who too? Right again paramecium dies you squash I kind of liked the idea of what we did with this. We have any bubbly water over there? Oh, cool, I know I'm saying that direct drive it'll work really, really well. It's really fifty and bubbling when I thought about this session, I didn't envision us just throwing stuff up there and just having fun with it, but this is like, even better, all right? And if people are enjoying it that's even that's better than having a lot of fun. All right, people, ayers now shouting out things they want you to experiment without a king is one crazy please how would you use the d I y table when shooting, say citrus food like splashing into water with like splash capture that's our next creative live when I start talking about advanced techniques and you know what a perfect I like it, I like it. All right, so let's, use this clean glass doesn't have all kinds of floaties in it I'm gonna fish these out no one can say screw bonnie doesn't like to get dirty yeah, port in there actually hold on I want to capture that and see how that looks eyes it's pouring and see if we have enough flash duration to wait try it let's get a focus focal point in the middle um let's not try to splash the camera should be using a longer lens go wait, I think we got something cool. Neat, huh? That's nice. So he says I got this that this kind of fat fella that I'm gonna drop in there you want to drop it for me? I'll try to capture it while you drop all right? I want to see it ok, I'll try to time it pull your hand away a really quick one, two, three you caught it before it did I know the timing wasn't there that's cool. So I think that we're kind of out of time and I feel like we've kind of given a plenty of opportunities to kind of experiment with something like this and you see how much fun it could be and the kind of pictures and you could do a siri's of images like this or you can you know you can experiment and do some really kind of avant garde stuff with the light table and you can use it in traditional sense if you want to photograph, you know product that you wanted to do silhouettes or whatever but for a sixty dollar investment you know you can really you know turn your photographic kind of repertoire into something that you didn't envision before so don't drink fizzy water when you're on set it's a very bad idea so and any one last question we got made we have so we probably have time for one last question all right this one has been in there for a little while but a lot of people have been asking it laura see that asked earlier what's your favorite trick for making really dull food look yummy my favorite trick from making really dull food look yummy okay well the one that I talked about a lot and I one of the hardest things to photograph his spinach spinach is really hard but it's like a light sucker just like you can't hit it with enough light to really get it to look really nicely and the trick that I use for that as I buy the baby spinach not the not the one in the bag but like the young ones but it has a spine in it and when you're taking it out of the thing you kind of twist it and get the spine to kind of almost create a spiral and since the spine is a lighter color than the leaf and light can penetrate it it almost illuminates when you hit it with the light you know when you're lighting it from you know the window light on dh, that gives you the opportunity to do something interesting and creative with a really difficult subject, like leafy greens once they're cooked. So that's, I would say, that's, the trick most proud of, because that is one of those stressful, oh, my god, you gotta shoot leafy greens again, you know, and you don't have much. You don't have many opportunities to make it look nice, so all right, andrew, there are still more questions coming in, but mostly, like people are just saying, they loved seeing you shoot was all improv, and they loved that. You took their suggestions and made it happen for them, so now they're totally inspired to be shooting everything from a handsaw. Teo raspberries in water. So cool, thank you so much for being here for sharing everything everybody just wanted. Join me, one last round of applause for andrew.

Class Description

Taking dynamic still life shots is easier than you think — all you need is a table, some white plastic, and a few other commonly-found materials. Award-winning New York Times photographer Andrew Scrivani will show you how to make your own light table and capture beautiful images of food, products, and other still materials.

Whether you’re photographing for commercial clients or yourself, this 90 minute DIY Light Table workshop will show you a crafty way to start today.



An awesome little course. I had been just about to throw out an odd size piece of plexi when i saw this course. 20 minutes of work later and i have made my lightbox and am shooting really neat images.

a Creativelive Student