Shooting Demo: Dessert Photography
So I'm gonna set this up as close to what my set, as far as its orientation. One of things that's gonna be different as we do this I'm gonna show you all the things we kinda talked about yesterday. We talked about setting up a studio with these kind of items, sawhorses. We're gonna put out a table top, okay? These are what we call C Stands I think we talked a little bit about them yesterday. We're gonna set these up next to the table so we can lean our white cards against 'em. So what we... The picture I showed you yesterday, kind of, the thing that... This will resemble my studio set up and the light orientation of my particular space. This is the only major difference that we're gonna have here between here and my studio is that the light coming in from here is not from the southwest. So that's a difference when you talk about north, south, east, and west with daylight. Southwest is one of your best orientations and that's where my studio is. This is not as the same because the sun i...
s actually on the other side of... The sun is on the other side, right?
Coming this way, right, moving away from our windows so this light's gonna be really consistent while the sun is in the top of the sky so that's actually not a bad situation for what we have and these windows are frosted. So what that means is that the light is already being diffused where we would normally put something like this or bigger or even something like this, this kind of clear plastic sheeting which kinda diffuses the light and makes it soft where we would normally put this either in the window or over the window, or cover the light source, we don't have to do that here because these windows are already frosted and they're gonna diffuse the light pretty naturally. So no matter what we had even if the sun was directly outside this window that light would be fairly diffused which is exactly what we want. So we're gonna use the... We're gonna use these white cards to kinda create a light box. What I showed you yesterday... Probably gotta move that away a little bit. What I showed you yesterday was a situation where we had white, and white, and white. But we're not gonna do that today because the majority of the time you're going to be using different colored setups. Okay so this is the kind of the light box that we have we have the light coming in from this direction we're kinda creating kind of a consistent light environment here. And I'm probably gonna start by shooting in this direction. I can already tell that I have a shimmer and a shine that's coming off of my table surface from this direction, right? So out and this way, so what I would want to do, as I talk around, and walking around, and looking at what I see, is I could probably take this out, and look, and I can probably go out in this direction. I may even be able to give you a little bit more view here. Because now I'm saying, I see the light coming in from here I know that's what's gonna give me my glimmer that shine that comes off of it and it's gonna give me the best opportunity to back light or side light the food. So that means that I'm gonna probably do, immediately, just by looking at what I see here I look at the glint coming on here so that means I'm gonna probably start shooting here. And then I'm probably gonna come to this side and come right here, so, like, do you see the way I'm just kind of moving my body and looking? This is exactly what I do through the camera. I'll look and I'll see this is flat and as I come over here just a little bit more with that light orientation, that's the butter zone for me, that's where I'm gonna see that shine and shimmer. So I'm gonna probably be able to show you exactly what I'm seeing through the camera 'cause I'll take a shot that's kind of flat and then I'll move over and I'll show you that there's a little bit of a shine coming off the thing. So we're gonna wheel out a prep table with a lot of the stuff on it. And we brought out... We're bringing out things here today that... If we can put that like that, yeah. That are pretty simple to shoot. Don't require a whole lot of prep because they're already beautiful, right? And I had my eyes on this here the other day so I'm gonna pick something that I think will complement it. I'm gonna take a look and I see this might be really cool for this, I got a nice color tone that kinda matches with the browns that I'm working with talking about our food styling from yesterday. And I see that this, or this, one of these two, I'm gonna try this one first, have this incredible kind of detail work on the top. And I also can see by holding it here the way the light hits that it's not overpowering and it's really pretty. Oh boy, and it's delicate. Okay, so, I'm gonna improvise. Oh, okay, I'm not improvising. I'm gonna leave it the way it is. Okay. So I'm gonna put this here because the reality is that I don't really care about that paper on the bottom 'cause I really wanna focus on that little twirl with chocolate on the top. So I'm gonna put it out into that area where I saw that nice light and I'm gonna take a meter reading this way. Okay and I'm gonna take a meter reading this way. And I'm in pretty consistent shape. I do have to push my ISO as high as I talked about earlier I'm gonna push my ISO all the way up to 800. I'm really nervous, Jim. I'm pushing it to 800, man, I'm scared.
Andrew, be careful.
I'm trying, I'm really, I'm trying. So now I'm pretty much in my comfort zone here I'm at about 125th of a second at 4.0 aperture at 800 ISO so I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my first shot just to go in and take a look. Can we swing this arm back a little bit for now? Yeah. So I've already stopped my light. And I'm gonna take my first shot without any fills. And I'm not unhappy with that so I'm gonna start to correct my light and build my light out the way I want it. Now I don't like the fact that I have all that stuff going on at the top of the frame so I'm gonna pull my subject back toward me so that when I frame it I have a little bit more room in the background so that if I do wanna crop in and get closer I have a little bit more flexibility. And I'm focusing pretty much on the beginning the front part of this curly Q thing. Now I think my shine may be a little hot there and I'm feeling like it's kinda overpowering what I'm doing I only want a little bit of it, not a lot. So now I'm picking up a little less glint and it's moving over to this side as I swing around. So I feel like maybe even my black card, yeah. I moved 'em, there's my... I'm running 'em around here. So I may even actually put a little black in this to knock it down just a little bit and then start to play with the idea of just a little bit of shine. So now I'm kind of creating a situation where I'm only allowing the light to come into here. And I'm creating a little bit of a shadow off to the right side of my frame. So now I think the card is kind of encroaching a little bit so I'm gonna pull it back and make an adjustment. And I'm getting closer to really what I like here. Of course I said I wasn't gonna be bothered by that that thing on the bottom, but I am, so... I'm gonna get even closer. And then I think... Is my whole camera bag behind me somewhere? Okay. Okay, I'm gonna switch to my 100 millimeter because the thing I've been thinking about since I saw this yesterday was the idea that I want to get really close to that curly thing and I know I have already gotten a shot with the that will allow me to push into it in post production but I wanna get it right in the camera so I can make sure that it's what I like. So I'm gonna put my 100 on. Make a quick change. Whenever you're taking lenses on an off your camera make sure you always put the end cap on and keep them safe because that's where you damage your lenses. Okay, so now... Now I'm feeling like I'm starting to see what I thought I wanted to see yesterday. Yeah. So now we're getting closer to what I want but what I'm noticing now is that I don't have enough light in the front 'cause I wanna put a white card in there now which I have right here. And I'm gonna keep my little silver junkie thing on hand because if I really wanna put a little highlight back in it, thank you. I'm starting to build... Build my light out and I could see it here how much I want, I start close, and I'll pull it back if I want a little bit more shadow. Okay so it's a little dark for me so I'm gonna take a little bit of shutter off I'm only gonna go a third because I don't want to get into a situation where I get a lot of camera shake and I'm not gonna go to a tripod just now. Sometimes when you're in these situations you have to manually focus the camera because we have a lot of the same kind of color tones here and the camera doesn't have enough contrast to grab onto, and depending on your lenses... Okay, so now I'm getting some really cool highlights. And I feel like I'm really starting to see that twirl and that swirl that I like about this. I have just enough highlight and just enough shadow where I'm comfortable. And then maybe I'm just gonna swing this around to this side. Let's say this is a product shot, right? Now I need to focus on the name of the bakery right here. I'm gonna go a little shallower. Okay. And I'm... So let's pretend that we got a bakery shot here for this particular brand and we have all this writing on there. And this is where we're concentrating on how this bakery does this beautiful detail on their products so this is a great example of having the ability to get really tight, give kind of an abstract beauty shot of something really cool. And this is the gear and we have... I'm pretty... That one is pretty much where I wanna be with this. That's what I was seeing with that. So let's talk about something else. Okay the thing that I noticed about these cupcakes is they were really beautiful from the top, right? So maybe we'll put the 50 back on and I'll get the table set up and we'll put it up on the stand and we'll start to build out the light for that. So I have a couple of a little cake stands here that are really cool. Maybe I'll change out my surface to something that'll compliment that. Let's take a look at this cool bread board that we played with yesterday. And once you have your table set up you can just kind of swap out table tops as you go. Keep stuff clean. The less you have to clean up later. And I'm gonna pick out the one over here. Earlier when I was looking at these with a few of the students from the audience we played a little game to see who would pick out the hero and believe it or not all three of us picked the same cupcake which means that this pink one here the Kate, as I've been told it's called, is our hero. So we're gonna put that one dead center because that's where we're gonna focus and I think that now at that point we have these kind of light pink colors. This really dark one here isn't exactly what I'm looking for 'cause it's a little too dark. The purple is kinda cool. So we'll maybe get a piece of that one coming in this way. I think we can probably get three on this plate. And this yellow one is really nice too. So we got our Easter colors here. And we got these beautiful swirls and all the color from the top. So I wanna start by coming right down on top of this. So we got the... Do we have the trigger release set in there? Yeah, okay, I'll do it on this side. So again we talked about using a trigger release yesterday in order to not have the problem of having to get up and look right through the camera.
Yeah. Okay. So we're gonna swing this into position. And again we start minimally. Now this one has a bubble level on it so you can tell when you're absolutely perpendicular to the floor. Parallel. That's a real essential point in doing an overhead shot with any kind of stabilization is that if it's not completely level with the table it's gonna look weird particularly with a longer lens you're gonna get this kind of bend and twist in it. So if we're not completely level... This one has one built in so we can actually see it on the little bubble around here. Somewhere, it's there. Okay, so, I'm not tethered. Live, meaning live view tethered. So I can't see what's going on unless I get up on a ladder or a step tool to see what's happening through the lens and to put my focal point exactly where I want it. So we're gonna pull out a ladder (audience laughs) and I am gonna drop to my death in front of the entire internet. So this is similar to what I do at the studio and it's starting to feel really familiar which is why I'm afraid I'm gonna fall. Okay. We're gonna put sandbags... Anytime you using anything in a studio that you're gonna be climbing on and especially if somebody's not there to hold the ladder still for you you should always sandbag it and I talked about sandbagging your tripod yesterday. This thing doesn't need to be sandbagged because it's already really stable but these are things that you really wanna make sure you're feeling comfortable and confident about before you get up here and start focusing cameras. So I'm putting my focal point on my hero, right, 'cause that was our goal. Our goal was to make sure that that pink one that everybody loves so much that's named after one of our students was our focal point. So we can make slight adjustments. And now can we bring that down a little bit? I wanna get closer. And keep coming. Keep coming. I may be able to get off the ladder at this point. No, not yet, a little bit more, good. Okay so in order to highlight what we have here the first thing I wanna do is take a shot without any fill to see where our light is at. Our camera setting should still be about the same. Ah, there it is. And now I'm gonna rely on the screen to tell me where I'm at. I think I'm a little bright. So I'm a little bright right off the start. So I'm gonna add a little bit of shutter speed. Because I'm comfortable at my... I think I'm at four, think I'm still at four.
Okay, now I'm at four. Okay so I'm gonna step away so as not to disturb the camera or the stand and I got my trigger release and I'm gonna fire. And... I think we're okay, we can't judge that anyway, so we're gonna judge right here. So I think we're okay. I think I wanna move this over in my frame a little bit. So I'll make an adjustment here, swing this around to here. Re-adjust my focal point. If you notice I lock my leg behind this, like this, so that when I'm leaning I still have some balance on the backside of the ladder. Ladder skills 101, I didn't put that in the slideshow, (audience laughs) but, you know, I learned my lessons the hard way. Okay so now we're in focus there so now I think I might wanna add some stuff to this picture because we have a few other accessories down here that are kinda cool. Oh here they are. We have some cool napkins. Now we got kind of like the pinks and the reds and yellows we may wanna add a little blue to this and see how that looks. So I'm gonna just kinda peek it in over here in this... 'Cause honestly, quite honestly, what I'm thinking in my mind right now the picture I'm seeing isn't exactly from this perspective, like that far away. I'm really thinking about pushing in really tight. I might do it right now, let's just see if I can get it where I want it. And I could take a peek. Okay, that's fine. I can readjust here. Let's take a shot. So I just wanted to peek a little color into what we were doing. I'm gonna take that away, I don't like it. But that's how this works, right, it's all trial and error until you find the styling and everything else that you want. I like the edge of the plate and I like the fact that I have a little circular thing there and then the other ones are kinda peeking into the frame. So now that I've gotten closer I'm able to kind of make a decision. The thing that's, I think, I'm not loving about this is I feel like that stripe on the cutting board is distracting me, so maybe we'll switch out, and let's swap out the white top, let's get the white wood painted top. And this is the process, I mean this is exactly... This is exactly how I work, I'll pick it out, and then we'll start playing around, because, if you're not happy with something... Now what do you think this is gonna happen now? Now my camera settings are gonna change because now I have a lot more white bouncing up from beneath so I might need to make an adjustment but I'm gonna set it up the same way. And we're gonna see what we get. And sure enough it's a little hot, right, just like I said, and I think that will probably just add about a third to my shutter speed so I wanna keep my aperture consistent and see if I can get it corrected. And yeah, I'm comfortable with that now. I'm gonna... This prop isn't completely flat. And I feel like where moving out this way is gonna make my thing kinda run up on its side, so, I'm gonna try to pull things down as far as I can to cover up that little piece of glass that you're seeing underneath, in the middle, I find that to be distracting. So I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to do it. But I have the shot I want with this particular prop so now I'm gonna switch it out. I'm gonna switch it out to something that may seem kinda natural for baking, a baker's rack, cooling rack, and I'm gonna try to do something similar. I'm gonna stay toward the middle to avoid all these kind of other things all I want is that grid underneath. So I'm gonna do something very similar. Okay, good, I think I got a pretty good handle on that... Gonna readjust my... Okay. Right, okay, and we're adjusted... We're pretty close to where I wanna be. But it makes you realize, though, that, there are certain things about props that we talked about yesterday that you don't always take into account until you actually see it in the camera that there may be distracting things about this. So what I would do, which I think I might be able to do, is take the feet off this thing. Oh, no, I ruined the hero. (audience laughs) No, it's cool, I got it. I don't like these feet, I find them to be distracting, so I get rid of them. Get rid of this. Compromise the hero. Oh, no. That's unredeemable. We're gonna have to swap out the hero. Well, you got fired, Kate.
Sorry Kate. (audience giggles) Sorry Kate, it's over.
Just glad you did it, not me.
Your 15 minutes of fame are over. Gonna get really close now. Would love the camera to focus, that would be really helpful. We're gettin really a lot closer to what I like here. Okay, where's our eight seconds? I'm counting eight, nine, okay, so now look, now we don't have any of those distracting bars or anything underneath the food the only thing about this is the grid now we see the grid, it's sitting there, we got a little peek in at the other couple of things. I'm comfortable with the light and now this would be where I would continue to shoot this. Now I might have my second camera and I might come down and shoot it from a different angle but the idea is that once you're kind of comfortable with your camera settings, your propping, and the food, then the rest of it is just kind of now you're in a position where everything I do from this point on is about shooting this from every angle that I'm comfortable with. If I find that I wanna continue to swap out things and get more variations, I will, but the reality is at this point, this frame is where I'm comfortable, I've finally found my comfort zone. There's nothing in that frame that's distracting me. I'm comfortable with my lighting.
That's only a stand-in Kate--
Oh, there's Kate two, the sequel. (audience laughs) The sequel is never as good as the original. That's not true for Star Wars though, right guys?
And The Godfather.
That's true, that's true. You're just saying that 'cause I'm Italian.
There's a lot of crumbs around.
No, it's true.
No, we like the crumbs, we like the crumbs, the crumbs are gonna be... Let's see. Five, four, three...
The counter is four at the top.
Yeah, I see, I'm... And there it is, the hero is back. So I'm comfortable with this at this point so do we have any questions coming in about where I am at this point? Or what I'm doing, or how I'm changing things around?
A lot of comments about how you're rocking it. You're in the zone. Question came up from Gabby about talking about why would you shoot up on a ladder, on a bench, versus shooting on the floor, like having the food on the floor so you don't climb a ladder, is that related to the light?
Because my chiropractor thinks it's really bad for me to be working on the floor. You know, honestly, there's nothing wrong with it I know there are other photographers who work that way but a lot of the times when you have a piece of equipment like this or something that's even bigger it's kind of hard to negotiate that, plus, when you're working on the floor, anything can happen, people could step on it, kick it, bump it, and we already saw here today that it's so delicate everything we're working with and just the slightest little thing I nicked the cupcake with my thumb and that could ruin the shoot. So the reality is you want things up off the floor at waist level where everybody's comfortable where if you're doing this, that's not natural, it's an unnatural feel, so, if you must shoot on the floor because that's what you have the other thing you can always do is have a little bit of a compromise, you know, and set things up on maybe two apple boxes so maybe we're on this height 'cause you need to get over it. Or even like this, where you have this, but straight on the floor, I don't know, I would be a little uncomfortable with that because like I said, everything's really delicate, and it's not healthy to be kind of working like this this is not ergonomically correct and if you're gonna do this every day you're gonna spend more time at the doctor then you will, you know, working--
And maybe less likely to eat the food afterwards if it's been on the floor--
That's true, too, that's an excellent point.
And Andrew, along those same lines, Fashion TV had a question from earlier. Could you tell us a little bit about your thought process as to when you do shoot above as opposed to from a lower angle?
Yeah I think that--
Why do you make those choices?
Yeah I think it's about the graphic nature of the subject. I think if you feel that something is going to be more graphically beautiful from the top then you're gonna... Like, these, 'cause we all noticed the same thing, the students and I, when we were looking at these foods was that these cupcakes had this beautiful swirl on top and honestly the other thing I saw with that curly Q piece of chocolate on top that's the thing that caught my interest, right? So honestly you have to trust what you see first. So I walk over to the table, and I look down, what do I see? The first thing that catches my eye is the great looking cupcake with the beautiful swirls and I'm standing directly over the top of it. If I'm over here, this catches my eye, and the first thing I'm thinking is I wanna see it like this. I wanna look right through that like a rollercoaster, you know? So the idea of what you see and how it makes you kind of feel the minute you see it you trust that gut instinct 'cause that's the thing that's resonating with you visually. So, students have any questions about what I've been doing so far, yeah?
I am just wondering if there is like a less expensive alternative to the photo stand and the camera stand? Like could you jerry-rig something?
You know, you don't need to necessarily jerry-rig but do you have a tripod?
Okay, well most of the tripod companies... Yeah, I'll take that, I'll take that, yeah, sure. I meant the tripod. (audience laughs) But I'll take this too. I mean, listen, I could always be taller. There we go, okay, so, like a tripod like this...
No problem. I'll let you do it. I don't want to get my hands caught in it that's always what I do. All right so you have a tripod something like this, right? So what you can buy for something like this... Am I okay here, am I good here? So this will come off, right? And then you can attach a piece right to here that has a cross arm and then this head would attach to the end of it so the camera's on the end of that and you can make your adjustment. So if you already own this all you would need to do is buy the crosspiece for it.
My tripod's not that nice or hardcore. (audience giggles)
Well, but, the idea is that all of the components fit together so it doesn't have to be this big or falling apart for you to... For you to have that thing, and like I said, even if it's a small tripod, it doesn't have to be one that extends to eight feet. We go back to the idea of setting up on a couple apple boxes or on a small coffee table, something lower to the ground, as long as you can be about this height with the cross piece then you can shoot directly down on top of it. So if you already own this then you don't have to buy something really expensive you know, you could spend, maybe, another to get the cross arm, attach your head to it, and then you're fine. So I think there are definitely more reasonable options to solving these particular photographic problems than going out and spending $5,000 on a camera stand. Or most people wouldn't have room for it either. So that's collapsible, you put it away, you break it apart, you put it in the closet, and you're done.