Student Shoot: Pastry Photography
The next group is gonna be working the way I prefer to work, handheld. So, (chuckles) we have Paula and Kate, and the pressure's on, girls, because you're playing with my pet project. So we're gonna get, you're gonna use a plate? Uh, oh, the gauntlet has been thrown down. (laughing)
We really liked this particular cake here.
And don't be too crushed when we go for the green suitcase. (laughing)
Oh, I knew somebody would grab the green suitcase.
I think coveting that.
You could probably throw the green suitcase right on top of that.
We were gonna try that and use a step stool to get up on it.
Let's get this out of the way.
Because we were thinking this looks almost like, it's quite moody, and there's lots of texture, and it's sort of almost gothic.
I wanted blueberries to maybe--
Or some powdered sugar
Kind of sprinkle around, (laughing) but we didn't have any.
Right, and see this is the thing that happens when you're in these c...
ontrolled environments is that you can start thinking of all these different things that you could add to this. Oh, if I had some powdered sugar. Now, the fact that you're thinking that way, that's the triumph here, is that obviously you have started to envision this way ahead of time. It's way ahead of where you want it to be. But you have to use what's here. So, but, if you're and I don't mind if you feel like you want to manipulate that in any way.
Like rip it up.
Well not even that. Maybe you find that you want a little more glisten or anything else. I really don't think that that's wrong in this situation. So I'm gonna let you go.
(mumbling) I mean I think the key here is getting the light on the blueberries so it's not dead on top.
Can you get the camera? (mumbles)
Let's get this out of the way.
Do you shoot with Canon?
I do, yeah. You start first. Do you want to go from the side?
Yeah. I'm just gonna try it, see what happens here.
So how's their getting going? Is there anything coming in? Questions about what they've got going on so far?
Yeah, and yes, we do. Andrew, could you explain I'll do the shout out on the name later, but a little bit about how the black takes away the light? How does the black card act as a sponge and takes away the light? Could you explain that a little bit more?
Sure. I mean, you're essentially, wow, that's really nice! (people laughing) (whistling) Boy, I'm so happy you're the person that's been to most of my workshops. (laughing) Well, the black card, essentially, as light is coming through, it's creating a shadow by absorbing the light that's coming across your subject. But also the card itself is creating shadow. You know, it's dark, it's absorbing the light. I'll relate it to something in the real world. On a hot day, it's 95 degrees in New York City, and you're walking around in a blast furnace. Your weather man is gonna tell you to wear white clothing, light, white clothing. Because the light's gonna come and bounce off. It's not gonna absorb into your body. If you wear black on a hot day, all of that light gets sucked into you and you're gonna feel it much more. So the same thing goes true in photography. If you have white, it's gonna hit it, it's gonna bounce off. If you don't, it's gonna hit it and get sucked right in, and then it creates shadow. That's, I guess, the real world example there.
So you guys, it's interesting that you guys went, you already had your styling mapped out, and being that you're working handheld you immediately went for the test shot. Where everyone else so far, has done everything ahead of time and then decided that they were gonna shoot right at the end. So your point, you're kind of working like kind of visually--
Where you look and adjust, look and adjust.
And I just went for a I changed the depth of field, just to get a little bit more shallow to see what that would look like.
Yeah, and I think the choice of objects that you picked to put in this. And I think that you using the plate that they used, they used it differently that you did.
So, it actually looks different. And that's one of those examples of a personal prop where you can have something that looks different in different frames. But I mean, obviously, you picked a winner as far as, the hero because it's something that it's kind of hard to take a bad picture of. But also--
Geeze, thanks, (laughing) just kidding.
No, but the idea is that your choice of shutter speeds, and aperture, and the prop is the thing that pulls the whole thing together, utilizing all the things we've gone over so far.
Are you both Canon shooters as well?
I shoot Nikon.
You shoot Nikon.
But I've had some experience with the 5Ds.
[Female Questioner] I also love how sometimes less is more.
Just the plate and the--
Well, the surface is. You know I was in love with the surface yesterday.
Can I steal this?
No, no, no, no, no.
I've already got dibs on it. I've already got dibs on it. I have a tin-snips in my bag, and I'm gonna cut the top of that and take it home in my luggage. (laughing)
Well, there's four sides.
Alright, so here's the thing. Okay, I'm gonna challenge you now because you've obviously found images that you like, right? So, now change the style on it. Do something different with it, either with the camera or with the actual styling, because you've got plenty of time now. So you've got your safe shot, right? You've got the shot that you love. And now, from this point on, you have the opportunity to kind of do something radically different or maybe even subtly different, so--
I'm gonna try a different surface.
Okay, so you've already made use of this and want to move on to something else. And see how the image changes for you. Do we have a question? [Female Questioner] We have some questions with regards to plating.
Okay. So, Craig M. asked if you could give any tips on how to keep oval plates looking oval. They can easily photograph much rounder than they really are.
And, Mia had said also when shooting a round plate is it okay to have some of the plate cut off or usually include the entire round plate?
Okay, that's a great question. I'm gonna go for the round plate first because then I have a different answer for the other one. I think it's always okay to crop into plates, like the way they did in this shot that's on the screen at this moment. They cut off some of it. What I wouldn't do is cut off both sides of a plate. So the edge of the plate should always be showing, in my personal view.
Because it gives you a sense of the perspective of where you're going to, you know, what's on it. If it's just kind of cropped through the middle, it's kind of hard to tell, and especially if you have a nice prop. You don't want to cut it off at a weird angle. But I would say cutting half a plate or even a quarter of a plate is fine, as long as you can still see the edge of it. But the other thing. I discovered something interesting. Ooh, nice macro, that looks good. (laughing) Distracted always by food photography, always. The other thing that you mentioned about an oval plate is interesting, because shooting from a horizontal perspective, that plate is usually kind of awkward to shoot, and I understand what you're saying. Sometimes if you shoot it from one angle, it looks round and if you shoot it from another angle it looks weird. What I've found is that putting it in a horizontal frame from corner to corner meaning orient the plate so that it sits corner to corner in your horizontal frame, I've gotten my best results with oval plates and long rectangular plates by doing that. By creating this kind of stripe through the middle, rather than try to square it up like this, let the plate go diagonal through the horizontal frame, and that always helps me.
So where are we now? How is that not in focus? (laughing)
Because the lens was on manual focus, but I don't like, it's too dark at the front there.
So do you want a bounce?
Yeah, a bounce.
So we have white and silver, depending on how much bounce you want. I like that plate, the little cuts and--
Yeah, there's a lot of texture--
And we're back to those imperfections again, and it gives you that idea that it's been used, and it's been loved. We should have made Paula shoot something other than desert. (laughing) Knowing how desert-y we are. You guys have five minutes, so you've still got some time to play around. You're making really beautiful pictures and you've kind of really stripped it down to bare bones there. Oh, okay, we're going for one more setup. Awesome. Three setups in 15 minutes. Jim?
Hey, question for you please. So, you talked a little bit about plates and this is one of my struggles, could you talk a little bit about utensils?
On the plate, off the plate, please.
You know, I agree with you that utensils are the bugaboo of food photography. I think, not just, yeah (chuckles) the idea that they can be really distracting if they're not the right thing. Now I've talked about this earlier with the ones that we have here. A little too shiny, because we didn't really have the opportunity to just go out antique shopping this week. You know? But the idea is that if they're really kind of shiny or they're placed in a wrong position or they look really contrived, it's hard to find that natural balance. So I think that it's about trial and error on any given particular plate where you're finding that the utensil doesn't want to sit properly. I don't really love when people turn utensils over. There's very rare situations where I feel like when you turn a utensil over like a fork facing down or a spoon facing down that seems to look normal and natural. Because it never really, when do you ever see that? So I think remaining grounded in reality really helps.
Yep. Oh, look at this. So why did you choose the blue?
I think that yellow picks out that yellow, so I wanted to do something in between.
And it kind of goes with the blueberries a little bit.
Yeah, perfect. We're dressing for success here. And how do you both feel about shooting handheld as opposed to shooting on tripod? Is this a normal position for you?
You like it better.
I like to do it.
But I have trouble getting it, in particular, this is really heavy.
Right, that camera is with
With the grip on it too.
With the particular lens.
Yep, for sure.
That all ends up weighing a lot.
Interesting question from Kevin Wright Studios from Chattanooga, Tennessee. On the pastry, he says they have the safe shot. At what point would you start deconstructing or taking apart the star of the shot?
That's a great question, because I'm still, to this day, Ten years into this, I still get nervous doing that. Because I know there's no going back. Especially when you've picked a hero and you're ready to go with it. So the idea that when I would start to cut that up or break it apart, until I'm absolutely certain that I have what I want from a whole picture. But that really comes at the end. And you know, often that's the shot that resonates with people, the one that kind of has some wear on it, some life. So that is an awesome question because it is definitely something that still makes my heart rate go up a little bit when I'm working because I'm like, "Am I ready to break it apart?" "Am I ready to cut into it?" The cake, the pie, the brownies, whatever it might be, so that's an awesome question.
[Female Questioner] And are you deciding that just by looking at your LCD because you don't normally shoot tethered?
Yeah, it is. I mean, unfortunately that is the case, unless I'm kind of, and I'm pretty certain when I'm working that I'm comfortable with what I have. If I'm not completely and utterly certain, then I might go to the computer,
Take the card out.
Put them in, take a look, yeah, for sure.
[Female Questioner] And are you zooming in on your LCD when you're taking the shots?
Just for check focus, just to check focus, yeah. I think that what you guys are doing at this point isn't nearly as stunning as the stuff you did earlier. I think that your light has flattened out a bit as you moved over this way and you started getting that light coming in from behind your shoulder and shooting right with the light. Shooting with the light, essentially meaning, Here's our light source coming in from the window, and I'm actually orienting my body in the same position to shoot, which is essentially what you were doing here. What that does is it flattens out your light. When you come around this way, even from here on, that's where you start to get a little bit more depth and dimension. So I think the stuff you did earlier, and I'm glad you kind of worked out different settings because you never know, but the idea is what you picked out, what you had envisioned from the minute you stepped on the set, you executed it perfectly and it looked great. So, that was a great job.
Thank you. (clapping)