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Getting Started in Professional Food Photography

Lesson 11 of 21

Natural Light Shoot Final Touches


Getting Started in Professional Food Photography

Lesson 11 of 21

Natural Light Shoot Final Touches


Lesson Info

Natural Light Shoot Final Touches

So it's just a matter of making these minor tweaks over and over again, and you're probably gonna take like 200 pictures if you really go after this. Where do you want the crumbs? Just sprinkle kind of like in a little pile here; nothing too-- Defined pile, and then a little bit outside of that pile. So we're gonna get a little-- Actually I like the idea of actually putting the jar without getting any logos in here. Kinda up there. Take that shot. Yeah, just something there to foil a little bit. Alright, so we could-- Let's get this lemon out of here a little bit. What else can we do? Can I get a chunk of bread? Like a corner, almost? And we'll put it on top of that pile. What are your thoughts? What would you do? Cause this is about sort of developing, like the troubleshooting, like where would you-- Cause we're like 80% of the way there, but we need to take it to 100, and 110, and beyond. Like, what changes would you make; where's your eye going right now? Mine goes right to th...

e peanut butter, like right to the peanut butter toast, and then kind of works round in a circle. So if it's doing that, then we're kinda doing our job. I feel like it's a little circly, where everything is placed in a circle, so I might move two things a little closer, like the orange juice and milk, maybe, and then I'm gonna push in the board a little bit so that with your eye it does go to the peanut butter, which I want; then it's doing that. So I'm gonna-- Awesome. One... So we're gonna do a corner piece here, we're gonna move this inward, we're gonna scoot this closer to the milk, so it's more-- It's less evenly spaced, which you like to avoid. So that's a little better, right? As far as placement goes. What are the composition decisions based out of; why-- I mean I can understand the slices of bread on the cutting board actually on this position, which is third-- Upper third of the frame. The grapefruit, I mean I'm just trying to understand why every individual element is placed at that place. It still looks like it kind of circles around the main object, which I guess that's the goal, I'm just trying to understand-- In a sense that's the goal. You don't want your eye to leave the frame, technically speaking, in an image, so you'd want it to go right to your focal point, which it's doing; we're getting that, cause of the data light. It's actually forcing your eye to that, because of all the contrasts and the-- That's really a good tool to use for that. Then your eye's kinda going to the reds, which it should do, and which is kind of going down. So your eye's kinda here, and then it's going down here, and it's going there, and then kinda wrapping around; and if it wraps around, which it should do, these will kinda bring it back in, and then-- So these are kinda paired up, these are kinda paired up. This and this are both lighter. Your focal points are near the center of the frame, but not in the center of the frame. They're off a little bit, so technically speaking, we're very close. So at this point, we would just sort of get an okay; I'll probably mess around with these crumbs a little bit. But then we're gonna start to block off lighting to make it more dramatic. So I think we'll start that; I mean, yeah. How is it you have a peanut butter jar and we don't have a jam jar, I mean a kind of commercial jar? Does that make sense? This could be a commercial jar here; I mean they come in glass jars all the time. The peanut butter; this-- If you don't feel this makes sense, maybe I don't either, so maybe we get rid of it. We could do that (laugh) It's photography. Yeah, let's get rid of it. Cause I'm gonna be blocking this light off anyway, so this is gonna be darker, and there's gonna be some raking light, so we're gonna do that right now. I think we're pretty close. So let's get rid of-- I'm gonna break this up into two more pieces. Peanut butter away This is gonna go-- I'm gonna move this a little bit up, cause it was a little-- And so I've got this-- You can use foam core, you can use-- I can use me as a gobo. So if you can see this, there's a-- I've got a gobo here that's starting to block light off, and so I want to exaggerate that a little bit, make sure I am, but we are getting bleed from the natural light. So if you see what I mean by the natural light; if there weren't any natural light, this gobo, there would be just a blackness in that corner, but because we do have these windows coming in, circulating light, it's only subtly doing its job, so it might be something that we-- Do you wanna put a little-- You can always do this in post, just create a vignette or drag a grad filter over that. So that's one of the negatives about working with natural light; is the amount of manipulation you do with the light doesn't have as much effect as you'd usually like, but I do wanna scrim that. We're gonna get this over the set, so it gets a nice-- Can you take a picture and see if that's in the frame? So these come in different densities; this is just a single density. The grain-- Pardon? Oh, that's fine. I'll just hold it when we take the final. It's okay to hold stuff, but-- So the red, green and blue, I think the red is dual layer, and then the blue is three maybe? But these are all different densities, so you don't need all of these, and you can make these too, but I just find that they go into a C-stand really nice; these are a little heavier. I don't necessarily want to use a finger or a dot or something smaller because I'm not running into any troubles that I see that are really minute. It's just that full corner that's a little troublesome, so I might just use one layer just to knock it down and see what happens. So we'll do that now, and then see how that affects it, and you could attach this to a C-clamp, or a super clamp, and an arm, or one of those Manfrotto arms that bend in the middle, but I just tend to hold them because everything else is pretty much set, and I'll just hold it like this, and say "Jack, take the shot". What are you saying, how are we doing on the highlights? I think I feel like we're a-- Just overall a little dark now. Yeah, I am gonna use. I'm not gonna back myself into a corner here, let's use a smaller-- This has a pretty dramatic effect, so I need something shorter, so let's do that. I think we're-- I like the dolloping of the light. The light looks very-- Without being streaky, it has sort of a randomness to it almost. Here's my go to; I love this one. You can tell I love this one, because it's got food on it. So this one's a lot more-- I need to be sure that I don't over affect my data light, so I'm actually gonna go-- Let's try that Jack. And then I'll go over the data light In fact, I'm gonna go vertically, because the vertical has a much more-- Let's do-- Actually let's do this, try that. How's that? So these are the two that you just did. This one on the right is the vertical, and the one on the left was when you had it horizontal. Yeah, so it's darker. How did it affect the center? I like that splotchiness of the light. I don't know if you can see it on the-- But there's sort of these pockets of light that are going around, and I'm not even really sure how they're coming about, and I think it might have to do with the mix of lights, but it's really kind of pleasing. It's also the surface that's something to do with it. Okay. I think we're there, I think we're very close. Any changes you guys would make that you see? Cause a lot of this has to do with your thought process and the student's thought process of how-- This to me is like 98%, and I usually take it to like without being cliché, but we get it, we tease it, we would add a little glistening here and there on the grapefruit to get it really nice and delicious, that would take hours to really finesse it to the point, but I think we're very close, so are there any-- It's all about getting here and then figuring out exactly the minute changes that you would personally make, so-- But if you have any questions also, just about gear that we've used, as well, that would be, I think helpful as well. Let's take a hard look-- Kinda just take a step back and close my eyes, cause I've been staring at this thing, and these little changes, and you can start to get stuck in your own world, so you do need to step back a little bit, and then kind of just look at the shot. Can you put that on full for me? Yep, did you want-- which one did you prefer? Horizontal or the vertical? I like the scrim one. The second one? The second one. Okay. Yeah. So I'm always looking over Jack's head. The crumbs... I need to break up the crumbs a little bit more, so you kind of get a list of things you need to do in your head, and either direct the food stylist to do that for you, or do it yourself on set, depending on how things are working. I wanna see more of the knife handle, I think that's a bizarre way to kind of exit this frame, so I might have the-- We also need to have dead space for your eye to kind of go, so maybe I would edge the peanut butter just like half a centimeter towards the knife. This guy? The round thing? Yeah, yeah. How do you like the crumple of the napkin? That's-- It seems a little horizontal, so I might twist and scrunch more. Okay, so that-- And then I'm gonna... I do want the orange juice... Let's do one-- Let's spread the strawberries, let's put this to work. Do you wanna put a napkin kind of on the side? I don't wanna move it, cause I really like it. If you wanna put a napkin kind of off to the side of the plate. Another napkin? No, no, just a paper towel so it doesn't get spritzed on. And then that can be moved up. And then tweezers. If you are a food-- If you are getting into food styling, tweezers are a must have. I have a favorite pair, and I know Melina does. This one's actually broken right now, but it has a light that goes in the middle of it, so when you're in a darker scenario or in a studio setting, you can actually have an LED light that shines where you're tweezing, so these are really cool; they're the perfect size too. So I'm gonna move this up, Melina, just to kind of like, vary the-- So it's not just side by side. Do you want me to-- Do you wanna move this nap underneath it so you can spray it? Yeah. So a big thing, especially; I've been guilty of this, is when you spray something, you need to spray it offset, and then place it. Usually, if it's gonna be at vertical, because if I just go down and I spray all over this, the plate's gonna have droplets all over it; you'll never get rid of them in Photoshop. I mean we have a frame that we can blend in, but if the framing changes or we make another decision, you're stuck with-- You have to clean the whole plate off, it's kind of a mess. So the best thing to do is to really control this as best you can, and I'll put my glove down here, just do a quick spritz. So that's the base layer, and then I'm gonna come in. That just sort of gives a base layer of spritziness, and I'm gonna come in and give-- You can always test it. That's pretty randomized, that's looking good. There we go. Awesome. And that's a minute thing, but when you spritz vegetables-- Thank you. I have an image that's like a spring image; it has morel mushrooms and spring onions and all this stuff, and I went through a lot of detail to spritz it. When you spritz an image, it is suddenly just-- It takes up a whole new level of freshness; it's really important, and I'll actually go through, and I'll use-- These clog like crazy, but you can get these at hobby stores, and they're glue applicators, and you can just create mini... Mini droplets of water exactly where you want them. I've seen people actually decorate entire bottles with one of these. I wouldn't do it, but you can create hero droplets on tomatoes. This is really the applicator to use for that. But if you use glycerin in here, it's gonna clog like mad. It's such a small opening. I'm actually gonna find one that does work, because I do wanna get a... I do wanna try and get a nice droplet on those berries. Here we go. Alright. There we go. Alright. So I remembered that I need to-- I need to scrim the side; I'm not doing that right now, cause we're fixing styling issues, and I need to make sure that I get that to stay. Not issues, but we're just working the styling a little bit. That knife needs to come in more. If you wanna kinda push it then twist it this way a little bit, so you can see more of the handle I guess. Yeah. That'll work. Stick that shot. So we got sorta the right amount of messiness without being crusty. We don't have rusty knives, we don't have forks that look like they came out of a garbage disposal, we don't have-- But there is an authenticity to it that's somewhere in the middle, so we sort of honed that in a little bit. I meant to break up that crumb, so we have three crumbs. I like to have one large crumb, and then two... Alright, try that Jack. And remember to take everything off set that you were using on set, because it can actually block the light. Okay. I'm gonna move that glass off. Yeah, yeah, for sure. If you see something, say something. Yeah, how are we looking on this? It looks very saturated on this monitor, I like it. How about toast placement? Actually, let's invert one of the toasts so they're different directions. Do you wanna do that on the jelly one, turn that around? Just flip it completely. I love-- Oh, sorry, go ahead. A little bit of space between the jam and the-- And the cutting board? And the cutting board, and maybe could we get some bubbles in the orange juice so it looks like it was just poured? Yeah, yeah yeah. I can show you my trick for bubbles. So have you inverted that? So do you wanna move the jelly jar down so it's not touching the point of the-- Just down a little bit. Overall I like it, but I do want it to not be touching that. So I use-- I use photoflow, which is this little jar, and if you're in the darkroom, you know what photoflow is. It's a common technique for coffee, but I'll even use it for juices or anything that doesn't-- You don't want that rainbow effect of soap or something else that you use when you create bubbles. This just creates natural looking bubbles. I can give it a shot just by using a straw. I keep straws around all the time. What would your thoughts be on that? What's your favorite? I use a chopstick. Sometimes I just make it harder than it needs to be. You could use a straw and you can cut it in half, and then... For bubbles in the top of the milk, you mean? Are you talking about the milk or the orange? You want the orange juice, right? Yeah. Oh the orange juice. It's good, the audience being kind of like the art director, which is helpful. I have never actually been asked for that. To what? I've never asked to have frothy on the orange juice. It does create bubbles though, when you pour it. So I'll create a little photoflow. I actually don't use a straw for this, cause I don't wanna drink photoflow, last time I checked. So I use... Do we have any? What are you looking for? Do you have an eyedropper? Okay. I use an eyedropper for this, and just like you do with coffee. When you do coffee and you do the little bubbles around the edge, you just use a little bit of photoflow, and then you squeeze it just in that corner, and it'll create that little mound... Thank you very much. Let's see if this translates to orange juice. It should, it's-- Where do we want this, we want this in the upper eight, okay. Fail! There we go, try that. And honestly, if you shoot fast enough, you can do it without photoflow, you can just use-- You don't have to go overboard on that. Those are actually being hidden. I wanna get more, cause they're being hidden by the side of the glass. So let's get more flow in there. (sneeze) Bless you. And we can actually drag them out a little bit. Take it, take the shot! Hurry! Okay, yeah. It has a little rim going on, and a distinct pattern where the pour happened, so I like that. Any other suggestions about the image? We can do this for like nine more hours. [Woman In Audience] I was gonna say. We could go on all day. But what we have, I mean this is good starting point. I would take this-- I would continue to just nitpick. I think we're there as composition goes. We have some dynamic things going on with the toast, but generally speaking I think we're very close, and I think we're there. Lighting, I'm gonna do one more shot that's final with some scrims and some ways to block light a little bit, and I'm gonna do a better reflection shot, so let's do that. And I'm gonna angle this down a little bit more, so it's not as high on the linen. Alright, you're good to go, Jack. And that will be our final. We're checking focus again, just to make sure nothing moved, or nothing-- You never know what happened during the course of a shoot, so we always check focus one more time, and then, what I'll do is if I shoot an image that's important, I learned this with landscape photography. You'll put your hand in front of your lens and take a shot, so it's just a black frame, so you know that whatever's coming after is important. He's taking notes, but if we shoot a final, I'll usually just put my hand-- If you wanna take a shot, Jack. Especially if you're alone, and you just need a reference where you're not taking notes and it's a little bit looser, I know that that's the final, right there. That's really good. Yeah, take the final shot, then we'll be there. Let me do this scrim; the scrim's already kinda there. Alright. There you go. You've got the reflector in frame. Son of a gun. Alright, there you go. Make sense? Hopefully we learned a little bit at least, but just start to finish, this is very editorial-esque, and this is what you want to pursue. This is a good place to start, and they start adding your flavor to an image like this. Let's say, cause what I would do personally, from an artistic standpoint, the last 1% I would do is actually; I would black out-- We don't have curtains installed in the studio, cause it's so new, but I would black out the light, I would put a reflector in, but then I would really edge the light along this, and along that, and if you-- You could probably do that in post, if you wanna-- I couldn't see your hands on the lens. Just create two-- Create two gradient filters, one that has a little bit of highlight reduction and just basic exposure reduction but really mild, especially down here. Coming out from here? Coming up from here and coming down from there, so the light looks like it's really beaming through. This is something you can create in post, too, if you want. You don't have to buy-- What you wanna do is when you create gradient filters that make it look like you've cut it with a gobo, you wanna make sure to preserve highlights luminosity in your milk, so you'll bring down the exposure and possibly reintroduce highlights, so what you're doing is you're reducing the exposure of the actual surface, but it doesn't look muddy or gross like sometimes happens when you do a vignette. So what you'll do is, you'll just preserve the-- Hopefully preserve the nice white in the milk, and the shadows in the peanut butter too; it might need to be painted in, but-- I love light that just kinda comes through at an angle, I just love it. Or you can go the complete opposite direction; cut this down to F1.4 and just have-- Find a way to just have the toast in focus, and have everything else, even though it's a flat surface, go like-- Buy a 1.2 lens from Canon or some crazy thing like that and just go overhead, I mean just kinda have fun with it. Don't let this-- This is like the starting point from which you branch off, so you need to look at this and say, what would my signature on this be, what would be, how would they know it's a me shot? So there's things you can do with the styling, but also really with the lighting to make-- I love to go really deep depth of field, and then cut light a lot, but you could just as easily do a really shallow depth of field, have just the toast in focus, which would be really cool. So you could have really tall stuff on set, or really flat stuff on set, not a lot sort of competing on the same plane as the toast, and then just kinda balance it, yeah, and just do something really crazy and fun like that. But that's it, that's the shot. Awesome, it's so, so, such a huge huge value to see you work the shot from beginning to end, as well as with food stylists, with your digitech. A lot of people will just see a shot, see an image, and guess how it came together, but actually see you work the details and know that you didn't just start with that all in place, that it takes all that sort of tweaking, is hugely hugely valuable. I wanna talk a little bit about the next photoshoot, cause we've kind of laid the foundation, we've seen you in action with one shoot, let's talk about what we're gonna do when we come back from our lunch break. Alright, when we come back, we're gonna be going into the oven, and this is new territory, because I have not shot this. I don't know if it's gonna work, but we're gonna make it work, because in commercial photography, we have that all the time. We'll get an assignment and be like, "we don't know if that's even doable", so we have to figure it out, so I've left this wide open. I haven't done any research, I have the light installed, we're gonna see how it goes, we're gonna turn it on, but there's gonna be a lot of light control in this one. This is gonna be very commercial. We're gonna get it-- Try and get it in one shot as best we can, that's our goal. It's really our goal is to push ourselves to not have to rely on Photoshop as much, and occasionally use it when we need to embellish, but to really have a good understanding of how to achieve that.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

With the advent of social media foodie culture, food photography is everywhere. The market is saturated with top-down smartphone images of cappuccinos, barley salads, and elaborate toast. This represents a real opportunity for photographers looking to expand their businesses. Professional photographers are in a position to provide high-quality, captivating images of delicious food for clients eager for an alternative to stock photography and social media images.

Join veteran photographer Steve Hansen for this comprehensive basics course, and you’ll learn:

  • How to shoot a beverage, main course, and dessert.
  • How to light and style your shots to get the most compelling images.
  • How to build out your basic studio gear to get the most out of your food styling and photography.

Steve will walk you through the basics of becoming a food photographer by drawing on his own experience as a chef, certified food stylist, and photographer. You’ll learn about the equipment you’ll need; how to interact with food and prop stylists, and direct them during a shoot; how to work with digital technicians and editors; and you’ll learn Steve’s tips for marketing food photography. 


Christy cwood56

This class has appeal for the beginning food photographer as well as the photographer that is already a bit further advanced on the path. There is quality info about gear and other logistics for the beginner that is absolutely necessary and establishes a strong baseline of knowledge. When Steve starts to shoot then the magic really starts to happen as we get to see into his creative process, how he styles, how he problem solves, how he continues to push the envelope until he comes up with his incredible images. That was the most enlightening part of the whole class...being able to observe an artist in his creative zone. Steve is a master at what he does and whether you are a beginner, intermediate or even advanced photographer, there is something for you in this class. It is well worth the minimal cost of the class. Part of the value of purchasing this class is that you can watch it again and again and again and each time you will walk away with boatloads of info. It is one of those classes that you will go back to again and again and use as a reference point for improving your images. Thanks Steve for being willing to share your gifts and talents to help others! Awesome day!

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