Inspired by the the beautiful Photographing Food e-book by Taylor Mathis, I decided to try a little food photography of my own.
First, I had to obtain a suitable subject. So I went downstairs and around the corner to Extraordinary Desserts, which is a dangerous thing to have next door.
There I obtained one Strawberry Shortcake.
After carefully carrying it home, I set the shortcake on my kitchen counter and took a photo with the default camera that most of use for our food photography: the iPhone.
Not very impressive. We can do better.
This photo was taken on my kitchen counter as you can see here:
I wanted to keep this simple, without getting into off-camera-flash or fancy lighting gear, so I took the obvious first step:
Move the subject to better light.
So I put the shortcake on my portable workstation near a sunny window, with the blind down to make a diffused soft light. If I were in a restaurant, I would have moved my plate over near a window.
Here’s the setup.
But before shooting with the real camera, I took another photo with the iPhone.
But the iPhone’s tiny lens can’t render a shallow depth-of-field, so the background is annoyingly sharp.
Time to pull out the big guns.
I used the Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-105 f/4 lens to take basically the same photo, using the setup you see above, although in reality I did it handheld. (I didn’t think of using a tripod until it came time to shoot the “behind the scenes” view). The white foam core board is just there to provide a clean background.
The ISO is high because I wasn’t actually shooting on the tripod, and I needed a fast shutter speed to avoid camera shake. If I were doing it over I’d take the actual photo using the tripod and reduce the ISO.
I liked this one a lot, but I wondered if I could do better with some fill light on the shadow side.
So I moved the setup over to a different window, in open shade, and I folded a piece of white poster board to make a quick reflector.
Here’s the setup
And here’s the result
That also looks pretty nice, but I prefer the previous one with a little more darkness on the shadow side. I think the fill light, in this case, makes the lighting all just a little too even.
So here’s my final result:
It took about 20 minutes to go from “before” to “after” thanks to Taylor Mathis.
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