Friday, June 27, 2008

Soft light Shallow focus

What separates this image from the others is the story it tells. We've been very close and we've backed away. This one (from a recipe card) is kind of in the middle. The light is airy and the focus adds to that (light & focus working together) by being very shallow. Digital helps the food photographer because when we shoot tethered to the computer, we can see a nearly instant response and know full size, what will be sharp and what will be soft. It all makes for a great image to sell a recipe and related products.
Nothing unusual here. Photographer (of course), prop stylist, food stylist and clients.
This recipe is tougher than it looks. The yogurt needs to be fortified with gelatin (all part of the recipe) and the whole thing is cooled so that the yogurt stays in the cantaloupe. It's up to the food stylists to bring any food that we might think we need during the day so they bring in not only cantaloupe, peaches and yogurt for the recipe, but probably mint, strawberries and other fruit. There's no time on a shoot day to run out and shop, so the stylist needs to bring everything they imagine might be asked for by the photographer and client. This ability is what separates the new food stylists from the experienced ones.
Soft, soft soft! This image needed to be light and bright so we used a scrim off to the right side. Our scrim was a large translucent shower curtain stretched on a 6X6' frame. The scrim was close to the table holding the food. A straight strobe head was next pointed away from the table and into a large "V" of 4X8' foamcore. So the light leaves the strobe head, bounces into the foamcore V, and bounces back through the scrim and onto the set. All this bouncing of the light back and forth tends to make it exceedingly soft but still directional. We finished the shot with fill cards all around the left side of the set, set the camera f/stop wide open, and shot away. That's the way we do it. Light and focus working together to sell a product.

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