One thing I’ve learned from the food photography course is that a decent food shot takes time and planning. Trying to take pictures of cooking (the theme for the week) whilst actually cooking is therefore never going to yield a masterpiece.
So this week I settled for a simple collage of food prepared on my phone while preparing my dinner.
However, I did find time to shoot a nice glass of Belgian beer in front of the Christmas tree which was a good lesson in lighting that I wanted to share with you.
The original shot above was taken using the available light in our front room. The bottle and glass were very underexposed but since I was shooting this hand-held there was no way of going longer on shutter speed. If I had, the background would have been lighter too. This was at f/1.8 to maximise the bokeh so I couldn’t go wider either.
I tried a bare flash but this was too harsh and actually too bright even at 1/64 power. I would have needed to close the aperture to get a nice exposure but that would have affected the bokeh in the tree and the amount of light from the background which would have then been too dark.
Next I tried a backlit shot but this was no good either.
So I decided to make use of the best soft-box in any room – the ceiling. I laid the flash on the table next to where I had the camera and aimed it straight up. Keen to prevent light hitting the glass directly I stood a Christmas card in front of the flash. This stopped light hitting the glass but not the lens and I got this very interesting effect as a result.
As a result I moved the card to also flag the camera lens and that gave me this shot which I really like. The light on the glass and bottle is nice, the tree background is out of focus and the bokeh from the tree lights are very festive – my shot of the week.
Here’s a lighting diagram to show you what I did.