Thursday of last week I was in Chelsea, London at The Draycott Hotel photographing their new menu. (I’d been approached a couple of weeks previous by the General Manager John Hanna who had seen some of the food photography I’d done for The Cape in Beaconsfield).
The photographs I was taking are going to be used in a new ‘Room Service’ gadget being trialed at the hotel, where rather than just reading from a menu, guests will actually see examples of the food on a handheld electronic device and at the press of a button have it sent to their room … all very impressive stuff.
I got to the hotel after a surprisingly stress free journey through rush hour traffic just after 8am and once I’d unloaded my kit had the obligatory coffee to start the day. John & his team were a great help and George, the Head Chef did an amazing job, cooking and preparing some beautiful food all day to be photographed.
All in all there were some 30 dishes photographed, and hand on heart I didn’t pick at any of them; mind you I did devour a greek salad during a break for lunch which was delicious.
To photograph the food I decided to use a table near to one of the large windows in the room because of the light coming in from outside. On the opposing side of the table I set up a Nikon SB800 Speedlight into a Lastolite Ezy Box. This way the food had light coming in from both sides and above; all I needed to do now was to soften the light coming in from outside and I did this by holding up a Lastolite 1 stop Tri Grip Diffuser. I shot using my D3 with a Nikon f/2.8 24-70mm lens on a tripod and also made use of a cable release to minimise the risk of any movement in the camera.
The SB800 (triggered using the Nikon CLS) was set to 1/16th power, so the recycle time was kept to a minimum and infact just the one flash was used for the entire day. I shot in Aperture Priority Mode throughout, varying between f/4.0 and f/5.0 so as to have a shallow (ish) depth of field.
*The photographs of George were taken using my Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens and lit with an SB800 in close, camera left and fired into a closed reflective umbrella. The umbrella was closed to minimise ‘spill’ onto the back wall ;o)