Food Photography: White Seamless & some Lightroom Lovin’

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: November 1, 2010

Category: General

This past weekend I’ve been back photographing food, finishing the new promotional material for The Cape, Grand Cafe…this time though considerably more prepared than last time when the ‘brief’ was changed on the day of the shoot.

This time however, just like the last still meant photographing in a working restaurant as opposed to the studio which brought with it the challenges of limited space; so…adaptability was the name of the game.

With a client brief to produce images that were fresh, clean and simple with the focus on the food and not a ‘scene’ we opted for the same White Seamless look that I use in the studio, but on a miniature scale.

The ‘Miniature’ White Seamless
To create the look we were after first of all meant a little furniture removal, opting to use a wooden table in one of the corner’s of the restaurant as a starting point:

The Setup:

  • The white seamless came in the form of an A3 sheet of pure white paper taped to the wall using Gaffa tape allowing for enough of the paper to curve onto the table.
  • For the reflective ‘floor’ I used an A3 sheet of foam board that had a shiny plastic coating on either side. However the problem with this was that the surface was still quite porous, so as the food was going to be placed directly onto it I decided to make use of the clear plastic sheet and place that ontop also.
  • The white seamless paper was lit using two Nikon SB800’s; both of which were fitted with Gobo’s to prevent lens flare. Lighting the background this way had the same effect as it does when used in the studio i.e. light reflects back onto the shiny ‘floor’ lighting it sufficiently to turn it brilliant white.
  • The food was then lit with the combination of a Speedlight into a Lastolite Ezybox to the rear and off to one side (10 o’clock position from camera) and a Speedlight into a reflective umbrella was positioned directly opposite.
  • Finally I made use of white pieces of cardboard which were positioned where needed to add a little fill to some of the shadows.

Getting it right ‘in camera’:

The above image shows how the photographs were ‘out of camera’ as I was shooting tethered into Lightroom on my MacBook Pro.

Shooting tethered as I’ve said before is something I’m doing more and more whether I’m in the studio or ‘on location’. The advantage of being able to see the images on a much larger screen than that on the back of the camera enables you to see all the little things that maybe you wouldn’t have picked up on so any minor tweeks can be made and you’re 99% of the way there ‘out of camera’. The only adjustment applied at the capture stage is a preset I’ve recorded in Lightroom to reduce the ‘Red’ Channel by 25% as Nikon’s do tend to run a little hot in that area.

Taking the extra few minutes to get the images as close to complete ‘out of camera’ really is worth it as in this case all that was needed to finish the images off and make ready for the client delivery were a few minor tweeks in Lightroom such as increasing the ‘Blacks’, ‘Fill’ and adding a little ‘Clarity’ and ‘Vibrance’ and finishing off with a little ‘Sharpening’…all in all taking no more than 1 minute.

Any questions or comments as always feel free to make use of the comments section below,
Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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21 Comments

  1. Neil Holmes

    Really nice shots Glyn, they say you should shoot what you love, I thinks thats why I like shooting food too! Cheers Neil

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neil…Cheers for that and yeah I agree; certainly tests the will power though huh ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  2. Neal

    Really nice work mate, shame I was in france at the time of shooting otherwise I would have been tempted to tuck in!

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neal…’Tucked In’ … mate believe me, the temptation was almost too hard to resist ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  3. Shivakumar

    Awesome piece of information for a person like me who is absolutely new and illiterate with regard to food photography. I def need to try this out once and see how it turns out ๐Ÿ™‚

    But one big question – how do you resist the temptation when having such delicious food in front of you – to continue taking images than laying your hands on them ๐Ÿ˜›

    ha ha ha

    Just kidding mate …

    Cheers,
    Shiv

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Shiv…Thanks for the kind words mate and it’s great to ‘hear’ that it’s useful. With regards to resisting temptation…it was hard…real hard…lol ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  4. Rajesh J Taylor

    Really good example Glyn thanks for posting this. I’m going to challenge myself to photo my mother’s Indian cuisines next weekend now.

    Have you had to do any food work against a black background to emphasise its steam?

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Rajesh…Cheers for commenting Buddy and thanks for the kind words. Enjoy the challenge photographing your Mother’s cuisine, and if you’re able I’d love to see some of the results you get.

      I’ve not photographed food against a black background but it’s certainly something I’ll have a go at, at some point for sure.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  5. Joerg

    Great shots and very good example! Thanks

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Joerg…Thank you very much for that; I really appreciate it.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  6. Keith Hammond

    great informative post Glyn, 2 questions,
    with using the foam board and the reflective sheet arn’t you creating a sort of double reflection, i know thats picky but i’m a sucker for tiny details ๐Ÿ™‚

    how do you deliver the images to the client, is it on disc so their printer/publisher can just drop them into their layout or are you doing prints.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Keith…To be honest the foam board although it’s surface did have a gloss to it, it certainly wasn’t enough to produce anywhere near a good enough reflection…not once I’d taken the plastic wrapping off anyway…lol ๐Ÿ™‚ There is evidence of a slight double reflection on a couple of the images but certainly nothing that’s distracting so I’m happy with that especially as the final versions have been cropped to reveal about 1/3rd of the reflection (client’s choice) anyway. Ideally it would have been nice to photograph with the PVC tile board beneath but that was in the studio and we just had to go with it for fear of the client changing their mind…again ๐Ÿ™‚

      Re delivery, these images are predominantly for use on their new web site so will be provided web ready to their Webmaster, sized to exactly what they need etc so that I know they get them as they should be. There are some being printed for postcard type brochures/flyers but these are being done by a specialist printers as opposed to a digital ‘online’ one so we are guaranteed of the quality.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  7. DaveT

    Great post Glyn, I like the way you give us an insight to the challenges and solutions you come up with.

    Question about the flashes please – are they set to manual or TTL?

    Dave

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Dave…Thanks for looking in and commenting mate.

      Re the flashes I set them all to Manual which is how I use them 90% of the time…at the moment anyway.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  8. Tim Skipper

    If I hadn’t been eating like a pig all this last week while working in Tampa, Florida I would be hungry right now.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Tim…lol ๐Ÿ™‚ Mate, I was well and truly ‘stuffed’ at the end of the shoot ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
    • Glyn

      @Mike…That’s really kind of you mate; thanks of the ‘shout out’ on your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  9. David Kelly

    Nice work as other have said Glyn. Haven’t put my hand to any food photography as yet but thanks for the tips for when I do.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David Kelly…Cheers Buddy

      Reply
  10. Thai

    Hi! I have a canon. what do I need to get started?

    This is on my list so far.

    1. 580ex (do I need to get 3 of these?)
    2. gobo?
    3. umbrella

    thanks!

    Reply

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