Friday, December 9, 2011

Playing With Your Food (Photography)

Braised Pork Belly over Cocunut Curry Soup and Ramen Noodles-2

This week is very exciting for me.  I finally moved from natural lighting and a do-it-yourself lighting rig for food photography to the world of flash photography.  Thanks to the generous donations for my recent book “Craig’s Grape Adventure – Loving Life with a Skillet and a Corkscrew” I was able to upgrade my lighting kit.

Before making my purchase of the Yongnuo YN560 flashes and the Yongnuo RF-603 wireless flash triggers I researched flashes, talked with photography friends, read reviews, and shopped for best prices.  I first concluded that with food photography as my principle use for the flashes, I would not need to go to the expense of purchasing TTL flashes.  With static photos, a manual flash is the best choice giving you full creative control over the quantity and quality of the light.  TTL flashes can be used in manual mode, but why pay for something you don’t need?  In essence, you set up your shot, set the power and zoom on the flash after a couple of test shots (or triggering the flash and using a light meter to set power and exposure), and you are ready to go.

Yongnuo YN 560 and RF-603

From my experience with testing various lighting configurations for my food photography, I wanted a three light kit.  Two lights for side lighting, and a third for backlighting.  Why? By applying light from three angles, you are able to wrap light around the subject and bring greater dimensionality to the photograph.  I also knew I wanted to use radio frequency remote flash triggers.  When I shoot food photography, it is real food – that I eat.  Using the RF triggers, I am able to quickly set up a shot, get the work done, and quickly move the gear to the side so our dinner party can enjoy the creation.

Cherry Tomatoes

My decision to go with manual flashes also saved a boatload of cash.  The Yongnuo YN560 flash sells for $75 on Amazon.  The RF triggers sell for $35 a pair.  In total, I have about $300 invested.  Compare this to $450 for a single Canon 580EX II.  When I decide to move to more dynamic situations (i.e. moving subjects or situations in which I cannot take the time to set up the shot in a controlled situation) I will likely purchase the 580EX II, but for now, the manual flashes are completely adequate.

Braised Pork Belly over Cocunut Curry Soup and Ramen Noodles-3

The photographs you see here are test shots and not the end of the story.  I was not at home when I took these shots and did not have umbrellas or other diffusers to shoot through.  In other words, these are all bare bulb shots.  I was able to use a little trickery by bouncing the light, but the addition of diffusers will result in softer light, controlled specular highlights, and even greater flexibility with the quality of the light.

2010 Bin 106 Twisted River Germany Gewürztraminer-2

As I play more with my food, and my lighting setup, I will be sure to share my results.  If the food you see here is making you hungry, head over to Craig’s Grape Adventure for hundreds of recipes, wine pairings and more food photography.

Have fun, and go make some great photography.


No comments:

Post a Comment