Food photography lighting setup

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Graytown, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. Graytown

    Graytown Guest

    I wanted to do a collection of "FOOD" as part of developing my portfolio.Any
    suggestions on the lights that I'll need and how do I get the
    backgrounds? I mean is there anything that I can make on my own (read cheap
    option). Basically, I'm looking at a low-cost tiny studio setup. Needless to
    say, I have a dining table - so that prop is covered, I need the lights and
    a few backgrounds for close-ups. That's where I'm pretty much drawing a
    blank.

    Oh, I'm using a Digital Rebel.

    Rohit
    Graytown, Jun 8, 2004
    #1
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  2. Graytown

    Lourens Smak Guest

    In article <s3lxc.1884$>,
    "Graytown" <> wrote:

    > I wanted to do a collection of "FOOD" as part of developing my portfolio.Any
    > suggestions on the lights that I'll need


    One of the most famous Dutch food photographers I worked with used a
    hazylight (1x1m indirect softbox) and a few spots with grids mounted.
    (usually 2 or 3)

    >and how do I get the
    > backgrounds? I mean is there anything that I can make on my own (read cheap
    > option).


    Borrowing tablecloths and dishes is by far the cheapest. There's also a
    fampous Belgian food photographer (Tony Leduc) who basically became
    famous for photographing food without a plate... ;-) I don't know if he
    has a website.

    >Basically, I'm looking at a low-cost tiny studio setup. Needless to
    > say, I have a dining table - so that prop is covered,


    lose the table, get in close. Or else, make your own table at half the
    height...

    > I need the lights and
    > a few backgrounds for close-ups. That's where I'm pretty much drawing a
    > blank.


    maybe you focus too much on equipment. you can't do it with basic
    equipment, you probably can't do it with a hazylight either.

    I have one sample on-line:
    http://www.myfourthirds.com/document.php?id=2155
    It was made using a window as the light-source, and a small piece of a
    (silver) survival-blanket. It may not be the best possible
    food-photograph, but it certainly is adequate.

    > Oh, I'm using a Digital Rebel.


    Not important...
    ;-)
    Lourens.
    Lourens Smak, Jun 8, 2004
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Well...the food you see in magazines is not for eating....they have food
    stylists that do all kinds of awful things to it. But, what counts is that
    it photographs well. Maybe there is a website about that subject.

    "Graytown" <> wrote in message
    news:s3lxc.1884$...
    > I wanted to do a collection of "FOOD" as part of developing my

    portfolio.Any
    > suggestions on the lights that I'll need and how do I get the
    > backgrounds? I mean is there anything that I can make on my own (read

    cheap
    > option). Basically, I'm looking at a low-cost tiny studio setup. Needless

    to
    > say, I have a dining table - so that prop is covered, I need the lights

    and
    > a few backgrounds for close-ups. That's where I'm pretty much drawing a
    > blank.
    >
    > Oh, I'm using a Digital Rebel.
    >
    > Rohit
    >
    >
    Gene Palmiter, Jun 8, 2004
    #3
  4. Graytown

    Lourens Smak Guest

    In article <3dnxc.18684$>,
    "Gene Palmiter" <> wrote:

    > Well...the food you see in magazines is not for eating....they have food
    > stylists that do all kinds of awful things to it. But, what counts is that
    > it photographs well. Maybe there is a website about that subject.


    I know a lot of the basic tricks, but most stylists have their own
    top-secret recepies for stuff like ice-cream, and they defend their
    know-how with their life if necessary... ;-) I doubt if there is a
    website on the subject.

    Lourens
    Lourens Smak, Jun 8, 2004
    #4
  5. Graytown

    Graytown Guest

    "Gene Palmiter" wrote
    > Well...the food you see in magazines is not for eating....


    Oh that's fine. I've shot hotel rooms that aren't fit for a dog to sleep in,
    yet they look awesome on their website.

    Hmmm... I guess I'll just have to keep digging around.

    Thanks

    Rohit
    Graytown, Jun 8, 2004
    #5
  6. Graytown

    Graytown Guest

    Those Hazylight boxes are around $4,000 !!! Isn't there a cheaper
    alternative?

    Thanks

    Rohit

    --
    http://www.graytown.ca
    Design - Photography - Hospitality Marketing Solutions


    "Lourens Smak" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In article <s3lxc.1884$>,
    > "Graytown" <> wrote:
    >
    > > I wanted to do a collection of "FOOD" as part of developing my

    portfolio.Any
    > > suggestions on the lights that I'll need

    >
    > One of the most famous Dutch food photographers I worked with used a
    > hazylight (1x1m indirect softbox) and a few spots with grids mounted.
    > (usually 2 or 3)
    >
    > >and how do I get the
    > > backgrounds? I mean is there anything that I can make on my own (read

    cheap
    > > option).

    >
    > Borrowing tablecloths and dishes is by far the cheapest. There's also a
    > fampous Belgian food photographer (Tony Leduc) who basically became
    > famous for photographing food without a plate... ;-) I don't know if he
    > has a website.
    >
    > >Basically, I'm looking at a low-cost tiny studio setup. Needless to
    > > say, I have a dining table - so that prop is covered,

    >
    > lose the table, get in close. Or else, make your own table at half the
    > height...
    >
    > > I need the lights and
    > > a few backgrounds for close-ups. That's where I'm pretty much drawing a
    > > blank.

    >
    > maybe you focus too much on equipment. you can't do it with basic
    > equipment, you probably can't do it with a hazylight either.
    >
    > I have one sample on-line:
    > http://www.myfourthirds.com/document.php?id=2155
    > It was made using a window as the light-source, and a small piece of a
    > (silver) survival-blanket. It may not be the best possible
    > food-photograph, but it certainly is adequate.
    >
    > > Oh, I'm using a Digital Rebel.

    >
    > Not important...
    > ;-)
    > Lourens.
    Graytown, Jun 8, 2004
    #6
  7. Graytown

    John McGraw Guest

    "Graytown" <> wrote in message news:<s3lxc.1884$>...
    > I wanted to do a collection of "FOOD" as part of developing my portfolio.Any
    > suggestions on the lights that I'll need and how do I get the
    > backgrounds? I mean is there anything that I can make on my own (read cheap
    > option). Basically, I'm looking at a low-cost tiny studio setup. Needless to
    > say, I have a dining table - so that prop is covered, I need the lights and
    > a few backgrounds for close-ups. That's where I'm pretty much drawing a
    > blank.
    >
    > Oh, I'm using a Digital Rebel.
    >
    > Rohit





    Hi Graytown

    Here is a list of equipment that I plagiarized from other reasonably
    successful food & product photographers to make reasonably
    professional food & other close up / macro subjects:

    Visquine sheets stretched wooden frames ~ 2 ' X 3 ' (5) (Rather like
    canvas stretched for a painting)
    Right angle clamps to hold above diffusion screens together to make a
    sorta tent, w/ one on top. (Find these w/ wood working tools in most
    hardware stores). (~6)

    C clamps of various sizes. No larger that 8 " (~6)

    Spring clamps, various sizes no larger than, say 8 " (Like large
    metal clothes pins w / brown-usually, rubber / plastic coating)

    A table that allows a cardboard base to be level where the product is
    & then holds the top of cardboard after it has swept up to a near
    vertical position behind the product. (To give a smooth, continuous
    background.) A discarded child's bed w/ headboard & elevated to ~
    normal table height could work. Or a used one from Sally Annie. Many
    other possibilities.

    Two hand held staple guns (such as used to staple garage sale signs to
    wooden poles) for diff. Sized staples. One construction weight, the
    other more normal office size.

    Aluminized cardboard. To cut up to into as small of strips to fill
    light into small areas that needs light.

    Tacky wax. To hold stuff such as the Al. cardboard strips.

    Gobies (sp?) & scrims. The material to make them.

    Hammer, saw, pliers, dikes, screwdrivers, nails, screws, Elmer's glue,
    gaffers tape, black tape, 3MMajic tape, electrical tape

    A large reflector light, say 10 – 14" dia.

    A spotlight or two


    From your question, I suspect that you won't understand how to use all
    this. There are numerous books about food & macro photography &
    lighting, many out of print, many available @ 2nd hand bookstores.
    Many available @ larger or main branch libraries. Look @ the photos to
    see if it is the effect you are looking for, if so then use the
    techniques therein. In my humble opinion, a spotlight is an essential
    element in successful food photog. I want the subject to look radiant,
    almost as if the food is emanating some of the light. The spotlight is
    used to skim across certain dishes to enhance this appearance. Or to
    bring up an exceptionally dark area. (Although that is usually done w/
    the aluminum cardboard reflectors). A spotlight is usually used to
    produce light from the direction of the one & usually only main large
    light. Both lights are coming through same part of the visquine
    screen. So that only one source of light appears on the subject. Also
    the visquene screens more or less surrounding the subject acting as
    general fills. If too much so, then back them off or remove some.
    Look at some coffee table books of food photog, to see what I mean.
    Most cities have a JC or 2 than have photo courses. Even if your not
    interested in the material being taught, taking a course would give
    you access to their studio. The City of Los Angeles Dept. of parks has
    or use to have a studio & darkroom facility in Hollywood. Perhaps
    other cities have the same.

    None of the above stuff is all that expensive. However taken in total,
    it probably adds up to quite a bit. Much of the ordinary carpentry
    tools you might already have, or be able to borrow. The last two items
    is where the money can really come into play. Continuous light isn't
    too expensive, and it gives by far the best control. Although
    spotlights aren't cheap. (Plus they require 220 or 440Volts, I think)
    But there's a huge problem w/ it. As we used to say when I was doing
    commercial photography; "Shoot da mudder before it melts". Continuous
    light is very hot. The lights can sometimes literally cook the food.
    Which means that food photogs should use electronic flash. If you can
    afford a flash spot light, that's great. If not then you'll just have
    to make do w/ continuous.

    Most of the photographic specific stuff I have mentioned is available
    @
    http://www.calumetphoto.com

    Good Luck John
    John McGraw, Jun 9, 2004
    #7
  8. Graytown

    Graytown Guest

    John,

    Thaks for the excellent information. This is just what I was looking for.

    I owe you one !

    Rohit

    "John McGraw" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "Graytown" <> wrote in message

    news:<s3lxc.1884$>...
    > > I wanted to do a collection of "FOOD" as part of developing my

    portfolio.Any
    > > suggestions on the lights that I'll need and how do I get the
    > > backgrounds? I mean is there anything that I can make on my own (read

    cheap
    > > option). Basically, I'm looking at a low-cost tiny studio setup.

    Needless to
    > > say, I have a dining table - so that prop is covered, I need the lights

    and
    > > a few backgrounds for close-ups. That's where I'm pretty much drawing a
    > > blank.
    > >
    > > Oh, I'm using a Digital Rebel.
    > >
    > > Rohit

    >
    >
    >
    >
    > Hi Graytown
    >
    > Here is a list of equipment that I plagiarized from other reasonably
    > successful food & product photographers to make reasonably
    > professional food & other close up / macro subjects:
    >
    > Visquine sheets stretched wooden frames ~ 2 ' X 3 ' (5) (Rather like
    > canvas stretched for a painting)
    > Right angle clamps to hold above diffusion screens together to make a
    > sorta tent, w/ one on top. (Find these w/ wood working tools in most
    > hardware stores). (~6)
    >
    > C clamps of various sizes. No larger that 8 " (~6)
    >
    > Spring clamps, various sizes no larger than, say 8 " (Like large
    > metal clothes pins w / brown-usually, rubber / plastic coating)
    >
    > A table that allows a cardboard base to be level where the product is
    > & then holds the top of cardboard after it has swept up to a near
    > vertical position behind the product. (To give a smooth, continuous
    > background.) A discarded child's bed w/ headboard & elevated to ~
    > normal table height could work. Or a used one from Sally Annie. Many
    > other possibilities.
    >
    > Two hand held staple guns (such as used to staple garage sale signs to
    > wooden poles) for diff. Sized staples. One construction weight, the
    > other more normal office size.
    >
    > Aluminized cardboard. To cut up to into as small of strips to fill
    > light into small areas that needs light.
    >
    > Tacky wax. To hold stuff such as the Al. cardboard strips.
    >
    > Gobies (sp?) & scrims. The material to make them.
    >
    > Hammer, saw, pliers, dikes, screwdrivers, nails, screws, Elmer's glue,
    > gaffers tape, black tape, 3MMajic tape, electrical tape
    >
    > A large reflector light, say 10 - 14" dia.
    >
    > A spotlight or two
    >
    >
    > From your question, I suspect that you won't understand how to use all
    > this. There are numerous books about food & macro photography &
    > lighting, many out of print, many available @ 2nd hand bookstores.
    > Many available @ larger or main branch libraries. Look @ the photos to
    > see if it is the effect you are looking for, if so then use the
    > techniques therein. In my humble opinion, a spotlight is an essential
    > element in successful food photog. I want the subject to look radiant,
    > almost as if the food is emanating some of the light. The spotlight is
    > used to skim across certain dishes to enhance this appearance. Or to
    > bring up an exceptionally dark area. (Although that is usually done w/
    > the aluminum cardboard reflectors). A spotlight is usually used to
    > produce light from the direction of the one & usually only main large
    > light. Both lights are coming through same part of the visquine
    > screen. So that only one source of light appears on the subject. Also
    > the visquene screens more or less surrounding the subject acting as
    > general fills. If too much so, then back them off or remove some.
    > Look at some coffee table books of food photog, to see what I mean.
    > Most cities have a JC or 2 than have photo courses. Even if your not
    > interested in the material being taught, taking a course would give
    > you access to their studio. The City of Los Angeles Dept. of parks has
    > or use to have a studio & darkroom facility in Hollywood. Perhaps
    > other cities have the same.
    >
    > None of the above stuff is all that expensive. However taken in total,
    > it probably adds up to quite a bit. Much of the ordinary carpentry
    > tools you might already have, or be able to borrow. The last two items
    > is where the money can really come into play. Continuous light isn't
    > too expensive, and it gives by far the best control. Although
    > spotlights aren't cheap. (Plus they require 220 or 440Volts, I think)
    > But there's a huge problem w/ it. As we used to say when I was doing
    > commercial photography; "Shoot da mudder before it melts". Continuous
    > light is very hot. The lights can sometimes literally cook the food.
    > Which means that food photogs should use electronic flash. If you can
    > afford a flash spot light, that's great. If not then you'll just have
    > to make do w/ continuous.
    >
    > Most of the photographic specific stuff I have mentioned is available
    > @
    > http://www.calumetphoto.com
    >
    > Good Luck John
    Graytown, Jun 9, 2004
    #8
  9. He He...yep....I shoot for a magazine. I often get shots that make things
    look better than I thing they should....but that is what I am paid to do.
    Making a room look big is easy...stand in a corner....handhold if the tripod
    won't get deep in the corner, or use the tripod as a monopod...shoot at full
    wide angle. We print on newsprint so it takes some processing tricks to make
    food look its best. I go along on restaurant reviews and shoot the food as
    it comes...very little special prep. I trust my Oly E-10 to meter
    right...after using it for a few years. Then...in PS I cut the CMY a bit for
    Grey Component Removal and sharpen with the Sharpen more. Comes out bright.
    That amount of sharpening may be too much for glossy paper...but newsprint
    muddies things.


    "Graytown" <> wrote in message
    news:Lmrxc.2525$...
    > "Gene Palmiter" wrote
    > > Well...the food you see in magazines is not for eating....

    >
    > Oh that's fine. I've shot hotel rooms that aren't fit for a dog to sleep

    in,
    > yet they look awesome on their website.
    >
    > Hmmm... I guess I'll just have to keep digging around.
    >
    > Thanks
    >
    > Rohit
    >
    >
    Gene Palmiter, Jun 9, 2004
    #9
  10. Graytown

    zeitgeist Guest


    > I wanted to do a collection of "FOOD" as part of developing my

    portfolio.Any
    > suggestions on the lights that I'll need and how do I get the
    > backgrounds? I mean is there anything that I can make on my own (read

    cheap
    > option). Basically, I'm looking at a low-cost tiny studio setup. Needless

    to
    > say, I have a dining table - so that prop is covered, I need the lights

    and
    > a few backgrounds for close-ups. That's where I'm pretty much drawing a
    > blank.




    go to a used magazine store, or rummage through a recycling center magazine
    dumpster and dig up some foodie magazines (Gourmet, Bon Appetit etc) or some
    yuppie magazines that feature lots of restaurant and food articles, lots of
    regional mags, travel mags etc.

    first looking at the photos should give a you a few clues, soft boxes, spot
    lights, sets of fine china, crystal goblets, lots of slabs of odd shaped
    marble, polished wood. Flowers, linens.

    They say food is a form of pornography, and the sets are as complicated as a
    playboy spread.

    Find someone that wants to become a food stylist, that's a specialty,
    they'll need someone to help with their portfolio. Find a chef looking for
    backers for a restaurant, he'll need some images for promotional material.


    This reply is echoed to the z-prophoto mailing list for professional photogs
    at yahoogroups.com intro message now required for membership.
    zeitgeist, Jun 10, 2004
    #10
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