Tuesday, February 23, 2010

365 Day 133

I took this shot last night for my ongoing 365 Project. This isn't the first time I've done a shot with this same kind of setup, and since people have asked in the past how I get shots like this, I thought I'd give a quick lesson on how something like this can be done.

Now, for the more advanced photographers out there this isn't really anything you haven't already done, but since there are plenty of people out there who have never done this kind of thing before, I thought it would be helpful for them to see one of the ways you could go about achieving this type of result. Also, for the art lovers out there who don't have any intention of ever doing this themselves, it's just a nice little glimpse into how some of us work.

This shot may look like it could have been done in a studio with a backdrop and a food stylist, but really it was done in about 5 minutes in my kitchen. Again, for all the strobist readers out there who have seen Mr. Hobby talk about this kind of setup over and over again, I know this is kind of post has been done to death, but this is my turn to put up a quick how-to post.

The truth is, when you're doing a project that can be this demanding, you are sometimes left improvising nothing into something at 2, 3, maybe 4AM. If you don't shoot something for the day then you've failed your own assignment, but you can't just take 365 pictures of your shoes. You start looking around for something, anything, that could be made even remotely interesting.

I've always liked detailed close-ups, especially of everyday things, that make them look more interesting than usual. I could have taken a quick picture of the whole lemon, just sitting there on the kitchen countertop, but how boring would that have been?

Anyway, for something like this you really don't need a lot of stuff. You need a lemon (duh), or any juicy fruit, really. In my case I used 1 light with a diffuser cap, triggered by a Pocket Wizard, but you could also shoot this ETTL if you want to be all Joe McNally about it. I suspended the lemon slice above a bowl (to catch the juice, and to hold water in case I needed to reapply some juicy-ness) using a paper towel holder I got at the dollar store with an A-clamp. In the A-clamp jaw I used a bamboo skewer from the kitchen drawer and speared the lemon sideways. I propped the whole thing up on top of a tissue box to give me some height and to distance the subject from the light source just a bit.

Here is a pull-back view of the setup:

The whole thing took no time at all and gave me a great photo to add to my 365 gallery. The shot could also make it into the portfolio if I ever needed to display food photography, or could be uploaded to my stock gallery since I was able to shoot with a low ISO setting. So I can get 3 potential uses from one shot, how's that for making the most of your efforts?

Oh, and for the record, that drop of lemon juice was right from the lemon itself. Some juice dropped down after spearing it with the skewer and was just enough to make a nice droplet bulb, but not heavy enough to fall, so it stayed there nicely for the few shots I took before I was happy with my settings. The dropper in the bowl got put away unused.

Settings of the final shot: ISO 100; 1/200 @ f/13; 100mm 2.8 Macro lens; Canon 5D Mark II

More soon,

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