Home Photography Ideas: Explosive Food Photography!
Watch Video: Home Photography Ideas: Food Photography Explosion!
Floating piles of food are very popular in both food photography and restaurant advertising right now. This nifty photo requires a clever combination of shooting skills and Photoshop techniques – and as you can see, it’s very effective!
We start by setting up a series of precarious metal platforms for each item in our burger, so we can take the shot. Then we remove the stack and spin an empty frame. Then we assemble the frames in Photoshop and remove the wires at the edges of the image.
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However, we are still left with small visible parts of the thread on which the food rests, which ruins the illusion. To solve this problem, we will have to use Photoshop’s powerful Patch tool to touch up the threads and refine the image.
It’s easier than it looks, as the full walkthrough in our video tutorial above will demonstrate. You can obviously use this technique to photograph other tasty treats, so head to your fridge and get yourself a great shot!
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Prepare your stack of snacks
01 Hang the backdrop
Start by setting up and consider the background – we used a dark blanket so the backdrop is completely black. Alternatively, you can stage a scene with more context – a kitchen worktop or dining table would work well.
02 Place two supports
Install two light stands (or any other vertical support) on either side of the table like this, parallel to each other. You can also weight the supports to keep them from shifting or tie them together under the table to lock them in place.
03 Create wireframe platforms
Using a roll of thin wire, wrap a piece around the supports to create a thin platform, then cut the wire and continue to create more platforms for each ingredient you intend to use. to use in the photo. Make thread platforms as educated as possible.
04 Preparing food
Slice the ingredients you want to use. For our burger we had red onion, leaf lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheese, a brioche bun and a burger. We also had mustard and ketchup on hand. Choose the freshest, most colorful foods you can find.
05 Arrange the ingredients
Place each ingredient on a separate metal platform, spacing them apart. It’s best to work from the top down so that if something falls it doesn’t take the rest of the pile with it. Take care that each element does not overlap or obscure the rest.
06 Take the picture
Attach the camera to a sturdy tripod, set up your lights (see next section) and photograph the stack of delicious ingredients. A prime lens like a 50mm is ideal for food photography, as prime lenses tend to be sharper and faster than zoom lenses. Be careful not to push the tripod – we need to take another image of the empty stage once we’ve removed the food and wires.
07 On the wire
After taking the main photo of the stacked food, we also pulled out a few more images while holding pickles and onions on another piece of wire. This gives us a bit of extra variation in food heights. We will combine them later in Photoshop.
08 An empty frame
Once we had taken the food photos, we deleted everything and took a frame of the table and the backdrop only. This is handy for removing the wires later in Photoshop – we’ll combine the food photo with the empty scene and use a mask to hide the wires.
03 Spoons and splashes
Finally, we try out some footage while squirting mustard and dropping dollops of ketchup, trying to catch them mid-air. It’s best to turn off any ambient light so the speed lights freeze movement. We do this last, as it might create a reasonable mess!
02 Add a second flash
The second speed light is placed in front and to the right of the subject, and equipped with a silver umbrella. A wireless trigger is attached to the other flash, and this one is set to optical slave (S1) so that it detects the other light and fires at the same time.
03 Control output
Both flashes are set to manual; the front light is 1/16 power and the rear is 1/4. This creates cross lighting with highlights along the left side of the food and fills in from the front flash. Umbrellas diffuse, soften and diffuse light.
04 Expose for flash
Our camera is also in manual mode, at 1/200 sec, f/5.6 and ISO100. The large aperture means that the depth of field is limited, so the table and the background have to be out of focus. After focusing on the burger, we switch to manual focus to lock it in place.
Finish in Photoshop
01 Use the lasso
Now it’s time to launch Photoshop. Open the images of the hamburger and the empty stage, then drag the hamburger into the other image. Take the Lasso Tool and select the food.
02 Make a mask
Click the Add Layer Mask icon in the Layers panel. Get the Brush Tool and paint with black to hide the wire around the edges of the food.
03 Connect the wires
Create a new layer, grab the Patch Tool and check “Sample all layers”. Select parts of the threads and drag them to clean up the areas to remove.
04 Perfecting food
Use the Patch tool to touch up all the messy parts of the food so that everything looks good. Then open the other images, such as mustard.
05 Copy in extras
Select the mustard with the Lasso and copy it, then go to Select > Select and Mask. Select the object and set Output to: Layer Mask.
06 Reshape the burger
When everything is combined, make a merged copy with Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E then go to Filter>Liquify to reshape the food and make it plump and sumptuous!
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