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BTS - Cutting Board

My New Year's resolution is to get my portfolio organized and filled out more with the kind of work I want to do. I have been procrastinating enough and it's high time I got serious with my work. My goal for 2013 is to actively pursue clients to increase my workflow.

To that end I have been setting up some product and food shots in my studio in order to create content for my portfolio. This cutting board is one I just finished shooting so I thought I would share the setup with you.

The arrangement is inspired by a similar setup I came across on the internet. All the materials were readily available in my pantry except for the fresh rosemary.

I set all the items in roughly place in the arrangement I wanted. At this point there is no styling on the food, I'm just looking to get the exposure. As you can see with this first image the light is a little off, creating a hot spot on the lower left side of the frame. It took some maneuvering but I finally got the light looking like I wanted.

Since this is a flat spread with absolutely no depth of field I was looking for relatively soft even light. Because the shot is a direct overhead shot none of the items are featured therefore nothing really needs to be modeled.

Once I was happy with the overall look of the light I began dressing the set. This is where attention is given to the interplay of all the elements to each other, to the background and to the negative space.

You can see in this shot that the spice (chili powder) in the bowl is all clumpy looking. I spent about 15 minutes getting the chili powder to look nice and smooth yet natural. In the end this kind of attention pays off.

These first two images are straight from the camera with no retouching. You can see that elements are getting straightened out and products tweaked into place. The final composition is the first image above. You can see some of the subtle moves in the mushrooms ad rosemary. I also flattened out the table cloth to remove the distracting shadows caused by the waves in the cloth.

The final step is to import it into Light Room for post processing. In this particular case I didn't do too much. I adjusted my white and black levels, boosted the saturation a bit and corrected the angle. I cropped in a little tighter just to remove all the extra space around the composition.

Here is my setup; my main light is a fluorescent light overhead and slightly to the back. The large white area on the right is actually a translucent shower curtain. It is diffusing two clip-on utility lights with daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs. On a low table I have m props set out with white cards to bounce light back toward the shadow side of the cutting board.

I have my camera on a tripod with the center support pole swung out over the table so I can shoot from overhead. The camera is so high up that i had to stand on a chair to shoot. I normally shoot tethered but I'm having issues with my laptop right now.

Because am shooting with continuous light I have to use a long shutter. I am at 1/20th of a second at f/8 with an ISO of 200. Since depth of field wasn't an issue I chose f/8 so that everything was in focus without sacrificing light.

As you can see, the setup is relatively simple with not a lot of fancy equipment. Hope this inspires you.


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