I have been working on a healthy baking cookbook so I thought I would share one of the early test shots with you and walk you through the photography process.
Illustration for a healthy baking cook book with a concept that is modern and bright whilst connecting with nature and the wholesome rustic basis of the recipes.
The white wooden board helps to create the light clean bright feeling while connecting with natural elements. I would have preferred the background board to be more distressed and worn looking but we didn’t have one like that so we used this one. Some of the main ingredients of these delicious cookies are banana, almonds and oats but that’s not very obvious when you look at them, so I decorated the space with these less obvious ingredients. I love the texture of the raw oats and how it brings a “just been baked at home” feeling to the shot, while the scrunched brown paper bag and the smooth round curves of the banana provide contrasting colour and textures that complement each other to create a wholesome natural feeling to the image. I particularly like having one of the cookies broken, it helps to take away the staged feeling and give it a “just couldn’t wait to eat it” kind of edge. The negative space at the bottom and placement of the almonds leads the eye up and inwards to the broken cookie, as if you might be able to reach in and grab it.
First I found a composition and angle for the camera that I liked after having set up the cookies and the surrounding elements. Now the next job was to set the lighting. While the shapes of cookies are quite flat they do have lots of texture so I lit the set to take advantage of this. I needed to keep the lights quite low so that it would flow over the elements in a fairly horizontal plain with the key (main) light set at approx ten o’clock to the camera. Next I needed to fill in a little from the front sides which I did using a studio light at a lower power setting to the key light and some white reflectors. You don’t want the fill light too bright or you end up with a flat shot. I was careful not to overexpose the white of the boards and to give the heaviest shadow on the front side of the cookie stack enough fill light to bring out the details.
I played around with the height and angle of the lights until I was happy, setting one light at a time so I could see what was happening and the effect of each light as I made subtle changes. It’s good practise to work like this, building the blocks one by one so you know what each piece is doing and how it affects the look of the subject and the environment, that way it’s easier to make the right changes and saves time which is always precious.
I hope you enjoyed this walkthrough on how to light and style food for photography and and that you found it insightful. Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. If you are interested in healthier baking and eating please follow Nature’s Treats @BakeHealthy on twitter for hints and tips.