Sometimes one of the challenges with food photography is making things look hot in the final picture. Photographing hot food and drink especially those in a liquid form, such as coffee or soup, benefit from a bit of heat vapour every now and again. The trouble is even when you can see it clearly with your own eye, it can be tricky to capture it in the camera.
The best steam effects take place right after the food has been served with the strength of it fading with every second as the food cools on the set. Ideally a dummy is used to perfect the shot with then the hero can be brought in, sometimes it’s not always possible and you just have to get on with it and work as quickly as possible as I did with these shots for a restaurant. Time was of the essence with a long shot list for the day, meanwhile the restaurant were busy serving customers at the same time.
So, when I had captured a perfect steam wave but wanted to change something about the rest of the set, I used Photoshop to layer in the perfect steam wave with perfect everything else.
Steam is a tricky thing to handle as the slightest movements will cause it to change shape and move.
Some people fake steam with incense sticks or cones, but I’m not a fan, I think you can tell that it’s not genuine. I’ve heard of people using dry ice as a substitute but I’ve not experimented with this yet. I am a big fan of keeping it as real as possible and trying to capture everything in camera as much as possible reducing post editing time. Most of my clients don’t have the time or budget to be playing around with creating fake copies of things anyway so I find solutions that work to help them get the most out of their photo shoots with the least inconvenience.