Thursday, October 2, 2008

On Assignment : Food Photograhy with One Flash

My wife made her latest masterpiece. I don't know what it's called, but I know it's very crispy and delicious poh-piah type of dish. :D

So, this is my assignment, to shoot a photo of her latest masterpiece so to be posted on her blog. Hence I bring out my DIY softbox and my flash. I wish to work with one flash only. Setting up two flashes in a tight table is not possible.

Why softbox ? So to create some kind of window lighting effect. Food look good under natural window light. And look good under shallow DOF too. Hence, I used my lovely little 50mm lens for this shot.

I need shallow DOF. So, I am working at big hole which is either F1.4 or F2.8. I know my lens look soft at the aperture of F1.4, but the lens delivers crispy sharp image at F2.8. Hence, I use F2.8.

For flash photography, at F2.8, I need a low level flash. My F42 only offer 1/32 as the lowest flash level. Mounted it on a soft box further reduce it's flash level. There is another setting I can play around to further reduce the flash output : the zoom of the flash head. If you read in the flash manual properly, you may find that the GN for the flash will reduce once the zoom is set to wider angle, and vice versa. Low GN mean low flash output intensity. So, I set my zoom flash to 50mm to further reduce the flash intensity. Another setting to reduce the flash power is the shutter speed. Once I turn my shutter speed to 1/250s, the flash GN will reduce even more !

Ok, I have a working aperture of F2.8, I set ISO to 200 for better picture quality, and set up my "studio" as shown :

My soft box was on camera right with a white card as reflector on camera left. The white card will bounce the flash and the flash light will wrap the whole food set up and give a nice soft fill on the shadow side. A white card fill is necessary to fill the shadow. If not, the food would not look delicious enough.

Why white card ? So that there is some lighting ratio effect on the food. Some shadow is to be retained so for some 3D effect. Compare the difference between these two shots:

The left photo with white reflector, the right one without.
(Both at same setting: 1/250s, F2.8, ISO 200, flash at 1/32 zoom at 50mm.)

Then I tested my flash setting with a grey card to see if I got a proper exposure. From the histogram, I settled at 1/250s, F2.8, ISO 200 with flash level at 1/32 zoom at 50mm.

Explore some angles and I favour on this angle as shown in the first pic. Some touch up in PP and I'm done. And my wife is happy with the shot. :D

And finally, we hantam this crispy poh-piah in just 10 minutes, where as I took almost 20 minutes to bring my gears out + setting up + test shots + proper shot. LOL

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