Desserts Staging

Nothing like ending the day with a slice of satisfaction topped with more creamery and fresh berries.

I Traded with a local Joe for the cheesecake and harvested the berries from a warehouse that also sells light bulbs, jeans, and car batteries.

I Traded with a local Joe for the cheesecake and harvested the berries from a warehouse that also sells light bulbs, jeans, and car batteries.

Staging this shot reminded me that I’m definitely not an expert at food plating (I can hear family in the pastry business screaming at their monitors regarding my arrangement) and you probably correctly guessed that I just winged it.  Also, the ice cream added a stricter time deadline component that I usually don’t play within.

In any case, its another chance to try out my experimental low-budget photo staging platform:IMG_0190ce I basically clear out some space on my workbench, lay down a couple Elmer’s Colored Foam Boards [*] and position my clip lamps along the equipment shelf.  The white foam boards sport a smooth, matte finish so there’s less unwanted reflections and textures along the provided white background/backdrop.

The finished cheesecake shot at the top was taken at an angle where only the flat-laying board was exposed.  At an angle such as the jar of gummy bears below, a shadow exists where the vertically standing and flat-laying boards meet.

Purposely overexposing to lighten the junction or adjusting lights positions could help mitigate the shadow.  For a future shoot, I’ll try to score half-way through one of the boards and bend-up to see if I can make it more seamless.

Another just-now change to my workbench is swapping out the CFLs in the lamps with some recently acquired Feit Electric 60 Watt Replacement LED dimmable bulbs[*].
IMG_5538ceThey operate about as cool to the touch as the CFLs, which is good for keeping the A/C usage low or lighting heat-sensitive objects.  What I like about the LEDs already is that the auto white balance measures more accurately.  When shooting under CFLs without flash, I’ve usually had to hit the custom white balance to avoid a yellowish cast in captured photos that I don’t notice in the flesh.  I don’t know if this is due to the CFLs itself or Canon’s processing algorithms but my LEDs and CFLs (also made by Feit Electric) both claim 2700K color temperature.

To attenuate the shadows cast from the two overhead bright light sources, I held my diffuser disc (first featured here with the Chicken Adobo) above the camera and plated dessert after composing the shot and setting the self-timer.  Without the diffuser, shadows appear behind the cake slice, on the slice itself from a top strawberry wedge, and between the berries on the plate.  Plus, the strawberries and metallic plate lining reflect the lamps.  Here’s a non-diffused pre-shot:

IMG_5551eNot to claim that my desserts staging is up to snuff to the foodie epicureans, I think the opening shot is closer to what I’ve seen featured in a menu or food print media than the non-diffused shot in terms of composition and lighting.

A basic platform, good lighting, and diffusing lend to getting a staged shot done pretty well as quickly as possible.  Which is good, because I was getting antsy waiting to eat the subject.

The Elmer’s Colored Foam Boards [*] are available in various colors, but I can immediately think of white and black being the most useful picks for staged photography, but endless opportunity on other tones for more artistic uses.

I got mine within a 3 pack from a local shop.  However, compared to the linked product that are 20″x30″, mine are 16″x20″.

We originally got a couple packs of the Feit Electric Omni Directional LED bulbs[*] to replace the builder installed incandescent bulbs in our walk-in closet dimmable dome lights.  There were two left over for me to try at my work bench.  (why a moderately sized closet needs 2 dome lights each with 2 sockets for lighting is beyond me).

We acquired our LED bulbs from a local warehouse store, motivated by the local power company subsidizing instant rebates.  Otherwise, the Amazon’s $19.xx price at writing is the same “every day” price at the warehouse…which tells me the warehouse probably needs to start step up its game on justifying my membership and focus more on adding value than trying to push their upgraded membership.

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