Good day, Chunkies!

I know, I have been away for a long time. What to do, it has been a crazy past four months!

With assisting my friend and Cinematographer Ashwin Shukla and Director Shabnam Sukhdev on a beautiful shoot schedule in the Himalayas, transcribing all the audio for the same project, doing so many new commercial projects and of course, getting college assignments done; yeah, it been a pretty busy time. 😀

This was a recent product shoot I did for my assignment. I had not shot any packaged products yet and this one is the first in my portfolio.

GoodDay Chunkies
GoodDay Chunkies

It was supposed to be a simple, clean shot but I didn’t want it to fall into the conventional boring still. I love the suggestion of motion in still images and therefore, I decided to have the cookies falling into the box.

I suspended the biscuits with extremely thin thread from a boom-pole above the box. I later photoshopped them out, of course.

 

Chunkies Light Diagram
Light diagram and setup for Chunkies

 

 

Keep in mind while shooting product packages, to not let the box flare. I used a black cardboard cutter (you can use any black opaque , flat object to cut the light)  on the 60×60 softbox to avoid flaring on the box, otherwise it would have lost color and definition.

Cross lighting on the cookies and the edge lighting from the back give a nice moulding as well as seperation to the product.And finally, to add a little suggestion of drama in the background, I overlayed it with crumpled paper texture. 🙂

And finally, to add a little trace of drama in the background, I overlayed it with crumpled paper texture. 🙂

I hope you like the picture and be sure to like and comment. 🙂

I’ll be putting up some stills from my trip to Dharamshala soon, so look out!

 

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Pretty Pink Macaroons

I have been fascinated by these cute little desserts for a long time now. They are utterly gorgeous.  I had been obsessed with the cute pictures of them all over pinterest and wanted some of my own.

Presenting

Raspberry Macaroons
Raspberry Macaroons
Raspberry Macaroons II
Raspberry Macaroons II
Raspberry Macaroons III
Raspberry Macaroons III
Raspberry Macaroons  IV
Raspberry Macaroons IV
IMG_9821-Edit
Raspberry Macaroons, Close Up

Coffee Swirl

I can’t believe it. It took me so much time to do a simple shot like this.

What I wanted to do was something along the lines of this award winning photograph for Millicano coffee.

I took this as an inspiration, and tried to do something along this line, with a few changes.
I took this as an inspiration, and tried to do something along this line, with a few changes.

I couldn’t figure out how to do this shot ( I still can’t) , but I tried to work along with whatever comes. I think the above shot uses brushes in photoshop to create the liquid diffusion. I guess.

In my first attempt I used a small fish-tank and splashed a cup inside. I wanted to put the cup inside the frame to signify the immersion of oneself in the coffee experience.
Next I tried swirling the water with spoon while adding coffee powder/coffee + water.

Didn’t happen.

For the simple reason that I couldn’t swirl fast enough to freeze the action.

Coffee Swirl I
Coffee Swirl I

As you can see, the swirl didn’t happen. But I like the way the coffee crush is falling, as if in a meteor shower.

So the next week, my professor at college lended me his portable coffee frother to make the swirls. This time, I shot it in a small glass cup with a softbox from behind.

Coffee Swirl II
Coffee Swirl II

I really loved the swirls I got this time! 🙂

Love : Happiness : Toby

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
Johnny Depp

You read that right? Love : Happiness : Toby

Now who’s Toby? And how did he suddenly spring up? From where?

Somehow. From somewhere. ❤

My friends and myself, ordered a home delivery from a nearby restaurant that one day, around two weeks ago.

Ting tong! The delivery boy rang the bell.

Clank! We open the door, hungry.

In comes trotting, this handsome, tiny guy, floppy ears, thin to the bones; into the hall, into the bedroom, straight to the bed and off to sleep!

All hunger left to the winds, we went in, and started cuddling with this cute little bundle of brown fur, smelling of mild shampoo and milk, oh so heavenly!

His eyes. Stark green and huge. Complementing the golden brown of his fur, his eyes made him a beauty. An instant hit. 😀

Toby
Toby

He was scared though, not eating anything, not saying anything, not licking anybody, just sleeping all the time. We tried searching for someone who might own him, but to no avail. So, we decided to keep him. 😀

Took him to the vet, got his vaccinations and deworming done. After being force fed Cerelac and curd rice for a few days, he started eating on his own and has now taken a liking to Pedigree these days. 😀

Toby
Toby

The point of this post, apart from introducing Toby is, urging people to adopt.

“A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own.”
Elizabeth Parker, Paw Prints in the Sand

You need to understand people, you need them more than they need you.

Pets, dogs in particular, teach you how to love. Love like no other.

And god knows, the world needs it.

There are hundreds out there, especially in India. It’s okay if you cant keep one at home. You can volunteer at a rehabilitation and rescue centre, feed dogs outside your door, in your neighbourhood, Help in any way you can. I promise you, it wont go to waste.

That isn’t a huge price to pay for unconditional love, affection, importance; a smile, a laugh; a stress-buster,  isn’t it?

Learn to love people. 🙂

Chocolate, Almonds and Raisins : Simple ain’t Easy

It’s been a long while since my last post, I know.  Caught up between school, work and my new best friend Toby ( about whom I will be talking in my next post ), time flew!

Today I am writing about my experience shooting tiny food objects like almonds and raisins.

We got an assignment at school, to shoot Fruit and Nut Chocolate in a creative way. After a short discussion with my faculty, I settled on a concept of few almonds and raisins with melted chocolate on them. Simple isn’t it?

Composing such tiny things is a challenge. I stuck almonds and raisins in place with glue tack and after 2 hours of shifting them around, I settled on a composition.

I chose to shoot it on a white acrylic background and with one light source. The light diagram is provided below :

Light Diagram for the shoot. The light from the softbox was cut partially with a blag flag.
Light Diagram for the shoot. The light from the soft-box was cut partially with a blag flag.

I used a thermocol (foam) reflector pretty close to the setup on the right side for a nice smooth fill. To bring out the texture in almonds and raisins, I used small reflective mirrors to fill some hard light from the front left.

After melting chocolate, I poured it on the composition with a dropper. That was the most difficult part of my shoot. It became messy and I couldn’t do any changes after pouring the chocolate and had a limited amount of time window to shoot as the chocolate would spread everywhere. Somehow, I managed. One way I saved my day was by pouring the chocolate in steps and taking a shot after every step. That way, I could choose the best parts of the pour and put it all together.

Chocolate, Almonds and Raisins
Chocolate, Almonds and Raisins

This is just my first try and many more would come soon. 🙂

All in all, it was a tiring shoot, but fun. 😀

Chocolate Rum Balls : Trial Shoot

For many days now, I have been planning to make and shoot chocolate rum balls but because of shortage of time, I wasn’t able to do so. But just to try out compositions and make sure that I don’t goof up the actual shoot, I decided to buy some rum balls and practice with them. Here is my behind the scenes of setup and styling:

I put some chocolate syrup over the rum balls and decorated them with multi color sprinklers that I got from a beautiful site selling bakery products called That Secret Ingredient.

I tried various angles, changed the rum balls in a couple of shots, the setup was basic and simple and so were the props.

Camera angle, just a little above the setup. A more personal touch.
Camera angle, just a little above the setup. A more personal touch.
A little closer, with a different rum ball
A little closer, with a different rum ball

The wooden background and the khadi textile complemented the color palette and gave that chocolaty mood (I guess that’s what I’d call it) to the picture. I plated the rum balls in white Japanese porcelain dessert plates with black and gold design work on the border. The sprinklers were necessary to break the color pattern and make the chocolate ball pop out.

Top Shot - Playing with Graphics
Top Shot – Playing with Graphics

A major challenge was shooting before the chocolate sauce , being heavy and thick in consistency, covers the whole plate; the sprinklers drown in the chocolate sauce; the HIGHLIGHTS catchching everywhere!!!

Be sure to learn how to light a sphere, a chrome ball; better, before you light these. Next time I shoot, I’ll be doing some things differently!

Top Shot - with sprinkler on the chocolate sauce for balance
Top Shot – Sprinkler on the chocolate sauce for balance
Added a few sprinklers to the side to cover up some negative space.
Top Shot – Added a few sprinklers to the side to cover up some negative space.

So how did you like this shoot? If you are a food photographer or a stylist yourself, I would welcome your critique and comments 🙂

What Went Wrong : Cheesecakes and Tragedy

Have you ever had a frame in mind, or felt like shooting something, felt inspired and excited and then mess it up in the end? I find it happens to me a lot. So this time, I want to figure out and write about ‘What Went Wrong’ publicly, so that I remember these things in the future and help other people prevent a messed up shoot plan.


I had decided to shoot rum balls this week. I had it planned, thought of a frame, and every other thing. Except that it didn’t happen as I planned at all. Here are my WWW or What Went Wrong points for you all.

I went out to buy them and well, I don’t know why, but I ended up buying a couple of pieces of Philadelphia Cheesecakes. 😮 😐

I’m not saying that doing shoots on the fly or just setting up a spontaneous shoot is bad, my first two shoots themselves were so. But sometimes it helps to have a plan as well. Anyways, I didn’t feel all the way negative about it and decided to shoot. I was too excited to shoot and did not look at many reference pictures or research more closely.

WWW : No planning and getting tempted by beautiful looking foods before researching about them. RESEARCH is VERY important.

I had given my camera to a friend for a shoot and was left with a 50D at home. Now I had a frame in my mind; a top shot that would play on the graphics and shapes of circular plates, triangle pastry and straight spoons. I set up my utensils and lights and was setting up my tripod when I realised that the camera didn’t have a flippy screen and I couldn’t see the frame! I tethered the camera to my laptop and was working on it, but by that time the frame had left my space and my mind wasn’t on it.

WWW : Not knowing your equipment before the shoot. Look at what you have and set up accordingly.

I set up a new composition, I thought of experimenting with wide angle lenses and was pretty ok with the effect. I brought in the food, set it and was on the job , but my energy and mood had drained off by then because of little problems here and there. I got frustrated and didn’t pay as much attention as I should have. Still, I kept on shooting.

When I viewed the photos properly at last, I found out that the end of the font pie was out of focus, the composition not so strong and the shot was a waste! 😦

WWW : Getting frustrated by small errors and problems. You should be flexible with your approach and try to find out a solution.

The point above is easy to say, but sometimes, especially when you’re really excited about shooting something, you do get a little frustrated if things don’t work out. Well, that is the time you should stop shooting and relax. Go, have water, take a stroll, talk about something else and come back with a fresh mind. It might help. If it does not, then pack up and plan a reshoot for another day.

Even though the shoot went the way down, I’m sharing the final photograph just so you know what was going on in my mind. It even might give someone an idea/inspiration 😛

The wide angle gave me a nice perspective, but the composition and focus were a bummer :|
The wide angle gave me a nice perspective, but the composition and focus were a bummer 😐
A little closer, a little better.
A little closer, a little better.

I hope you guys found this informative and helpful. If you have ever had a big mess-up before/ during or after a shoot, share your experiences with me in the comments below. Someone might benefit from it 🙂

French Croissant : First Try

Plain French Croissants were my second subject which I shot last week (25th June I guess).

Short post peeps, don’t worry. 😛

It was a random visit to the bakery store for a quite sandwich lunch, when I spotted the croissants on the counter. They looked good and proper , so I bought them to shoot.

I came back home and started my setup.

Now I looked at a lot of reference pictures and I saw they are generally had with coffee and jam or plain ones are occasionally sugar coated for garnishing. I had these things ready at home so it didn’t require a lot of time to set up.


Props:

For a backdrop, I chose to use the new khadi textile piece that I had bought earlier in the day for about 50 bucks a meter at a local furnishing store. It complemented the colour tone of the croissants and would give the setup a nice airy look.

Khadi cloth has a nice fine texture to it and is available at cheap rates in India. It is an awesome textile as a backdrop as well as for clothing.
Khadi cloth has a nice fine texture to it and is available at cheap rates in India. It is an awesome textile as a backdrop as well as for clothing.

Now i took some tissues and crushed them into balls and opened them up slightly and put the croissants in it. Apart from it being a serving style in bakery, it would help to separate it from the background and add interesting shape and texture.

Eggs, a baking ingredient, would be lovely to break the shape and stay in the same colour palette.

Coffee and Jam, were obvious side dishes that completed my frame.

To raise the croissants a little higher than the rest of the things, I placed them on steel coasters ( You can probably spot it) . It would help to bring attention to the croissants.


Lighting:

I used two Elinchrome D-lite heads for this shoot with 60×60 Soft-boxes on both of them. I placed the main light at 10 o’clock of the setup (between 9 and 10 somewhere) and the other fill light on the right of the setup, cross lighting the croissants. The light diagram is below.

Lighting setup for the shot.
Lighting setup for the shot.

A white reflector was used to fill some light in the front near the jam.


Composition :

Pretty simple. Croissants have a lot of texture so made it stand out as much as I can with surrounding subtle tones and cross lighting with a slightly blown out edge light.

The coffee mug had a dhoop incense (camphor, generally used in puja) inside it for the steam/smoke.

In the first frame, I placed the jam and the knife untouched. No other garnishing. just a plain look for a simple breakfast.

Croissants, plain
Croissants, plain

Next, I scooped out some jam for an intimate touch and recomposed the image with a tissue under the knife. I also added castor sugar on the croissants to help them pop out a bit more, and give it a crisp look.

Croissants with sugar powder and scooped out jam.
Croissants with sugar powder and scooped out jam.

I hope you found this informative. This is just a start and i hope to bring you better and more creative images further on. If you have any suggestions, do leave a comment 🙂


This week, I’m thinking Rum Balls 😀

Also, I’ll soon post about the Cheesecake shoot I did yesterday. Which was kind of a fail. So I’m going to figure out what went wrong. After all, we learn from mistakes.  🙂


Starting with Food Photography

My first food shoot
My first food shoot

This is the third year of my undergraduate photography course and I had been asked to pick two specialisations I would like to pursue this final year.

I chose Food Photography and Travel Photography. Why?

I chose travel not only because I like to travel, explore, tell stories, and create memories; but because I think it is an emerging opportunity in India and there is a lot to it with a business perspective too.

Food, I had not tried much of it before, but it had always interested me. The challenges that it poses just makes it even more exciting than usual, boring studio work. ( No offence to studio people, it’s just my preference). The amount of attention to detail it requires is amazing and the end result could be highly satisfactory. And of course, it has a sturdy business market and would offer regular income in the future. So it’s also a safe wall for me.

Now, I am writing this post because like me, a lot of people might be just starting out with food photography and would have no idea how or where to begin. So, I will be posting regularly about my plans to shoot, my shopping hauls and stuff to help you about.


Before you start off, there are some very important things you should do:

  • Make a list of subjects you would like to shoot and keep a library of reference pictures. Though shooting by instinct or sudden inspirations is also cool 🙂
  • Start collecting props and backgrounds and have a list of things you need to buy. A cool guide @ Food Photography Blog and Souvlaki For The Soul (You should follow his blog too, btw)
  • Research and find out about thrift markets and textile stores and best grocery shopping sites around your area. (Pune has Juna Bazaar; I think most Indian cities have one. Crawford’s Market and Chor Bazaar of Bombay is also a great place to freak out! )

One day I suddenly felt like shooting something. Now it had been only 2 days into the semester and I had no props, no proper cutlery, none of those nice textured wooden backgrounds, nothing. So what could I possibly shoot?

Step 1 : Choose you subject

My friends were having half fry and bread for breakfast that day and I decided to take that as a subject. Easy to make after all. And the ingredients are easily available.

Step 2 : Look at reference pictures

Like, obviously. Generally that’s my first approach. Unless you imagined a frame in your mind while daydreaming about food porn and have to have to shoot it. (I do that, sometimes.)

Step 3 :  Look around for available props

So I take a stroll through the house and decide that I have a fork and a pan to go with the egg. Well, that’s something.

And then I spotted this table that i used to put my props on. It was a plasticky thing, with fake wooden print on it. But since it was my best option; I took it.

Step 4: Look at the recipe and grab hold of the ingredients

Ingredients are very important to fill up compositions and help viewers to visualise the recipe. I picked up some coriander, garlic, pepper and bread from a nearby store.

Sunny Side Up
Use ingredients as props to explain a recipe. Tell a story.

Step 5 : Compose your shot

Take your time, look at your subject and decide how you would like to show it. I decided for a top shot since the half fry was flat and there wasn’t much to add dimensions. Also, I like to play with graphic designs and a top shot is a great idea for that. Make changes after one composition is done with, soot multiple frames.

Step 6 : Set up your lights

I prefer to shoot in natural light, though use external light sources when required. It was a dark cloudy day and the light wasn’t so good at all. So I used video LED lights that were just lying around thanks to the video work we do. These LED light sources are great with matte boxes and filters and stuff. They run on batteries, are light and easy to operate and give nice looking soft light. The one I used was Yongnuo YN-300 LED Video Light.

Step 7 : Shoot, Review, Improvise

Before adding the second light source, I tried using a white,silver and gold reflector and it wasn’t enough. I decided I hate gold reflector for food. It makes the food look yellow and stale. I like white/silver but it wasn’t enough. So then I added a second LED light.

Step 8 : Backup you data. Pack up your stuff.

General photography rule to follow. Data is sacred. Data is holy. Don’t lose it. DONT.

And then pack-up time!! 😀


This is how, I did my first food shoot. I hope you find it helpful and please, if you have any suggestions, I would LOVE to hear it from you.

And as always, Thanks for reading. (I am watching Vsauce videos side-by-side, so 😛 )

PS – Vsauce. He’s amazing. If you already don’t know. Check him out if you like to learn about random things XD