Monthly Archives March 2008


I got a number of emails, and comments, asking if I would do a lighting diagram of how the cereal shot from Monday was done, but once I started working on the diagram, I realized how much I hate lighting diagrams, so I set the shoot back up and took a shot of the set-up (shown above–click for a larger view).

The table the cereal is on, is actually the portable laptop stand I use in my Lightroom Tour, —I just covered it with a white tablecloth. The handheld reflector (to the left of the cereal bowl) is actually a Lastolite pop-up gray card, but since one side is white, it makes a nice little reflector.

The light to the right of the Camera is a Westcott Spiderlight TD3 with daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs (I used the TD3 because I don’t need that much light from the softbox—just a little fill. If I needed stronger light, I’d use a TD5). The softbox is 24″x32″ (it doesn’t need to be that large, because the subject (a cereal bowl) is very small, so for lighting something this small, that softbox is huge (at least, in it’s size relative to the cereal bowl).

The camera is mounted on a Gitzo Traveler Tripod, with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead, and as I mentioned on Monday, I’m using a Nikon 70-200mm lens, but with the Canon Close-up lens (for Nikon) screwed onto the end, turning my regular zoom lens into a macro zoom lens. The key here is the natural light pouring in from the window behind the cereal, and overexposing slightly to give it that “morning sunlight” look.

Well, once I had this all set-up, I thought to myself, “I should actually shooting something.” So, I went to the kitchen and found this three-cheese bread (I bought it on Sunday, but for a different shoot idea, but I put it to use below).



You can see it’s the exact same set-up, but if you look at the angle of the camera, you can see I framed the shot so you could see a little bit of the green plants outside the window, and the handle on the tray, to give it more of that “breakfast baked goods” feeling. Well, that’s it folks (sure beats a drawn lighting diagram). You can see the whole set-up is pretty simple, and it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.


It’s time for our midweek look at stuff:

  • Since we’ve been talking about shooting food this week, here’s a site that mixes Photoshop with photography. It’s called “Teri Shoots Food” and they’ve got a very clever way to show the Photoshop post production work applied to some high-end food shoots. You basically “scrub” your slider over the image, and it shows you the before/after image as you drag. It’s very slick (and there’s some very nicely done Photoshop work there). Here’s the link.
  • Famous Sport Shooter (and educator) Dave Black just dedicated this month’s installment of his popular “Workshop at the Ranch” to talking about, and actually showing, Joe McNally’s groundbreaking book, “The Moment It Clicks.” Dave did an amazing job of really taking you “inside the book” in a way I haven’t seen before. Here’s the link (plus, while you’re there—make sure you check out Dave’s excellent “Workshop at the Ranch” articles on everything from sports shooting, to painting with light, and location portrait lighting, and well…..loads of cool stuff.
  • If you’re going to Photoshop World by yourself this year, I want to encourage you to take advantage of a very cool way to meet other people at the conference who are there solo; it’s called “Dinner with a Stranger.” Here’s how it works; on the first day of Photoshop World, you sign up (right near the registration desk) for the particular kind of dinner you’d like to have that night (i.e. Italian, a Steakhouse, Chinese, etc.), and then we give you a “I’m a Stranger” button to wear to the restaurant (as seen above). When you get there, you’ll see lots of others folks with those same buttons, and you all get together, sit together, share stories and it’s a great way to make new friends (and have new people to hang out with for the rest of the conference). It’s very popular with our attendees (which is why we keep doing it every year), and for more info, head over to the Photoshop World Website.
  • Ben Willmore was in our studios this week, taping some classes for the Kelby Training online training, so it was fun to see Ben cruising down the halls (sans Bus). If you haven’t had a chance to check out Ben’s Route 66 HDR photography, check it out right here.
  • Don’t forget, Jeff Revell’s PhotoWalk in Washington DC is just a few days away (it’s this Saturday). It’s free and open to everybody—-for more info, click here.
  • Lastly, start your Wednesday right by checking out the wonderful photography of Gregor Halenda. Make sure you look at his “Machine” gallery for some very cool motorcycle photography, and his “Function” gallery for some top notch commercial photography. Here’s the link.

Tomorrow, I have a pretty slick tutorial planned, so I hope you’ll check back then. I’ve gotta run (I’ve got rehearsal today with my band, “Big Electric Cat” for our upcoming gig at BB Kings Blues Club & Grill during the Photoshop World Attendee Party). Have a kick-butt day everybody, and we’ll see you on Thursday!


The original image is shown above—that’s Photoshop User Managing Editor Issac Stolzenbach, on his classic Honda Shadow Sabre (click for a larger view).


The Lucis Art plug-in interface (Click for a larger view).


The grittier, hyper-sharpened, high-contrast image after applying the Lucis Art plug-in (click for a larger view).

Photography, like fashion itself, seems to go though periods of time where there is a certain “look” that everybody wants to have, and right now the hot look for portraits is what you might call the “Dave Hill look” (I blogged about Dave’s photography last month—here’s the link). His trademark look is gritty, sharp, yet at the same time I’ve heard it described as almost “painterly” in nature. Whatever you want to call it; every big celebrity and rock band wants him to shoot them, and even big business magazines are calling on him to shoot their covers. He’s the “it” photographer.

Now, after researching the living daylights out of this topic, I can tell you this: I don’t believe Dave Hill’s look comes from a plug-in, or just a Photoshop technique, or just a (more…)




I mentioned last week that I’ve been trying to get my wife to do a cookbook of her recipes, and along those lines I’ve been shooting a lot of food lately (when I tell people I’ve been shooting food, they usually look at me and say, “Food?” I tell them to think of the type of shots you’d see in a cookbook—as shown above where I mocked up some of my shots with a cookbook layout).

I’ve done a food shoot every single day this past week, and I’ve gained 14.3 lbs. (totally kidding, but I’ve got to tell you, since I’m closely watching my weight, it’s tough shooting food and not totally chowing down on it. The only saving grace is; once you’re done shooting it for an hour or two, you usually wouldn’t want to eat it).

I took the shots above (click on them for a larger version) using pretty much the same lighting set-up; natural window light, along with a Westcott Daylight Fluorescent Spiderlite with a 24″x32″ softbox as a fill light, and a small handheld white reflector to fill in the shadows on the opposite side of the light.

For example, the cereal shot above was taken in front of a open window, with the window light coming in and lighting the cereal from behind. Then, just off to the right of my camera, I positioned the Spiderlite aiming down at a 45° angle. Lastly, on the left side of the bowl, I held a small handheld reflector just outside the frame.

The cereal photo was taken with a Nikon D3, (mounted on a tripod) with a Nikon 70-200mm lens, with the screw-on Canon Closeup lens attached (which I mentioned in Vol. 1 of my digital photography book, which turns any 77mm sized lens into an instant Macro lens).

The Spiderlites are really ideal for shooting food (or any product shots for that matter), because they match the daylight light nicely; they don’t get “hot” (because they’re fluorescent), and because they’re always on (a continuous light source), which makes lighting something as tricky as food much easier. Here’s the link for more info on the Spiders.

TIP: The “milk” in the cereal you see above is actually Elmer’s Glue. Real milk makes the cereal really soggy, really fast, and it’s hard to control, where glue pretty much sticks where you want it (get it, sticks….ah forget it).

I’m doing a food shoot every day for 30 days (in between other shoots, like the two I have scheduled for tomorrow), and I’m learning a lot and having a blast. I’m going to hire a food stylist for some of the final shoots later in the month, so if you know of a kick-butt food stylist based in the Southeast, let me know.