Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rib Tip Ragout...

As the weather starts to cool off and fall begins, comfort food sounds really good. Nothing warms you up more than a thick, hearty soup or sauce. Our shot features a special mocha sauce with meaty rib tips - great with crusty bread and a fine Oktoberfest beverage.

Rib tips marinated and cooked in mocha sauce.

We wanted to present comfort food in all its glory. Our client requested a shot from above to capture the meat as it cooked. The challenge was to project light into a deep pot that would normally tend to absorb light. So to start, we brought in a very large, soft light source from the left. This light allowed us to capture a lot of highlights on the meat, and started to give the pot itself some definition. The light was very directional from the left, so we needed to fill in on the right side. To accomplish that, we brought in another large soft light source from the back right. This light helped to control the contrast on the pot and the surface or background.

Our shot started to have a breath of life, but the hero (the stew) still appeared flat/dead. When shooting sauce, it’s practically a mirror that reflects the light source back, so the light source had to be broad. But if we put a box above, it would tend to look very flat, so we needed to get some fall-off. To do this, we hung a 4x8 white card directly on top of the camera (since we were shooting straight down). We then took a point source of light and aimed it at the card. This allowed us to have control of where the highlights appeared, and also gave us some nice fall-off of light where we needed it. 

Finally, we brought in another point light source from the back right to focus some spectacular highlights on the meat. Yummm.

Ragout created from leftover rib tips in mocha sauce

Friday, September 20, 2013

Magical Mojitos....

The summer is winding down and we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate one of the last 90 degree days in Chicago than with an ice cold mojito.

Watermelon Mojito - garnished with a watermelon spear and mint leaf

A mojito is potentially a very dangerous drink. If it’s made just right, it tastes so good that you aren’t aware of all the rum inside… until it’s too late. Of course, depending upon your schedule and your plans, a bit of rum may not be the worst thing in the world.

This shot was inspired by what we assumed would be the last 90 degree day in Chicago this year. We went out to lunch, sat outside on a patio, played some bags, and enjoyed some mojitos in mason jars. What a perfect end to the season.

When setting up this shot we wanted to show a cold, refreshing drink to toast the end of a beautiful summer. In lighting, we wanted an outdoor feel so we had to create a sky and a sun. We placed a huge flat high above our set, toward the left side, and shined a large point source through it, with no modifiers on the light. This gave us our sky and the light of a partly cloudy day, but that wasn't enough, we needed some directional light from our sun. So we brought in another point-light source from the back left, a little lower than our sky light. That gave our sun light some direction, and also reflected nicely on the ice in the jar. As you would expect, the shot was very contrasty, so we brought in a white card on the right, very close to our jar, just outside the frame. This card bounced some of that sun’s light back onto the jar and opened up the lighting.

Over all, the lighting was fairly simple and highlighted all aspects that we wanted to accentuate.

Mint Mojito - garnished with a lime and torn mint leaves
We lit this mojito almost exactly the way we lit the watermelon mojito. The difference between these shots was that we dropped the camera angle to show more of the mint inside the jar and brought a soft light from behind to add to our sky light. The addition of the soft light made the scene a bit more flat, as though more clouds had rolled in, making the mojito itself the superhero.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Firing Up The Grill...

It's another grilling season and we can't help but take full advantage of it.  Call it a primal instinct, or just football fever settling in for the winter, but something keeps drawing us back to the grill. In fact, year-round grilling has become increasingly popular.

Each of these shots was unique, but they all had the grill in common.  When shooting pics that require a grill, you can do it in a few different ways.  You can shoot on an actual grill, you can fake the grill, or you can photograph when food has come off the grill.  Each of these shots demonstrates one of these options.  

Shooting on the grill is tough, because you have a limited time to get the shot before you have to pull the food off the set, and shoot the next hero.  But with a good team, it can be done without having to worry.    

We touched on how we created the grill shots in a previous post on our blog.  There we went into detail about each step of the process.  So, if you are wondering how we accomplished the fired-up looks, check out our blog post here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

3-Way Grilled Corn on the Cob...

Corn on the cob is a perennial favorite this time of year, and hot off the grill, it’s even better. Grilling corn on the cob changes up this traditional side dish; in fact, most kids don’t even consider grilled corn on the cob a vegetable! When we set up our grill for the upcoming football season, we will definitely have corn on the grill, right along side of the burgers and dogs.

To light this shot, we needed a large unbroken light source to catch all the places the butter had melted. We put a couple of those light sources around the product. One was from the back right and directed toward the left. Beyond that, we had a small point light source from the back left. Even with the soft light sources around the set, we noticed a bit too much contrast, so we put a white card up, over the top of the set, to reflect some of the light back down and fill in the shadows.

Butter is a challenge. The butter started to melt instantly, so we had to move fast. Needless to say, we had to melt the butter a few times to get the effect we were looking for.