Hard Light and Shadows
I already had a mood board completed for my brunch with pancakes shoot, as well as my photo shoot master plan. I use those tools to help me sift through all the ideas in my head. I knew this week when placing my grocery order that I’d need blueberries, cherries, figs and possibly some more fruit. The American style pancakes I had in the freezer already. I like making them myself but for doing food photography I sometimes use store bought food to make things less stressful.
Having all the ingredients on hand, I just had to switch things up a bit for this shoot. Originally I had a different scene in mind, one not using hard light, but rather cozy with a good honey drip! When I saw the weather forecast for this week I knew I shouldn’t press myself too hard with my shoot. I started considering doing the hard light scene early yesterday afternoon, and played with the idea awhile. I was planning on doing it this afternoon on our balcony —until I saw the light early this morning on our rooftop terrace! Those stripes were so cool, I just had to give it a try!
Improvising & Troubleshooting
One concern I had was the styling. I had originally wanted a stack of pancakes with some figs on top with a drizzle of honey. I know I could have done that for this shoot, but I decided to go with a plate of smaller pancakes (also from the freezer). Because I was shooting mostly flatlays I didn’t go with the plate I had in mind for the stacked shot, and went with a white plate instead. The original plate looked similar to this background (Light Peach from errer.com) and the pancakes would were also very similar so their shape would have not stood out in the photo. By using the white plate for this flat lay I’m allowing the fruit, and pancakes to take the spotlight.
Figs are a really unique fruit, uncut they are interesting because of their shape, and cut open they have so much texture, and a gorgeous colour, while still keeping that gorgeous shape.
For the most part the shadows come from the terrace railing, but I did hold a few leaves in the air to get some shadows from them. Also I tried using water in a glass pan to get reflections. OMG this is so cool! I need a larger pan to get the reflections to cover the entire scene, but this did make for a cool little video to share with you!
Thoughts on what I'd do again, or do differently.
One thing for sure is I will definitely be doing Hard Light Photography again soon. I really like the aesthetic of it (three years ago I hated it in my Pinterest feed haha). I think it is refreshing and it screams #SUMMERVIBES.
The water effect is something I’m going to try again. I think it gives the photo not only summer vibes but it helps tell a visually interesting story. Add pool, water noises and you’re there, on the side of the pool enjoying your brunch. Seriously, I want a pool side vacation NOW!
What I’d do differently is use get myself a larger container for the water effect. I’d also start an hour earlier so I could change things up a bit, and maybe stack those pancakes for another scene and shoot them straight on. I’ll for sure study the light and note the times it’s best to shoot this type of photo… when I finished the shoot the sun was moving so fast! As I was cleaning up the sun was already on the other side of the building leaving the terrace in shade.
I’ll also need to watch out for birds! I had to go inside to get a small bowl and when I came back there were seagulls on the railing eyeing my pancakes. One already had somebodies breakfast in it’s beak! I thought for a second it was on of my pancakes.
Fun in the sun!
This shoot was a real blast! The important thing for me was watching that histogram so I wouldn’t lose any information. So easy to clip the whites and even the blacks with that mix of sun & shadow.
I love being a member of the Unsplash community. The photo club challenges me to step out of my comfort zone. Would I have ever tried this type of photography had it not been for the photo club topic? Probably, but now I’ve done it and as we speak two are on the editorial page of Unsplash!
Have you ever done this type of photography? If so, what did you think of it?
Any comments on these shots?
My set-up and gear
I used a vinyl background on the stones. Check that the surface is clean and doesn’t have pebbles or anything sharp. Not only will you see the creases in the vinyl background, you could also damage your background.
C-stand and adapter for my camera
I tried a few standing on the stepladder but wasn’t happy with them. I also like having my hands free and to use the remote live viewing on my phone. Cannon Connect. This allows me to switch things up easier, and to hold those gobo’s. I was lucky there was no wind, otherwise my C-stand would have moved (I need sandbags).
Go Betweens. The plant leaves that cast the shadows.
I had them on the set but they didn’t actually do anything other than keep the slight breeze from blowing things from the ground onto the pancakes.