Leaf Diet – a Photographic Case Study

0Comments

leaf-diet.jpgIn this post Norwegian Joakim Tangstad from Strobe Blog Flash Frog has put together a fantastic case study post talking us how he took the shot pictured to the right.

Inspired by those delicious high-key food photos, I wanted to do something similar. I did shoot a dessert photo a couple of months ago, but this time I wanted to get both exposure and crop right in-camera instead of relying too much on Photoshop.

Getting the idea

I wanted a red-green contrast (must be my favorite) and since I had just finished the leaf shot for the dPS assignment, I started thinking about weight-loss food photos. These are shot in a pretty delicate way, but when you study what’s actually laying on the plate, you can’t believe that you’ll ever become full.

The setup

Our kitchen has some white tiles, making it and ideal background. I had to cover the bench with a white tablecloth. I filled a wineglass with red syrup. My wife wouldn’t be very happy if I had opened a new bottle of wine for this. I arranged the set and placed the leaves on the plate.

I was uncertain how to light this. In cases like this I’ve found it’s best to set up an translucent umbrella on camera left or right, pointing down at the subject at a 45 degree angle, just like standard portrait lighting.

I did a test shot and it turned out to work great. I got no ugly shadows or specular reflections. I probably didn’t have to use any reflectors since the entire setup was covered in white, filling the light where ever it was needed.

Exposure settings

To avoid too much post-processing, I wanted to get completely white surfaces while nothing was overexposed. Since almost everything in the arrangement was white, this was very easy using the histogram on the camera. I just had to increase the flash output power until the high peak curve moved as far to right as possible. The caption below is from Photoshop showing the histogram of the one of the correctly exposed untouched RAW files, which was how it appeared on the camera.

I also wanted a shallow depth of field, so I chose a wide aperture. These are the final exposure settings:

Flash: 1/16 power, 24mm zoom
Exposure: 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200
Lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D AF
Camera: Nikon D300

Shooting and processing

I tried different angles and found that a slightly tilted camera worked the best. Including the fork was also important. There were a lot of bright blending surfaces so I wanted to leave some anchor points so that the scene is instantly recognizable.

Out of 10 photos, this photo was the one I was most pleased with (straight-out-of-the-camera RAW file):

After some basic adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw (whitebalance, constrast and exposure), I imported the file to Photoshop. Here I only adjustet the colors some, so that the wine became more red and the leaves got greener and brightened the photo.

The result

Leaf Diet

Leaf Diet

Conclusion

There are some reflections in the glass, that can be a little distracting. Maybe a strip light in addition would make the glass look a better. I should also have moved the glass further away from the plate to get it more blurry and/or used a wider aperture and focused on the leaf closest to the camera instead of the other one.

I would definitely not eat this, since the leaves are taken from a house plant. So I guess it’s a diet no matter how you look at it.

See more of Joakims work at Flash Frog.

Read more from our category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Jim

    That’s great! I like the fact that you took things available to you and got that shot in your kitchen. Great site!
    Jim

  • Omama

    I don’t like this photo at all, but it’s an interesting idea.

  • Very interesting, and I love these “How To” posts. I can’t wait to be able to delve into flash photography. It’s still a ways out, though.

    Brandon
    http://www.frombrandon.com

  • this was great! thanks for sharing!

  • I have to start playing around with this type of setup too. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • I love the description of the approach. I like working that way. Set thing up to take a shot, adjust, shoot, look and try again. It does make one admire people back in the days of film who never had the option of looking and taking another shot.

  • You definitely captured the essence of red and green perfectly in this shot. You also have a nice depth-of-field here, which is so essential for still life – particularly food photography. Very nice!

  • Great article on a simple setup to get a great image. I like the inclusion of the shot with the umbrella to show the whole scene.

    Pete
    http://www.petelanglois.net

  • CONGRATULATIONS ZETSON!

    I was so so confused when I started reading the article … I was like who is Joakim Tangstad … because that photo belongs to Zetson. And it was only moments later that I had a Swedish … Jaha moment.

    Zetson!… after all this time … I have come across your name. I am a Zetson fan … btw. My Norwegian neighbor … always has a photographic treat … every time he posts … and this was no different. I really enjoy his posts detailing the setup … and photograph extravaganza collection .. is small … growing … and well worth a visit now and then … or even better subscribe to his flickr account!

    Keep up the fantastic work Zetson !

  • I love the picture, it is so “clean” light and simple and because of the angle it ist not at all boring but interesting.

    Very nice and useful article, specially the light set up was interesting for me. I know how important light is, but I didn’t really go into this king of lightning. I will definitely try it out myself.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • The picture is nice. Doesn’t blow me away, but I could see it being picked up for stock photography.

    I appreciate the tutorial. I really appreciate when photographers share exactly how they did it.

    I agree that you may have wanted to do something more with the glass to remove the reflection, perhaps some “tweaking” in photoshop or maybe trying again with a Polarizer?

    Regards,
    Alan Nielsen
    http://www.ninelivephotography.ca

  • Good article. The resultant image is clean and bright. The colors are used wisely. The light set up is easy with extraordinary results.

    Good work!

  • Gerry

    I love it. I’ve been asked to shoot some pictures of a friend’s restaurant, but I’ve been putting it off. Now I ‘may’ take a stab at it.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Gerry

  • The classic title “Eats, Shoots amd Leaves” would suit this post perfectly! 🙂

    I’m doing a lot of product photography:
    Is there any specific formula or method for handling the exposure/histogram/channel clipping that is central to this type of photography on high key backgrounds?

  • Georg

    I find it interesting that in the reflection the leaves are very dark.
    Thanks for sharing your thought flow!

  • vetlight

    Lovely “how to” post! Easy to follow, especially the picture of the set up. Thnx

  • Jarrod

    What about using a polarizing filter to cut the reflection on the glass?

  • Great post! A really simple and clean setup for a neat image!

    How did you manage to avoid the reflection of the umbrella on the glass of wine?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Love it! I love reading about new or different ways to light a subject. I can’t wait to try this out on one of my shoots.

  • Great shot!
    Thanks for the article! A nice example of how some patience and creativity can make a beautiful picture right in your kitchen.
    Looked through your blog – lots of gr8 ideas!

  • Hey, just as guys said here, I like this post very much. I rarely add a comment, but this time I think it deserves to say thank you. You’ve made a great explanation on this approach. I appreciate that.

  • parag

    Nice tutorial!

  • I like it its another tips of becaming unique in our shot..thats nice!!!

  • Great idea thank you for sharing.

Some Older Comments

  • Lisa July 1, 2010 06:22 am

    Great idea thank you for sharing.

  • Annarose October 29, 2008 02:39 pm

    I like it its another tips of becaming unique in our shot..thats nice!!!

  • parag October 26, 2008 01:33 am

    Nice tutorial!

  • Aouni October 25, 2008 07:02 am

    Hey, just as guys said here, I like this post very much. I rarely add a comment, but this time I think it deserves to say thank you. You've made a great explanation on this approach. I appreciate that.

  • NEkit October 25, 2008 05:16 am

    Great shot!
    Thanks for the article! A nice example of how some patience and creativity can make a beautiful picture right in your kitchen.
    Looked through your blog - lots of gr8 ideas!

  • Rick October 25, 2008 02:03 am

    Love it! I love reading about new or different ways to light a subject. I can't wait to try this out on one of my shoots.

  • Federico October 25, 2008 12:29 am

    Great post! A really simple and clean setup for a neat image!

    How did you manage to avoid the reflection of the umbrella on the glass of wine?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Jarrod October 24, 2008 11:27 pm

    What about using a polarizing filter to cut the reflection on the glass?

  • vetlight October 24, 2008 11:17 pm

    Lovely "how to" post! Easy to follow, especially the picture of the set up. Thnx

  • Georg October 24, 2008 08:01 pm

    I find it interesting that in the reflection the leaves are very dark.
    Thanks for sharing your thought flow!

  • Big BAD Benny October 24, 2008 10:35 am

    The classic title "Eats, Shoots amd Leaves" would suit this post perfectly! :-)

    I'm doing a lot of product photography:
    Is there any specific formula or method for handling the exposure/histogram/channel clipping that is central to this type of photography on high key backgrounds?

  • Gerry October 24, 2008 07:20 am

    I love it. I've been asked to shoot some pictures of a friend's restaurant, but I've been putting it off. Now I 'may' take a stab at it.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Gerry

  • Vicente Barceló October 24, 2008 05:16 am

    Good article. The resultant image is clean and bright. The colors are used wisely. The light set up is easy with extraordinary results.

    Good work!

  • Alan Nielsen October 24, 2008 04:53 am

    The picture is nice. Doesn't blow me away, but I could see it being picked up for stock photography.

    I appreciate the tutorial. I really appreciate when photographers share exactly how they did it.

    I agree that you may have wanted to do something more with the glass to remove the reflection, perhaps some "tweaking" in photoshop or maybe trying again with a Polarizer?

    Regards,
    Alan Nielsen
    http://www.ninelivephotography.ca

  • Sarosa October 24, 2008 04:30 am

    I love the picture, it is so "clean" light and simple and because of the angle it ist not at all boring but interesting.

    Very nice and useful article, specially the light set up was interesting for me. I know how important light is, but I didn't really go into this king of lightning. I will definitely try it out myself.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Mark Olson October 24, 2008 03:40 am

    CONGRATULATIONS ZETSON!

    I was so so confused when I started reading the article ... I was like who is Joakim Tangstad ... because that photo belongs to Zetson. And it was only moments later that I had a Swedish ... Jaha moment.

    Zetson!... after all this time ... I have come across your name. I am a Zetson fan ... btw. My Norwegian neighbor ... always has a photographic treat ... every time he posts ... and this was no different. I really enjoy his posts detailing the setup ... and photograph extravaganza collection .. is small ... growing ... and well worth a visit now and then ... or even better subscribe to his flickr account!

    Keep up the fantastic work Zetson !

  • Pete Langlois October 24, 2008 03:27 am

    Great article on a simple setup to get a great image. I like the inclusion of the shot with the umbrella to show the whole scene.

    Pete
    http://www.petelanglois.net

  • Barbara October 24, 2008 03:03 am

    You definitely captured the essence of red and green perfectly in this shot. You also have a nice depth-of-field here, which is so essential for still life - particularly food photography. Very nice!

  • Vernon October 24, 2008 02:50 am

    I love the description of the approach. I like working that way. Set thing up to take a shot, adjust, shoot, look and try again. It does make one admire people back in the days of film who never had the option of looking and taking another shot.

  • Henrik October 24, 2008 02:37 am

    I have to start playing around with this type of setup too. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • His4ever October 24, 2008 02:36 am

    this was great! thanks for sharing!

  • fromBrandon October 24, 2008 02:35 am

    Very interesting, and I love these "How To" posts. I can't wait to be able to delve into flash photography. It's still a ways out, though.

    Brandon
    www.frombrandon.com

  • Omama October 24, 2008 02:09 am

    I don't like this photo at all, but it's an interesting idea.

  • Jim October 24, 2008 01:58 am

    That's great! I like the fact that you took things available to you and got that shot in your kitchen. Great site!
    Jim

Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!


DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed