Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chili and Beer

When my wife is home, we have real dinners, but when she's away, I get to indulge in one of my favorite meals: canned chili topped with cheese and an ice cold beer. It's the ultimate comfort food.

Chili & Beer

This shoot turned out to not be terribly interesting. First of all, the chili ended up being so soupy that it just laid flat in the bowl, with no interesting textures or chunks of meat (the coating of cheese didn't help this).

I also had problems with the lighting. In many of the shots, the rear light gave harsh specular highlights off the food that were unappealing. I ended up with very generic lighting that doesn't do much to make the food look appetizing.

Lighting for Chili & Beer

I placed the 580EX to the left and above and shot through an umbrella, with a reflector to the right. I placed the 430EX to the rear and shot through a reflector. I moved the rear light numerous times to try and get highlights that weren't too harsh.

Note the harsh specular highlights reflecting off the cheese in the photo below. Very unappealing. Decreasing the power of the rear light and moving it more to the side decreased the harshness of the light.

Chili & Beer

I bought some fabric scraps while I was in San Diego to use as table cloths; I thought the checkered cloth gave an informal, homey feel to the image. And I put the prerequisite trio of silverware, napkin and glass in the photo. Probably the best thing I did was buy some flat parsley to use as a garnish provide some color contrast - that definitely worked.

I cropped this one to tighten the composition a bit.

Chili & Beer

Lessons Learned
  1. Will I ever figure out lighting?
  2. Adding a touch of green really works to create a bit of color contrast in the photo
  3. Canned chili is too soupy when hot to look very interesting
  4. Specular highlights can look spectacularly harsh. You have to experiment with light placement and power to figure out the best arrangement

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