Monday, January 25, 2010

An apple a day...

... keeps the doctor away, I know. But it is also giving me the chance to talk about food photography and conceptional ideas. I have bought two different apple varieties on our local market (Belle de Boskoop, Braeburn). I started with a still using Boskoop apples.

Boskoop Apples
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

The basic idea was to use a random looking arrangement of Boskoop apples, but using one single center apple as the focal point. From the apples I used one which combines the most typical characteristics of the batch. Around this center apple I arrange different ones showing different chrarctristics, e.g. different color (a deep red or bright red in upper right, a green one in upper left or an orange one in lower left). To make the single center apple the dominant point in this photo, no other apple is touching this one and around it is some free space. And I used a very shallow Depth of Field (80mm/f 2.8 tilt-shift lens, with an extreme tilting of about 10° to reduce Depth of field even more).

An apple a day
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

In this second shot I used a slightly lower angle and a closer view to emphazise the ascending diagonal line more. Although this diagonal is also used in the upper one, the tighter cropping and lower angle is forcing it more. Especially because the three apples in upper left making a line in same direction. And the three apple cropped on far right are doing the same. Although I didn't change the arrangement, the effect is bgetting obvious here by just two little changes.

Another apple a day - better take two
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

In this photo, using Braeburn Apples, I have used a similar idea, but varied it. First, the apples are looking more or less the same. But the center (single) apple is used too. I used a slightly wider Depth of Field (and no tilting) at 70mm/F 3.5. I wanted a very bright impression so I used a fill light from lower left and from left side with the main light (natural light from a window) from upper right. The apple in lower right gets another fill light from lower right to reduce shadows here.
Composition wise I have used the descending diagonal line here mainly created by the only two apples which are not cropped. The upper right I filled with apples, so that they build a kind of triangular shape, where the diagonal line is one side. At first there was no apple in lower left. I introduced one to break an otherwise too stiff composition.

Braeburn Apples
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2010

Here I have forced the diagonal line as the main element. The line is created by the two apples like in the other and the apples in upper left and lower right corner. But the two apples behind the line are now emphazising the diagonal again. This is mainly do to the fact that I have removed the other apple in uupper right and the one on left side. And I changed the lighting. Just a very reduced fill light from lower left, the apples in upper left were shaded a bit, so that the center apple is the brightes spot in this photo. The effect is enhanced, because of the focal plain being on this apple. And you can see here the effect of the fill light on lower right apple. Whereas the apple is showing shadows here, in the former one the shadows are reduced obviousely. With a more hard light from upper right as compared to the smooth light before, there are some good shadows which are supporting the diagonal line.

So with two apple varieties and different ideas you can vary your composition and play with different elements in your photo: color, element characteristics (color, structure, shape), light, arrangment, angle, depth of field. Sometimes not much is required to change the composition and the effect it will have on the viewer.

...on the process
Between the first two photos and the last two photos was a time of one week, where I thought about how to change the setting or what to make different. The main idea was how to structure the photo (arrange the apples). In the first two I was using the ascending diagonal line, but the "many" apples cover the diagonal line a bit. In the last two I have tried to make this line more obvious. I also like the differences between the two diagonal line and how viewer's react to it. The diagonal line from lower left to upper right (ascending line) create a feeling of going upwards, going away into the back, moving away. The diagonal line from upper left to lower right (descending) is often associated with a movement towards the viewer, going downward. Often this line has an "inviting" character and in food photography it could be associated with "serving something to the viewer". I think especially in the 3rd shot with the brighter apple in focus this is to recognize (at least for me)

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Reds said...

Great tutorial Thorsten! Beautiful photos!

Thorsten said...

Thanks Celine.

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

I love learning more about food photography! Thanks for the lesson Thorsten. Now I want an apple, lol.

Thorsten said...

Thanks Lisa. Although it was not intended as a lesson. It is more a description of the process behind creating these four shots. I have added some more information on the process.

Unknown said...

Thorsten, Thanks for letting us get inside you head. It's amazing that althought the arrangement looks random , it really isn't and there was a deliberate manipulation on your part to acquire such look.

Thaorten first off do you know before hand what your picture will look like or does it develop as you shoot.

What I mean is this. Me I toss the fruit on the table and start shooting. As I review my shots it becomes obvious to me the things you just mentioned then i start moving things around swapping out stuff etc. Just curious - is this what you do or do you see all those lines and symmetry in your mind and then arrange to suit?

Thorsten said...

Thanks Wizzy.

I always have an idea before I do a shooting. But during shooting it happens that something completely different comes out, especially when my first idea doesn't work for me when I see it on the screen in large. But I start with, let's say a basic idea including arrangement, light, mood, styling. During the process I will vary this idea or try to break it up from time to time. The worst thing that could happen is that I do the shooting and during the processing I see that the idea is not as good as I thought and that I want to do a reshooting.
I try to imagine the outcome of a shooting before I shoot, but to give room for spontaneous ideas and development in a different direction.
But no, I have never start without any idea. Does taht answer the question?

Sari @ Cook Your Dream said...

Wonderful post Thorsten, thank you for sharing your photography thoughts :) This is exactly the way how I try to learn more about food photography. I usually look at a picture and study a composition and lighting and I try to image what was the main idea of a picture and how a photographer might have thought about the picture.

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Thorsten - that's such a brilliant post, thank you for sharing the details. It's funny because when I take my food photos, I never really 'think' in words, I just 'feel'. Do you know what I mean? You are doing what I find very difficult which is put into words what you feel when you take photos. Fantastic!

Kat said...

Thank you so much! I must echo everyone else in saying it's nice to see what goes on inside your head while shooting.

Thorsten said...

Thanks Sari. To analyise photos from others (but alos own ones) help me a lot to understand why I like a photo or why not. If you like a photo or not is a decision in seconds. Why you like a photo or not may take much longer.

Thanks Mowie. I know what you mean. It changed for me over time. And to write about own or photos from others helped a lot.

Thanks Kat. Hope it was interesting to read on the making of these four photos.

Unknown said...

Yes you answered my question. Mowie said it well I go more with a feeling but from studying your photos and 'listening' to yor thought processes I and starting to become a more thinking photographer - so thanks again

Simones Kitchen said...

Great post Thorsten! It is always good to hear how other people experience the process... Very interesting

Thorsten said...

Thank you Wizzy and Simone.

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Just discovered your blog and awesome photography. Going to be dropping by here often.

Free Credit Score said...

Wow, you sure did a good job redefining the colors and shapes of the apples, huh. Bravo!