Orlando Food Photography Shoot - Behind the Scenes

Just wrapped production on a multi day food shoot and wanted to share some behind the scenes to show what goes into creating such tasty looking images. A lot went into creating these images to fit the clients needs as I was giving the job of creating visual images that would be used for a annual recipe book for kids, while retaining a look that can be used for other marketing uses as well.

Before Going into the shoot we had a pre-production meeting going over the stylistic choices and looking over mood boards. I can never just how important these meetings are to make sure everyone is on the same page on the day of the shoot. I knew the client wanted all the images shot top down to fit their intended use, which means I had to spend some time coming up with a plan to not only light, but make sure everything was styled in a way to add depth to the images.

This also allowed my crew to plan ahead and come up with an optimal shot list to help us keep on schedule. I brought on the amazing food stylist Katie Farmand on board for this shoot as I know I would need help to stay on schedule. She did an awesome job preparing and styling food so I could concentrate on setting up for each shot.

For our lighting setup we went with a 1-2 lights depending on the food, a dot and finger kit to control and shape the shadows, and some bounce card. When it comes to food I like to keep things simple and simulate natural light while shaping shadows to draw the viewers eye to the food.

The Flashpoint Xplor 600 with snoot

The Flashpoint Xplor 600 with snoot

For the lights I used a single strobe blasting through some Rosco #3008 Diffusion to emulate natural daylight coming through a window, while keeping consistent control over it. The other light I occasionally used is the Flashpoint Xplor 600 with a Snoot & grid. This allowed me to throw some subtle but controllable hard light across certain foods to pull out additional texture of the food.

We shot the project on the Sony A7RII with a mamiya 645 45mm F2.8 CN glass. The old glass holds up extremely well and on full frame we are only using the center image circle which is the sharpest part of the lens. Another reason I chose this lens was for how its focus ring works, its extremely smooth while being firm which makes it great for the few shots we had to focus stack.

Then in post images were corrected for color, contrast, and retouched any slight blemishes. Images were left with empty space for copy,  I can't wait to see what the client does with them!

Orlando Photographer Wins Photoshop World Guru Award

Orlando Commercial Photographer Austin Burke

This year was my first time at Photoshop World and it was a blast. It was held in my backyard in Orlando, Florida so I had no reason not to show up. Getting to hear and talk with professionals in all different niches of the industry was a great experince.

Along with all the talks I got to make ton of new friends over the weekend and have fun with the events setup by the team at Kelby One. I even got lucky and used my indie film knowledge to win a ticket for next years Photoshop world, so if you go in 2018, make sure you keep an eye out for me.

Speaking of Winning, I won the award for best Commercial Image in the Guru awards held at Photoshop world. The Image that won was from my breaking bad vodka series and you can see how I create this image by checking out a previous blog post here

The 2017 winning image in the commercial category at the Photoshop World Guru Awards - Breaking Bad Vodka

The 2017 winning image in the commercial category at the Photoshop World Guru Awards - Breaking Bad Vodka

New Travel Video! Destination: Cannes, France

While I was at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in support for the film I shot that was being screened at the festival, I took a day off to test out the new Sony A6300 that I recently added to my kit. So here are some of the results between the time at the festival and exploring the city.

Testing High Speed Recording with the Sony FS5

I have been looking and testing cameras for some upcoming slow motion shoots and this was one of the test videos with a mixture of shots in slow motion and regular motion. Rather than just doing a test shot I figured why not make a little piece out of it.

Music Documentary: Animal Portraits!

It's been a few busy weeks getting ready for Cannes after what happened at Filmapalooza but I somehow managed to find time to turn what started out as a camera test into a mini documentary. When I first upgraded to the Sony F3 as my main camera for video work I joined the band Animal Portraits while they recorded some singles. At the time I was just shooting some B roll footage for them while testing out the limitations of the F3. With this footage laying around I thought why not make something out of it?

So we gathered up all at a warehouse, decorated the set with some wood pallets, and started setting up gear. I Brought along the new Sony A6300 as the second camera to test out as well. Since we also were shooting some portraits the light I decided to use was an Alien Bee B800 Strobe. Now for the video we used the 100 watt modeling lamp and had the strobe in a medium softbox with a grid. That may not seem like a lot of light but the low light sensitivity of these cameras is impressive requiring little to no noise removal, even though both cameras were shooting at ISO 3200. 

Lighting setup for our interviews, using a single Alien Bee B800 in a softbox with a grid and a bounce card.

Lighting setup for our interviews, using a single Alien Bee B800 in a softbox with a grid and a bounce card.

So we shot for a bit asking the band members questions and took it to the edit bay. At this point is where the story is really crafted as footage was cut down to the final piece. Both cameras were shooting in Slog (Slog 3 on the A6300 and Slog 1 on the F3) and with a little tweaking to the A6300 and it comes close to really matching the beautiful skin tones the F3 produces. And here is the final piece:

Wake Up is going to Cannes Film Festival!!!

Last week I was in Atlanta, Georgia for Filmapalooza, a film festival for the winning films of each regional 48 Hour Film Project city. The film I worked on as cinematographer won the Orlando 48 Hour Film Project so are crew geared up and made a trip to Atlanta.

The Scad Show Theater became our home for 4 days as over 130 films where shown.

The Scad Show Theater became our home for 4 days as over 130 films where shown.

Out of the 4500 entries only a little over 130 made it to Filmapalooza. Our crew went representing Orlando and after 4 days of viewing the winning shorts we were announced to be part of the Best of Filmapalooza showing on the last day of the festival. This meant we were in the Top 12 of all the films which leads to our film being part of the 48 Hour Film Project Block being shown at Cannes this year! We were one of the few American films to get selected by 48 Hour Project and the first time Orlando has ever been selected to be part of the 48 Hour Films Block at Cannes. So in a few months we will be flying out to France to be part of the Cannes Film Festival, until then here is our film "Wake Up".


Ninja Blender Shoot

During my recent relocation to Orlando, I was packing and unpacking and came across my blender, which ended up in the home studio for a shoot that night. The Ninja Blender is a great example of a tricky product to shoot due to several reflective surfaces. Using a combination of black light and diffused side light I'm able to show off the curves and reflective details of the Blender, though there were some challenge issues to tackle.

With all reflective surfaces I shoot, they love to reflect anything in the room. This is why I like to try and take the products into a studio though its not always the case. So the solution here was to composite several exposure were I used a piece of foam core to block the reflections of the room and to give the chrome its nice reflective look.  So after some trial and error and composting I wrapped up shooting and am now able to use my blender.


Image Breakdown: Breaking Bad Desert Shot

And we come to the conclusion of the Breaking Bad Vodka Image series!

Concept

For the last image of the series I want to shoot a homage to the first episode of Breaking Bad. Originally I started out hunting down RV's that matched the one used in the show, and after searching through 3500 RV's in Florida and contacting several people I was able to only get in contact to shoot one.  Sadly on the day I got to shoot the RV that was going to be used in the original concept of the photo it was semi cloudy and didn't give me the harsh sunlight look  that I wanted for the desert placement of the image. I also left out the RV because I felt like it took away form the bottle which was the main subject of this shoot. So we the RV and brought the focus closer in on the bottle.

The Shoot

For this shoot I wanted to imitate the harsh sunlight of a mid day desert. The light setup was 2 strobes, one camera left raised high above the camera pointed down to act as the sun, then a second light camera right behind the subject focused on the bottle bottle to highlight the back of the bottle and the side of the talent. We had a cloudy day that helped act as a fill light and by adjusting my shutter speed I was able to subtle fill in the shadows as needed. 

After that several images where brought into post as I liked a few different elements on the bottle and then added in a desert background to fit the theme of the show. Then a few color and contrast adjustments and we have are final image. So thus the end of the breaking bad vodka shoot is here but don't worry, I'm working on a new personal image series that I can't wait to share soon.

Image Breakdown: Breaking Bad Meth Table

Continuing the Breaking Bad Vodka Series is another Image Break down. There shouldn't be any spoilers in this post for those who have not seen the show but you should go watch it if you haven't, this image series will be more enjoyable if you do.

Concept

This image was a little more basic of a concept for the shot but presented some challenges. The goal was to have the bottle laying in a pool of "meth". So what could I get to look like the blue meth from the show and how much I would need? So after some research and some trial and error of online purchases, I came across cotton candy flavored rock candy that looked the part. After buying a few bags and estimating how much I would need, well lets just say I was left with a lot of rock candy (8 lbs).

Shooting

The setup for the shoot was relatively simple, but first we had to open the bottle and fill it to the brim with some extra liquid that way when we laid it down there were no air bubbles. As for lighting the bottles I started off with a back light much like any bottle photograph; this is because the back light helps illuminate the contents of the bottle.  So a strobe was placed underneath a sheet of Plexiglas which was then covered with a layer of diffusion. This would be the base of our setup which the bottle and "meth" would be placed on.  Then the camera was positioned directly above the bottle with a beauty dish above it to provide light for the cap and printed label.

As for the "meth" I used 8 pounds of cotton candy rock candy. It provided the perfect color and look to match the blue crystal Walt makes in the show. However once laid out, the rock candy ate up to much light so it had to be spread out thinly over the table to allow light from underneath to back light it. Then several exposures where taken with the beauty dish on and off and where brought into Photoshop to be edited.

 

 

Post Production

After a few layers where brought in to photoshop I began editing the image. A few exposures where taken some with only the back light on as the beauty dish was used mainly to add some light to the top cap and labels on the bottle, but was not used for any other part of the images as it took away from the texture of the rock candy. Below is an animated walk through of the steps taken in post to bring us to the final image.


Image Breakdown: Breaking Bad Meth Lab

With the start of releasing images from my Breaking Bad inspired series I want to share the breakdown of what all went in to these images. So today we start with the first image in the series. Also Spoilers for the show Breaking Bad may be ahead so read ahead at your own risk (and watch the show if you haven't, its great).

Concept

The idea for this series was inspired by the release of the limited edition Breaking Bad Vodka. The goal was to take each of the bottles and create an imagine inspired by locations in the show. This would be a challenge since the show takes place on sound stages and locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I am a commercial photographer in Orlando, Florida.

For the first image of the series the idea was to show  off the bottle in the Super Meth Lab. Not knowing of any local Super meth labs I had to get creative so I contact a local brewery and got the okay to come on in for an hour to use their brewery as the location for the shoot. So with the right angle and lens I was able to get a tight shot that had a similar ascetic that the show had. 

Shooting

Space and time were tight, but planning ahead aloud me to set up and shoot quickly

The day of the shoot I knew I would only have 1 hour to load in gear, shoot, and pack everything up. On top of that space was tight which I had planned ahead for with a location scout the week before. I already knew the general idea of the angle I wanted to shoot from and a general idea on how I was going to light the bottle. I used a total of 3 strobe and 1 speedlight for the whole shoot. The first strobe was my key light coming in from camera right behind the bottle. This  lit up the machinery along with the bottle. I then used a silver bounce card on the other side of the bottle to reflect light back into the bottle to show off the crevasses in the design. The second strobe was shot into the ceiling to act as my fill light throughout the room.

Lastly a speed light with a 10 degree grid was used to throw some light on the front labels of the bottle. The image contained multiple exposures so I could composite parts of them together in post. This was a large time saver due to having to move around the small space and make adjustments. Another large helpful factor was shooting tethered to my Surface Pro. The Surface pro was great for this as its a fully functional computer the size of a large tablet. I simply rigged it up to the tripod and spun it around so I could see what I was shooting since there was no room to stand behind the tripod. Plus with calibrating the screen on the surface I was able to see what my image would look like when I went to edit it in photoshop.

Editing

This image consisted of a few images that where later combined in photoshop. A break down of the steps I took in photoshop can be seen below. Along with fixing a few reflections on the bottle, I added in a fly which you might remember from a certain episode to the show. After a few contrast and saturation adjustments I finished off the image with a LUT. LUTs are look up tables used often in the video industry to adjust a cameras colors to match a certain standard. I often use them to bring my flat log video files (which retain more detail) to a more pleasing starting point, but they are also often used to match old film stocks. So I did some research on the film stock used in Breaking bad and found the matching LUT, did some minor adjustments to its strength and that leaves us with the finished image. 


"Wake Up" Wins the Orlando 48 Hour Film Festival

Back in August I worked on the set of "Wake Up" as director of photography. Our crew had 48 hours to write, shoot, and edit a Thriller short film that included a specific character, line of dialog and prop given to us at the start of the 48 hours. The film won 5 awards (Best directing, Best Cinematography, Audience Award, Best Acting [Solo], and Best Film) and can now be viewed online!


Schofferhofer Beer Shoot

Finished Image

Breakdown

So for the first shot of this series of beer images I plan to work on, I decided to do this shoot all on location. This provided it's fair share of challenges verse shooting in the studio. First off it was extremely windy out and at one point I was using a roll of Rosco #3008 Tough Frost but it was blowing all over the place while standing right next to a pool. So after removing the diffusion I actually liked the hard light more due to the shadows it created.

Inspiration

I recently went to the store to try some new beers and while I was there I decided I wanted to try shooting some beers for my portfolio.  After sitting on the floor trying to find the perfect hero bottles I left the store with 4 different beers and a few ideas in my head. After getting home I decided to spend the day relaxing by the pool and shooting the first beer out of the set for this project. 

The selection of beer at the store

The selection of beer at the store


Panorama of the set

     Another issue I ran into was time, as we where running out of natural sun light and the color temperature of the ambient light started to change fast. I also ran my lights off of external battery power which meant no modeling lamps on the strobes. So it became a guessing game trying to get light placement right.

     For light placement I had an Alien Bee 800 with the 7 in reflector at 1/4 power coming in as a back light at about 45 degrees. This helped highlight the beer and give off some nice shadows similar to the sun. I then had a speed light camera left lighting the left side of the label of the bottle and falling off to give the bottle some depth. I fired off a few shots and used a silver and dull silver bounce cards to add in fill as necessary and make the grapefruit and labels pop.

Post Production

     After shooting are images I broke the images down into my favorites for each part I would need to combine. We had a base image file, 3 images for the grapefruit, about 10 images for the bottle and its label and 2 images for the table. I masked in the selected layers, added some layer adjustments and dodge and burned selected parts of the image and finished with an 11x14 crop.

Gear Used

  • Camera: Nikon D750
  • Lens: Tamron 90mm F2.8 Macro
  • Speedlight/Strobe: Yongnuo 560 III & Alien Bee B800
  • Beer: Schofferhofer Grapefruit
  • 3 Grapefruit