Winter Doldrums: Page 2: A Saturday Inside

The winter is a good time for food photography I am learning.  It's cold outside and I just don't get out much with my camera.  Inside, lots of comfort food is blessing our dinner table thanks to Laurie's great cooking.  Recently I've been leaving a camera and a flash in the kitchen so I can take pictures of her evening masterpieces.  The results will be posted in future blog posts, I am sure.

It's snowing. Today is a day to stay inside... except for the 2 hours it took to clean snow off the cars and the driveway.  And actually, I hope to get a day of downhill or cross country skiing in tomorrow which will definitely get me out of the doldrums.

But back to today. See below. This is what it looks like outside, from our front door. It's really quite a beautiful scene. These two cedar trees and the one just to the right can make for a nicely composed winter nature scene, but for the fact that I needed a wider angle lens today.  I've taken this picture many times, but from an angle that eliminates the lamp post along our driveway and the two snow stakes barely visible in the foreground.

This morning, I thought I'd mess up the kitchen all by myself.  I wanted pancakes and found in the pantry an unopened container of gingerbread pancake mix from Stonewall Kitchen.  It had an expired date on it, so I thought I'd try a small batch and throw the remaining mix away if need be.  Well, I am not throwing it out!  I plan to make a batch every Saturday until it's used up.  Then I'll buy so more.  It is that good.

It also gave me a chance to play around with my camera and flash settings. I have pledged to myself that I will keep food photography fairly simple, using a combination of ambient light and a single flash attached to the hot shoe of either my Olympus EM-1 or Sony A6000. I am also using an old white 3-ring binder to bounce light.  Pictures of this set up can be found below.

I set up my camera and single flash to direct light toward the left and slightly behind the food, and to bounce this light back from the wall/ceiling. I "flagged" the flash with a piece of black plastic attached to the flash by two black hair bands.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's how my camera was set up.

The black flag causes all light reaching the food to be diffused by bouncing it off the wall/ceiling.  The light hitting the food will be coming from behind and to the left. The flag eliminates any light from the flash hitting the food directly. In my, albeit limited, experience this reduces any glare/shine/reflection off the food.

Here's what it looks like with the flash bouncing off the wall/ceiling behind and to the left of the food items.

After making the above image, I took my white bounce material (a white 3-ring binder that I found in the trash at my office) and placed it to the right.

Below is the result.  The shadows (example: between the egg and the measuring cup) are reduced. And you can see that the right side of the butter, the egg, and the measuring cup have more light on them.  Also, the label on the maple syrup is lighter.  The mixing bowl in the back remains the same.

To be honest, I am not sure which one I like better.

Crops: before and after using the white surface of the 3-ring binder.
The difference is subtle but noticeable.
The shadows have been reduced and the right side of the egg is brighter in the
"after" shot.

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