Project 52

Assignment 9 - BBQ Tools

Assignment 9 begins our work with product photography.  The assignment was for a consumer BBQ tools manufacturer.  The assignment called for a stylized shot with props, not just the tools on a plain white background.  We could use a model if we wanted to show someone with the tools, or create a still life shot.  Since one of my objectives for this 52 week project is to grow my skills in food and product photography, I went with the still life option.

BBQ tools tend to be very shiny and reflective, making them difficult subjects to shoot.  With objects like these, the goal is to get a clean reflection that looks like the object has some life in it – not a flat, dark surface – as well as highlights / texture on the non-reflective parts (i.e., the handles of the tools  in this case).  I set up my “studio” on the back deck using our Weber grill as a background.  It was a partly cloudy day, which made getting the shot trickier – I wanted the sun behind the clouds so I could add the lighting from a softbox and some reflectors and not have to fight with the shadows the sun created.  I took a bunch of test shots with the various props in place before cooking the food which would be in the shot. 

Once I grilled the ribs and corn on the cob, I placed them in the scene and started addressing the things I couldn’t see without the food in place.  The most obvious was a very bright reflection on the top of the ribs.  I decided to block the light hitting the ribs and use Photoshop to combine that shot with another where the entire scene was illuminated.  I was also not getting a clean of a reflection on the front of the BBQ tongs, which changed position in the scene when the food was plated, so I added a fill card under the front of the scene which bounced white light onto the tools.  

A behind-the-scenes view of my set up

A behind-the-scenes view of my set up

As I was breaking down my equipment, I reheated the ribs and corn for a late lunch, which Doug and ate while watching a football game.  They were delicious…I’m starting to like the benefits of taking pictures of food!  Next week’s assignment is another product image – a pet toy or pet accessory for a trade publication.  I’m preparing Bentley (my dog) to be a model.  See you next week!