Ginger Lemon Tea: Behind The Scenes


This was a fun shoot.  As always, preparation is the key to success and I came in with a lighting plan and a good understanding of the subject at hand.  Food lighting is usually dictated by either texture or reflection and this this shoot had a bit of both. Since I lit for so many different subjects, I’ll do a breakdown of each shot.

The Ginger

Gineger Lemon Tea: the perfect Winter concotion. It cures and soothes simultaneously.I love the way this stuff looks.  When it comes to still life, nothing beats a God given object.  The diversity and beauty of the natural world is truly amazing.

For the ginger root, I was thinking “graphic.”  I’ve always been a big fan of Maplethorpe’s Flower series and I wanted to do something in the same vein.  To isolate the subject, I placed the root on black and got close.  Since ginger roots are textural objects, I scraped light across the surface to create dimension.  Finally, to even out the contrast,  I placed a 60″softlighter on-axis behind the camera.




The Lemon

Gineger Lemon tea: the perfect Winter concotion. It cures and soothes simultaneously.Mondo created a cool composition and I placed the focus on the cut lemon.  To light this, I moved a light panel in very close to the lemons.  Typically, dimension is created with a midtone diffuse area and shadows, but in this case, dimensionality was created with strong specular highlights.  To control these highlights, I moved the panel in close and turned the cut lemon to reflect the light.  To balance the scene, I added a little on-axis fill and used a white card on the opposite side of the main light.

The Tea

Gineger Lemon tea: the perfect Winter concotion. It cures and soothes simultaneously.This shot was for the social media sites, so it ended up being a menu shot.  The challenge on this one was creating a reflection on top of the tea.  To do this, I moved a light panel behind the tea and used the family of angles to light the surface.  To add a gradient, I moved the strobe closer to the panel and created a hotspot that reflected on top of the tea.  It’s subtle, but I like the effect.






Final Thought

This was a great shoot because it was planned shoot.  No matter your level, it’s always smart to go in with a plan. You may not stick with it, but it’s a good place to start.

Lighting Setups





Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 50mm
Shutter: 125
Aperture: f/16

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  1. 2

    What can I say, your descriptions remind me of impressionistic composers and painters; lighting, color, texture, and seeing beauty of the natural world as it is. Your final product is comparable to observing from high above a large uninhabited valley with lush greenery extending as far as the eye can see.

  2. 3

    hi David I love it. Thanks a lot for sharing. I like the gradient you created also. Can you please tell me what kind of diffusion material is that one for the panel? Thank you very much.

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