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Thread: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    231

    Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Hi, I am in a situation where I am unable to get out and travel and do my normal landscapes, so I have been looking at ideas for some large format photography that I can do around the house.

    I have always admired large format product and food photography, so I thought I would ask the group here about some basic gear tips as I begin to go down this road.

    I have a Linhof Technikardan, so I have a great camera with plenty of opportunities for movements and bellows draw for 1:1 macro images.

    I will be using Provia 100F E-6 film and my thought was that I would probably want to have a little working distance between me and my subjects, so maybe a 210 or a 240 lens might be a good choice? I plan to control DOF through movements and simply stopping down.

    Based on your experience with product and/or food photography with 4x5, do you have any suggestions on a lens that is particularly good at color rendition and a good focal length?

    I own a Nikkor 210 and 240 W, so the plan was to use one of these unless there is a reason to use something else?

    I have a nice large daylight LED light source with a soft box and a couple large diffusers, so I think I am good to go on that front.

    Anything else before I dive into the deep end that I should be considering?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2015
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    SooooCal/LA USA
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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Your present lenses are fine for most stuff, and you will see that longer lenses will not see the edges of the background as easily as with short WA lenses...

    Having some long lenses allows you to get close to smaller detail areas with the camera to subject distance increased, but needs a lot of bellows extension to focus close... Beautiful DOF falloff in that range... (Typical 4X5 studio FL'S are 150mm (for larger stuff) to 420mm for tight shots and details...)

    Generally today, most stuff is lit with a soft box or tent... But a single light with reflector cards works well...

    Get some white foam core and make a set of reflectors, from big folding panels, to small thin strips that can be near the front of fill areas on the deck of the set that are just outside of your frame... You can cover some reflector with foil if you need a hot fill sometimes...

    I avoid using seamless for a background, as it is expensive these days, but prefer different color fabric... Getting a piece of velvet or duvateen is helpful to kill an area into black...

    A digital incident meter with 1/10th stop resulution is very useful to even out lighting...

    A lot of info in those Amphoto pro photo books, now very cheap used...

    You will always be compensating for bellows factors shooting on small sets, so learn them throughly...

    So here is some basic stuff to start with... Ask questions as you go...

    Have fun!!!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    231

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Hi, thanks for the thoughtful and helpful tips.

    I had not really thought about the longer focal lengths being good for DOF fall off, so that's a really good tip.

    Any tips on a specific Amphoto pro book? I am not familiar with them.

    Thanks again and I look forward to getting things set up and running.

    Larry




    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    Your present lenses are fine for most stuff, and you will see that longer lenses will not see the edges of the background as easily as with short WA lenses...

    Having some long lenses allows you to get close to smaller detail areas with the camera to subject distance increased, but needs a lot of bellows extension to focus close... Beautiful DOF falloff in that range... (Typical 4X5 studio FL'S are 150mm (for larger stuff) to 420mm for tight shots and details...)

    Generally today, most stuff is lit with a soft box or tent... But a single light with reflector cards works well...

    Get some white foam core and make a set of reflectors, from big folding panels, to small thin strips that can be near the front of fill areas on the deck of the set that are just outside of your frame... You can cover some reflector with foil if you need a hot fill sometimes...

    I avoid using seamless for a background, as it is expensive these days, but prefer different color fabric... Getting a piece of velvet or duvateen is helpful to kill an area into black...

    A digital incident meter with 1/10th stop resulution is very useful to even out lighting...

    A lot of info in those Amphoto pro photo books, now very cheap used...

    You will always be compensating for bellows factors shooting on small sets, so learn them throughly...

    So here is some basic stuff to start with... Ask questions as you go...

    Have fun!!!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Oxfordshire UK
    Posts
    902

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Hi

    Sorry to hear that you cannot get out and very best with the intended project

    Some years back I did a lot of close up/macro style work with 4 x 5/5 x 7 and 10 x 8. Initially I found it really frustrating, I fell into the trap of assuming that one needed fairly long focal lengths. In fact it was the opposite since I was usually focusing around 6" from the subject. As a result, it became 135mm/180 and 210 respectively for those formats. I only used natural light and on the whole older barrel lenses preferring their 'signature' over more modern optics

    Best regards

    Andrew

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Chichester, UK
    Posts
    357

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    My only suggestion is to check you have enough bellows extension before you start buying anything. That is going to be a significant limiting factor on what you choose to shoot.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    231

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Excellent point and I am in tune with that. I have a Linhoff Technikardan that has a very generous bellow for 4x5. I can use anything from 47mm to 450mm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias Key View Post
    My only suggestion is to check you have enough bellows extension before you start buying anything. That is going to be a significant limiting factor on what you choose to shoot.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
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    1,675

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias Key View Post
    My only suggestion is to check you have enough bellows extension before you start buying anything. That is going to be a significant limiting factor on what you choose to shoot.
    As a guideline to measure, to shoot 1:1 (your 4X5 frame = 4X5 shooting area) requires bellows extension twice the distance of your marked focal length of the lens, so a 12" lens needs about 24" bellows extension etc... So be careful you don't run out of bellows when you choose your next lens!!!



    Steve K

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    231

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    I have a question...

    I have been studying a wide variety of food images and I have figured out that some of the ones I like are the overhead camera pointing straight down. I think real food photographers call these "lay flats".

    I was wondering if there is an easy way to get this type of shot with a 4x5?

    I don't think mounting a 4x5 on a boom and shooting straight down like a DSLR is an option or even desirable, so my thoughts were to point the 4x5 camera at an angle downward and then adjust the front and rear standards to be parallel with the surface.

    Any thoughts?


    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    Your present lenses are fine for most stuff, and you will see that longer lenses will not see the edges of the background as easily as with short WA lenses...

    Having some long lenses allows you to get close to smaller detail areas with the camera to subject distance increased, but needs a lot of bellows extension to focus close... Beautiful DOF falloff in that range... (Typical 4X5 studio FL'S are 150mm (for larger stuff) to 420mm for tight shots and details...)

    Generally today, most stuff is lit with a soft box or tent... But a single light with reflector cards works well...

    Get some white foam core and make a set of reflectors, from big folding panels, to small thin strips that can be near the front of fill areas on the deck of the set that are just outside of your frame... You can cover some reflector with foil if you need a hot fill sometimes...

    I avoid using seamless for a background, as it is expensive these days, but prefer different color fabric... Getting a piece of velvet or duvateen is helpful to kill an area into black...

    A digital incident meter with 1/10th stop resulution is very useful to even out lighting...

    A lot of info in those Amphoto pro photo books, now very cheap used...

    You will always be compensating for bellows factors shooting on small sets, so learn them throughly...

    So here is some basic stuff to start with... Ask questions as you go...

    Have fun!!!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
    Posts
    1,675

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    On food shoots and in cooking schools, they mount a mirror over subject, and is angled at 45deg so the top of food is shown... A longer lens is used, the image is reversed, but the film is flopped before printing or scanning...

    Most plates of food are shot at around a 45deg angle...

    Steve K

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    231

    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Wow! I would have never thought of that... Thanks, Steve.

    I will go see if I can find some examples of this type of setup.

    PS-
    I have no idea what I am doing yet, but I am having fun learning something new.


    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    On food shoots and in cooking schools, they mount a mirror over subject, and is angled at 45deg so the top of food is shown... A longer lens is used, the image is reversed, but the film is flopped before printing or scanning...

    Most plates of food are shot at around a 45deg angle...

    Steve K

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