Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tell Us A Story

As we mentioned last month, we've been shooting some projects lately that convey different stories. The concept of these projects has been to entice the viewer with mouthwatering food and invite them into the world we've created. 

In part two of our storytelling project, we'd like you to tell us the story instead of us walking you through it. We envisioned a plot that inspired these images. But the story we imagined may not be the story you see. What's your interpretation of these scenes?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Some Storytelling and A Little Southern Cooking

We've been shooting some projects lately that tell more of a visual story than straight-up product shots. The concept of these projects has been to entice the viewer with mouthwatering food and invite them into the world we've created. Let us walk you through a couple of the stories.

I know you can smell warm peanut butter cookies with a hint of coffee from the Java Jam drizzled on top. You can feel the ice cold, creamy milk as it hits the back of your throat, chasing the tasty cookie. You can also imagine yourself in that warm, sun-drenched kitchen listening to the birds chirp through an open window on a lazy weekend afternoon. Can't you?

Fresh local milk and Java Jam topped peanut butter cookies

It's summertime in the South. Someone grabs an old, weathered table and drags it under a huge oak tree for a picnic on a steamy afternoon. On the menu? Spicy Southern fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits smothered with Tupelo honey, pickled tomatoes from the garden, cabbage slaw and fresh squeezed lemonade. Finger-lickin' good!

Summertime Southern fried chicken with pickled tomatoes

Some "behind the scenes" captured while shooting these two images...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Macro Focus Stacking

We were recently tasked with shooting a sunflower seed for an ad agency that specializes in agriculture. Their client needed the image for a billboard and print ad campaign. For comparison, sunflower seeds are about 3/8 inches tall by 1/4 inches wide. Billboards, on average, are 14 feet tall by 48 feet wide. So...in order to get images of the teeny, tiny seed as large as possible, we needed specialized equipment. We rented a Canon MP-E 65mm Macro Lens that is capable of 5x magnification and a focusing rail. 

Because of the extreme magnification, we had very little depth of field – say, about the thickness of a sheet of paper. Therefore, we ended up employing a process called "focus stacking." We shot in increments of 1/4 centimeter to capture 15 images of the seed at various focal depths. While none of these 15 images had the seed entirely in focus, collectively, they contained the data needed to generate one focused image of a sunflower seed. 

We used Photoshop to blend the 15 shots together and generate the final seed image. Photoshop masks out the unfocused areas and keeps the areas of the image that are in focus. The end result is a crystal clear image in focus from top to bottom. Stand alone programs such as HeliconSoft and Zerene Stacker also offer this feature. If you plan to do a good deal of macro focus stacking, I'd suggest investing in a stand alone program.

Photography is about problem solving and visually communicating what your client wants to say. This project employed one of the smallest subjects we've ever photographed, and we had a blast figuring out how to show every detail of a sunflower seed!

Wide view of our teeny, tiny set.
Closer view of the set and seed being photographed.

We shot the seed on its side as it was easier to light it horizontally. It was rotated vertically in post-production.

Focusing rail we rented, which allowed us to seamlessly move the camera 1/4 centimeter at a time. 

David concentrating on focusing and shooting every 1/4 centimeter.

The final image with the "stacked" sunflower seed for the billboard campaign.

David's stylized version, with a more dramatic sky.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Photographing in Studio with Natural Light

Although you can come close to imitating natural light, that imitation simply isn't the same. The combination of natural light and a long exposure time adds a quality to images you just can't achieve any other way. 

When we designed our studio, we knew we wanted to be able to shoot with natural light. As part of the studio design, we added softening silks and blackout curtains to the windows so we could control the amount of sunlight that comes through to naturally light a set.

We recently shot a new line of holiday candles for Trapp Candles, one of our amazing, long time clients. On this particular project, we were challenged to illustrate how consumers can use Trapp's products in and around their homes. We were also challenged to show retailers how they can best display Trapp's products and achieve greater sales results.  

We wanted the light in each shot to look natural, like you'd see in your own home or in a retail store window. So we used the softening silks to diffuse the natural sunlight while still highlighting the products and set.

You may look at these behind the scenes images and ask yourself, "Why in the world are the table and chairs on apple boxes?" In order to achieve the right perspective between the table, product and background, we had to raise the table and chairs. If we hadn't done this, we wouldn't have been able to see enough of the fireplace mantel to frame the shot. Just another trick of the trade!

Apple boxes were used to lift the table and chairs.
So many silverware options for our dining room table!

Adjusting the window silks to control the light on the front of the table.

Putting the finishing touches on the set before we shoot the final image.
After David completed the main shot, he moved in and captured a few detail shots.

Wax and wax melter shot.

Putting the final touches on the display image for retailers. This shot will be
composed with another image we shot to create the final display image.

Stacks and stacks of Trapp product!
Retailer display shot.
Some of the most difficult items to photograph are made of foil or chrome.
Here, David works to get the lighting just right on the foil product box.
Final dining room shot.

Final fireside pumpkin candle shot.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's turkey time!

We had some fun recently shooting for the Turkey division of a long time client. As always, behind the scenes and out of sight of the camera, everything tends to look a little different.

An interesting challenge with this project was we needed to find a way to photograph four farmers once and have the ability at a later date to change out the food they were holding. We decided the best solution was to choose one plate and one platter that we would use over and over again. We made a support device that would hold the empty plate and platter in a fixed position that allowed the models to hold them differently expressions and body positions. 

Whenever there's a chance we will shoot additional images that require the same look and feel (lighting, spacial relations, perspective, etc.), we craft drawings and take measurements of everything on set. This allows us to recreate the exact set-up and shoot more food that can be photoshopped onto the plate and platter we originally shot with the farmers. And an added bonus – by keeping the plate/platter supporting device thin, we have minimal retouching! 

Model and food set all in one.

Our hero turkey shot that will be placed on an empty platter our farmer is holding.

Stylist Sarah Thompson Lift getting our GQ farmer ready for his close-up.

Always fun to photobomb the food stylist.

It never looks the same from the back of the set.

I always have to have my hands involved in something, to the chagrin of the stylist.

How about a little left? No right. No left! It looks perfect just where you had it. (:-)

Putting the final paint stripper touches on the bird.

Wardrobe, please!

Farmer gear.

Any time there is a chance we will be shooting additional shots that need to have the same look and feel,
our assistant takes tons of measurements and photos so we can recreate the same look again. Thanks Ben!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Visual Branding Part 2

At David Morris Photography we continue to shoot for awesome clients who see the value in the consistent look and feel we provide them.

In 2011 I blogged about Visual Branding and the importance of continuity in your images. Whether it's stills or video, many clients want a consistent look in their marketing materials. Here's why – it makes them instantly recognizable and conveys quality and reliability.

To provide this consistency, we document every detail of our shoots. We also oversee all preparation, styling and lighting.

After post-production, we compare all imagery to ensure it has a harmonious look and feel.

Tiffany gives us the thumbs up that everything is looking good!

In the end, everyone is pleased. Even our equipment!