The Shot: This is your basic stock shot of Kimchi on a white background. This shot can be used in many ways because of the neutral background with emphasis on the subject. The kimchi and the bowl are sharp all around and in even lighting.
The Set Up: For this shot I used my Fomex Light Tent that I picked up from Film Nara. This is a great tool to use for these kinds of shots because it gives you a neutral white background and the sides and top act as diffusers. I also positioned the light tent next to the window during the brightest part of the day to make the most of the bright light. The vertical blinds were drawn further diffusing the light. I used my 50mm lens set to 9.5 to give the even sharpness across the image. I set this up on my tripod and used the cable release to fire the shutter. For the food, I bought this from the local supermarket along with a decorative dish. I shot a number of “Banchan” or side dishes that day and because this is a Korean staple dish, I have enough food to feed me for a week and I spent about 10,000 won including the dish.
The key to making these shots work is how you choose to display the food. Keep the dishes clean and attractive. Position the food so that it looks its best. Another good tips is to get your camera and everything set up first and use something to mark the position of the food and then get the food ready. If you are cooking something that you want to show the steam coming off of it, then it is even more important to get your camera ready before then all you have to do is place the food and hit the shutter release.
The Post Processing: I opened the raw image file in Adobe Camera RAW via Bridge and did most of the adjustments there. There were some specs of dust that needed to be removed and the overall image needed to be a bit brighter. All of these can be adjusted in Camera RAW. Once ready I brought the image into Photoshop to simply sharpen and play with the levels a bit. The other thing that needed to be taken care of were some specs of red pepper that had stuck to the side of the dish. With my Wacom Tablet and the clone stamp, I took care of those spots quite easily. I highly recommend picking up a wacom tablet if you want to do any kind of design work or intricate editing like this. The pen is pressure sensitive and allows you control over the size of the bush simply by how hard you press down on the pen. The best quote that I heard about tablets was from a photographer (can’t remember the name) who said “It is a lot easier to draw with a pencil than a bar of soap” That pretty much sums up my feelings on the issue.
The Final Product: Once you have completed the post processing, you are left with a clean delicious-looking food shot that can be further edited to remove the background or be used as stock photography in a variety of ways. The great thing about doing these kinds of shots yourself is that you control the quality right down to the dishes used.