It should come as no surprise that Linda and I have been active participants in Dario Milano’s (@foodpixels on Twitter) series of themed food photography contests for some time now. Dario is one of those rare birds in the world of photography; a working photographer who still finds the time to share his knowledge with those of us who are hungry to learn more. Dario has created a community of food photographers of which we are proud to be a part of. Through the contests, which are hosted here on FaceBook, we are able to learn how others see, learn what they think of our work and contribute critiques of the collection of great work that is submitted to each contest.
This most recent contest’s theme was ‘Movement’, suggested by Kulsum Kunwa (@JourneyKitchen), author of the Journey Kitchen blog. Kulsum won the ‘Black and White” contest with this photo, so she got to choose the next contest theme.
So, how do you show movement in a still photo? There are several techniques that come to mind:
- Slow shutter speeds which allow for motion blur, as was done by Fred Winograd (@pinball2k) in his entry for the contest.
- Catching a slice of time during the movement, as was done by Finla Noronha (@Happy_Cook) in her entry, or by Sherron Watson in this entry
- Suggesting movement by using the image to evoke viewers experiences, such as in Tika Hapsari Nilmada‘s (@miauw17) coffee cup, where we know that the swirling liquid has been stirred by the spoon and is about to be raised by the hand.
- Time lapse, where the frame contains multiple exposures which show the progress of the motion.
We decided to try to combine several of these techniques to give the impression of movement. It is pretty obvious that the egg will be falling downward, so it requires just a hint of the path to work.
The photo above is composited from 12 individual shots. We were able to catch the egg just starting its fall in a few of the shots, and all the others were caught at various points on their way to the bowl. One shot captured the splash. See below for a discussion of the assembly process.
So now we have bowls in the fridge with 30 opened eggs. That’s a lot of scrambled eggs for breakfast, so we’ll have to do something a bit more interesting with them. So here’s what happened (from top, clockwise):
- Another Lemon-Cherry Tart
- Some Lemon Curd Ice Cream
- Panko Breaded Chicken
- A Prosciutto, herb and cheese frittata
- A shrimp filled omelet, topped with a tomato and avocado salsa.
Waste not, want not…but now we have to recover from this egg fest and eat a lot more whole grains and salads and hope my cholesterol levels will not be too badly affected.
Building a photograph
We imported all the shots into Lightroom and applied the standard Lens corrections, sharpening and some simple white balance corrections. We then selected those that we thought would best contribute to the effect we were seeking. Once selected, these were opened in Photoshop CS5 Extended as layers.
In Photoshop we selected all the layers, and from the layers panel context menu, selected ‘Convert to smart objects’. Photoshop churned away for a while and when it was done, there was a single smart object composed of all those layers. The ‘Layers’ menu now has an entry for ‘Smart Objects’ with a submenu that controls the stacking mode of the component layers. After some experimenting, we found that ‘Mean’ gave us the effect of movement that we were after.
We then added back in the original image of the egg just starting to fall and the splash in the bowl, cleaned up the hands and egg-shell and were done.
It was a bit of work but we were pleased that it produced the image that Linda was trying to get. The contest participants must have liked the results, because Linda won this phase of the contest. Her choice for the next contest is ‘Fruit as a core ingredient’ and we’re back to the drawing board to come up with fun ideas to figure out and photograph.