When shooting an ingredient shot, shadows can make or break an image. Sometimes you want less noticeable shadows while other times dark shadows can add a lot to an image. In the case of this pomegranate, I shot it both ways. Let me show you how playing with the shadows will have a dramatic effect on your final image.
Above are the final shots. At first glance, is there one that you prefer? The image on the left was shot with diffused daylight, while the image on the right was shot with a snooted flash. Let's take a closer look at how the one on the left was shot.
For the daylight shot, I used a white bed sheet hanging from a garage door to create a large, soft, diffused light source. With the light source on the left of the subject, the shadows will fall on the right. To fill in those shadows, I placed a piece of white foam board close to the subject on the right. This lighting set-up is very easy to create with any window, diffusion material, and a reflector. If you are looking for a soft, low contrast image, this is the way to go.
To create an image with a completely opposite look to the shadows, I used a small battery powered flash. I knew that I wanted to control the spread of the flash, so I used a snoot to gain this control. This would prevent light from spilling onto the background and concentrate the light on the pomegranate. Here is a look at the set shot.
In the final image, I used a diffusion disc to soften the light from the snoot. I know what you maybe thinking, "Won't adding a diffusion element that close to the subject spread light onto the set?" Yes, it did spread some light, but it was minimal and I thought the softer light looked better on the subject. Here is a look at the snooted flash with and without the diffusion disc.
For the snooted flash shot, I played around with different positions of the flash until I found one that would place the flash on the left side of the pomegranate pieces, but wouldn't fall over onto the right side. This placement and not adding a reflector for fill on the right side, helped create the strong dark shadows.
As you can see, the lighting set-up you select will have a great impact on the shadows and overall look to your image. Which version of the pomegranate do you prefer?
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