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Old Sep 24, 2010, 4:48 PM   #1
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Default photographing cakes - help needed

hi all

my sister is in the process of starting a cake making business and I am meant to be creating a website. So I have been charged with taking photos of the cakes and making them look as good as possible and then making a website. The picture below is just an example but not very good. Any advice on how to take better photos of cakes or still lifes in general - I only have the onboard flash which I think makes them look a bit wrong.

Thanks for any help
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Old Sep 24, 2010, 5:46 PM   #2
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hmmm - get yourself a macro lens if you dont have one already - then use some creative use of DOF - think carefully about using flash - it might not create a flattering look for cakes might be better with using availble light or a softbox up very close to the subject

for cakes i would be more inclined to go with high key lighting rather than low but you might be going for a specific look i dont know

next thing i would suggest would be to get onto the internet and see what other cake shops photo's look like - you might get some ideas about what sort of style your sister wants - show her the websites too and get her to tell you what she likes etc

other than that good luck
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Old Sep 24, 2010, 7:04 PM   #3
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You definitely need a larger depth of field, however overall it looks quite good. You get that by stopping down the lens.
I would measure the diagonal distance from the front bottom to the rear back, and use that for the dof that is needed. I would use the shortest focal length lens I have, even if its the kit lens. Then rather than using the flash, I would use desk lamps, moving them around until I got the "look" I wanted.

In post processing, I would adjust the white balance, although it looks good in this image. I would also carefully focus on probably the decorations on top. Note - that on the dof calculator page linked above, even though you are using hyperfocal distance, really only the item that you are focusing on is in actual focus. The optical characteristics of the lens, aperture and sensor make the rest of the depth of field appear to be in focus. You really do not need to be exact, but I think that getting it into the general ballpark will help.

The other thing, is that for variety, you can narrow down the depth of field so that say just the top decoration is in focus - thus set off from the rest of the cup cake, in order to highlight the frosting decoration. That may provide some interest across the website. Also, you could highlight the types of general cupcakes (sizes, shapes, flavors, etc.) in one area and the different types of decorations (flowers, writing, boarders, etc.) in another.

As John said a Macro lens could help, especially in terms of having more control over focusing accuracy.

Also, you might wish to hit the web and see what others have to get some ideas....
You probably have already done this, but sit down with your sister and see what appeals to her, and then see what you can do. Knowing my sister, she would want much more than my skills could deliver, but that could help you control expectations.

My son the chef tells me that cup cakes fully burned (material, labor, overhead, etc.), cost about $0.30 each. There is a speciality cupcake shop here in the Phoenix area that sells them for $5 each, and the shop is VERY busy (even in this economy - you gott wonder).

Anyway, those are just some ideas that come to mind.

Last edited by interested_observer; Sep 24, 2010 at 7:10 PM.
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Old Sep 24, 2010, 8:12 PM   #4
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I agree with the above, was going to say the same thing.
The cupcake looks delicious, now I'm going to have go get a snack...
Tell your sister she did an excellent job on the rose. My ex wife had her own cake business from our home and we had a separate addition built on the back of the house for her bakery, it was pretty cool. just big enough for a double oven, sink and work space. Came in handy around the holidays too when she was cooking for large family gatherings.

I sent you a PM too.

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Old Sep 25, 2010, 5:01 AM   #5
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Hi All

thanks for the advice - some of the cakes on those websites look very nice, gives me something to aim at. I have the K20 kit lens and a macro one as well so I will play around with them and DOF and see what I can acheive.

Been getting quite fat eating all the samples so I better hurry up and get some good photos otherwise I won't be able to move.

I'll post some of my next batch of photos when I get the chance.

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Old Sep 25, 2010, 5:23 AM   #6
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I wonder if the flies I posted would like these cakes ?
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Old Sep 25, 2010, 4:34 PM   #7
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Photographing food, don't know much about it but one thing, and that it's hard to do and to get it to look tasty.

Can't give you more info than what already was said.


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Old Sep 25, 2010, 8:33 PM   #8
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Try this: http://www.digital-photography-schoo...ive-light-tent

You can build it larger with the right choice of materials but the same basic plan.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 8:02 AM   #9
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With still-lives in general (i don't have experience with cakes, so it might be different) i find that instead of using the flash on your camera to create the light for the set-up, instead actually light it the way that you want it, and then take the photos without the flash. I usually use a bit of natural light, and then a small "spotlight," so that the lighting is just right (i am cheap and use the heat lamp from my turtle's tank)
also, i am not sure what look that you want for the website, but maybe instead of having the cake just kind of floating in the black, having a little tabletop (or tablecloth, whatever the cake is sitting on) showing, to give the cake a setting in some way.
but, you have made the cake look quite delicious, which is the point, i guess! : )
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 10:17 AM   #10
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I second the high key lighting for cakes. Younre nto going to want a black or dark colored website, so the backgrounds of these pics need to be white.

When doing product photography I use a white poster (has a shimmer to it) {Actually A Jim Morrison poster from the doors} turned on its back as the backing and it helps bounce light up onto the image, create nice reflectings, and keeps the art looking simple and pleasing to eye

If these were rings or diamonds, I would say black back is way to go, but I'd keep it white for the cakes

just google image cakes as someone mentionde already and it confirms this

also, you can do a lot with very little lighting. ive got a decent light setup for products, but often use less lights than I originally set out for just to hit the prime areas of what Im trying to show. of course use tripod, and try shooting at F11 or F16. I will use F2.8 or F4 if Im going for artistic effect with thin DOF

keep it up, its a good start

Last edited by NMRecording; Sep 26, 2010 at 10:20 AM.
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