Food Photo Tips: Part 4 - Seamless Backgrounds

ann_tJanuary 1, 2013

Posted by canarybird (My Page) on Wed, Jul 29, 09 at 19:02

Food Photo Tips: Part 4 - Seamless Backgrounds

Hi again everyone. I'm back with another entry on how to use your digital camera for taking tabletop photos.

Today's tutorial is a short and easy one about setting up a paper sweep for a seamless background behind your subject.

( I see Garden Web has problems today and all posting is being stopped for a few hours, so this may come as a Thursday post, rather than on a Wednesday.)

You may have wondered how to eliminate the horizon line between the tabletop and the background. Although you won't want to do this for all your photos, it's useful to know a simple and inexpensive way to give your picture a smooth, even background when you want your dish or other object to stand out on its own.

The answer is called a SWEEP and you've probably seen large backdrops in photo studios where a roll of paper is pulled down from the ceiling and stretched out on the floor towards the camera so the model can stand on the paper and there is no line where floor meets wall. You can buy white plastic or synthetic material sweeps in small tabletop and larger sizes in photo supply shops and online but as we're trying to keep our experiments down to something you can make at home as economically as possible we're going to make one out of a sheet of white poster paper measuring approx. 20 x 26 inches (50 x 66 cm) bought in a craft or office supply shop. You just have to be careful not to spill gravy too often on the paper! It helps to wipe carefully the bottom of the dish and put a folded tissue or napkin under before placing it on the paper. I just happen to have a plexiglass recipe book holder..Fig. 31....bought years ago, which not only keeps the pages of a recipe book from being spotted with sauces, but also makes a good support for our poster paper, using two clothes pegs to clip the paper to the holder. Fig. 32. (I hope you still have a few clothes pegs around.)

Another useful item you could use as a support for your sweep is the back part of an old picture frame, Fig. 33 & 33a ...the kind that's made to stand on a table, either vertically or horizontally by its back leg. I removed the glass and frame from an old photo and taped the cardboard backing closed so it holds together. It will also do a good job to support your paper and has the advantage of folding flat and being lightweight. It can also serve as a holder for a piece of white printer paper ....clipped again with a be used as a reflector to bounce back the main light onto the dark side of your subject...(when not using it as a support for the sweep paper.)

If youre really stuck for something to put behind to support your paper sweep, a 5-lb bag of dry cat (or dog) food and two large clothes pegs also does a wonderful job!

Fig. 34 shows how the sweep looks in place behind the teapot, and the following three illustrate the setup with the camera on a tripod.

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