Thursday, October 24, 2013

When was the last time you made whoopie...

It sounds like a question from a bad game show, but when was the last time you made whoopie... pie?

Home-baked Whoopie Pies are an American tradition.

This was an obviously fun shoot.  Bad jokes and puns were flying across the studio.  But while we were having fun, we also had a somewhat difficult subject.  The combination of very dark chocolate pastry sandwiching a very white filling created a challenge.  The contrast between the two had to be brought closer together.  We firmly believe that being able to do a project like this 'in camera' is an art form. The term, 'in camera' dates back, and people may not know what we mean.  Doing a shot 'in camera' means no Photoshop!

We do have a practical side as well.  Technology is progressing, with the intent of making our lives easier.  Photoshop allows us to do some amazing things and saves us a lot of time. So we mixed the art form of shooting 'in camera' and the technology of Photoshop to help us finish this shot.

We used a soft light source from above. This gave us a starting point to control the contrast.  We then brought in a point light source, from directly behind the subject, to produce the highlights on the chocolate pastry.  This light was just blowing out the cream filling.  So we took a separate photo with the same light dialed down, so the filling was properly exposed.  The two photos were later merged in Photoshop

We also used a white card to reflect some of the point light source (from the rear) back onto the front of the shot.
Okay, so the story goes that as far back as the 1930s, Whoopie Pies, also known as ‘gobs,’ were made in New England, and when farmers or their kids found them in their lunch boxes, they yelled “Whoopie!” Supposedly, they were made with leftover cake batter, but who ever heard of leftover cake batter?

The real Whoopie Pie is a delicious dessert sandwich, about the size of a hamburger, made with two soft cookies and a cream filling. Today, if you want to make one, it’s just a matter of combining ready-made ingredients and baking. Or use your preferred chocolate cake recipe.

Easy Peasy Whoopie Pie Recipe

Monday, October 21, 2013

Granola and breakfast...

Some people think they don't have time for breakfast. That's because they're over-thinking it. Breakfast just doesn't have to be complicated. 

Granola clusters mixed with dried berries, shaved almonds and topped with honey.
Granola is a very easy, quick and nourishing early morning treat, and lighting this shot was just as simple. We wanted to give it the look of morning. To do so, we started with a very large light source to emulate window light. We put this light in the back of our shot, to the right. This gave the set up a beautiful natural light look, but natural light often needs a fill, so we brought in a white card at the front left to fill in the contrast. We needed to add some ‘action’ to the shot, so we added a point light source, from the back left, to add some spectacular highlights. To finish, we used a hand-held mirror to fill in at the front of the granola, just a bit more than the white card did.

With all the types of granola on the market today, you'd think you could find one that contained all of your favorite grains, nuts and fruit and nothing more. Don’t despair –you actually can make it yourself, with a minimum amount of time and trouble.

Granola contains rolled or flaked grains, like old-fashioned oats, raw nuts (chopped), honey (brown sugar or your favorite sweetener), your oil of choice, and salt. Seeds (like sunflower or pumpkin), dried fruit (don’t bake the fruit), unsweetened coconut, spices, cocoa – even an egg white – are all fine, but optional.

Here’s the concept: combine, spread out on cookie sheet, bake, add dried fruit and eat. Cool and store the remainder in an air-tight jar or even Tupperware. Nothing fussy.

Easy, Customizable Granola Recipe

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Remote Art Direction...

We have a lot of clients from around the country who can't always attend a shoot.  To help bridge the gap we do remote art direction.

Our studio was built with productivity in mind.  Not only for us, but for the clients who come to work with us.  The studio has to be an office away from their office in every aspect.  We often have clients tell us that they get more work done at our studio than at their own office.

Sometimes, work is so demanding, that they can't slip away or the art director can't make the trip to Chicago.  So, we utilize Remote Art Direction via Skype.  Skype allows us to connect with our clients as if they were here.  They can share our screen and see changes being made in real time with our food stylist.  They can see live feed through our camera and give real art direction before a shot is even taken.  We can also invite multiple people to view what's going on, because not everyone can be expected to huddle around one computer in the office, or be in the same location.  This way we can reach everyone who needs to be involved in the comfort of whereever they happen to be.

We always enjoy having people come to the studio, but when they can't... this is a great way to get the job done.