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Anatomy of a Pic-A-Day shot

M38A1

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I thought presenting what goes on to make a Pic-A-Day shot would be interesting to those following the Pic-A-Day threads. This behind the scenes view is fairly easy to do when you shoot only a few shots instead of a hundred. lol... And there's a bazillion ways I could have approached just this one day. Yet here is how I did today's shot.

Shot #1
My nieces friend had a birthday this evening and everyone received a big cupcake. I was last to choose by design as I wanted to see what the others took, and I wound up with this one. I've got something to work with instead of say, an all chocolate with chocolate frosting. I thought the tried and true black background would work and I grabbed some short wooden flooring sections and fit them together on top of a card table. I used a little box to prop the flooring up at an angle. A large gridded 24x36 softbox was used, camera right and on top of the cupcake pointing down for the most part about 18" over the cupcake. The D4s was fitted with the 24-70mm and an SB700 was in the softbox triggered by a Cactus trigger. The speedlight was set to 1/32 power on manual. Camera was set in Manual mode to ISO500, 70mm, f/6.7 and 1/125th second. This is the first shot to see where we're at.
i-qbKpzzQ-XL.jpg

I sort of liked the concept, but hated the light. Way too much shadow on the front of the cupcake.

Shot #2
So for Shot #2, I moved the softbox a bit more on top and to the front of the cupcake. The softbox is still about 18" over the cupcake.
i-TMKRd8h-XL.jpg

Here you'll note I'm getting more light on the front of the cupcake this time. The grid allows me to 'point' the light fairly well, ie: control it, but it's still not quite enough where I want it to be.

Shot #3
Shot #3, I moved the softbox a bit more to the forward side and pointing back at the cupcake. I like how the shadows were removed for the most part yet retained the soft lighting on the frosting and candle.
i-McHdbfz-XL.jpg


Shot #4
I was fairly pleased with how this was turning out as I knew I'd clean up some little things in post rather than spend an hour trying to do it all in-camera. It's time to light the candle.
i-CwR8QMC-XL.jpg

I lit the candle, took the shot and snuffed the candle right away. I didn't want any black soot rising into the white fabric of my softbox giving me a dark spot for future shoots

Post-Processing

Once I had #4 done, I copied the RAW files to a sub-directory I created for this one specific day. I then brought the RAW files into Lightroom. Next was a quick series of actions to include:
*Crop to fit (went from a 4x6 to 8x10 format)
*Clarity +22 (to bring out some 'edgi-ness)
*Vibrance +31 (to boost the appearance a tad bit)
*Saturation +17 (to boost the appearance a tad bit)
*Blacks -4 (filled in some blacks that weren't quite 100%)
*Graduated filter (lightened from the base of the cupcake up to the base of the candle)
i-xdLKJBd-XL.jpg

Once I had this, I exported the five shots as .jpgs, used the first four for here and the fifth/final was my Pic-A-Day for today.

Hope you found this a little interesting...


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Last edited:

jhansen

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Inquiring minds want to know...how did it taste?


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M38A1

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:clap: yes, thanks!
Always glad when some little post like this helps others... Thank you.

So much goes into getting a perfect shot like that. My hat's off to you my friend, you are a pro!
Not sure about the 'pro' part as there are some things I could have done differently. But thank you too. :-)

Inquiring minds want to know...how did it taste?
It was vanilla and I couldn't eat the whole thing. I must be getting old as it was too sweet / too much.


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Tourmeister

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And that is why I come to your pic a day thread every day... :thumb:
 

M38A1

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And that is why I come to your pic a day thread every day... :thumb:
Wow, kind words indeed... Thank-you. :-)

Maybe I'll have to toss up some more threads like this. I've got a Behind The Scenes (BTS) from today that's kind of fun. :ponder:
 

Tourmeister

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Wow, kind words indeed... Thank-you. :-)
:tab Well, it is true :shrug:

:tab Think how many people see an image like that and thing to themselves, "That's easy!! Stand aside, I'm not afraid! I'll take the same picture!" And... it looks like crap. They won't pay attention to the shadows, the lighting, the textures, the DOF, etc,... They will just point and shoot, then wonder what is wrong with their camera when they don't get the same result. The change in quality of your images over the years makes it plainly clear that you have been working very hard and systematically at improving your understanding and skills.

Maybe I'll have to toss up some more threads like this. I've got a Behind The Scenes (BTS) from today that's kind of fun. :ponder:
:tab Maybe just use this thread as your BTS thread with a slight title change?
 
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Once I had this, I exported the five shots as .jpgs, used the first four for here and the fifth/final was my Pic-A-Day for today.

Hope you found this a little interesting...


.
Thanks for sharing, love the final shot! The cupcake is much more interesting than one with plain icing and the candle with flame brings it to life.
Jennifer
 
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