Exploded Deli Club: The Story Behind the Photo

By Bill Webb

Final image of Exploded Deli Clubphotograph by Bill Webb

Exploded Deli Club by Bill Webb (f 4.5, 1/10, ISO 400)

For our recent ‘Food’ topic, I chose to try one of those exploded shots we see sometimes. Folks have since asked if it was a bunch of Photoshop layers. The answer is ‘no.’

Here’s how I did it.

lights, wires, and stands for setting up Exploding Sandwich photo by Bill Webb

Photo 1 – Exploding sandwich photograph setup

Photo 1 shows my lights and supports set-up in the kitchen. I set up two stands and ran solid wire between them to make the ‘shelves’ onto which I would place the sandwich makings. I had an LED panel as main light positioned at camera left and a small LED fill (about 15 percent power) on top of the camera.

Sandwich layers attached to wires for Exploding Deli Club photo by Bill Webb

Photo 2 – Exploding sandwich layers attached to wires

When that was all set up, I disassembled my Jason’s sandwich and carefully positioned the pieces on the layers of wire as you see in Photo 2. I checked exposure and lighting to get the background dark and the sandwich well-lit. I took the shot.

Final image of Exploded Deli Clubphotograph by Bill Webb

Photo 3 – Exploded Deli Club final image

Then in Photoshop, I used spot healing and cloning to remove the wires. Voilà – an exploded sandwich (Photo 3).

The last step was to reassemble the sandwich and have lunch!

Black & White

You might think that a black-and-white image is a step down from its full-color equivalent, but the absence of color draws attention to other facets of composition, including light, shadows, lines, shapes, patterns, texture, and symmetry.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shooting for our March 2020 club contest.

Keep It Simple

Choose a subject that will showcase the compositional elements. Busy backgrounds or cluttered images are distractions to avoid.

Lighthouse in black-and-white by Tony Naccarato from Unsplash.com

Lighthouse in black-and-white by Tony Naccarato from Unsplash.com

2. Capture Contrast

Make sure there is separation between your subject and the background. A great black-and-white image often has varying shades of gray. But including clean black and clean white areas within the image will help keep it from looking muddy. However, a large area that is only black or white can look like dead space.

3. Filter the Light

A polarizing filter will help darken skies and remove harsh reflections. A neutral density filter will allow you to lengthen exposure time to create interesting effects in water or clouds.

4. Try Underexposing

It’s a bit of an optical illusion, but the darker your blacks, the whiter the whites will seem.

5. Shoot in HDR

Some cameras will allow you to shoot in HDR (high dynamic range). This format can often make color images feel a little surreal. But it’s a powerful option in B&W for how it
seemingly amplifies texture, contrast, and light and shadow.

6. Play in Post

black-and-white photo of chairs by Jonas Jacobsson from Unsplash.com

Black-and-white photo of chairs by Jonas Jacobsson from Unsplash.com

Capturing the image is just the first part. Use Photoshop or Lightroom to play with levels and curves. Do a little dodging and burning to parts of the image. It’s not cheating. (This is technically how Ansel Adams did it, just with paper in a darkroom.)