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!

Fast Food Photo Tips

Food photo by Brooke Lark on unsplash.com

Food photo by Brooke Lark on unsplash.com

Here’s some sage advice for this month’s photo competition entrants, who in true Procrastinator’s Delight style may be waiting until the last minute to shoot the subject — food.

Composition is king in food photography. Give careful consideration to the angle of the shot, the direction of the light, and the placement of the props. Keep reading for a little more on each.

Pick a Side

Several factors determine the best angle to shoot from. If your subject has a lot of horizontal layers, like a cupcake, you’ll  want to showcase that by shooting from the side. A straight down perspective can emphasize the shapes of plates and cutlery, and also eliminate a distracting background. Shooting more diagonally can give you the best of both worlds.

Consider the Light

Usually, the most dramatic food shots appear to have one light source, often on the side of or slightly behind the subject. There may be other lights involved to reduce or soften unwanted shadows, but this can often be handled by deflecting, diffusing, or blocking the light. Some photographers love the feel of natural light, but others like the control of artificial sources.

Raspberry cake photo by Anna Tuthfatullina on unsplash.com

Raspberry cake photo by Anna Tuthfatullina on unsplash.com

Choose Props Wisely

A successful shot has several ingredients, including added props. These can help draw the eye to the main subject, but can also distract if not done well. Select items that complement the colors of the food, including the background or table. When shooting from the side, try putting props in the foreground and background to help tell a story, but use depth of field to soften the focus while keeping the main subject sharp.

Shake It Up

Much of these guidelines pertain to traditional food photos. Your best results may come from tweaking the recipe.