Mixed Berries

Using a simple set up, a natural light source, an additional overhead light and fresh berries, I got the shot above on my dining room table. Anyone with a bright window, a camera or cell phone that can shoot macro or close -up can achieve this type of shot.


I'm lucky enough to have a home practically built for photography... floor to ceiling windows in both my living room and my dining room. It's a natural light photographer's dream! My three dining room lights over the table are also on a dimmer, I use it much like a "hair light" or rim light that's used in portrait photography. I can adjust the brightness as needed or move objects around underneath the lights to create highlights and shadows.

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I started by selecting three bowls that contrasted the colors of the berries. The  serving tray added a wooden dynamic and using a burlap cloth added texture to the scene. I started adding the fruit and moving things around. I knew I would be shooting close-up, so I wasn't too concerned about the creases seen here in the burlap. A hint: when using cloth as backdrops or under objects, once washed (the burlap was new), roll your linens or cloth rather than folding them, it'll create less wrinkles and look more natural. You can also use a hand steamer to remove wrinkles prior to the shoot.

In most cases you probably wouldn't want to eat the food you'll use for food photography, especially if you shoot for a long time, if the room is too hot or if you're using hot artificial lights.

In my case, my husband is a spendthrift and doesn't like me spending any more money than necessary or wasting food. So- all of my food photography is real, edible food, not products or gimmicks like using white glue cheating for milk... I also shoot very fast so the food doesn't spoil. To make the berries look "shiny," rather than water I used cooking spray, it provides the look, is edible afterwards and lasts longer than plain water.

To keep costs down, I haunt the local thrift (aka: junk) stores, buying linens, silverware, plates and other objects for my shoots. For very little cash outlay, you can quickly create a collection of props and other items for your shoots.      

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Once I was pretty happy with the layout and composition, I added two white boards (aka bounce boards) to reflect some of the natural light into the shadows on the opposite side. If you don't have white boards, you can also use anything that's white such as a tablecloth, a shower curtain, a piece of poster board, etc. My white boards are simple white foam boards used for arts and crafts that I purchased at the local dollar store for $1.00 each. You can prop them up against a chair, wall or using painter's tape, tape them together so they stand up. 

The opposite is also true for too much light. You can use a dark board or dark fabric to deepen shadows or a simple screen or anything sheer to diffuse the light and soften the shadows.

Adjusting the table's overhead lights to take off some of the "kick," I was pretty happy with the lighting. Time to start shooting!

I took a few initial shots and using the rule of thirds,  chose my "hero" bowl, the brown and yellow bowl on the top right of the image.

Moving around the table set up, I shot various angles and distances from the berries. I also adjusted my lighting a few times and left some background objects in the image. This can work well when you're shooting to tell the story or set the mood, but I decided it was too busy and settled in on closer, tighter shots.

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I also shot using various depths of field (more objects in focus vs less objects in focus.) My personal style is shooting closer to wide open (less objects in focus) and using selective focus. If your camera has a manual or aperture priority setting, the smaller the number, the less in focus creating a more stylized type of shot.

Once I was satisfied with a variety of looks, I brought the images into Lightroom and did minimal post processing. Generally, I always adjust the white balance, open the shadows if needed, add a little contrast and do localized adjustments including slight sharpening on the hero object. Occasionally I'll add a slight vignetting to the overall image to draw attention to the hero object or hero area.

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Below are the three images of the shoot that I chose to publish which included a bonus shot of the berries out of the bowls and loose in the wooden serving tray.

The images can be used for advertisements, editorials or packaging projects.

Overall, the shoot was just plain fun and the fruit was delicious afterwards!

Mixed Berries
Mixed Berries
Mixed Berries