Food Photography Of Mini Cake

Food Photography of mini cake

Here’s a really fun food photo of a mini cake we shot yesterday. I’m usually not a huge fan of tilting the camera, but in this case, I really think it works.

Food Photography Of Mini Cake

To tell you the truth, there isn’t really a whole lot I don’t like about this food photo.I think that the crop works really well.

Crop – I usually use spoons, forks or knives as design filler elements to round out the composition of the photo, but in this case, the spoon plays a more dominate roll.  I don’t think that the spoon is at all distracting and I feel it adds to the eye flow of the photo.  I find that I’m compelled to get  the whole product (mini cake) in the shot and to pretty much center it in the frame.  In this case, the cake isn’t quite centered, but almost…  I need to fight that instinct, so not all my food compositions look the same, but I think this seems to work.  But I always think that… I don’t know if this would be thought of as my style or my rut…  I love the way the plate helps direct the viewer’s eye around the lower half of the photo and up the strawberries and back around to the main subject, the cake.

Props – I was a little worried that the color of strawberries would be a little too distracting, but I think that the color ended up being muted enough not to prove a compositional distraction.  My eye still goes to the mini cake, and that’s what we were all looking to do.  Even though you only see a little sliver of the surface, I think that it adds to the shot.  It’s textural but it’s in keeping with the overall feel of the photo.  This is one of the rare cases where I think a napkin really wouldn’t have added much to the shot.

Lighting – This is a great sample of using a glare light to blow out the background.  By over-lighting the background, you really don’t need much in the way of props beyond the plate and this also tends to give the viewer of the photo an impression of  “freshness”.  Spoons are always a pain in the butt to photograph and the same glare light is the light that ends up preventing the spoon from being mostly black.

Focus – This image was shot with my aperture wide open to give a little romance to the photo.  Since this wasn’t really a product shot where we had to see every little nook and cranny of the subject, I was allowed to let parts of the product go out-of-focus.

Camera – Arca Swiss 6×9 View Camera

Lens – Schneider 120mm Super Angulon

Lights – Norman with Chimera light boxes


food photography lighting setup #3

Here’s a side view of the set. All that is missing is the main light (behind me to the right) and the mirrors that I added to accent some of the details of the product.

food photography lighting setup #2

The large box is set to dominate and blow out the background. It also works as a great glare light.

food photography lighting setup #01

Here’s a shot of the set before I got into doing the final lighting detail work. You might be wondering why I don’t use the modeling lights when I set up my lighting. It’s because I need to see what the main light is doing. The other lights will be added one at a time so that I can see what each light does to the set and to the food.




  1. Dan Ery · May 4, 2016

    Thanks M-Ray.
    Did you REVIVE your ArcaSwiss or shoot this a while ago? No matter.
    I recently garbed a used Sinar P& Schneider Angulaon 90, for a negotiated price I couldn’t resist. The plan was to put my Canon on the back as I had suggested back months ago. After some research I found that the shadowing of the Canon may make it less useful.
    My question is Do you think the 90 MM lens is a good size for doing food? I haven’t gotten it up and running yet.

    Always good to see a blog with a little”Meat in it” so to speak. I do miss the old days when you had more time!

    You say you don’t use modeling lights. I know that you shoot tethered so do you do a series of exposures and look at the result?
    It’s my guess that’s it.
    What’s the dimension of the glare light box?
    OK that’s it for now. Thanks for the blog.

    • Michael Ray · May 5, 2016

      I do use a modeling light for my main light. (usually my big 10″), so that I can see the reflections of the mirrors. With ALL the modeling lights on, I can’t see the shape created by my main light. The problem is that the modeling lights are not in the same ratio as are the power of my strobes, so what you see is NOT What you’re gonna get.

      This image is from when I was still shooting with the Arca. Now that I’m shooting with a DSLR, my fav. lens is the 85mm Tilt shift. That’s really close to your 90 (if you’re using your canon) On my Phase One, I liked the 120mm best.


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