Tag Archives: mattbrewinphotographer

Stewed in the Studio! Henderson’s Relish and the Camera Axe.

hendersonsstew mattbrewinphotographer

So far we have blown up or shot a bottle of Henderson’s relish. That went well and now we are into image number 2. The second in the series of the Henderson’s Relish images that I’ve been working on.  The Image focuses on the way we sheffieldians use our Relish.

Relish is dark in colour and is to be added to food but not like red and brown sauce, they can go with almost anything. Relish has a more complicated relationship with the flavours it meets and this is why Henderson’s is often used as a flavour enhancer. Us northerners like a warm hearty meal, a stew or a shepherd’s pie, something that includes meat, gravy and carbohydrates. After we make it we realize it lacks something. This is where the Henderson’s Relish is added.

In this image I want to see Henderson’s Relish actually in the stew. It needs to mix into the stew in a disorderly way that looks half appetizing.  We need to keep the bottle and logo on show then include the ingredients meeting with Henderson’s to create the perfect winter dish that us Brits love dearly.

The first obstacle I found with this shoot is the lack of resources. I needed to find some great Advertising Photographer who had shot something like this before and I couldn’t find a thing (btw if anybody does find something i’d be interested to see it).  A bit more thought was needed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

So…how would we see stew? To see a through a stew we have to improvise and it’s all about the composite here, to make water look like stew and then add a glass bottle and all the ingredients. Thinking about texture, colour, its temperature and what’s going to be added is important. After a test shoot I found a mixture of lighting and retouch that made this work.

This image is made of 30 different images. Inspired by drinks advertisements and infused with high speed flash photography.

I sketched out the idea and then filled a 3 foot fish tank full to the top. The key to this Image is to be able to create the stew effect. The tones and textures need to be present as well as the different consistency’s to make water look heavier.  Some of this is done digitally and some of it is in the effects created by the lighting.

Heres one of the crappy sketches i did in the studio. This one is the lighting diagram.


Stew is going to be dark in colour so a background light is needed as well as multiple foreground lights to capture the falling vegetable’s. It has a heavy texture but it’s a liquid rather than a sauce and it’s often cooked cold-start’ so the ingredients are raw when mixed, this makes any food styling easier.                                                                                                                                                                 Increasing noise in the background image was done by simply upping the iso on the digital back. This kept the quality but made the colours and tones look ‘bitty’ and untidy which is what I wanted at the time. Lights are outside the tank, as close as possible to the subject and softened off by using curved Rosco. The Rosco can also be flagged off easily so I could keep a dark background.

The first part of the Photography process is getting the lighting right on the vegetables.  Using yellow and light red gels over the Bron heads to light the subjects helps them fit into the background colour (which is originally orange). Water is transparent and therefore it can be whatever colour you want it to be in a studio environment. Here the water is coloured by the gels and this helps make the subjects look as if they were in water. One strong main light and lots of fill is best here. A subject in water will usually have one direct light source hitting it and this will often be from above (think about a shell in the shallow seas lit by sunlight from above, but fill light coming from the sand below).

Matt Brewin photographer Hendersons close up

The Camera Axe (CA) is used when we needed the bubbles to surround the vegetables. It was important to get a good trail of bubbles, the bubbles surrounding the veg was also key to connecting the composite.  The laser sensor is placed over the top of the tank. Dropping the object into the tank triggers the beam. As the object falls through the water it creates bubbles around the subject and also a bubble trail. In this image the objects have different mass, size and weight.

To perfect the bubble trails a simple adjustment to the CA’s delay is needed. There is no need to move the sensor just change one small setting on the CA. To perfect this further or create a different effect around the vegetables we can place the sensor on the sides of the glass (not inside the tank!) and have the beam carry through the glass tank. You would have to dumb down the sensitivity of the beam but by doing this we can control the triggers through the water!

Cutting out the veg and bubbles was not easy and very time consuming. Using Channels in Photoshop was the best way of separating the bubbles from the background. A few snap shots of the cuts can be seen below.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 20.59.24

The sharp edges that the Phase One back provides (no antia-liasing filter) is one of many reason’s I why I use a medium format system.  It’s so much easier to see the edges of a subject and the sharpness of the files increases this, So much better for detailed clipping or masks.
Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 20.49.27

Took about three days of serious Photoshopping but I was happy with the detail and drama that was present in the final image.

And the Final Image below:

So Henderson’s mixed with Stew and Henderson’s shot with an Air rifle. One more image to go….any ideas? Please get in touch.

hendersonsstew mattbrewinphotographer

Corrections and feedback from the last shoot:

Maurice from Dreaming Robots (www.dreamingrobots.com) got in touch about the battery life of the Camera Axe: “Charging via USB took around 45mins, changing the batteries takes 30 seconds. I prefer the latter as it makes the shoot less stressful. Battery life seems to be around 2 -3 hours.” – When using the version with 6AA batteries you can’t charge the batteries over USB.  You can only power it over usb.  I also found the battery life very short.  I usually see 20 hours, but that is without the laser sensor.  I haven’t tried a long run with that sensor so that might be the difference.

The 6AA battery power is a better option and I have found that the battery life is better. 

 Maurice from Dreaming Robots got in touch about the modelling bulbs problem I encountered in the last shoot:  “I  found that using the 650w modelling lights from the Broncolor heads could confuse the sensors ” – If you add a tube around the light sensor you would block it from ambient light and not have an issue with this. 

http://www.dreamingrobots.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1876 – This works. Thanks again. 

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