Why three? It’s a magic number. Why pancakes? They’re good. They’re especially good in the morning, with maple syrup and a nice warm morning light flooding through the window. So that’s what I set out to make.
In the end it was rather simple. Probably the hardest part of this was cooking the pancakes slowly enough to get the right colour, and not eating them as they came off the pan. Thanks to the threats of my darling wife, I managed to make a picture before getting stuck in.
When I shoot food, I almost always like to backlight it. And, for this frame, I wanted a morning feel. So, a giant warm window light was the key to giving that effect. Being that we were shooting at night, I had to improvise in the form of a 28” Westcott Apollo Softbox with an SB-800 inside. I put this at the rear of the table, almost level with the tabletop. This meant that from higher angles I would not see its reflection in the table, but coming right in on the food, I would get a large blown out specular highlight from the softbox, mimicking what you would see on your breakfast table in the morning.
Once this light was in place, I needed to fill in the front of the food a little to ease up the shadows. This was again placed almost at the same level as the tabletop and was a small softbox about 1~2 stops down from the back -light.
That’s all there was too it really. Then it was just a matter of arranging the food and catching the maple syrup at the right time. Around 20 frames later and we had the gold. Easy as pie, and even tastier.
The reason I mention this style of lighting is that it is also commonly used in beauty and sports setups. It is not uncommon to see a human lit by two stripboxes from 45 degree angles behind, and slightly hotter than a beauty dish or softbox in front, which fills in the darker areas created by the backlighting. It makes things look good. Get out and try it!
Here’s another image made with the same setup, but shot from the top so you can see the lighting ratio from left to right.