It’s a Set Up!

Ice cream is one of my all-time favorite photography subjects, so I really had a ball putting together my new ebook. The challenge of snapping that perfect shot before your carefully scooped spheres begin melting and pooling on the table just keeps me coming back for more. That, and the fact that the subjects must be quickly consumed once the camera is turned off, make for some great foodie photo fun. Previously, all of this work had to be done in the few hours in the day where the sun was at just the right position, otherwise the ice cream would melt at an incredible rate under the hot light, and all of the day’s work would thaw and waste away right before my eyes. Really, they don’t call it “hot” for nothing!

Now, things couldn’t be more different- It’s actually become a rarity for me to use natural light these days, working away in the darkness of the night to accomplish more than ever before.

If you had the chance to peruse that ebook, you should recognize this photo as the Rose Petal Ice Cream. A light, delicate little number that seems to simply glow. The secret behind that ethereal lighting is actually very simple…

Using the back of a chair to prop up my solid pink poster board, I start by laying the foundation with a smooth, seamless background. The strobe is positioned directly behind the set, facing away, with my usual white umbrella reflecting the flash back onto the subject, creating a nice, soft back light that highlights the edges of the ice cream. To soften the shadows in front, I set up my two little makeup mirrors on both sides.

Slight variations of this arrangement are my usual approach right now, and I couldn’t be happier with the consistently well-exposed results.

34 thoughts on “It’s a Set Up!

  1. Its a great set-up. I’m just beginning to explore this myself and find that back lighting provides those highlights (glow).
    I do prefer natural light, even though its more difficult to work with (and I’m still pretty clueless), but one must make the best of what one has. :)
    You ceratinly have. The ice-cream looks gorgeous.

  2. wow, thanks for showing us how you take your photos. We now no some of the effort you have to put in to end up with beautiful photos like yours. Your icecream is certainly glowing!


  3. Thanks for this. Working with natural light has been easy during the summer, but it’s impossible in the winter when it’s dark by 4pm. I’ll have to try your set-up. Your pictures always look great!

  4. Hey there,

    I’m sorry to possibly bother you, but as you are *the* vegan baking expert and all I’d figure it’s worth a shot..

    I’m looking to veganize a birthday cake, my 25th happening in a couple of days time. The cake part is originally just ground hazelnuts (150 or 200 grams I think), 3 eggs and the equal weight of the eggs in sugar. Obviously my question has to do with the eggs. I’ve looked at the different options (from the ppk site) – don’t want the flax taste so that’s out I guess, silken tofu seems good but I would have to go traveling to get it (do you know if firm would be any good?), I do have plenty of vegan yoghurt (make it myself) so if that actually works and doesn’t leave a sour taste, it would be the most convenient.. and I also have egg replacer on hand (no-egg) but the ppk’s writing about chalky taste doesn’t, well, it doesn’t lead me to think this would be the best option.. The thing is that it’s a flourless cake, so will any of it work?

    If you have any ideas or input, being so much more experienced, I’d be very grateful. Thanks either way for a great site and for all your wonderful recipes. :)

  5. Glowing is an accurate description of that ice cream, for sure.

    POSTER BOARD! That’s brilliant. I fight with backgrounds that blend “floor” to “wall” and have never thought of that. You’ve saved me!

  6. you clearly have experience with both ice cream making and ice cream photography. sounds great. the fact that you get to consume the ice cream after snapping the perfect shot sounds even better!

  7. Thanks for this post. I have to start accumulating stuff for photographs.. getting increasingly difficult with either too much or too little light!

  8. YA!
    I was hoping to see a few shots from your new e-book! Amazing how simple, but well planed your pictures are! I love how the light from the poster really makes everything … rosy! How wonderful! You are very talented!!
    Goodness I need to start buying your e-books! AH!

  9. Fun post; it’s interesting to see the “behind the scenes” set up to your fantastic photography!

    I made your ecookbook “Peanut Butter Bombshell Ice Cream” and it turned out AMAZING! I can’t wait to try your other genius creations :) .

  10. I love the setup. I have one black and one white poster board and I didn’t to get some color! It’s so hot here I can’t keep ice cream from melting even in the house.

  11. I always love the behind the scenes shots. I’m really impressed with how your photography has progressed over the years. Hopefully some day I will get that good. :-)

  12. Fabulous photo and that is a great setup. Not unlike the one I tend to use most of the time….:) I gotta have a look at your ebook now!

  13. I’d have to use fake food because it wouldn’t last that long for me to get it set up.

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