Shooting Fresh Fish
As part of our latest series of food photography courses, Karl and food photographer Anna Pustynnikova work together to produce this fresh fish image.
This fresh fish food photography course covers composition, styling and lighting for food photography. Anna demonstrates how best to compose and style your food images (and also provides some useful tips for preparing and working with raw fish) while Karl covers all you need to know about lighting setups for food photography, including how best to maximise texture, shape and form.
- Learn how to photograph food
- Lighting setups for food photography
- How to create gradient lighting
- How to photograph fish
- Tips for keeping food fresh for photographing
- Food styling tips
In this food photography class Karl and Anna undertake this fresh fish shot using a simple lighting setup and careful control of colour and composition.
They key thing for this image was the styling. In fact, the shot required very little in terms of equipment and lighting (members can view the full equipment list of the right-hand side of this page).
The lighting was a fairly straightforward setup in which Karl used one light to create gradient lighting. Gradient lighting is a common technique in product photography and is particularly useful when photographing subjects with glossy surfaces.
While Karl was working on the lighting, Anna continued to work on the styling of the image. She reworked the composition of the shot a few times to get the right feel to the image, but also explained that time was of the essence when working with fresh ingredients like fish.
When styling an image like this, it’s important to keep in mind compositional elements such as colours, textures and lines. You’ll see how Anna and Karl used each of these elements to guide the viewer’s eye and keep them in the shot. So even if you’re working against the clock, take your time to get these details right.
The final image:
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Very interesting photoshoot. About how long were you two working with the fresh fish? It looks like it may have taken a couple hours.. or more. Lobster was alive, but crab wasn’t. Curious if the crab was a throw away… inedible. I think crabs produce a toxin once they die.. something like that, so was it only useful for the shot, or am I wrong on that? I would like to try something like this at some point, but the shot has a fair cost outlay for product. All saveable in this case?
Oh and the fake slate.. sourced from a place that does counter tops? Or flooring? I’ve been looking but so far not found a source that can do single piece to this kind of size.
Hi, yes it was a couple of hours but would have been quicker if we weren’t producing a lesson and filming. We ate the lobster, not the crab as it was dead to begin with. The other fish was not saved unfortunately as the studio had warmed up and we had also handled it a lot but the seagulls enjoyed it. This particular slate is a piece of textured plastic that has been sprayed matt dark grey, it looks really good and I asked Anna if I could get some but she sent it from a supplier in Moscow who made it.
hi karl , why did you choose f11 ss350 ??
Hi Mohamed, f11 for the sweetspot of the lens and good depth of field and the shutter speed doesn’t matter because it was being lit with studio flash so as long as my shutter speed was enough to cut out any ambient light from my modelling lamps then it would be good. See our Lighting Theory section for more info on these topics.
Hi Karl. Another wonderful set and amazing results.
Could a strip box work in that setup? Even though it wouldn’t cover enough height but a fair amount in the scrim’s width.
Hi, thanks and yes although you would still be better to put it through a scrim for the gradient lighting.
TO which 35mm lens would this setup be compared? beautiful shot btw
Nevermind. i just realised the info is on the page 🙂
I hear that modeling career’s for lobster’s are not very long. A little buttering up could help them decide to continue. But then again… maybe not! ……….. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Great course with an interesting simple gradient setup. Another great setup for small spaces. I love the look of the Octopus and the Crab. The lighting really worked well with those.
She wouldn’t come out of her shell 🙂 Thanks yes I’d like to explore lighting just an octopus at some point it has such wonderful textures but then again I like looking at Octopus in the sea so don’t choose to eat them very often.
Very interesting as always with just one light and a large scrim.
The visual is always best before any shoot.
Well done again and thank you so much for each tutorial ..
Thank you Aby
Which monitor are you using?
I have an Eizo colour edge for my main retouching and I also have an Asus Pro Art in the studio
Wow, very impressive with the octopus! Great photo all around. With these food photos I am realizing that having some of the elements strategically cutting out of the edges is much more pleasing than centering everything and having bare edges all around.
Hi Karl, thanks for this course. I’m just wondering what the background is made from? As it looks like a big piece of slate.
Hi Thomas, it’s actually a grey plastic that Anna had made to look like grey slate. Also using chalkboard spray paint on a textured surface can create the look of grey slate.
Hi, Karl! I also had a question about the background, thank you. What kind of plastic is this? I’m in America, maybe it’s called something else here? I want to try and make one!
Hi Allison, it’s a tricky one as I’d also not seen this type of background before. It is basically trying to emulate stone/slate and it is something that Anna had made in Moscow, I’ve not seen it here in the UK. You could of course use real slate from a stone supplier but I can check to see if there is any more info from Anna.
Yes, it would actually be fairly easy to get actual slate or stone here in Dallas, but, my concern is that those can be so heavy and cumbersome. To be able to emulate one like this on a much lighter surface and have it look this nice would be great! I’ll look into it more.
One thing that would be great to know is, how she made the backdrop waterproof. If you happen to know that.
Thank you so much!
Hi Allison, it was already plastic so waterproof from that but I’ll see if I can find more details.
Ahhhh, ok. I think I misunderstood and thought that the base was a plastic and she painted over it. Ok, then. That makes more sense. Thank you.
Hi Allison, I’ve messaged Anna for more info and will come back to you when I hear from her.
Coming soon when please?
Hi Tim, I’m afraid it’s not until October as others in the pipeline first.
Hi Tim, this course is now live