How to Create Floating Food Photos

 
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How to Create Floating Food

with KodakIt Photographer Olena Matkowska

 
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Hi! My name is Olena Matkowska.

I am a photographer from Ukraine, currently based in Krakow, Poland.

I am very passionate about still life photography, I like to tell stories and add actions to my photos. I think that splashes, floating food or props like my wooden doll make my work special and magical. If my photographs make people say “wow”, then I am more than happy.

So, let’s get to it! Here is my tutorial on how to achieve the ‘floating food’ effect to spice up your photography.


How to Create ‘Floating Food’

 
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So, let’s start with an overview of the whole process.

One of the secrets of floating food is that you have to take at least two pictures and then merge them. Remember to use a tripod. You begin with shooting all the elements that are supposed to be floating, then shoot the background without the floating elements. Please note that the background should be out of focus. Try shooting flying elements using manual focus and then remove those elements and take one more photo of the background.  

Once you’ve done this, you can then merge all photos and erase needless parts using layer mask in Photoshop. That is the general idea.

Now, let's talk about the steps you need to take to create your floating food photo.



Technique One

Using steel wire to fix the floating elements

This option allows you to control the composition. You can change the position of the elements until you are satisfied and for this approach you shouldn’t need an assistant.

The benefit of this technique is that the shadows cast by the floating food will look more natural. This is a good technique for sandwiches, salads etc.

In the photos below you can see how I used light stands and thread to fix layers of the sandwich.

Technique Two

Using a fork or a stick to position the food

 
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If you have an assistant, ask him to hold the stick or fork with the food attached and change the position for each photo. Meanwhile, you will have to control focus and composition. Remember to take one more photo without additional elements. It will be easier to remove the stick or fork in Photoshop afterwards using layer mask. Generally this way is the most useful if you have just a few floating elements (a piece of cake or cookies, for example).

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Technique Three

Flipping the objects and freezing them in action.

This third option is a great choice if:

  1. The daylight allows you to use short shutter speed, at least 1/800. Set your camera to burst mode (continuous shooting). Keep the ISO as low as possible and you will have a good image quality.

  2. You have strobe lighting (flashes).  

This option is perfect for when you have food or drink that splashes. To create a splash you will have to drop something into the liquid.

Top Tip: try out different objects to create interesting splashes.

You can take pictures using solid background but in my opinion those pictures are less interesting. Use additional props and people's hands while creating floating food photos to make your pictures look more natural and cool.

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The Tools You’ll Need

Here are some useful things you can use to create floating food photography:

  • the clamp & flex arm to help place objects and equipment during a shoot.

  • a glue gun

  • clamps

  • steel wire or threads

  • transparent duct tape

  • different sized sticks.

It's important to think over the composition very carefully before shooting. Usually I do sketches beforehand to save time in post-production.

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I really enjoy the process of creating floating food photos. It's a lot of fun! You should definitely try it and remember - everything can fly.


For more still life photography and gravity-defying food, follow Olena on Instagram or check out her website.

KODAKIT