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This is one impressive cupcake! Come behind the scenes of this Black Forest Cupcake shoot. I knew I wanted a minimalist shot with a one-light photography setup that would highlight its texture. I think there is so much to look at visually within the cupcake.
To help with the rich feeling of the subject, I wanted the background to be a decadent brown. Almost morphing the subject into that feeling.
Sticking with the one-light photography setup, I decided to use a small 2’ octa softbox.
Gear I Used to Create This One Light Setup
I used three main pieces of equipment for this shot:
This isn’t my typical go-to modifier. Small octa softboxes are often used for dramatic lighting in portraits, however, I wanted this image to really be a dramatic portrait of a cupcake.
As lighting is more about modifiers and they shape light, this look could be achieved with any strobe in combination with the 2’ softbox.
RELATED NOTES: Read more about my simple composition trick here.
Positioned Closely on the Left-side of the Subject
As the subject and scene are small, I didn’t want to flood it with too much light. The 2’ Octa was a great choice for this.
Placing the softbox on the left side of the scene, it’s close to the subject (about 1m or 3ft) and level with the background of the scene. The light distributed from the strobe is therefore lighting directly from the side at the height of the scene. This position gives nice long and deep shadows extending towards the right of the frame.
These behind the scenes photos are taken with ambient light. Killing ambient light and using the flash is how I got the light to be moody.
Apparent Size & Power of the Light
While the 2’ octa softbox is somewhat small, at this angle, we can see the apparent size of the light.
Apparent size is the size of the light sources relative to the subject when you take into account the distance between the two. You can read more about this concept in my Art of Light ebook.
As the light is close to the subject, its apparent size is larger than if we’d positioned the softbox further from the subject.
This will help to light the subject in a soft but dramatic way while allowing for light to spill across the scene. Moving the light closer to the subject can mean that we also need to reduce the power of the light to now blow out the highlights.
Further reading: if you’re interested in reading more about Lighting tips –
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