Monday, October 27, 2014

Feast for the Eyes : Food Photography Workshop at PCCI

I have been fascinated with food ever since I was a kid. I normally take photos of food before I eat it. Sometimes, it makes my mom angry because food is meant to be eaten, not photographed. But I'm thankful I did because now, it became my profession as an advertising photographer. I am very lucky to be sponsored by our company to attend this really nice food photography workshop handled by veteran advertising photographer Mark Floro. He is considered the best in the food photography business. Workshop was  held at Philippine Center for Creative Imaging in Makati. 

It's a 2 Day workshop and  almost 70% of the class is all hands-on. It's nice because learn faster when I apply what I'm learning.  I learned how to use different kinds of lighting : (1) Softbox - my 2nd favorite kind of light. I use this more often in the studio and on location.  (2) Diffusion - kind of lighting  where you use something to diffuse the source of light such as diffusers, umbrellas, or even acrylic glass. (3) Hardlight - It's difficult to master. But once you get the hang of it, you can get  nice highlights and shadows in your photos. Lastly (4) Window light or Natural light. My favorite! Why? Its natural, and it doesn't require electricity. Its everywhere and easy to diffuse and reflected. Harness it properly and you will be rewarded with soft, smooth and well lit images. 

I shot this with a very unique setup. First time to do this. It's a makeshift spotlight (the ones you put on ceilings) diffused with a huge acrylic glass.  I asked myself, what the hell is that?!  From afar without the light on, i wondered why is the light being blocked? I never knew that material was translucent. I thought it was a piece of board or something. When the spotlight is on, the result is a really soft, controlled light depending on the distance of the bulb to your acrylic board. If you move the spotlight further, light becomes weaker and softer... when you move it closer, hard light is created. Out comes  deeper and stronger shadows. It's a good set-up but very bulky.

One of the best things I learned from the workshop is the basics in food styling.  Professional food stylist Tonette Asprer showed us how to properly style a porkchop. You got to have good art skills doing this because you literally have to paint your food. In pictures, it has to look super delicious but in reality, the food is uncook and basically not safe to eat. Sir Mark said that there are three things on how to make food look good in photographs : (1) Hire a food stylist (2) Hire a FOOD STYLIST and (3) MARRY a food stylist! Mark Floro's wife is one of the best  food stylist in the country and they work as a team. :) 

Food stylists are like make-up artists, they make the model look fabulous! In this case our model is a Porkchop.  I used a softbox for this shot. Mark floro taught us to use continuous lighting because it's easier to control the highlights and the shadows. You can also work in live view. When the camera is connected to the computer, (tethered), you get the photo that you want with a press of a button. Framing,conceptualizing and composing your shot is way too easy.  

Ms. Tonette  showed us how to food style ice cream. This is the real money maker she said. Ice cream is very hard to shoot for the simple reason ice cream melts really fast! Unless you shoot it inside a freezer.  With FAKE ice cream, you'l never go bad no matter what. Ms. tonette showed us her secret ice cream dough that looks like clay dough. When you scoop it out with an ice cream scooper, it looks so real!

Before, they used mashed potatoes to make fake ice cream.  Now, it's  different. It looks like a mixture of different baking ingredients which is actually a trade secret.  When you add food color to mashed potatoes, it's hard to achieve the right color tone that you want. With this magical dough, its base color is white, its easier to add the right color into it. 

It's my turn to use the  hard light set-up. Same spotlight like before but this time its nothing goes between the lightsource and the food. It's challenging but once you know how to control it, you will get really nice highlights and shadows. Photo on top is the chicken using hard light. Lightsource is coming from the leftside and then reflected on the right with a makeshift cardboard reflector ( reflective gift-wrapping foil + foamboard ). I also used some feathers mounted on an empty spray can using  blu-tac. Take note : the feather that I used came from a Philippine Eagle!!!! Yeah it's crazy. Feather is quite big! :) What are the feathers for? Used it as a flag(to block light)  to deliberately generate soft, creative shadows onto your food. :)  

On to my next favorite light is the window light. I use this more often. There's something about natural light that enlightens me. It's really nice when diffused and reflected. Besides you dont have to carry lighting gear. All you need is a piece of cardboard as reflector. On this photo, i used a diffuser at the back of my fake ice cream and then placed my makeshift cardboard reflector at the front. 

Tried the same set-up with this salad. The lettuce from the salad is translucent and it made the green color stand out! I love this photo! I originally shot it with all the white space on top in provision for a header text. 

This is usually my usual angle. Back lit , (or side lit) then reflected by a cardboard on the opposite side. I just love this technique because it's so simple yet it creates beautiful highlights and shadows that shows the texture of the food. 

2nd day of workshop, Sir Mark told us to use our favorite lighting set-up and try to shoot all the food prepared for us. I chose the setup that i use more often -  the Softbox.  I played with the spaghetti. Asked for Ate H (Ms. Tonette's assistant) for some uncooked pasta and some raw ingredients like tomatoes, red bell peppers.. onions... for my back drop. The stem on that tomato is too damn perfect because thats a gumamela  flower stem! Originally its all withered, blackened and ugly. Took out a the gumamela stem then glued it on the tomato using  mighty bond! Voila! Picture perfect tomato stem! One of the magic tricks i learned that day. Pretty neat huh? 

Next up is the ensaymada. I really love ensaymada and i love it with coffee.  Grabbed a cup and placed it beside  the ensaymada using a gold fabric. Then i sprinkled coffeebeans all over to add that "effect" that i don't know what is it but it looks good. The best thing about this photo is that, Sir Marked liked it :) I had another shot but with a teaspoon on the side. He told me, sometimes you just have to remove the unnecessary elements into your frame to make it more appealing. It's important to point the attention of the viewer on to the food, not on anything else. The food is always the hero. Not the spoon, fork or your china..

One of my classmates from Dubai, (who happens to be a policeman, like CSI kind of policeman!) saw my Lumix LX5. I normally use it as my back up camera and shooting behind the scenes. He asked me what is this camera and i showed him what it does. I boasted out its  amazing macro features and took this image for him. He was surprised! The Lumix LX5 is really good camera for a very reasonable price (i think now its selling less than 10,000 php)! What makes this good is the Leica glass that creates sharp and vivid photos. 

This is the last part of the workshop... learning how to shoot splashes, flowing water, steam, and flames! The workshop staff already prepared the necessary lighting for this exercise. First up is the splash technique which is kinda messy. My partner, dropped a piece of onion onto a bowl of water and I photographed it. Timing is everything! 

This is what it looks like when cropped.  I think i gave my partner a free bath ! Let me share the camera setting for this one : 

1/125 | f/13 | ISO200 | AWB

For steam or smoke, light should come from the rear left side and then flagged (blocked) by a piece of cardboard to prevent glare from the lens.  Camera setting : 

1/125 | f/8 | ISO200 | AWB

Now this one is the coolest part of the workshop. Learning how to shoot flames! I love flames! specially on grilled burgers, hotdogs, BBQS! Again light should be at the back and shot really dark. Make sure your environment is safe and controlled to shoot flames. You dont wanna start a fire or something. Anyway, here's the camera setting for these photos : 

1/15 | f/5.6 | ISO 1200 | Sunny or Tungsten set WB to 10000K, 5000K or 2500K

Here are a few key notes from the Workshop : 
  • Be very gentle with chefs. Appreciate their food very well. 
  • In food styling, food must LOOK good . Not taste good. 
  • "Tulo Laway Factor"
  • Do not "oversell" your food photo.
  • When you shoot rice perfectly, everything goes well. 
  • STRONG VISUAL impact
  • Charge more if you do action shots
  • Use props!
  • In food styling : First - Do feasibility meeting - concept, ideas, sketches, drawings Second : Pre production Meeting - the details. what plate to use, what kind of color the placemats are.. etc Third is the Photoshoot itself.  

Basic Food Styling Tools :
  • Tweezers
  • Spray Bottles
  • Small Brushes
  • Glycerine
  • Cleaning Supplies (Cotton swabs, paper towels)
  • Pins (T-Pins specifically)
  • Scissors
  • Knives (Bread, Paring, Slicer)
  • Bamboo Skewers , Toothpicks
  • Mighty Bond
  • Pen Torch
  • Cosmetic Sponge
  • Squeeze Bottle for sauces

I learned a lot! Many thanks to Ensogo for sponsoring me to go to this workshop. I really wanted to attend this but its kinda pricey and just settled for you tube tutorials in food photography and food styling.   It's an honor to be here. I really wanted to pursue a career in advertising photography someday and I believe this is one of the ways. I wanna thank Sir Mark Floro for showing us his brilliance in his craft. Salamat sir! Thank you for all the inputs! I also want to thank Ms. Tonette and her staff for showing us the basics in food styling. I actually want to learn more! Food styling is art! It teaches you discipline and patience. Also to my classmates from the workshop. You guys are awesome!I had fun. If you want to attend workshops at PCCI, you might want to check out their website at .

Mixin' Bowl SM North

Do you love macarons? What are macarons by the way? According to Wikipedia : A macaron is a French sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food colouring. I tasted one of these when i went on a photoshoot before... one thing i instantly noticed is that, its not cheap. But indeed very delicious! 

For 40 pesos (or more)  a piece, this dessert should be really delicious and yes it is delicious indeed. I had one at Mixin Bowl over at Skydome at the rooftops of the newly renovated SM North EDSA. I arrived there early to plan out my shoot and good thing i did because i came out with pictures something like these. 

I used a couple of color gels to create a certain mood that goes along with the color of the food. I used yellow, red even blue gels to make the background somehow dramatic. I love the result. :)

 Besides the macarons, they also sell pastas, cakes  and other dishes. I really love their carbonara. It's so delicious. For sure if i drop by here next time, I'd order this once again no doubt. 

 I also love their blueberry cheesecake. I love the texture, the creaminess and the sweetness of the cake. It's really good. I just had this one after eating my delicious carbonara. Im sre you will love this one as well....

I also tried their delicious chocolate cake. This is a triple layered chocolate cake that is screaming with goodness! Its delicious! Best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or tea. 

Visit their restaurant at SM North EDSA just beside Skydome. They also serve different kinds of breads and I even saw some waffledogs out there! Give them a try im sure you'll love it.  

Barrio Fiesta

There's always one place I ever think off when it comes to a buffet of Filipino food...  Barrio Fiesta. When I was young, we used to eat out here specially when there are family gatherings, Barrio Fiesta is always the first thing we ever think off. I was delighted when I was assigned for a shoot at Barrio Fiesta over at Araneta Center in Cubao, because i had to re-live moments with family. I was also delighted because i have to taste their delicious kare-kare once again! This is one of my favorite dishes at Barrio Fiesta. I bet a lot of  you as well. 

Another favorite of mine is their Lechon Manok! The skin is so crispy and the meat is so juicy. I love this so much that's its a standard procedure to order Fried Chicken everytime we go here.  .

This is my first time to try their delicious Seafood Paella! It's so good. That fresh crab on the top is the winner. I am a sucker for seafood and to have this kind of dish in front of me is one hell of a treat! 

I really had fun shooting here. The staff is really nice. They accommodated me pretty well. Place is clean and the food is just delicious. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brothers Burger

Im fortunate enough to have a photoshoot at one of the most delicious burger chains in Metro Manila - Brothers Burgers. I just can get enough of the taste of their delicious burgers. My favorite is their Big Brothers burger. That half pounder monster us simply to die for. 

 Meat is juicy... tasty.. that flame-grilled goodness gets into your nerves! I had a chance to shoot inside their kitchen... it's hot in there but its all good. I wanted to have the flames go out but it's hard to achieve that perfect flame. After numerous clicks, i just decided to go with this one....

 I was tasked to shoot this delicious burger for and  I'm just glad I pulled this through. And I was so happy since a lot of people bought the deal..  :) I love my job.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reminscing Calaguas

April 2014. My last beach trip of summer...  Calaguas Beach as of the moment is my favorite beach in all the beaches ive'd been to in the Philippines. Coron, Palawan comes second and Panglao Beach in Bohol will probably falls 3rd. Why Calaguas ?  Because of the serenity of the place. No words can describe it. It's beauty beyond imaginable.That peaceful  and calmness...which im afraid will soon die because tourists are starting to pour in and opportunists are slowly creeping to take advantage of it. Innovation, modernization is a good thing but there are things that should be kept untouched and left as it is...  I'm lucky to enjoy it now before this beach turns into a mess like Boracay and the other beaches that is used to be marvelous yet ravaged by people who only see profit from it.

  I hope none of these will happen to our beautiful Calaguas. I hope not. I will definitely miss those pristine blue waters and powdery white sands replaced by used diapers, beer bottles and endless piles of plastic bags. We people should open our eyes with all these bad things that are happening to our environment. Its just sad that all of these beauty will just put on to waste...    

It's sad because some people just dont give a damn about anything...I really love to smack the hell out of someone's face if i see them throwing empty beer cans at the beach.... The place is beautiful and you'l just throw shit and make a mess? Come on.. Shame on you.. You all better than that. Be considerate naman and act like an educated person... 

Respect the beach..Respect the environment..and it will come back to you as well. It's just sad to see something like this put on to waste. Calaguas for me is an escape from reality. I wanted it to be like a dream vacation.. not a hedonistic nightmare... I wanted to arrive and depart with awe.. with a blissful sigh and tell myself that I'll soon comeback... Its sad coz the nightmare is already happening. Before, the only sound you will hear within Calaguas are the clashing of the waves.. those burning wood at the bonfire and the crickets endlessly grinding... but now, there are videoke machines powered by generators... loud drunkards and never ending party music till the break of dawn... The peaceful  Calaguas is turning into something  else.... 

It's a long way to the island. So long, one of my butt cheeks cramped.  But its all worth it. It's better than the usual. It's better than the hideous Manila traffic. The scent of the sea is much better than foul scent of piss that I always endure every time i pass the Ayala MRT overpass... It's a relief. When i'm traveling specially in Calaguas, it's like I'm in agony but I'm enjoying  it. Ironic it may seem but this time in a good way... 

I love the spray of saltwater as the waves smashes the side of the boat...that smell of the sea, the cool wind that envelopes your face... it's mesmerizing.. Sounds corny but.. yeah. i think it is. But once you're there.. you'd probably feel the same. I love this photo by the way...  i almost slipped and fell taking this shot.. :) 

at last.. we're here.  i want to jump in the water right at this moment....

crystal blue waters... 

calm and serene...

i just love that sound....i should have recorded it and play it whenever im stressed.
 It's really soothing... stress killer. 

it's time to unload the goodies... touchdown Calaguas! 

booze...booze and more booze

just lie down and relax......enjoy the feel of it. 

a good book is always a great idea.... 

but getting wet is my thing... kudos to my go pro.. it captured most of the 
fun :)

including this one...

and this! If you're a traveler... a go pro camera is a must. It's one amazing gadget. 
Bring this and a small compact digital camera and you're all set! 

tired? need a break? the beach is yours! :) 

time for lunch! our friends from Biyahe Lokal prepared a really nice feast for us! 
All that swimming made us hungry so i guess 3 cups of rice ain't enough! :) 

one of my favorite things to do at the beach is to eat ( i mean eat a lot) with my bare 

most specially when its fish! It's just perfect!  

since we're all full.. it's time to relax a little. We all sat down by the sand and just chilled for 
a while. Booze flowing... Bob Marley is playing in the background... Time is an 
absence right at this moment...

they said that the view from the top of the hill is magnificent. So we went... even if 
the sun is killing us... i think it's worth it..

it's a long walk but it's all good. 

and it's all so much better once you reach the top! Awesome view :) after all the photo ops, 
we went down before it gets dark...

but first...lemme take a selfie.

sun is almost down... and Golden hour is happening... this is my first time to 
use a go pro for sunset shots.. im just amazed how beautiful this tiny little 
camera captures images....

sunset... shooting sunsets is so much better if you put a human element on it. 
and i really love shooting silhouettes on sunsets! Heres one of my favorite 
photos from the trip. My good friend Camille showed us a really nice form and 
im just happy i captured it.... love this shot. 

more candid moments... ;)


sun is out and its time for the stars of the night to go out as well...

new found friends.. great conversations...and booze to wash the stains
 in our souls... kampai!

to add more awesomeness to the night.. it's full moon..... We we're up drinking 
until 3am... We just have to apologize to our kidneys the morning after...

I would like to abuse this opportunity to give a gazillion thanks to Biyahe Lokal 
for the great vacation.... This group is really fun.. Traveling is so much fun when you're 
with happy, crazy, jolly and beer crazy people. I really had a great time... Im looking forward
to join the next Biyahe Lokal trip... You should too! 

for more info about Biyahe Lokal's trip schedules.. visit their facebook page. 
Thank you Biyahe Lokal! Thank you Deraks! Till next time!

Thank you!

#goproHero3 #LumixLX5  (for images)