Fresh coffee!

Like so many I just love coffee. Without my cup of coffee in the morning I’m virtually unable to function. I’ll be numb all day and do stupid things. Whenever we’re out of coffee at home, I panic. Sheer panic. I’ll drive for miles and miles to find some coffee before I do anything else.

Just a while back I made a stock photo of a pile of coffee beans. After using the beans I kept them around and I rediscovered them recently and decided I wanted to redo the whole concept but with a more creative twist.

So I did.

My plan was to combine the beans with a fresh cup of coffee. Surely with some fresh, clean light across it all, but at the same time my desire was to remind the viewer of the fact that these beans are roasted by using a warm kind of light. A challenging task.

When you think about it, this subject is really part of food photography. In the food photography business a meriad of tricks is being used to have the foods and beverages look fresh, and desirable. A mayor challenge, as a salad leaf will look dry, weak and poor in only a few minutes time…. just to mention one example. And let’s be honest… if you look at a cup of coffee you’ll want to see some creamy foam on top, or at least a few bubbles – otherwise this coffee will look… well… just like that: a black pool of coffee. Not very appetizing.

My little trick to have a good layer of foam on top of the coffee is to fill the cup with a few drops of dishwashing detergent and a couple of teaspoons of hot water. Next, you’ll poor the coffee and thanks to the detergent you’ll have great foam that’ll last at least half an hour.

By using two pieces of cardboard in front of my primary light, which I placed high up, I created the streak of light that hits the cup from bottom left to top right. This added just the hint of fresh, clean light that I wanted, and it reinforces the bright white of the cup.

But I was missing the “warm light” that I wished to have, the “roasted beans” type of light.

Eventually, I managed to create the “roasted beans” light, which you can see directly to the right of the saucer, by using a small tealight (candle) just behind the cup, out of sight. By using a longer shutterspeed and by adjusting my white balance to match my flash at 5700K the candle light had time to leave it’s impression in the photo. By varying the shutterspeed I could precisely control the strength of the candle light, or my so desired “roasted beans” light.

I hope this small tutorial gave you a usefull insight into my personal photography kitchen. Please don’t hesitate to leave comments and suggestions, I appreciate any and all input!