Workshop photoessay: first of the Carl Zeiss food photography masterclasses

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Last Saturday saw the first of the Carl Zeiss food photography masterclasses for this year, held at Hanare under chef Kenny Yew. The participants were mostly professionals from other genres of photography – weddings, pets, video, portraits. In attendance was also Philip Ong from Shriro, the Asia-Pacific representatives for Carl Zeiss, Profoto and Gitzo. I normally avoid using conventional flashes for this kind of work because of the heat; however, as the distances were small, and base ISO on a DSLR a lot higher than a MF camera, we had plenty of light to work with and the strobes were run at close to minimum power most of the time. The large softbox wasn’t much of a surprise, but served as a nice substitute for window light; more interesting was the little ProBox, which is a beamsplitter-cum-diffuser device that fits over the end of the head to provide a very even cube of light. I suppose it’s designed for product photography, but I can see it being useful for food as an alternative to my usual LED panels; it felt very intuitive to set up and use.

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What did surprise me was that all of the participants were shooting Micro Four Thirds – and not just that, all Olympus cameras! I was the only one working off a Nikon D800E and tripod. Good thing we had a F-M43 adaptor – not surprisingly, the 2/50 Makro-Planar and 2/28 Distagon work very well on the smaller format (I guess I should know, because I use them myself on the OM-D for food photography too).

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A good lunch was enjoyed by all – the menu included a number of seasonal specialities freshly-delivered from Japan the previous day, including ayu (river sweetfish), anago (conger eel), pumpkin and of course various kinds of sushi fish – apparently autumn is the best season for the firmer white fish such as yellowtail, as they’re just starting to put on the pre-winter fat.

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Note that I’m not in any of the shots because I was either shooting, demonstrating or talking…images from this set with a Nikon D800E, Zeiss ZF.2 2/28 Distagon, 2/50 Makro-Planar and 2/100 Makro-Planar with lighting by Profoto.

The next workshop will be on the 6th of October at Bistro a Table, SS14, Petaling Jaya. Please send me an emailif you would like more details or to reserve a place. There are also more details in this post.

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