How to photograph an egg – Part 1
Lesson 9 Module 3
This week will be a bit different. I think it's important to mix things up as we go through these weeks of confinement, so since it;s Easter holidays - YAY! - I thought we'd try a few new things:
- I know they are like gold dust these days, but there is no Easter without eggs and I decided to bring back a an article we created last year, to help you capture this prominent feature of Easter. So on this page and the next you will find 9 different ways to capture a humble egg.
- But that's not the end of eggy news - we're bringing back a 'Photograph an egg' competition - you'll see all the details in page 3 of this week's module!
- No eggs - no problem - we created an Easter themed Bingo card which should be great fun to do with kids - maybe let them suggest things to photograph or ways to capture them?
- All of the above should give you plenty to try and capture so we will not be adding daily themes this week ( they'll be back next week! )
Ready? Let's crack on!
( see what I did here?)
In this tutorial, we'll be showing you a few differenet ways to capture THE EGG, paying attention to a number of different composition principles and style conventions.
Today, we're giving you a few examples on how light can affect the way that your egg looks and how to achieve it without studio lights, constly props etc.
Let's start simply:
The minimalist egg
White egg ( mine was duck's ) on white plate, and white background. Pure simplicity. Nothing there to distract from the oval beauty of the egg.
What I did:
I placed the egg and the other props by a window with indirect natural light coming in. That means, the sun was not directly opposite the window, so the light was gentle, rather than harsh.
I used a white foamboard as a background placed on the table and put a simple white plate on it. Then I placed the egg on one of the edges of the plate and composed so that I could capture a fragment of the plate in such a way that the curve of the plate creates a partial frame, bringing the eye to the egg.
All elements - the backdrop, the plate and the egg were white - allbeing in slightly different shades of white - this allowed me to create a minimalist, shades of white image that uses shapes as its main composition principle.
I used solely natural light from the window - the gentle light created only gentle, wrap-around shadows which highlighted the eggy shape and made the egg look three dimensional rather than flat but were not too harsh at the same time.
I experimented with reducing the shadows by bringing another foamboard to the side of the picture, but found that the added extra light didn't work out in this composition - it took too much of the shadow away and made the composition look flat.
Important note on exposure. The images you are seeing are SOOC ( straight out of camera) = no editing beyond a gentle crop. To make sure I got the right look and the right exposure in this white on white on white image, I ended up overexposing by 2 exposure stops - otherwise the image was looking very ashen. I did that in manual, but if you're shooting in semi-auto modes, you can use the exposure compenation button.
The drama egg
Just as our last photo relied on small and gentle shadows, this one takes full advantage of more dramatic light to highlight the egg's texture ( I just loved how freckly it was ) and shape. The shadows are deep and sharp, the backdrop inpenetrably black. The light shines and reflects of the shiny egg, giving it a bit of a sheen.
What I did:
This is a tale of 3 black tshirts which I used to 'dress' my white foamboards. My egg was placed in virtually the same place as in the last picture, with the window by its side, slightly elevated compared to the plate I used previously.
I then used the curtains to narrow down the beam of light coming onto the egg - I wanted the light to be coming from one direction only and since it was overcast and all I had was indirect light ( which worked so well in the previous image) - I needed a way to shape it a little.
I dressed my whiteboards in the black Tshirts and placed one behind the egg and one on the side facing the light. By using a dark surface there, it meant that the light which would be hitting it from the window would be absorbed and not reflected back onto the egg, allowing me to shape the light more precisely. I used the third Tshirt to drape over a little box the egg was resting on.
How is the egg staying up? Bluetac and a match placed strategically behind it.
Composition wise, I used an approximation of the rule of thirds and allowed more space on the side the light was coming from.
From exposure point of view, the same way as our cameras make white look ashen, they make black look a little more charcoal like. But I wanted black-black and a good contrast with the shiny part of the egg. So I ended up underexposing by -1.7 stop to make it look just right. The image above is again unedited, straight out of camera.
The double egg
This, to a degree is a version of the Drama egg from above.
I used to intertwined forks to create a little seat for the egg and placed them on a shiny surface. I wanted an uninterrupted black background but to achieve it, I had to improvise. The only shiny black surface I could find in my house was the surface of the cooker. I used my black tshirts draped over my foamboards again, this time using 3 of them and creating a mini booth for the egg so that I could direct the light to come from one direction only to limit the glare on the cooker surface.
I was careful to compose in a way that highlights the symmetry of the composition.
Exposure wise, I had to underexpose again to make sure my black background showed up as true black.
I did perform one small edit after downloading the images from my camera. Due to the nature of my shiny surface ( - working cooker!) , I couldn't get away from the white markings ( to regulate hobs and temperature) and they showed up in the original image. I used adjustment brush in Lightroom to get rid of them. See the photo of my set up and the unedited image below - the white markings are showing in the bottom right part of the frame.
Ready for more? On the next page we show you how to capture an egg well, using different composition principles.