Setting the Scene | Surfaces that Make Your Cheese Shine

Once you’re comfortable with your camera, lenses, composition and exposure, you’ll undoubtedly begin to think in terms of images you’d like to capture. One of the most enjoyable parts of is choosing props to set your scene. You’ll want to make a shelf (or two!) somewhere for the plates, slates and cutting boards you’ll quickly acquire.

Before we get to this fun topic, it’s good to consider the background of your shot. The background you place your cheese on makes a huge difference in the look and feel of your final image.

Carefully consider your brand and the image you would like to communicate and choose your background accordingly.

Want a light, bright and uncluttered feel? Choose a light or white background. If you prefer the more natural look of wood, fiber or stone, you have many options. Here is a little test I did to show the different feel of various wood, fiber and slate.

Background Comparison

The various woods are homemade backdrops using simple supplies from the hardware store. I keep a variety on hand to vary my shots. Slate (bottom left) is a nice option for dark and moody shots. On the bottom right is a well used pizza stone with lots of character. As you shop for props, look for things with patina or age – surfaces like this bring a lot of character to a shot

You can see, the various backgrounds really change the feel of the image. Consider your brand for clues to what background tones are right for you, or be eclectic and have a variety at hand. To increase your options without acquiring too many props, consider shooting on a white background.

You can get special rolls of paper or even white boxes for shooting. The paper reflects available light and makes the cheese pop. This also has the added advantage of being able to crop your subject easily using Photoshop and adding a different background of your choosing.

White-Seamless-Set-up4066 Here’s my white seamless paper set up in a west facing window. I have a frame that holds a wide roll of paper but you could do the same thing by taping white paper to a wall and allowing it to drape over the shooting surface.

The challenge with white seamless is to place cheeses and not move them because the paper will become wet or sticky and unattractive for shooting.

Notice the reflector, a simple sheet of white foamcore, which reflects light back onto the shooting area. I always use a tripod for this type of shoot and overexpose slightly to make the white pop. You’ll want to dial back the exposure a bit in your favorite editing software to bring out more contrast in the cheese.

More tutorials to come on backgrounds, including a DIY tutorial that gives many shooting surface options custom made for and by you!! What’s your favorite background look? Chime in below and please share with friends who may find this information useful.

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