Critique Four-Layer Carrot Cake

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Seven family members are about to enjoy the day-after-Thanksgiving celebration. I just had to make photos before serving the cake. The recipe is fabulous and can (probably) be found at CooksIllustrated.com.

Setup
The tabletop and background are a single sheet of translucent vellum. A medium continuous-light lamp was above on the left and a small one was above on the right. Both lamps were fitted with a diffusion sock. In the first photo, a white reflector on the right brightened the metal objects.

Mike 2019-11-29--002-S.jpg
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Mike 2019-11-29--010-S.jpg
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The first image is probably more challenging technically in terms of avoiding errant reflections and such but that second image is so cool ... makes my mouth water.
 
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Thanks, Binnur!

By the way, don't you put on weight? You keep eating a lot of sweets and cream.
I've never stayed so steady within my weight in decades; I've been in the same three-pound range for over a year.

Just about the only time I eat a dessert is when we have company over for supper. So, sometimes I'll bake cookies to try out a recipe, eat just a couple of them, and give the rest to neighbors. As another example, this cake serves 8 - 10 people, depending on the thickness of the slices. I baked it for dessert for a supper at a relative's home. There were four people including my wife and me. We each ate one slice and I left the rest of the cake with the relatives. This photo was made from the second and only other time I've made the cake. There were seven of us including the very young children. Each of us ate a slice of cake at supper and I sent the rest of it home with our guests.
 
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Ken St John
First ... that looks YUMMY!!

Second ... your photography is wonderful!! I am trying to learn more about food photography for a little side business of ours, and I've already gained quite a bit of knowledge just looking at your shots!!

The second one with the slice is particularly intriguing as I see it was shot at f2, yet the DOF is perfect (DOF is a problem I have been having). Any suggestions on how that worked so well? Do you remember where on the slice you placed your focus point?

Thanks for sharing!!

Ken
 
Thanks, Ken!

The second one with the slice is particularly intriguing as I see it was shot at f2, yet the DOF is perfect (DOF is a problem I have been having). Any suggestions on how that worked so well? Do you remember where on the slice you placed your focus point?
I always shoot tabletop photography in manual focus mode (there was no auto focus point). I also always use a tripod. The tripod gives me the luxury before releasing the shutter of using the Live View at its highest magnification to absolutely ensure that the most important part of the scene to be sharply in focus is actually that. Using the magnified Live View also allows me to determine the depth of field.

However, in a situation such as this one, I rarely know from viewing the scene using the camera's small LCD what depth of field is going to be most pleasing to me. In this case, I knew I wanted the cake at the rear to be out of focus but didn't know how much out of focus I wanted it to be. I also didn't know how much of the sliced piece of cake was to be in focus other than that I knew I wanted at least the most forward part to be tack sharp. To solve those problems, I made the first capture using the largest aperture I knew I could possibly want. I then made several more captures, using a progressively smaller aperture usually about one stop smaller each time until I knew I also had a shot using the smallest aperture I could possibly want. When I viewed the images on my computer monitor, it became immediately obvious as it always does which depth of field was most pleasing to me.

As Nick pointed out, I ended up keeping the photo made using f/13. If I remember correctly, my range of aperture settings was from about f/2.8 to f/19.
 
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Jan 3, 2007
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Ken St John
Thanks, Ken!



I always shoot tabletop photography in manual focus mode (there was no auto focus point). I also always use a tripod. The tripod gives me the luxury before releasing the shutter of using the Live View at its highest magnification to absolutely ensure that the most important part of the scene to be sharply in focus is actually that. Using the magnified Live View also allows me to determine the depth of field.

However, in a situation such as this one, I rarely know from viewing the scene using the camera's small LCD what depth of field is going to be most pleasing to me. In this case, I knew I wanted the cake at the rear to be out of focus but didn't know how much out of focus I wanted it to be. I also didn't know how much of the sliced piece of cake was to be in focus other than that I knew I wanted at least the most forward part to be tack sharp. To solve those problems, I made the first capture using the largest aperture I knew I could possibly want. I then made several more captures, using a progressively smaller aperture usually about one stop smaller each time until I knew I also had a shot using the smallest aperture I could possibly want. When I viewed the images on my computer monitor, it became immediately obvious as it always does which depth of field was most pleasing to me.

As Nick pointed out, I ended up keeping the photo made using f/13. If I remember correctly, my range of aperture settings was from about f/2.8 to f/19.
Thanks so much. I’ll definitely try your technique. And it looks like I missed the f13 notation the first time through. My bad. Looked at the wrong spot!! I’ll claim a “senior moment”!

Ken
 

LyndeeLoo

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This was really well executed and well shot. I also have a subscription to Cooks Illustrated, and watch their cooking shows religiously; they make everything look sooo good and your photos are a great example!
 
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