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Capturing Frozen Blackberries

Capturing Frozen Blackberries

Ever since I noticed an image of "frosted" berries on Pinterest awhile ago, I was determined to capture this process.  Having no idea whether there was a special trick or technique, I figured I would just follow my gut instincts and see if I could reproduce the effect.

Blackberries have the most incredible colors and the texture speaks for itself.  Due to their dark tones, it is a bit more difficult to bring out this texture without making the image too light and they appear flat or too dark that they look like dark blobs.....

Now this process may seem pretty straightforward to most but I was especially concerned about the fact that I would be shooting them indoors with a "created light" set up.  I despise the term "artificial light" especially when taking images of food so I will be calling this "created" light as time goes on.  It's just a "me and words thing".....

Would the studio lights be too warm for the berries thus no frost?  Did my props need to be cold?  Maybe a warmed prop would help the frost appear and last longer?

Hmmm....turns out there are no concerns in any of these areas that I found.  No special treatment, other than freezing,  was needed or used.

You may recall my fondness for the Limo Studio softbox light set up I have in our lower level family room and I stand by that to this day.  I have read reviews  on these lights, both pro and con, and I fall into the "PRO" camp.  They were easy to set up, move around, and supplied the exact look I was going for.  They work perfectly for me.

The first thing I did was pick out a nice little package of blackberries at the grocery store, brought them home, and without washing, placed them in the freezer.  They sat in there for several days until I had time to plan out my scenes and the simple props for the shoot.

One word of advice right out of the gate is to have EVERYTHING ready (camera, props, lighting tests, tripod angles, etc.) and set to go.  Take your berries out of the freezer and the instant they experience room temperature,  the magic happens.....

The instant I looked through the lens and saw the awesome frosty coating I did a crazy happy dance "woo hoo" sort of thing and than, after getting myself back together, proceeded forward....it's the little things folks.....

I love muted tones and very simple props in my images.  I want my subject to be the star of the show!  The first choice was an old silver serving spoon.  Being minimal in handle decoration, perfect patina and size, I casually and randomly placed them in the spoon.  

I did notice that warm fingers will take away some of the frost for a few seconds, but soon the frost will return... 

Using a small amount of berries from the package, I returned the others to the freezer as I had zero idea how long this beautiful frosty coating would last.  Turns out, it really holds up well even with the lighting!

Regarding the berry styling, I wanted to capture that just-picked look and feel.  Fresh from the farm.  Some of the berries were less than what a professional food stylist would deem worthy, but to me they were ideal, smooshes and all....

The next experiment was to add a more formal touch.  I chose a small white bowl and kept the plain background.  Of course I let a few lay about just to prevent the image from looking to stuffy.  

As you can see below, this image was taken about 15 minutes after the berries had been out of the freezer and I was noticing the frost starting to soften.

Once again, I am using my all time favorite white background material....FREEZER PAPER.  I don't know if it is the almost plaster-look you can achieve with this or the white tone it provides?  Perhaps it is the waxed underside coating that gives the background such a different look than using plain white paper or tag board?  In any case, I am in love with this stuff!!

I decided that with the mottled white background, I let them defrost as they chose and kept working....

 

The next series of images still utilized my soft white background but I just couldn't pass up using my old wooden spoon.  This spoon has a very deep bowl and I love the cracks around the edges.  It was at this point that I added a few more berries from the freezer to bring back the frosted look....

 

A "close-up" shot below to show the colors in these berries as I was really loving the wine red tones that were coming out as they defrosted. 

Last up for prop picks was my all time favorite white weathered wood board.  I believe I found this in an old wood pile several years ago and never really used this until I started working with food ingredients.  It is only about 11" x 8" in size and a quarter of an inch thick at best.  I can't believe I let this sit on the prop shelves for so long as it is now one of my favorite additions with any food image...

 

All total, I spent about an hour and a half playing around with composition, lighting, and props to capture these blackberry images.  The berries were easy to work with and were patient while I switched out my scenes.  They did start to soften quite a bit as they thawed but the overall experience in working with frozen food was really fun and I love the results.

I have been adding a few of these images to Instagram to get feedback and would love to hear yours!  Have your tried shooting frozen fresh food and did you discover a unique trick to share?  Did you find that some berries worked better than others?  What about other frozen foods or items...I have seen images of roses frozen in ice and that was quite unique......

We would all love to hear your thoughts!  Share in the comments below please!

I also posed a question Instagram that I would like to ask here as well...

What are your views on stock photography?  Do you ever use stock photography?  Do you find it useful or perhaps would consider using stock photos if the images could be distributed just to you alone for personal and commercial use without having to pay a massive licensing fee?  Maybe you feel that the stock photography market is going by way of the dinosaur?  Do you wonder if custom branding photography is too expensive?  Maybe you don't like the options available in "styled stock" for your needs or brand?

Please let me know your feelings or why you have or have not used styled stock photography...I would simply love and appreciate every word you share.

Have a wonderful week and freeze your berries!!

Joan

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