I cook a lot. I wouldn't cook for myself really, but I do have a hungry family and they want dinner on the table every night. Pre-cooked foods are a no-go, and we don't have the money to eat out or order in every night, so I cook dinners. 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. I have a database on my computer that syncs with my phone so I plan my weekly menus and shop accordingly. Being a photographer and all, it would make sense that I would take pictures of the food I prepare, no? But I don't cook for photographs, I cook for family meals. So taking the cooked food upstairs into my studio isn't an option, unless I want to eat cold food, alone. It needs to be cooked, prepared, plated, a picture will have to be taken IN THE KITCHEN, and then we can all eat together. How?
A mini studio had to be made. I found an old poster board at work for a background. It is 24 inches wide and 18 inches tall. Perfect. To prop it up, I found two foldable shelf brackets at the Home Depot ($ 10 each), which installed onto the board can be folded up for easier storage.
I printed up some paper backgrounds with bricks, wood, etc which can be attached to the board with crocodile clamps (do you call them like that?). The background don't need to be perfect since it's mostly out of focus (it serves as bokeh), and since my printer can't do anything larger than 11x17", I just printed them out tiled and then glued them together. I double anyone can find the glue lines in the finished picture.
For the table, I use the two 24x24" vinyl prints with wood grain (white and dark brown) that I bought a little while ago. Since food can be messy, they're great because vinyl wipes clean so easily.
The light source is a Lowel Ego Light with two very bright CFL lamps. It replaces the window light that is hard to come by, especially in fall and winter when we eat after dark. A simple white board (came with the light) serves as fill.
Done. I tried some photos out yesterday and today, and it works great. It's exactly what I wanted: cheap, easy to store and versatile. It can sit right on my kitchen island and spring into action when the food gets plated.
For the shots I mostly use my 60 mm macro lens with the Fuji X-T1. It just has the best bokeh of all the Fuji lenses out there (yes, even better than the 56 mm) and it's nice and tight. I cannot go any further down than f2.4 anyway, the light is too bright for that. I don't use a tripod. I know I should but why bother when it works.
No, I'm not planning to make this into anything different from what it is right now - a hobby, and I don't want to invest more money or time. I just figured, hey, I cook every day anyway, why not create photo opportunities for myself? Especially in winter, during the blah weather months, this will be fun.