And so we step into a New Year full of ambition and hope, each of us armed with a list as long as our arm of things we are going to do, stop doing and change. It really is an exciting prospect having a clean slate on which we can all start again and pardon the mistakes of the past year. I am not going to sit here and list of a self indulgent list of things I want to change about myself. Instead I am going to offer you one more thing to add to your list. If you’re struggling with your list then you can have this one on me, it’s free! It is simply drink coffee, or rather drink decent coffee! (Unless you hate coffee in which case, there are some pretty pictures below which I will tell you how I created).
But seriously nothing boils my blood faster than people saying “I love a good cup of coffee!” yet they make it with instant coffee! Often consumed by the gallon purely for the caffeine kick it offers. I won’t go into the effects of drinking too much caffeine as this is not a health blog but I feel you should drink less coffee and savour it! Make time to make to make good coffee. Drink more water and drink better coffee. Trust me, you will feel more alert.
I have an Aeropress at work and now, thanks to my sister, I have one at home too! An Aeropress is probably the easiest step to take to making better coffee. Essentially it is a big plunger that uses air to push hot water and ground coffee through a filter into your cup. Literally takes about 3 minutes to make. 3 minutes! So for those of you concerned that you might need some sort of degree or need to be a fully qualified barista to make good coffee at home, well you are wrong. Now about the coffee, I like Workshop Coffee but you can go into any coffee shop, speak to a Barista about what type of coffee you like and they should be able to recommend some for you. They will even grind it for you! It is really that simple! Then you can impress all your friends about how you know about coffee and how you can make coffee yourself – all the while remaining smug as it really is quite simple with an Aeropress.
Enough about the coffee, some of you might have been interested in how I went about taking this shot. No? Well it is a strobist shot. Which essentially means I used a flash gun to light the shot, or part of it. Above is a shot with no flash gun, it is just ambient light. I was taking shot like this to test composition and find the ambient light. Once I was happy with what would be in shot I put it in on a tripod. (I use a Manfrotto tripod, the 055XPROB one to be precise with a 498RC2 head).
I liked the warm glow coming from the lamp on the right so I used a custom white balance of 5000K to accentuate it. I then used a 1/2 stop CTB colour correction gel on the flash to bring the out the natural colours on the mug and the packet. If I didn’t do this, the flash would appear too warm and make the colours of the subjects look false.
It got quite cramped in my tiny little London kitchen but here is a setup shot. To diffuse the flash, so we don’t get harsh shadows, I put it inside my Westcott Apollo 28″ Softbox. This is probably my favourite light modifier I use as it allows me control the light and stop it spilling about all over the place. It also creates an amazing quality of light and produces really nice shadows and light falloff. If I was to use a shoot-through umbrella, some of the light would come out of the front and some of it would come out of the back bouncing around my compact kitchen causing it tint the colour in undesired areas.
Here is another look at the setup. The flash inside my softbox is a Canon 430EX II at 1/32 Power. It was triggered by my Hahnel Combi TF triggers. I used a Canon TC-80N3 remote to fire the camera so I didn’t disturb it whilst taking the shots. The Camera settings were: 1/15 Sec – f/2.0 – ISO 250 – on a Canon 5D MkIII with a 50mm f/1.4 lens.
Hope you found this of some interest.