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Special effects: Making pictures of ‘flying food’ is easier than you think

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By Trevor Mogg


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The Instagram generation knows very well that food shots are easy. You just point your camera at the plated grub, wipe the drool from your chin, and hit the shutter button.

But great food shots, well, that’s another matter entirely.

Photographer Skyler Burt is a big help in this department, with his occasional YouTube tutorials offering a plethora of pointers to make your meals shots look really tasty. The food-focused videos cover subjects such as composition and styling, as well as advice on the kind of kit best suited to the genre.

But it’s one of his more recent efforts that really caught our eye: How to make “flying food” shots.

“I’m sure you’ve all seen the image where the food seems to be magically frozen in time, whether it’s hovering or floating over a table, a plate, your hand, a pan … the point is, it’s really not that difficult to do,” Burt says at the start of his video.

His example image shows a sandwich and its various fillings seemingly suspended in midair, as if it’s just been hurled in anger by a matre d’ in response to a slur from an irate diner. Or something like that.

So how did Burt do it?

As he explains, the main thing you need, apart from some food and camera equipment (obviously), is something to rest the food on.

For the sandwich shot, he uses two light stands and some 24-gauge steel wire, though fishing line will do the trick, too.

Burt then ties eights lots of wire one beneath the other between the light stands. Once secure, he places the various sandwich fillings onto each of the wires, stands behind the food with a plate, and takes a shot with a camera mounted on a tripod.

Next, he removes the sandwich, wires, and stands and takes a second shot of the background, and then a third one of himself holding the plate in the same position as before.

Burt then takes us through the various Photoshop steps to remove the wires, achieved by combining elements of all three pictures. The trickiest editing takes place where the food touches the wire, but with a little patience and experimentation, you should end up with some pretty stunning results.

Want some more ideas to take your photography to the next level? Then cast your eyes over these useful tips from three professionals.


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