What do you do when you find yourself home alone on a Monday evening? Not much really. But add some mini cupcakes left over from the day before and a squirming, impatient, yet adorable little girl with a tendency to be everywhere at once, moving over the floor like an eel – add all that – and you have a hard to manage photo shoot on your hands. If your first instinct in this scenario is to give the cupcakes to the little girl and watch them get smashed and smeared all over her face, think again. The wife won’t be happy when she gets home. Hit the jump to read the real story.

So, we had some guests over the day before and for some reason they didn’t finish all the mini cupcakes my wife made (weird people). Since I didn’t get a chance to shoot them the day before, I figured the evening alone with my daughter would be the perfect opportunity. Without further ado I put my girl in her prison play pen and broke out my gear. Macro lens? Check. Flashes? Check. Toothpick? Check. Flash stand? Check. Grid spot? Check. Tin foil reflector? Check. Pink gel? Oh yeah. Armed to the teeth I set to work. For this shot I wanted to experiment, no safe, nice, even light here. I wanted funky, moody light. Does that really work for a mini cupcake (and they really were mini, two bites at the most)? Of course it works!

I started by setting up an lp160 low over a table, pointing almost straight down. I gaffer taped (you got to love that tape) a sheet of Rosco’s tough white diffusion gel over it to soften the light – no reason to scare to poor cupcake with hard light. Next up was the second lp160 with a grid spot made from black straws and a piece from a Kellogg’s corn flakes box. Cheap? Certainly. Ugly? Definitely. Effective? Works like a charm. I placed it just below the table, aimed up at the wall and as an extra touch put some pink gel on it. The final piece of lightning equipment was a piece of cardboard covered in tin foil, placed on the table and leaning on a cup to provide some fill light for our star: the cupcake. As you might have noticed my studio is pretty ghetto…actually it’s very ghetto, but it works and it’s very cheap, which is a big plus.

Mini cupcakeAnd so enters out hero, only to be immediately skewered on a toothpick. Well, not immediately, I did hold it up for some quick test shots to test the light first. Then I stabbed it. The reason for this brutal act was that I wanted to do things differently than usual. I wanted that cupcake to appear to float i moody light instead of just sitting on a table, looking all normal and boring. At this time the little one, still safely inside her cage play pen, was starting to point out that she wasn’t getting the amount of attention she’s usually entitled to. Speeding up, I started to shoot the delicious little pastry from some different angles and distance. In hindsight I really should have found a way to put the whole contraption of cupcake and toothpick on the table so I could have been free to move around. That would have kept the light consistent. As it was now I had trouble keeping the background light centered since every little movement I made changed the position of the subject and the angle of the light. Those are limitations you have to learn to live with when you’re not the boss of the house.

All in all a fun little experiment that I actually managed to pull off and more or less finish before the little one got too upset about it. The results may not be the best but at least I got the idea out of my head – which is always a good policy to have (ideas can get so annoying if left unattended).

And then I ate the cupcake.


Mini cupcake Mini cupcake