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Lighting a sushi shoot

lighting food sushi

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#1 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 09:09 PM

So, I just got a gig where I'm shooting a sushi chef making sushi, and there is mainly focus on showing the food.

 

There will be a lot of close-ups and macro shots. I believe we are going for a high-key type of lighting. There is some ambient lighting from downlights in the ceiling, but it's far from enough.

 

I have access to fresnels and dinos. Would something like what I have sketched down work, or should I go about it another way? Keep in mind the 85mm might be moved from side to side a bit.

 

Thanks!

 

sushi lys.jpg


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#2 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 09:46 PM

Hi Jan

 

Ive done alot of shooting in Sushi bars in Japan.. not sure if yours is in Norway or not.. but the lay out looks the same.. i.e. very cramped and narrow ! and the bar right in front of them.. 

 

Im my experience the chef moves around quite a bit grabbing the ingredients from small glass boxes in front of him.. to avoid alot of shadows all over the place Ive always gone with large as possible soft lights..  Kino or LED..  you dont want big lights that will give off alot of heat..  plus your chef.. some of them are quite moody types !.. wont like them anywhere near, drying out their fish ..!!

 

For the plate shots.. 3/4 back light with kino,s through diffusion looks good.. and keep a water or glisterine spray bottle around as this really helps pick up the light.. and as soon as the rice/ fish/topping gets dry the chef wont want you to shoot it.. and it looks crap..

 

The motion is very quick when they are making it.. and you cant really see anything either as its all in the palm of their hand.. a bit of slo mo can look good..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 16 February 2016 - 09:47 PM.

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#3 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 06:40 AM

Are you sure you mean Dino,s.. .I doubt you,d get one in the door of the average sushi bar... and would be quite a bit of over kill ... and cook your sushi :)..   5K lamps seems a bit more than you would need too TBH..

 

I would be inclined to go with Kino,s  .. Diva or Celeb,or  LED,s.. . Astra 1x1 panels..  etc..  battery power even better in kitchen,s /restaurants .. 


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 17 February 2016 - 06:46 AM.

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#4 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 07:36 AM

Are you sure you mean Dino,s.. .I doubt you,d get one in the door of the average sushi bar... and would be quite a bit of over kill ... and cook your sushi :)..   5K lamps seems a bit more than you would need too TBH..

 

I would be inclined to go with Kino,s  .. Diva or Celeb,or  LED,s.. . Astra 1x1 panels..  etc..  battery power even better in kitchen,s /restaurants .. 

Thanks for you comments!

 

I have already been over at the location set, and the room has quite some space for placing the lights. For now, I only have access to the 3k and 5k dinos, with dimming of course.

 

We are setting this up with actors, so the heat wont be a problem, and the chef is a nice guy as well. 

 

How would you typically shoot this, as the chef is moving around a lot?


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#5 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 08:00 AM

Well they arnt really moving around that much . they will make the sushi in one place standing .. but they will reach out or take a few steps to those glass box,s in front of them along the counter for different ingredients .. and the rice tub.. I presume your not in Japan as Ive never seen a large sized sushi restaurant there.. except the converyer belt type .. I mean if you have just a very spotted/directional source they will be moving out of it as they grab stuff.. its totally depending on the look... atmosphere you want..

 

The thing Ive found hardest is the way they make sushi in their hands.. they press the rice together and then press the fish on top.. its all very hard to actually see whats going on.. and they do it very fast.. you really need an over the shoulder shot to actually see any rice/fish or what they are actually doing..  although of course that speed and dexterity is part of the magic too..

 

But its very easy to make it look good for your plate shots.. they dry out quickly so some spray at hand is good .. just water is fine.. I find with food just one big soft light.. about 3/4 back lit is good.. long ish lens to throw the back ground out of focus.. not too high.. the stills guys often go for a much more over head shot.. but I prefer a bit of soft focus back ground for a video shot.. you cant go wrong really shooting sushi.. lots of good colors and textures..

 

Anyway you have actors and control which is a huge bonus..  the Dino,s are multi source lights and you,ll be close so you,ll get multiple shadows from them.. and the fresnels are of course hard and directional..I would get some diffusion frames and stands for sure.. the sushi restaurants in Japan nearly always have pretty even flat,floursent lighting.. never moody like a bar .. but thats totally up to you what mood you want to create ..


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 17 February 2016 - 08:07 AM.

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#6 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 08:39 AM

Well they arnt really moving around that much . they will make the sushi in one place standing .. but they will reach out or take a few steps to those glass box,s in front of them along the counter for different ingredients .. and the rice tub.. I presume your not in Japan as Ive never seen a large sized sushi restaurant there.. except the converyer belt type .. I mean if you have just a very spotted/directional source they will be moving out of it as they grab stuff.. its totally depending on the look... atmosphere you want..

 

The thing Ive found hardest is the way they make sushi in their hands.. they press the rice together and then press the fish on top.. its all very hard to actually see whats going on.. and they do it very fast.. you really need an over the shoulder shot to actually see any rice/fish or what they are actually doing..  although of course that speed and dexterity is part of the magic too..

 

But its very easy to make it look good for your plate shots.. they dry out quickly so some spray at hand is good .. just water is fine.. I find with food just one big soft light.. about 3/4 back lit is good.. long ish lens to throw the back ground out of focus.. not too high.. the stills guys often go for a much more over head shot.. but I prefer a bit of soft focus back ground for a video shot.. you cant go wrong really shooting sushi.. lots of good colors and textures..

 

Anyway you have actors and control which is a huge bonus..  the Dino,s are multi source lights and you,ll be close so you,ll get multiple shadows from them.. and the fresnels are of course hard and directional..I would get some diffusion frames and stands for sure.. the sushi restaurants in Japan nearly always have pretty even flat,floursent lighting.. never moody like a bar .. but thats totally up to you what mood you want to create ..

Ye, it's here in Norway. I wouldn't call it big, but maybe 40-50 square meters, so at least its not cramped. Here is a view of the area, with some test lighting set up.

 


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#7 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 09:11 AM

Hi Jan

 

Sorry the video doesn't play says private .. Im not really someone who is doing alot of big lighting set ups.. but I live in Tokyo and have shot in alot of sushi bars over the years.. with all sorts of people from Steffi Graf to Bjork.. and also done alot of cooking/food shoots..

 

Actually was in Norway,Sweden and Denmark last year for 6 weeks on a food shoot.. 

 

All I would say is that in reality in Japan anyway... Sushi restaurants are very flatly lit.. with over head florescent lighting.. (like alot of Japan).. and this soft lighting continued in your own set up.. will usually make life easier as far as shadows and generally how your faces will look..  but the lights you have available are not soft lights .. you can dim them but they will stay directional and get warmer in colour ..  so I would advise some diffusion frames to at least give you the alternative if you want to.. for the food itself I would advise soft light for sure.. 

There are other people who have much more experience with lighting eg David Mullen ASC than me.. but its really down to the look you and the director want.. and what lights you have available .. or budget to rent.. 


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#8 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 09:15 AM

Hi Jan

 

Sorry the video doesn't play says private .. Im not really someone who is doing alot of big lighting set ups.. but I live in Tokyo and have shot in alot of sushi bars over the years.. with all sorts of people from Steffi Graf to Bjork.. and also done alot of cooking/food shoots..

 

Actually was in Norway,Sweden and Denmark last year for 6 weeks on a food shoot.. 

 

All I would say is that in reality in Japan anyway... Sushi restaurants are very flatly lit.. with over head florescent lighting.. (like alot of Japan).. and this soft lighting continued in your own set up.. will usually make life easier as far as shadows and generally how your faces will look..  but the lights you have available are not soft lights .. you can dim them but they will stay directional and get warmer in colour ..  so I would advise some diffusion frames to at least give you the alternative if you want to.. for the food itself I would advise soft light for sure.. 

There are other people who have much more experience with lighting eg David Mullen ASC than me.. but its really down to the look you and the director want.. and what lights you have available .. or budget to rent.. 

Really appreciate the advice!

 


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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 09:35 AM

ah ok now I see..  this is a very different look to a Japanese sushi place..  ! I think you can do what ever you want sir.. but I,d still go with soft light for tight long lens food only shots..  shame about the white wall right up behind the bar..and watch for big shadows on that wall too.. get them to put some nice dark wood panelling in  :).. you,ll get quite a bit of bounce up into his face from that white cutting board too.. also will burn out or hard to see white fish,squid being cut into very thin slices on a white board.. if they have wood go with that.. looks much better..


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#10 Jan Tore Soerensen

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 10:31 AM

ah ok now I see..  this is a very different look to a Japanese sushi place..  ! I think you can do what ever you want sir.. but I,d still go with soft light for tight long lens food only shots..  shame about the white wall right up behind the bar..and watch for big shadows on that wall too.. get them to put some nice dark wood panelling in   :).. you,ll get quite a bit of bounce up into his face from that white cutting board too.. also will burn out or hard to see white fish,squid being cut into very thin slices on a white board.. if they have wood go with that.. looks much better..

Thank you so much for your thoughts. 


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#11 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 06:59 PM

good luck with the shoot


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#12 JIGNESH JHAVERI

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 06:06 AM

Jan how did your shoot go? Can you share your final with us here?


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#13 David Edward Keen

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 08:10 PM

Robyn- just curious...what situation found you filming Björk at a sushi bar? I love her music so it caught my eye.
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#14 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 11:12 PM

Robyn- just curious...what situation found you filming Björk at a sushi bar? I love her music so it caught my eye.

 

 

Quite a while back.. I was fiming her concerts at the Budokan in Tokyo.. part of the GV,B roll ..was her going to a Sushi place she likes..  filmed quite a few "stars' in sushi restaurants .. its a must do actively when in Tokyo..!   always make for a good scene .. except they are all small !   also filmed her with the photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.. on a doc about him.. (her friend had one of his books in her toilet )..and Bjork wanted to be photographed by him.. he had never heard of her of course..!


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#15 David Edward Keen

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Posted 25 May 2016 - 08:21 AM

ha! sounds great! i always think blue and silver when listening to her, dont know why. ( good thing)


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