Behind the Scenes: Soba Noodles

|, Blog, Food, Food Styling, Photography|Behind the Scenes: Soba Noodles

I enjoy photographing food, mostly because I love food, cooking, and shopping for kitchen and dining accessories. The great thing about food is that I’ll never, ever run out of dishes to photograph, but sometimes I just lose my excitement about creating food photos. Maybe I get lazy, or I’m just overworked and can’t focus long enough on a solid idea to really wrap my brain around it. I’ll hit a wall, a “mini” wall, but I feel creatively drained and lost my motivation. It happens to all of us, but all it takes is a little motivation to boost that excitement and feel the need to create again.

I’ had found myself at this mini-wall for a while, and I needed some inspiration. Then, when I was out shopping at Crate and Barrel I found some accessories that were just gorgeous—very simple, yet also very elegant and perfect props for a photograph. Then I started to think about those soba noodles that were sitting in my cupboard, and the pieces started to fall into place. The next day I walked out to the market to pick up fresh veggies and seafood (another way I get inspired to photograph food), came home and cooked up a meal. It was perfect, and exactly what I was hoping for. I just needed a small dose of inspiration to get me back on track.

To create this photograph I first set the stage with the dishes and props. I always set up the camera, dishes and lights, and also get my exposure in-camera before cooking the food. Food spoils and wilts quickly, so my goal is to always get the area prepped so that when the food is ready it is ready to be photographed immediately.

Next, I start cooking the food. All of the food I prepared for this meal is edible, but I do cook it a little differently when I know it will be photographed. For example, I blanched the green veggies before adding them to the stir-fry so they would be much brighter in color, and I set the noodles aside in a small amount of oil to keep them shiny and prevent them from sticking together.

Once the food was all cooked and ready to go I added it to the bowl and did a tiny bit of styling to make it look presentable. To ensure that the noodles wouldn’t sink too low in the bowl and look flat, I added a small upside-down bowl that would help bulk up the pasta. Next I placed the noodles in the bowl, used my fingers to help curl them and move them around, and then I added some of the other ingredients and placed them throughout the dish so that they were spaced evenly. Lastly, I put a beautiful juicy prawn on top to finish it off.

To light the dish, I used back-light (I have very large Northeast facing windows in my loft) and filled them with white foam board. I also softened the window-light a bit with a diffuser, and used a piece of black foam board directly behind the setup to cut down on reflections. Just before pressing the shutter I also added some fill-light to the front of the food to add a little bit more light and color to the photograph.

By | 2016-12-18T17:01:04+00:00 July 23rd, 2012|56 Comments

About the Author:

My name is Nicole and I'm a photographer, author, & educator living in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. When I'm not making photos I'm writing books and tutorials for my online store, Learn more about me and my story here.

56 Comments

  1. Chris Helms July 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    +Nicole S. Young it's sooooo tasty-looking!

    What kind and color of reflector are you using for the front fill light?

  2. Chris Helms July 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    +Nicole S. Young it's sooooo tasty-looking!

    What kind and color of reflector are you using for the front fill light?

  3. Omar Colocci July 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    So nice! Thank you for sharing the setup! :)

  4. Omar Colocci July 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    So nice! Thank you for sharing the setup! :)

  5. Mandy Sloan July 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I love your BTS shots!

  6. Mandy Sloan July 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I love your BTS shots!

  7. Tim Scott July 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Nicely done . .

  8. Tim Scott July 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Nicely done . .

  9. Nicole S. Young July 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    +Chris Helms I have a small reversible white/gold reflector … sometimes I use gold, sometimes white (depends on the food). I think I used gold for this shot.

  10. Nicole S. Young July 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    +Chris Helms I have a small reversible white/gold reflector … sometimes I use gold, sometimes white (depends on the food). I think I used gold for this shot.

  11. David A. Dobbs July 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Every studio should have a north light window.  Food and most everything looks good back-lit with a little fill.  Most studios  just use a big soft box. Love those silver and gold reflectors.. Try some compact makeup mirrors. Use gobos to subtract light. place those shadows just right. A little glycerin ads shine and finger snap. And acrylic ice cubes never melt.

  12. David A. Dobbs July 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Every studio should have a north light window.  Food and most everything looks good back-lit with a little fill.  Most studios  just use a big soft box. Love those silver and gold reflectors.. Try some compact makeup mirrors. Use gobos to subtract light. place those shadows just right. A little glycerin ads shine and finger snap. And acrylic ice cubes never melt.

  13. Chef Dennis Littley July 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Great shot +Nicole S. Young! two questions if I may.  What lens are you using, and is the camera on a rotating head of some sort?  I see a half a ring on the left side of the camera.

  14. Chef Dennis Littley July 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Great shot +Nicole S. Young! two questions if I may.  What lens are you using, and is the camera on a rotating head of some sort?  I see a half a ring on the left side of the camera.

  15. Bryan Underwood July 21, 2012 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Well done! I was wondering why the black foam core, but I love the idea of using it to cut down on reflections on the bottom part of your image. Brilliant. Stay inspired, I know what you mean about hitting a wall or a mini wall. I really enjoy your food photography, it is so dimensional I could reach into my screen and touch it. Excellent work.

  16. Bryan Underwood July 21, 2012 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Well done! I was wondering why the black foam core, but I love the idea of using it to cut down on reflections on the bottom part of your image. Brilliant. Stay inspired, I know what you mean about hitting a wall or a mini wall. I really enjoy your food photography, it is so dimensional I could reach into my screen and touch it. Excellent work.

  17. holger feroudj July 22, 2012 at 12:15 am - Reply

    Hey +Nicole S. Young thank you very much for sharing that! Really love those kind of posts, and the results you got are mouth-watering. Think I'll go to one of the Soba shops around the corner for breakfast haha… ;)

  18. holger feroudj July 22, 2012 at 12:15 am - Reply

    Hey +Nicole S. Young thank you very much for sharing that! Really love those kind of posts, and the results you got are mouth-watering. Think I'll go to one of the Soba shops around the corner for breakfast haha… ;)

  19. Redza Ali July 22, 2012 at 1:12 am - Reply

    awesome-lah,

  20. Redza Ali July 22, 2012 at 1:12 am - Reply

    awesome-lah,

  21. Lisa Bach July 22, 2012 at 1:13 am - Reply

    What a awesome post +Nicole S. Young Wish I knew you 20 years ago when I was a chef. This is just perfect information and will help a great deal.  :)

  22. Lisa Bach July 22, 2012 at 1:13 am - Reply

    What a awesome post +Nicole S. Young Wish I knew you 20 years ago when I was a chef. This is just perfect information and will help a great deal.  :)

  23. Ravindra Zodape July 22, 2012 at 1:28 am - Reply

    do you know how to do it

  24. Ravindra Zodape July 22, 2012 at 1:28 am - Reply

    do you know how to do it

  25. Doug Ward July 22, 2012 at 2:52 am - Reply

    Your food photography is just fabulous, like yourself, I to love food photography and cooking, and I had to laugh when I read that you love shopping for kitchen accessories, because I work a part time job at Bed Bath & Beyond and if you've ever been there you know what I mean (lol) thanks again for all your awesome posts.

  26. Doug Ward July 22, 2012 at 2:52 am - Reply

    Your food photography is just fabulous, like yourself, I to love food photography and cooking, and I had to laugh when I read that you love shopping for kitchen accessories, because I work a part time job at Bed Bath & Beyond and if you've ever been there you know what I mean (lol) thanks again for all your awesome posts.

  27. Nicole S. Young July 22, 2012 at 2:57 am - Reply

    +Chef Dennis Littley The lens is a Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, and I'm using two "heads" on the tripod: one is a Benro 3-way head, and the other is a CustomBrackets Digital Pro-SV Kit (http://bit.ly/Qcc7ru).

  28. Nicole S. Young July 22, 2012 at 2:57 am - Reply

    +Chef Dennis Littley The lens is a Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, and I'm using two "heads" on the tripod: one is a Benro 3-way head, and the other is a CustomBrackets Digital Pro-SV Kit (http://bit.ly/Qcc7ru).

  29. Chef Dennis Littley July 22, 2012 at 3:09 am - Reply

    Thanks +Nicole S. Young I think I may have to invest in that CustomBracket, it looks like it would make life easier shooting vertical.  I just picked up the Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS, the 70-200 looks like its should be the next lens I get! 

  30. Chef Dennis Littley July 22, 2012 at 3:09 am - Reply

    Thanks +Nicole S. Young I think I may have to invest in that CustomBracket, it looks like it would make life easier shooting vertical.  I just picked up the Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS, the 70-200 looks like its should be the next lens I get!

  31. Nicole S. Young July 22, 2012 at 3:33 am - Reply

    +Chef Dennis Littley I recently bought the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro … that's pretty much my go-to food photography lens right now. It helps when you want to photograph small food items (like some of the berry photos I've been doing lately).

  32. Nicole S. Young July 22, 2012 at 3:33 am - Reply

    +Chef Dennis Littley I recently bought the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro … that's pretty much my go-to food photography lens right now. It helps when you want to photograph small food items (like some of the berry photos I've been doing lately).

  33. Isaias Sanchez July 22, 2012 at 4:27 am - Reply

    Hermosas tomas, Gracias por compartir el método..

  34. Isaias Sanchez July 22, 2012 at 4:27 am - Reply

    Hermosas tomas, Gracias por compartir el método..

  35. Clayton Carpinter July 22, 2012 at 7:10 am - Reply

    Hi, Thanks for the share!

  36. Clayton Carpinter July 22, 2012 at 7:10 am - Reply

    Hi, Thanks for the share!

  37. Stefan Van Theemsche July 22, 2012 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Excellent write up! Thanks for the share … 

  38. Stefan Van Theemsche July 22, 2012 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Excellent write up! Thanks for the share …

  39. Chef Dennis Littley July 22, 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply

    +Nicole S. Young that was the first L series lens I purchases and it is amazing, but it seemed like I was always moving back and forth to find the right shot in a room that really isn't dedicated for photography.  I love thtat lens but found the ease of the zoom, saved me time and effort.  I had heard many great things about that lens and that was why I made it my first purchase.  I think when I finally get a room with good light and can leave my set up permanently it will get a lot more use.   Thank you so much for your recommendation though, it means a lot to know a professional does like that lens.  It makes me feel better about the purchase!  The L series certainly isn't cheap!  

  40. Chef Dennis Littley July 22, 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply

    +Nicole S. Young that was the first L series lens I purchases and it is amazing, but it seemed like I was always moving back and forth to find the right shot in a room that really isn't dedicated for photography.  I love thtat lens but found the ease of the zoom, saved me time and effort.  I had heard many great things about that lens and that was why I made it my first purchase.  I think when I finally get a room with good light and can leave my set up permanently it will get a lot more use.   Thank you so much for your recommendation though, it means a lot to know a professional does like that lens.  It makes me feel better about the purchase!  The L series certainly isn't cheap!

  41. Don Strate July 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your setup Nicole. That just looks mouthwatering.

  42. Don Strate July 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your setup Nicole. That just looks mouthwatering.

  43. Nicole S. Young July 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    +Chef Dennis Littley Yes, they're not cheap … but your lenses will last you through several camera bodies (and are so much more important). :) I love my 70-200mm, still use it for food and it's always in my camera bag.

  44. Nicole S. Young July 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    +Chef Dennis Littley Yes, they're not cheap … but your lenses will last you through several camera bodies (and are so much more important). :) I love my 70-200mm, still use it for food and it's always in my camera bag.

  45. Felicia Boyd July 23, 2012 at 1:50 am - Reply

    I want to be a photographer one-day and I was looking at your pictures and I enjoy them and I want to ask a question on what does it take to be a photographer ?

  46. Felicia Boyd July 23, 2012 at 1:50 am - Reply

    I want to be a photographer one-day and I was looking at your pictures and I enjoy them and I want to ask a question on what does it take to be a photographer ?

  47. Paul Mozell July 23, 2012 at 2:29 am - Reply

    That's a lovely shot – I'm hungry now – and I like the accompanying graphic of your lighting setup

  48. Paul Mozell July 23, 2012 at 2:29 am - Reply

    That's a lovely shot – I'm hungry now – and I like the accompanying graphic of your lighting setup

  49. Patricia Davidson July 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Great post! Love hearing about set up!

  50. Joshua Minso July 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    This is great. I tend to try and use strobes for food but I think the big thing for me is that I don't have enough light reflected back. I think I am due to shoot some food soon. 

  51. Joshua Minso July 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    This is great. I tend to try and use strobes for food but I think the big thing for me is that I don't have enough light reflected back. I think I am due to shoot some food soon.

  52. Jason Patz July 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  53. Jason Patz July 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  54. Fernando Domingo October 14, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    whoaa!

  55. Fernando Domingo October 14, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    whoaa!

  56. jon November 3, 2012 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Just found your site, it’s awesome! Thanks so much for the behind the scenes and tutorials…they really really help. I’m looking forward to seeing more!

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