UPDATE : Iteration two of the rice shoot.

The client was not happy with the photographs I sent them. So another round – this time closer to the initially picked out stock image without any snazzy effects in Photoshop.

This is how I got started today. I thought I’d try a white porcelain bowl for the rice instead of the wooden plate or bowl. Substituted paper while the rice cooked. Didn’t like the white on white so ditched the white bowl in the second shot.

Added peas, carrots, some cloves of garlic, turmeric powder – and this time around I added vermilion powder or ‘sindoor‘ to the red chillies powder to make it redder instead of the dull dark orange that is actually is. Some cinnamon sticks too.

You can see the setup atop a table in the background.

AS PREVIOUSLY BLOGGED : before the update above.

The stock image approved by the client, with some major changes and additions and removals, is shown below. I had scoured a lot of images for cooked rice but was unable to find anything close to what the client had in mind. Finally the client has approved the shoot and this is the first day of planning.


  • – Red chilly powder
  • – Dried red chillies
  • – Cinnamon sticks
  • – Black pepper corns
  • – White pepper corns
  • – Crushed black pepper
  • – Crushed white pepper
  • – Clove of Garlic
  • – Coriander leaves
  • – Spring Onions
  • – Cloves
  • – Cooked rice [ this will include chopped carrots & boiled peas & for trial some almonds or cashew nuts ]
  • – Round plate or square plate for the rice – maybe a shallow, wide bowl
  • – Wooden holder for crushed black and white pepper
  • – Wooden holder for red-chilly powder
  • – Bamboo mat / ‘chatai’ for the background
  • – Trial : Onion cut in half, placed with the garlic

There will be iterations and I plan to use three to four different backgrounds and layouts so I’m thinking it will not get done in one day and I might have to go in for another round of cooking rice. Some of the things to be kept in mind while photographing food that I’ve read :

  • – Back-lighting creates more character than front lighting
  • – Depending on what you’re shooting, smaller lights can create more interest
  • – Food is typically half-cooked to retain color and ‘perkiness’
  • Another thing I’m thinking for the rice specifically

  • – A little more than half-cooked rice, immediately smothered with a lot of colorless oil when still piping hot, so that the cooked grains don’t stick to each other

As the shoot progresses, I will update with shots and new notes within this blog post.

Some of the stuff I photographed today.

Stuff I used for lighting : two torches, one canvas as a reflector and shot in natural light on the roofed-terrace. There’s natural light coming in from three sides. Camera was on a tripod and most shots have been taken on the self-timer with long exposures.


No white bowl and in fact, no bowl at all. Found a good serving tray to use for the background. Decided to keep a wide focus this time around. So Rijuta – who had left a comment earlier mentioning that non-blurred elements in the background would create more dimension – probably the client agrees with your view! Smaller quantity of rice, which I then hand picked – I took out all the smaller, fatter, broken pieces and left in the longer grains.

That’s what my ‘studio’ looks like. It’s my bedroom + office + music room and now + photo studio as well. The balcony allows light to come in from a focused point – since I wanted some back-lighting – the white curtain can be used as a nice diffuser for harsh natural light. No wonder I got chillies into my eye – what with all the spices strewn all over my bed!

I was on top of the bed with the tripod and shooting top-view. You can see the tripod legs on the bed.

Below, is what I sent the client today.
Awaiting feedback.


  • – Nikon D90
  • – 18-55mm lens
  • – 55-200mm lens
  • – Back light
  • – Front light
  • – Might try something with the Diwali lights that I have – a string of tiny yellow bulbs
  • – Tripod


  • – Sketch layouts
  • – Shop for non-perishables
  • – Create setup based on sketches
  • – Shoot test shot without perishables to ascertain lighting placement
  • – Cook rice & shop for perishables
  • – Shoot with perishables

The rice was half-cooked and sprinkled with Olive Oil. The peas and carrots were chopped, put in a bowl with some water and microwaved for 45 seconds and added separately to the already cooked rice. There’s Turmeric powder and Red Chillies powder in the shot – red chillies powder IS NOT bright red in color – it looks almost like a dirty chrome-yellow – had to enhance color while post-processing.

The flash was on a lot of times but it was covered with a cloth to soften the light.
I personally prefer the second photograph after the post-processing.

Updates from Naina.co on Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest | Buy a Print from the Naina.co Store