Home Photography Ideas: A Truly Cereal Macro Pool Scene!

Watch Video: Home Photography Ideas – Shoot a Really Cereal Macro Scene

Being stuck indoors right now gives you a great opportunity for macro photography – but you can only take so many close-ups of leaves and flowers and household knick-knacks before things get a bit expired. So this project injects some serious fun into your macro scenes!

By adding a few miniature figures, we can turn a bowl of cereal into a creative macro pool and produce inventive imagery. A fancy lighting kit isn’t essential, but you’ll need good midday light if you’re using natural light. However, you will definitely get the best results if you add additional lighting.

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Our photo trick for creating a DIY light tent is ideal for this shoot, as your bowl of cereal fits perfectly inside and will be extremely well lit. Macro ring flashes will do, although this produces very directional light and may create shadows that you don’t want in your final image.

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

We’re using a set of cheap continuous lights and turning on a sheet of whiteboard (which we set up on an ironing board to give us a good working height) to show you really can get great results on a budget!

We’ve chosen an interesting-looking brand of cereal, with fun shapes and bright colors, and we’re using yogurt instead of milk – this keeps the cereal from getting soggy and bloody in the pool, and also supports our body shapes. “swimming”.

We can use a wide aperture of f/2.8 to isolate an individual figure, or stop at f/32 to bring the whole bowl into focus. And when we’re done, we’ll have a hard-earned snack as a bonus!

01 Gather supplies

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

We use an ironing board to give us altitude, with a sheet of white cardboard as our shooting surface. Choose a cereal that has interesting shapes and colors – it may not be the most nutritious option, but it will make your photos more exciting! Your figures can even stand or interact with the cereal pieces.

Milk is not ideal as cereal quickly becomes soggy, colors bleed and figures runny. A thick yogurt will keep cereal dry longer and your swimmers will stay afloat – you might even carve some ‘waves’ if you’re feeling adventurous! Choosing the right bowl is also important. You don’t want it to be white because it will fade out of the background, and you don’t want it to be too patterned or busy because it will distract from your subjects.

02 Little People

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

The secret of this photo lies in the tiny figurines. We use 1:87 scale miniatures from the German company Preiser (these Preiser swimmers are only $15 on Amazon), although a quick eBay search lists everything from swimmers to rowing boats, depending on your creativity.

03 Build the set

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

Pour the yogurt into the bowl and dress it all up with just a handful of cereal chunks – adding too much will ruin your figure, so don’t fill the bowl like you’re having breakfast! Use tweezers to place figures in and around rooms, or even standing on them.

04 Snack a Tac

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

For our figures sitting or standing by the “pool”, we use Blu-tack to glue them in place. Unless you’re ultra-specific with your tac, you’ll probably have to do a bit of cloning to remove it in post-production.

05 Get equipped

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

You will need to mount your camera on a tripod, and obviously you will need to use a macro lens; we turn with the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM on the Canon EOS-R, with a peak in focus to help us fine-tune focus. If we shoot wide open at f/2.8, we can isolate a single figure in the scene, while stopping down to f/32 to make the whole bowl look sharp.

06 Agree On The Light

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

Using natural light is an option if you’re working in a large, bright space with a large window, but you’ll get better results with additional lighting. A pair of continuous lights or strobes with softboxes, set to illuminate (or sandwich) the scene will minimize shadows.

If you’re a seasoned macro shooter, you can also have a ring flash, which may do the trick but will likely produce unwanted shadows. Another alternative is to use our DIY light tent photo hack, which will produce evenly lit results using a few speed lights without any flash modifiers.

(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

Read more:

The best macro lenses in 2020: Get closer to your subjects like never before!
Photography tips and techniques videos
The best lighting kits for the home studio or outdoor photography

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