26 July 2011

Background Tutorial: Wood Board for Food Photography

When I first started blogging a few months ago, I really had no idea what I was doing. My backgrounds consisted of a few fabric napkins. 

After taking the time to take a close look at the pictures that my favorite bloggers were posting, I realized that backgrounds could really set the mood.

I took it into my own hands (and with the help of my Grandfather), to build my own table tops. Since I don't have the space, or money, to buy multiple tables, building different table tops seemed like the best idea. 

The first one I built was this one. It's a two sided table top, the other side looks like this, in blue. After that one, I simply painted an old wood plank I found in a closet, shown here. It has a rich texture that shows well in pictures. I like white backgrounds because they don't compete with the food. Plus it reflects light better, giving the photograph a dreamy effect.

Today, I'm going to show you how I built my newest faux table top. Shown in the first picture. 

The measurements and materials are just suggestions. Use whatever you can find. These are just general guidelines for you to have in mind when building yours. 

Total cost was under $10.00

This is what you need:

First Step: Arrange the wood pieces on top of the wood plank, the way you want them. As you can see by the picture, I didn't have enough wood pieces to cover the entire surface, that's ok.  Make any changes now, before starting to nail them down. This is how the final product will look like.  

Look at the edge on the picture below. I wanted to give my table top a raised edge look, kind of like a serving tray. So I put an extra wood piece on top of the normal layer. I did that on the entire edge. 

Second Step: Nail the wood pieces together.  One by one. This step takes time, depending on how big the table top is. You may need to use more than one nail per wood piece. I had to use two. One on each side.

Also nail the extra wood pieces to create a raised edge.

Third Step: Take a look at the final product. Decide if that's what you want. Come up with any changes. I didn't want to stop there.  The way it looked by now was fine, rustic and handmade. But I wanted to paint it.

Fourth Step: Prepare the paint. I used a Bone White paint color. Just regular, hardware store paint, used to paint walls. In a small container, I mixed 1/2 cup of paint with 3 tbsp of water. Mixed it well with the paint brush, to get it ready. 

You can use it without adding water. I wanted to give a wash, instead of applying thick paint. The final product looks lighter that way. It's also less shiny. 

Fifth Step: Start painting. I had to be careful because the paint was very watery. Let the surface rest for 5 minutes before adding each layer of paint. I had to apply 5 layers to achieve the color I wanted. It's up to you to decide how you want yours to look.

I decided that I didn't want to paint the entire surface. That way, I had two new surfaces to use as backgrounds: a rustic wooden one and a white elegant one.

Sixth Step: Take a look at the final product. The paint is still wet in this picture, so I couldn't decide if that's the look I was going for yet. Let the paint dry completely before making any final decisions. 

I'm happy with my table top. It looks rustic and elegant just like I wanted. The raised edge looks different from any other surfaces I've seen.

Remember that you can use any color, material and measurements you want. The final look is totally up to you.

You can see the white side in use on the first picture of this post.
The natural (non painted) side, can be seen in use on this post.

Let me know if you built your own!



Nadia said...

I made almost the same thing! :) The only difference is that I just went to our village house, found the wood piece I need and painted it in white :) It was an old and ruined part of something, but who cares...

I have another one ready for painting, will be doing it this saturday :)

P.S. And I love the background color of your blog, it's my most favorite one for all times!

Yadi I. @ShopCookMake said...

If I only were so lucky to find old wood pieces somewhere. I've been on the look out for those.

Viv said...

i cant tell you how happy i am to have read this post - ive seen so many blogs with lovely tables like these and always wished i have spaces in my tiny apartment for those tables! i guess i dont need big space/budget for them after all :) thanks for sharing.

Yadi I. @ShopCookMake said...

You're welcome! I hope you build one soon.

I♥naptime w/ Chocolate Sundaes said...

This is awesome!! I have been thinking of doing something like this and now I'm more inspired too! Thanks for sharing!

I ♥ Nap Time

Karina said...

I actually thought your fabric napkins looked really great in your photos..but this table is amazing too! I am very impressed with your creativity ~ very inspiring. I want one! :)

Yadsia @ShopCookMake said...

Thank you! You should make one. Backgrounds really make a difference.

Bread & Oil said...

Thank you very much for this wonderful tutorial!

Lynne said...

Thanks for the tutorial on constructing a wooden background for food photography. I've made two so far, but will try to find the really rustic wood you used. Have a great move!

Cooking Rookie said...

Wonderful post! You are so dedicated - I bought a white cardboard on sale at Michael's and use for most of my backgrounds. I wish I had your patience :-), but maybe looking at your beautiful photography I'll also get inspired. Love your tips!

Matt said...

Thanks for sharing your technique for making a lovely wooden background. I think I have some wood in the shed that'll be just the ticket! :D

Bread & Oil said...

Isn´t my background familiar to you? http://breadandoil.blogspot.com/2012/01/orange-salad.html?showComment=1326790519206#c6355614013626845382
I was thinking about making a new white wooden background and when I saw your wonderful post I knew how I was going to make it. Thank you and your grandparent very much.

Pam Rauber said...

Great idea here. I swap out my backgrounds as well. I went to Home Depot and for $11 bought beaded board, plain and white. They in three eight inch widths in a package and they are tung and groove. Put all three together or not. I also use them as a wall. Then...my newest backdrop is tile pieces. Home Depot sells pieces or in a box. I use them like a counter top. See example here http://www.therauberhouse.com/2012/02/27/olive-oil-from-the-deep-south/
Great to share ideas.

Sailaja said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. I made my own table top using this tutorial. Here is my post.


Wendy said...

I found your site via Pinterest and I'm so glad I did! I've been saying for weeks that I wish I had a beautiful background like I see on so many sites that have great photography. I guess I never really gave it too much thought because it never occurred to me to build one. Can't wait to try this...thanks!

Anamika @ madcookingfusions said...

This is such a helpful post, I have been going crazy to find some nice rustic table tops or wooden boards but could not find any as we see in some excellent food photography....luckily I found this post of your and feel great now..yeahhhh can now make one for my self too! Thank you so much for sharing...

Swathi iyer said...

Very nice tip, Thanks for sharing I am going to pin this on.

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