How to photograph loose leaf tea

38 Replies
Yogic Chai said

Awesome tips! We always used either early morning light, right before sunrise or right before sunset. Im not a photographer, but I find that those times gives the tea a great light with no shadows. We use a small white porcelain sort of flat bowl and our digital camera set to macro…nothing fancy, but it does the job and we are happy with results.

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K S said

I thought I would bring this topic up again. The OP was interested in taking better pics for a tea store website. I am more interested in what fellow bloggers think. I used to just use the company pictures. Recently I started incorporating my own pictures on my blog.

I do not have the physical space to take attractive natural background pics. The only location I have is a table in front of a window. The curtains are way distracting from the subject matter and overcoming the outside light is difficult for this total amateur. What I have been doing is framing my pics on a white plate on top of my laptop. That has worked OK but I do not want to try doing that with a full cup of tea. I have just built a light box and from my first attempts it appears to work well except as it turns out it isn’t wide enough.

Lining the box with white makes a good clean space that does not distract from the leaf. On the other hand it is kind of sterile. I am contemplating changes for light box 2.0. If any of you are in a similar situation, I would like to hear how you are handling it.

weegeebee1 said

Light box is nice, real nice. But I find it kind of sterile. Photography is an art, so lots of different tastes. To each his own.

If you shoot your subject with a telephoto lens (aka a zoom lens) step back further, you can create what’s known in the biz as “bokeh”. Basically a blurry background. Helps if you can control your F stop too, but this requires a nicer camera and lens.

If you can, set it as low as it goes. Pro cameras can go down to 1.something. But if you can get even a 4, that’s great. Use a zoom lens maxed out and step farther back to compensate.

If you have sunlight shining through a window, prop it up next to that. If you don’t, get yourself one of those cheap lamps that are kind of like on a clamp, and get a “daylight” or “tungsten” light bulb to get clean colors. You don’t want a warm color bulb as it’ll introduce some saturated reds, yellows, oranges, etc.

I’ve over simplified and I’m sure inevitably a real pro will come on here and tear up each point, but whatever.

Here are some samples of what I did just with good old fashion sun through a window on a very messy kitchen table, with an even messier house in the back ground. The one with the sausage was right over the stove, just clamping one of those lights I described at an angle

I’ve been meaning to do some tea shots, just been going through some health bs. But in the spirit of this thread, I’ll do some this weekend and post. I’ll try and use some layman techniques so everyone can see how uncomplicated it can be.

K S said

Thanks for the input. You are decades and lots of dollars ahead of me. Your pictures are very inspirational. I have just a basic point and click digital. I know this limits what I have to work with. You have given me several ideas.

what about something like this?

you can swap out backgrounds

K S said

Thanks hapatite. I built something similar to this:
Changing the background sounds like it has real possibilities. Definitely looking into trying this approach.

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Cwyn said

I take tea photos using a white piece of paper near a window, macro setting on the camera and no flash. Natural light with the goal of reproducing exactly the color I see.

This is from years of selling online, any product photograph should resemble what the customer will see when they open a package. In this way, the customer is happy that what he got is what he paid for based on the original photos.

K S said

I do pretty much the same, only my den is so dark I have to supplement the natural light. The white background certainly looks more professional than the dark shiny tabletop with clashing curtains I had before the light box. So the light box is better but kind of sterile. I am thinking of trying some different backgrounds as hapatite suggested.

One thing I have noticed is that getting true color depends on the monitor/graphics card settings of the viewer. I have three different computers and get slightly different results with each. I try to shoot for the best happy medium.

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