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Behind the Shot – Apple Backplate


Commercial photographer and educator Karl Taylor decided to set a brief for his students (of which I am one). Not only to encourage continued learning and productivity while in lockdown during the pandemic but to show what it is like to receive and work to a brief in the industry. Many clients know exactly what they want and you are there to produce it.

I was intrigued so I decided to give it a go.


To produce an image based on the above sketch. There was also a mood-board showing the look and feel the image should portray, with a list of requirements:

  • Apples must be red
  • Leaf on apple stalk not necessary
  • Soft window light
  • No hotspot on apple
  • Warm, rustic background
  • etc…


It’s a deceptively simple shot. But it’s all about the prep.

To stop the hotspots, the apples were first washed to remove any wax. Then an artist’s matt varnish was sprayed onto the skin. That combined with the use of the light from the softbox being shone through diffusion paper created a soft, mellow light onto the apples. Lemon juice was rubbed onto the exposed flesh of the cut apple to stop it from browning during the shoot and museum wax was used to prop the apples into place.

The base is a length of oak rubbed down with an antique oak wax to give it a deeper colour. The background is a piece of hardboard painted with a matt black. I smeared orange poster paint over this to create some warmth and texture

The setup only uses 2 lights. The softbox to create window light coming in from the left. I reflected some of this light into the cut apple using a piece of white foam core. The second light illuminated the background. On this, I used a reflector with a loose grid and added an orange gel to bring some subtle warmth to the scene. Other pieces of foam core were used to block the main light from hitting the background.


I’m pleased with the result, in general it fits the brief. Things I would change…mainly the apples. With limited supplies in stores, the measures put into place to practice safe distancing and only essential travel currently allowed I didn’t have the luxury to source the perfect apples for this shot.

I learnt a lot and had fun in the process. Images for clients are about solving their problems and finding solutions to do so.

If you have an image you need to be created, get in touch.

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