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Nicole S. Young

food stock landscape travel

Who are you and what kind of photography do you specialise in?

I'm a photographer specializing in Food and stock photography (people, lifestyle, etc.). I also enjoy landscape and travel photography as well. I'm also a very busy author (these days I feel like I'm writing more than photographing!). I've written four print books published through Peachpit, as well as two eBooks through My books are all how-to books on photography and post-processing.

What cameras and lenses do you use?

My main camera is a Canon 5D Mark III, and I use that camera for the majority of my images. I also have a Canon 5D Mark II as a back-up, as well as a Canon 60D which I use for time-lapse photography. In terms of lenses, I have four which are almost always in my bag: Canon 40mm pancake, Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II, Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro and the Canon 70-200 f/4L IS lens. The 40mm is my "walk-around" lens, and it also serves as my camera's body cap when it's in my bag since it's so small. The 24mm tilt-shift is my go-to wide-angle landscape lens; I love the shifting feature, it offers an enormous amount of control which I can't live without. I use the 100mm macro for a lot of my food photography, and the 70-200mm for people photographs (mostly stock images). I also recently added a Canon GPS device to my collection to track locations when I travel and photograph landscapes.

What kind of extra equipment do you use whilst shooting?

With my food photography, I keep things very simple. I use a lot of natural, diffused light to back-light my subjects, with fill in the form of white foam-board on either side and sometimes an additional reflector in the front. I'll also diffuse the light in the back with a tri-grip diffuser, and I do nearly all of my food photography from a tripod (I'm somewhat of a control freak with my photos). For my stock images, I use a lot of either natural light with fill (reflectors or strobe), and for my indoor images I use AlienBees lights with very large soft-boxes for a soft, realistic-looking room light. When I'm outside I use a Really Right Stuff tripod and tripod-head system, and use a lot of ND and ND grad filters to control water (make it turn to cotton candy with thick ND filters) and tones (balance the brightness of the sky with an ND grad filter).

What hardware do you use for post-processing?

I use a MacPro (desktop) with a 27" display, and have a second monitor to my left to place extra windows and applications. For my hard-drives I have two Drobos: one as my main storage and the other as a mirrored on-site backup. I also use a Wacom Intuos tablet for all of my post-processing (I don't even own a mouse). :)

What software do you use for post-processing?

I'm a huge fan of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and couldn't live without them. I also am a major fan and advocate of the onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite 7, which is a wonderful tool which I use as a regular part of my workflow, particularly with landscape and urban photographs.

What is missing from your current workflow?

I'm really looking forward to getting an iMac in the near future, mostly to minimize my office clutter and get rid of the massive MacPro. It's a great machine, just very large. I'd also love to incorporate Thunderbolt drives into my hardware setup to speed things up when I'm working, since I'm at my computer most of the day. For my photography, I feel like I'm set in terms of gear (for now), but I would love to have a studio with a seamless cyclorama, an area for stock photography (basically a "fake house" to shoot lifestyle), and a dedicated food photography area with a gorgeous chef's kitchen next to it.

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