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Weekend Challenge: Hot Chocolate

By Anthony Thurston on November 21st 2013

Welcome to the weekend challenge! The winter months can be a challenging time for photographers to stay motivated and find ways to improve their skills. Cold and dreary weather often puts a damper on things and understanding that we have come up with this concept of the Weekend Challenge.

The idea is that we offer up a concept, some way for you to hone your skills, all from the comfort of your own home – or relatively close to it. This is mostly just for fun -though occasionally we may throw in a prize to keep things interesting – and to help us all continue to learn, even when the nice summer months are a distant memory.

11/22-11/25 Weekend Challenge: Hot Chocolate

This weekend we are keeping things simple, but hopefully you think of a fun way to make your submission unique. This weekend we want you to create the most interesting image of Hot Chocolate that you can come up with. Now for the twist (because what would a challenge be without a twist?), we want you to do this using only 1 light source (it can be natural or speedlights/strobes).

  • Challenge: A Photo of Hot Chocolate
  • Dates: Friday November 22nd through Monday November 25th
  • How to Enter: Upload to your favorite image sharing service and post a comment below with a link to the image -or- send a tweet to @slrlounge with the hashtag #slrlweekendchallenge with your image attached.
  • Deadline: 11:59pm on Monday November 25th 2013
  • Prize: Get your image featured on our site as well as plenty of kudos and bragging rights.
  • Bonus Points: Submit a photo story on the process of making hot chocolate.

*For the purposes of this challenge a reflector can be used and does not count as an additional light source*

The Inspiration


When coming up with ideas for this challenge I decided that I wanted to keep it simple, but at the same time make it something that you could take and run with. Around that time my son asked if he could have some hot chocolate and the idea sort of went from there.

The Gear

  • Canon 6D
  • Canon 100mm F/2 USM
  • Manfrotto 290 Tripod with a Vanguard SBH-250 Ball Head
  • NPT-04 4 Radio Triggers
  • White and Black Sheets of Foam Board
  • 2 lbs of Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Packet of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate

The Shot Setup


Setting up this shot was simple enough. I decided that I wanted to take a top down approach so I placed the cup with my hot chocolate in the middle of my dining room table. I then added the ring of chocolate chips around it that you see above.

I then stood above the table and shot from above using the white foam board as a reflector. I originally started at F5 thinking that I would like to see a bit more of the chocolate chips behind the hot chocolate, but after a few test shots I decided that I liked F/2.8 better.


I processed the image using our SLR Lounge Lightroom Presets in Adobe Lightroom 5. To be honest it was a simple edit, just the vivid preset with a few small tweaks to correct the color (since my white balance was a little off).

Simple as that.

The Final Image


Canon 6D w/ Canon 100mm F/2 USM @ 1/160th, ISO 200, F/2.8 – Yonguo YN-468 Speedlight at 1/8th Power

Hopefully this is a little inspiring for you as far as this weekend’s challenge goes. You can try and recreate what I have done above or you can go with your own idea, totally up to you. I am really interested to see what you guys come up with.

Just remember all entries must be submitted below by 11:59pm PST on Monday November 25th 2013. God Luck!

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Barry

    Did anybody win this?

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  2. Lee Germeroth

    Here is my submission. Tried to go for something a little different! One light made this fun!

    Flickr link:

    Facebook link:


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  4. Andrew Martinez

    Hi everyone,
    here is my photo for the challenge. I hope everyone had fun with this. I need to go clean up my mess now.

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  5. Michelle Adams

    Wonderful challenge. Here is my submission:

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  8. Nina

    Challenge accepted ! I posted my submission on my blog !

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  9. Emz

    Great challenge, great subject, great drink :) see what you think to my end result…

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  10. Julianna

    Loved this challenge! Thank you! Here’s my submission along with the photo story/process/recipe:

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  11. Doug Day

    Here is my pic.
    Canon 6D 24-105
    Shot at F8 @ 1/2 sec. 100 ISO
    Vanguard Alta Pro Tri pod with the pistol grip head
    A pack of hot coco, a cup of crazy hot milk, 2 candy canes ( I ate the first one while setting up) and a few white chocolate candy cane kisses. I had my wife hold a reflector to kick some light into the cup and my only light source is obviously the strand of Christmas lights.
    I went with this theme solely because when I think of drinking Hot Chocolate I think of Christmas. After I was done the Candy canes melted into the cup and I tossed in a few kisses. It was an AMAZING cup of Hot Chocolate.

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  12. Julianna

    Oh I love this! Photographing food and it’s set up are my favourite! Can’t wait to enter!

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