Dina Belenko is a creative still-life photographer from Russia and incredibly successful 500px Prime photographer. Her artistic images capture magical stories behind everyday inanimate objects.

In this tutorial, Dina shows you how she captured her amazing “balancing donuts” photo that recently took off on 500px, and it’s easier than you think! Read on, stay inspired, and enjoy.

Weekend donuts by Dina Belenko on 500px.com

I always wanted to try this kind of photo: unstable, balancing composition with sweets and coffee. My first try resulted in quite a nice picture but I also created a total mess in the process. I suspended a pile of cups from strings and, sadly, this construction didn’t last very long:

Waking up

So I set out to find another, lower-risk solution.

1. Props and setup.

I took a sheet of transparent plastic (glass will also do, but you should be more careful with it… plastic is much safer) and set it a short distance from the colored background.

This was the main trick: all the shadows that show the volume of the objects will remain in place, but the shadows falling on the background will disappear—this way, all the objects will look like they’re levitating.

1 Props

To add some depth and volume to the composition, I placed my objects on little supports (it turned out that children’s wooden blocks work really well). I tried to put all the cups and sweets at different heights and different angles so that they overlapped each other.

You can’t see these supports from above, but from the side they’re clearly visible:

2 Supports

2. Details

After creating the basic composition, I took a shot with my hand “propping up” the entire structure, added some sprinkles on the donuts, and poured some tea in the cups. I decided not to make splashes, but only a couple of tea drops.

3 Details 1

3 Details 2

3. Post-processing.

I merged all the photos together: the whole composition, my hand. and tea drops all combined into one image. Then I made this image brighter to match with another of my shoots I captured in the same style (the result of my first try), and gave the image a little polish (like straighten the form of donuts and deleting some scratches from the plastic).

And that’s all! Here’s the before and after:

4 Post-processing

Weekend donuts by Dina Belenko on 500px.com

I hope this is helpful. I wish someone had told me about this before I tried to hang everything on strings 🙂

I guess this trick would work great with photos of sandwiches or burgers with “flying” ingredients, or with stacks of homemade cookies or fruits. Maybe you’ll decide to create a really well-balanced meal with cereals and vegetables. So, over to you.

Stay inspired and good luck!