Creating the Photograph: Dina Belenko’s “Balancing Donuts”

Weekend donuts

Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Photographer Dina Belenko had this really cool conceptual idea involving donuts and lots of other breakfast fare. She hails from Khabarovsk, Russia, and is a photographer who specializes in conceptual ideas. This is apparent not only in her 500px profile previously linked, but also in her Behance profile. Dina tells us that she loves sweets, so she wanted to make something beautiful out of them. This one also satisfied her idea to get into working with unstable objects in an image.

See how Dina created the images in her own words after the jump.

The Concept


I’m a sweet tooth. I guess, there’s nothing that inspires me more than coffee and sweets. So I just wanted to make something beautiful with them. Maybe, with a tiny twist.

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

The Gear

— Nikon D800

— Nikon SB-910 flash

— octabox Wescott’s 43″ Apollo Orb

— colored background

— sheet of transparent plastic

— set of little supports

— donuts, marshmallow and coffee cups

The Shoot

Stages taken from Dina’s Behance post.

1 Props

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.

2 Supports

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.

3 Details 1

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.

3 Details 2

I decided not to make splashes, but only a couple of tea drops.

Post Production

4 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!

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.