Food photography tips · Photography

Food lighting I

I decided to do a post showing you exactly what I did to create the caviar shot. Before I set up the shot I had an idea of what I wanted the final shot to look like.

I decided that I wanted a wanted a close tight shot so I went vertical. I wanted a 45 degree camera angle on the plate so that you could see the top and the front of the food.  Plate is white so all the attention is on the food.  Camera is on a tripod and set to F/5, 1/25s and ISO-100. When setting up a picture, you have to decide what direction you want the light to come from. Here, the light is coming from the back. You can see by the shadow in the front.

Lighting was quite simple, a large north-facing window as main rim light, and 2 white reflectors for front fill and gloss. Of course, was a cloudy day, which was perfect for my setup.

The best light for food photography is natural light. Food just looks good when it’s captured in that warm and soft light that has a kind of morning or late afternoon feel; it’s about the mood, it’s about the story we want to tell.

A bright sunny day is not always your best friend when it comes to shooting food. Harsh, bright sunlight is very difficult to calibrate photographically and is not at all flattering . Direct sunlight is akin to splashing your food with a camera-mounted flash (one of the major no-no’s of food photography). Your pictures will have hot flares and will look flat and generally unflattering.  Ideally you need soft filtered light for outdoor shooting, the best scenario being plenty of daylight and enough cloud-cover to soften and balance the light on your subject.

Remember, you don’t want direct sunlight falling on your subject. If you feel the window light is too harsh, drape a white bed sheet over the window to mellow and diffuse the light. Place a table close to your window and 2 white reflectors for front fill and you’re ready to go. Have fun!


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