Food photography tips, Photography

Tips for shooting low light food photography

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Shooting in low-light is a challenge for all photographers. Late afternoons, rainy days, evenings or winter days are just a few situations when natural light is low. You could invest in artificial lights or flashes to deal with all this problems, but not all of us have money to spend on lighting studios. I have a small studio but takes time to install it and also, I have a little one that likes playing around so I will not get any photos.

I love using natural light so I learned how to adjust my camera in low light. Today I will tell you some tips to improve your photos.

To have a sharp image use a tripod. If you don’t have one try and put your camera on a chair or a table. Improvise. If you are shooting hand held, keep your elbows in and close to your body for more stability and rest the camera or your arms on the back of chair.

I always have my ISO as low as possible to prevent too much noise, but when needed I will push it a little bit. In this images I took the photos without the tripod, after 18:00 pm on a rainy day. Light was really bad and I had just a few minutes to shoot. Many of you asked me about shooting in low light, so I created this situations to show you what to do.

In this situations I used ISO 500 (usually is 100 or 200) because I didn’t use the tripod and I wanted to hade sharp photos. Using your tripod means you can keep your ISO 100 or 200 and change the speed. My shutter speed was 1/125 so I wouldn’t cause “motion blur”. With a tripod you can have a slow shutter speed allowing more light to be exposed to the camera’s sensor.

In low-light situation, always choose the highest ISO your camera allows.

In photography, aperture refers to the size of the hole in the lens that lets light in when you hit the shutter. Lenses with large maximum aperture are often referred to as “fast lenses.”

If you have a few lenses use the fast one for shooting in low light. Use your camera in manual mode if you can. You will have control of the settings and it will help you.

Sometimes, when you shoot in low light conditions your lens can’t focus automatically on the subject. In this situation, you need to switch the lens focusing to manual and adjust the focus ring manually to set the focus on the desired spot.

A big help can be bounce boards or reflectors. You can use them to bounce back any light that is available from your light source back onto your subject. Place them on the opposite side of your subject from when the light is coming from.

Settings for my photos are:

ISO 500

Aperture f/4.5

Shutter speed 1/125

WB cloudy

More information about WB you can find here: White balance in food photography

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85 thoughts on “Tips for shooting low light food photography”

  1. Thanks for the tips! I have horribly lighting in my kitchen, making food photos nearly impossible. Never thought about a reflector, but that’s a great idea. Thanks so much!

  2. It’s definitely a challenge to shoot in low light and your photo tips are very helpful! I use a white cardboard tri-fold display board (my kids use them to display their science projects at school) as a bounce board to reflect light. Inexpensive, stands on its own, and works well to brighten photos.

  3. This is really helpful as my kitchen is north facing. A lot of the time I’m taking food out into the garden!

  4. Thanks for the advice! I’m blessed with natural light this time of year, but my little cabin in the woods gets so dark in winter that I struggle with photos–particularly at dinnertime! I’ll be referring to this post for sure come fall.

  5. Good tips! The problem I usually have when photographing food is that it makes me really hungry, especially the sweets!

    I would add that it’s always best to shoot in RAW format for maximum flexibility and post-processing images + lower noise.

    I make a living from stock photography, including stock photos of food, and have written a book about it called the ‘Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography’ – check it out on my blog 🙂

    Good luck

  6. Useful and great tips for me to shoot low light food from now on. I used to have this kind of problem but I guess because of your tips, not any more

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