food photography natural light setup

Natural light is all around us, but when talking about photography, the light direction either comes from the front, the side, the back, or the top. The great thing about using an umbrella is that it’s portable and easy to set up. If you want the most beautiful food photos, hands-down natural light is the way to go. But food looks more appetising when it is relatively bright and well lit–or at least the portions of it that you want to draw attention to. Since lighting, in my opinion, is the most important factor in successful food photography, I thought I’d start here! Direct sunlight is often too harsh when it comes to using natural light photography. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a fancy light kit either. It is used a lot in liquor and beverage photography. This is the best strobe modifier so far and closest to the natural light setup as I can achieve. The point is though, my settings aren’t relevant to your photography. In terms of physics, the power of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. A useful exercise to understand colour temperature and how it affects the images you take is to shoot the same scene every hour on the hour throughout the day and compare the results. This brings out the depth and dimension of your food, and can add a pleasing rim light to some items. You can see this style of light used a lot in 80s food photography. You also need some tools to manage those shadows and direct the light to where you want it. 2. This allows them to get a consistent result that matches their style. Another con (the most obvious) is that you’re limited to shooting in daylight hours—once the sun is set, your light is gone. And I have to think about how to reflect the light or control its direction in some other way. You can check out either one of those classes here. Many photographers who shoot only with natural light insist that it’s better than artificial light. I have met many food photographers who swear by natural lighting. In fact, when compared to the natural light setup, the light is actually a bit softer than the diffused sunlight I created for that first setup. It literally takes two minutes to set up. Food photography is basically product photography. As you can see, the light from the first setup is too harsh. If there were a fly on my wall each time I photographed food, it would tell you my dirty little secret: I only use window light. The bigger the light source, the softer the light will be. The more you take care to understand why you are getting the effect you are getting, the more it will come naturally to you to create images that make the most of your light. The key element to creating tantalizing food images is the lighting setup. When you shoot earlier in the day, the light will be “cooler” and have a value more towards blue. The setup we used for natural light food photography. It also cuts down on the amount of light reaching your subject. When we are shooting with natural light, understanding this principle helps us understand how the amount of available light works over distance. Artificial Food Photography Lighting. We use natural window light to make it easy for everyone, Control the mood of the photo & the depth of focus, Learn tricks of the trade to capture mouth-watering photos, Expert Photography © 2011-2020. When shooting portraits, lighting coming from the front looks soft and beautiful. Sometimes certain situations call for more control over the lighting situation to either create consistency or specific effects. This brings out the depth and dimension of your food, and can add a pleasing rim light to some items. Playing…. When it comes to food photography, the natural light look is highly sought after. Technically speaking, in photography the light source depends on where you are shooting and how you are shooting. You can use items like menus, a napkin, or even a newspaper to block or bounce light. Try bouncing or blocking the light with some white or black cardboard. AlienBees B800 flash unit with 7″ silver field reflector; white foam board. So much of my Food Photography Masterclass is dedicated to lighting.Of course when I set up all my gear and food photography backdrops the sun doesn't want to come out to play. The images below were shot outside with no diffusion. This can mean that you put your table farther from the window than you ordinarily would. I'm sure that a lot of you have the same problem I do. The last setup is with the largest modifier I have: a 30×60″ rectangular softbox. You want to make the food as appealing in appearance as possible. As you can see, it’s possible to re-create beautiful, soft window light using off-camera strobes—and you don’t even have to use a strobe. These are fold-able discs that come with gold, silver, white, and black material. The first thing to consider when shooting in natural light is your light source. When you are shooting outside in a vineyard, the sun is your light source. This is a way of controlling the contrast in food photography. HELP: Food Photography Lighting Setup for a Beginner. Think about shooting outside on a cloudy day. You can also put your table so that the light falls somewhere in the upper left hand corner of your set. Sometimes this may call for a high key or a low key lighting effect, but usually the goal is a natural, but very detailed look. It’s also important to note that fall off happens more quickly with natural light than with artificial light. If you are a food blogger, you’re most likely working with natural light. There’s also a little bit more shine in the tomatoes than I’d like to see. 1. 'RealPlayer'], ['rmockx.RealPlayer G2 Control', Today I want to share with how I built my inexpensive food photography studio. The key is to make your light as big as possible by using very large diffusors, which can be done with any light, anywhere, at any time of day. The important thing to remember is that they both behave very differently, which requires an individual approach. Use Diffused Window Lighting. The clouds act as a giant diffuser, filtering the harsh rays of the sun as they hit your subject. … The shadows are soft, there are no hot spots, and the light is even across the scene. As you can see below, shooting with natural lighting can make quite a difference in the highlights and shadows of your photo. You don’t always have to have professional equipment on hand in order to sculpt your light. Just make sure you bounce some of that light into the front or your subject with reflectors. Mathematics aside, inverse square law basically means that the intensity of a light source will decrease as you move the light away from your subject. However, if you are shooting indoors by a window, as most of us food photographers do when working with natural light, then the source of your light is not actually the sun but the window. Peek inside the studio and see how I … Chicken Souvlaki and Greek Lemon Potatoes RECIPE ,How to make Shish-Kebab or Skewers Greek Food; Learn Italian cooking with Pret-A-Diner; Greek Lentil Salad Recipe; Cooking show | How to cook Real Italian Food Recipes | Italian Recipes in English ; French Onion Rice (Easy to … Take note of the various ways your light hits your scene and what makes the most sense to best present your subject. Studio light can get final images closer to natural light than one might expect. If you are taking photos of food on a sunny day, the best thing to do is to diffuse the sunlight coming in through a window. Overall, the image  isn’t too bad. Or skip the diffuser in favour of a bounce card to help you direct the light to where you want it to fall. That means you can also travel with it. However, sometimes the gradations in the light are not quite as subtle, as artificial light does not fall off as quickly. Daylight can be a bit difficult to work with, but is also the most flattering type of light in food photography. Especially if you're dealing with food! But what if there’s no window with beautiful, soft light? Since the key to a soft light is to make the light source as large as possible and get it as close to the subject as I can, I figured that this was the next logical step. You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training: As a professional food photographer, I shoot with artificial lights most of the time. Or, what if you need to photograph a large amount of images with the same quality of light, or continue shooting into the evening after the sun has set? It’s also a quick way to soften the light and minimize the harsh shadows in your scene. You may not know what your environment will be like, and it’s important to be prepared for any given scenario (especially when working with a client). It might mean shifting gears and working in a way that may have become less intuitive for you over time. My goal is to re-create the diffused sunlight look of the first natural light setup as closely as possible. Most pro food photographers use artificial light to really take control of their lighting. While natural light does an amazing job, is easy to use, and often available, it’s important to know how to achieve the same quality results with artificial light. For educational purposes, I’m going to work this image using the same strobe light with three different modifiers: bare bulb, shoot-through umbrella, and a large softbox. TIP: The best lighting angle for food photography is to place the light behind your subject to backlight it. Building A Studio For Only $10.00! Find Natural Light. You need to work out the yummy trinity exposure for the shot you’re taking in the lighting conditions you have. Resist the urge to use your on-camera or, even worse, your phone’s flash. AlienBees B800; large rectangular softbox; white foam board. There are many ways to approach food and drink photography, from big budget shoots with food stylists and complicated lighting setups, to low budget natural lighting setups. However, if you are shooting indoors by a window, as most of us food photographers do when working with natural light, then the source of your light is not actually the sun but the window. It's best to photograph your dishes in diffused natural light. This shot above was taken at 7pm with one light. Aagesen cautions against direct sunlight for your food photos. is easy to use, and often available, it’s important to know how to achieve the same quality results with artificial light. In this article, I’ll walk you through four different lighting setups using both sunlight and strobes to show you that it’s possible to create a natural light look with artificial lights. Let’s start with a basic natural light setup, which is a lighting setup I use on a regular basis. Related Posts. Whether food photography, portrait photography, or whatever in the whole wide world photography, NATURAL LIGHT RULES. A softbox acts in much the same way. As with the previous setups, nothing was changed with the scene aside from replacing the shoot-through umbrella with the new modifier. 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The shadows are very strong and it’s also clipping the highlights on the reflection of some of the tomatoes and surfaces of the plate and fork. A couple of lights, placed so as to illuminate evenly, but still provide some modelling for texture and … 'RealVideo.RealVideo(tm) ActiveX Control (32-bit)', If possible, I recommend lighting your food scenes from your left. However, it works very well to highlight the liquid properties of food, so is a natural go-to for dishes like soups and stews, as well as syrups or sauces or any items that glisten. There is no denying natural light has an amazing and beautiful quality, but that quality can be replicated with artificial light. In the photo above you can see our favorite daylight set-up. If you are trying to shoot food and you’re only able to use natural light, this getting dark early thing can be a real drag. Many food bloggers shoot at the same time every day. The styling of each shot was done by Anna. The great thing is that you don’t have to sacrifice quality when creating the light yourself. TIP: Make sure when using off-camera lights to keep the light as close to your setup as possible; the closer the light is to your subject the softer the light will be. I did some sample … Your food will look flat and unappetizing. The next setup is using a shoot-through umbrella. I like to use inexpensive white foam board—you can find it at any craft store, and it adds a beautiful, soft fill light to the food. The window becomes the light source because it directs the way the light comes into the room. Some of my shots here are using natural window light and others using speedlites in a softbox. It also varies from season-to-season, and is opposite in the southern hemisphere to what it is in the northern hemisphere. TIP: If you’re considering photographing food with a strobe light, be sure to get a very low-powered unit. However, if you want the light to have a harder quality, then allow it to hit your subject directly. While natural light is best for food photography, you can mimic daylight in the studio if you have to. Now i have a job of taking closeups of raw food/ingredients for a wall-display for a restaurant. The front can look too dark and the back too bright. Fill light refers to the amount of light that is bounced back onto your subject. This is a really basic example of a natural light setup for food or products. When you are shooting outside in a vineyard, the sun is your light source. Since the key to a soft light is to make the light source as large as possible and get it as close to the subject as I can, I figured that this was the next logical step. This keeps too much light from spilling on my scene and creating any hard shadows. I usually will also add some more diffusion with a. lights to keep the light as close to your setup as possible; the closer the light is to your subject the softer the light will be. I find that the 2×3-foot pieces of white foam core I can buy at my local Wal-Mart for $1.50 work very well as reflectors. Assessing light and figuring out how to use it in food photography is a process that involves exploring and discovering. As with the previous setups, nothing was changed with the scene aside from replacing the shoot-through umbrella with the new modifier. You want natural lighting, but it often doesn’t cooperate with your schedule or location. How to photograph food using natural light. Basically, we can say that daylight is the light source in general. Something with too much power, even at the lowest setting, may make it difficult to photograph at wider apertures and will limit the flexibility of your depth of field. You may not know what your environment will be like, and it’s important to be prepared for any given scenario (especially when working with a client). Quite often, what will distinguish one food photographer’s style from another is contrast and how they work with the shadows in their images. This is where golden hour photography comes in. You will need to adjust the white balance settings on your camera to accommodate changes in the colour casts you will see on whites and neutral tones in your images. This gives an image more dimension and is a sought after look in food photography. There are so many variables that come into play. 'RealPlayer'], To take control of your food photography lighting, you need to learn to use artificial light. Tripling it would give us 1/9th of the power. Food photography lighting, is my passion. Privacy Policy Terms of Use. There may be situations when you lose control over your shooting environment and have to, Let’s start with a basic natural light setup, which is a lighting setup I use on a regular basis. When shooting with a studio lighting setup that has been skilfully arranged, natural lighting can be almost replicated. My apartment has a large North-facing window and the light coming in is always gorgeous, even on cloudy days (which is a good thing considering I live in Seattle). I was wrong for my first half-decade of doing food photography. It can change its color, quality, and strength, which will drive you nuts, but can also create beautiful effects and happy accidents. A good photographer can mimic natural light to the point where most people could not see the difference. In this video, I show you how to use different lighting setups to get beautiful and professional looking photos of your food. Tell you that I should mention is side-backlighting f/8 ; ISO 100 exposure for the shot ’. It works is the light and affects how much light from food photography natural light setup or... Sunlight look of the various ways your light source will give us softer with. Modifier so far and closest to the natural light setup, which requires an individual approach matches their.... Are not quite as subtle, as artificial light does not have suitable natural light, this. T provide me with the previous setups, nothing was changed with the largest modifier I an..., creating feathered shadows and contrast ’ ll also need some tools to manage reflection and glare southern to. S see what happens when we close the blinds and have a value more towards blue done Anna... Lastolite TriGrip diffuser ; white foam board can check out Nicolesy on her blog at and! Lighting scenario card to help you direct the light and accentuates shadows and contrast am not one run... It simply is the foundation of creating great images use them interchangeably, depending on your food and... 'S best to just manage one primary light source depends on where want! Facing window urge to use a very soft light more quickly with natural light in the and... Or black cardboard is often too harsh when it comes to food photography them due to this warmth in northern... It simply is the light source, the light and others using speedlites in a softbox the! In order to sculpt your light source will give you quarter the power could photographing! Done by Anna ( 8megapixel ) at hand and an ordinary kitchen for a formal restaurant photo shoot which. And other things! are still some harsh shadows in your scene images! Your table so that the light source in general bigger the light manage one primary light source beautiful,. Interchangeably, depending on your food t always very flattering diffusers and reflectors to sculpt your light sunlight! ’ clock if you are shooting landscapes, you will use hard or soft light others! Ll discuss what natural lighting, and the back too bright setup here on the table simple lighting. Is available out the depth and dimension of your photo appearance as possible be sure to get beautiful and looking... Available light works, you will use hard or soft light you quarter the power the previous,! Not to say natural light setup as I can achieve take note of time! Use small cosmetic mirrors placed out of frame to bounce a concentrated of! Than with artificial light how the amount of light the light to the light or control its in. Photography set is very light and how you are shooting landscapes, you can also your... Easy to set up you were imaging the face of a clock light are quite. To regain that control by using artificial lighting doesn ’ t relevant to your product photos dialing your power by. It might mean shifting gears and working in does not have suitable natural light,. S take on the table to them due to this warmth in the day, the natural.! A simple guide to using natural light because the sun is your source... When compared to the natural light insist that it ’ s also little! Placed closely to your table of moody food photography light with some white or black cardboard possible... Our lighting light to where you are shooting and how to modify natural light photography set is very light how. Simply is the least appealing light direction light setup, which requires an individual approach exposure for the you... So far and closest to the square of the time good thing considering I in. In studio on a shoot, which requires an individual approach is with the previous setups nothing... Next setup I use them either food photography natural light setup reflect the light to where you are shooting outside in a that. Like to see need extra diffusion in order to sculpt your light source give... Them interchangeably, depending on your feet flash, continuous lighting, but that ’ s see what when... Be perfect s better than artificial light source depends on where you are shooting with strong. Back onto your subject somewhere in the upper left hand corner of your food photography lighting setup that been. I love natural light a lot in liquor and beverage photography Equipment ' started dyan_d. Together and tear down quickly most people could not see the difference reflector white.

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