Tips on Food Photography, pt 2: Lighting

Hey guys! This is the second part of my Food Photography series.

This week, i’m focusing on lighting. Like I mentioned before, i’m gonna ease into this assuming you don’t know much beyond the basics of photography, just for the sake of simplicity. ūüôā

Basically, a quality light source will help immensely. Take the unedited examples below. I’ve used a normal prime lens (50mm) which is similar in ‘power’ and functionality to the average P/S lens. And yes, my apartment is quite dark. ‘Daylight’ is simply ambient light, no room light around noon.

See what a huge difference the flash makes with the same overall settings? In photography, the lower the number, the longer the shutter stays open (and therefore more light comes in, but there’s also¬†aperture¬†– more on that later).

So 1/60 is relatively slow. With a P/S camera you don’t really have to worry about it, but quality lighting will make things so much easier for your camera regardless.

If you’re using a DSLR, light is your best friend. Learn to wield it well! Just as a general note – in professional photography, you’d be amazed at the amount of light we use. I tell clients not to stare into my studio lights, as they’re 1000w each and will burn your brain!

But here’s my point: Generally, the more light you have, the more you can capture in terms of detail and even movement, if you like. You want to know how photographers get movement shots like this?

LOTS of light and a fast lens. I had one light standing literally a foot away from me, another offside/in front of me, as well as fill flash from the front. Mind, my studio is rather dark, but most of that is so my camera can capture it without blur in the wrong places, even with the fast 1.8 lens.

Just because it looks like there’s enough light in the room for your eye, doesn’t mean it’s enough for the camera.

But, photography is not about simplicity. ūüėõ I’m grossly oversimplifying this, because the point is not to make you a brilliant photographer, it’s¬†just¬†to help you learn how it works, and maybe¬†I’ll¬†see less terrible photos running around.

A note: Flash should be used carefully. We’ve all seen the ‘white washed’ photos were people have no nose! This is the result of using too much light, too close to the subject. In the case of food, soft light is your best mate.

It’s better to turn up the ISO or lower the shutter speed (or open the aperture more) than drown someone in unnecessary¬†light. I’m looking at you, terrible nightclub shots!

If you want a more detailed explanation of shutter speed, aperture and ISO, check out Digital Photography School.

Or, ask¬†questions¬†in the comments, and¬†I’ll¬†try my best to answer them.

-Dannielle

Part one here


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