Find Great Light For Food Photos | May Merriment Day 16Posted by Katrina Kennedy on May 16, 2011 in Blog, Photography | 3 comments
“Food is most appetizing when it is seen in it’s true essence.” Penny De Los Santos
I spent the weekend watching a wonderful food photography workshop offered by Creative Live. I popped in and out as I could and watched bits and pieces of it during the late night replay. Amazing. I gleaned so much from what the very talented Penny De Los Santos shared. This week I’ll be sharing many of her ideas and techniques with a 365 spin.
When we are shooting at the speed of our lives not everything can be perfectly created, styled and lit. But small changes as we photograph our dinner plate or the fresh bread from the oven can improve our 365 photos.
Today I want to focus on light. We all know how important it is for a great photo. We’ve definitely talked about it before.
I took away three important pieces.
- Turn off the flash.
- Use diffused side light.
- Modify the light to create more.
Now, I’m sending you away from here. I want you to do what Penny suggested throughout her workshop. Look at photos. Study them. What do you see? Go look at Penny’s photos at Saveur Magazine or on her blog. Why? I know they are all taken in natural light following the three suggestions above. I also know she doesn’t use motor oil or hair spray or anything else bizarre to improve how the food looks in her photos. She typically hand holds her camera for her photos as well. I love that!
Think about these questions:
- What do you notice about the light?
- What do the photos have in common?
- How is she using light to make the food look more appealing?
Answer those questions and then come back here for more. When you come back we’ll look at the three important pieces in more detail.
Turning off the flash seems obvious enough. Flash makes food look a bit unreal. Let’s put it in its natural light.
Where can you find natural side light?
- From a window (the most obvious)
- An open door
- Outdoors under a patio cover
Light through a window or open door is often diffused, but if the light is direct consider diffusing it through a thin white curtain or cloth. Tissue paper used for presents can be a great diffuser as well. I’d tape it right to the window or have someone hold it for you if you are outdoors. You can always purchase a diffuser, but I like the Do It Yourself elmement.
What does it mean to modify the light?
Modifying the light means we are grabbing more of the natural light and sending it in the direction we want. Use white foam board, white card stock, white poster board, a white table cloth, your husband’s white T-shirt, or anythingwhite. Position it so it bounces your natural light back onto your subject, opening up shadows. You can use multiple reflectors if you need to. Since so many of her food photos are photographed from above, Penny achieves her beautiful lighting in many of her images with two pieces of white foam core positioned around her subjects.
Now for the fun. Go play. See what you can find. Wander around your house. Take a look outside. Find the great light!