Food Photo Tips: Part I - Lighting

ann_tJanuary 1, 2013

I can only post the instructions not the photos.

Posted by canarybird (My Page) on Sat, Jul 11, 09 at 17:18

Food Photo Tips: Part I - Lighting

Hi everyone. Here I hope to be able pass on a few useful hints about photographing food. Im just another self-taught hobby photographer, but after taking these photos nearly daily over a period of several years I've established some norms for myself in how to go about taking pictures of food.

Assuming that most people will be using a point and shoot digital camera, I'll leave the DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras for the time being. The basics about lighting and positioning will apply to both types of cameras.

If you're an occasional photographer and haven't read your camera instruction book and understood all the creative possibilities available with your camera don't feel bad, since many people never get around to it either. But I will go over some of the important menu icons and shooting modes that will make a big difference in your pictures once you learn to use them.

But first let's get down to what is one of the most important factors in taking food photos: LIGHTING.

Light is what defines the shape of an object and is the one factor which can make the difference between a beautiful photograph, an ordinary one, or a downright bad one.

Finding or creating the right lighting for what you want to shoot should be your number one concern, especially with food, which can look really unappetizing when photographed in the wrong light, such as flash, or heavenly when seen in a good light.

The ideal lighting for tabletop photography, especially food, is natural daylight. But there's a problem when people are wanting to take pictures of their dinner, which is usually an evening meal and in winter especially, a time of day when it is dark.


For the moment though, let's look at one good daylight setup. Perhaps you're baking bread or cakes during the day, or canning and want to show off your work.

Finding the right window in your house is important. Try to find one which is not in full sunshine at picture taking time. There should be indirect light and you should be able to put a table near or under that window, which could be curtained with a thin net if the light is too strong. Most of the time the quality of your photo will depend on finding that window where the light is right. If the window is too high so light doesnt fall on the subject, get a few books, take out a kitchen drawer and top it with a tray and a cloth to raise up your food plate.

Position your camera facing towards the window and pointing down at the subject. FIG 1. (I'll call the plate of food the subject...okay?) If you can mount the camera on a tripod you will have less chance of camera shake although nowadays most cameras have IS (image stabilization) incorporated. Still you are in better control with your hands free, and even more so if you invest in a cable release. Thats a little cord that plugs into...

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