Artificial Lighting Tips for Food Photography

To take the best food pictures, you may need to learn some artificial lighting tips for food photography. They’ll make the pictures come out great. Take a look!

Well, you may have heard that natural light is the best option for you to make your food photography stand out. Yes, it’s quite true. Natural light will provide you with the desired results. It doesn’t work only for food photography but also other types including portrait photography. There’s no comparison with the quality of the pictures you can get from a good camera, skilled photographer and natural light from the sun. But this can be a constraint when you have to do a shoot at 9 pm when the sun has set. During times like this, you have to turn to the use of artificial light. How do you make your photography look cool even when making use of indoor, artificial lighting?

Because of everything you’ve seen around, it’s easy to try to act like a “zen” and be uptight about your choice of lighting. But there are times where you just have to think out of the box and take different steps to get what you want. As mentioned earlier, natural light is the undisputed bed choice. However, you have to learn how to use the available options; artificial lights. Yes, you can work with artificial lights and still get equally good photographs. No one would know the difference!

So, let’s take a look at a few tips which you can use to get your artificial lighting on track. You’ll be surprised at how much flexibility it would offer you in taking some mouth-watering and yummy food photos. 

Get yourself a special light

Well, the first step would obviously be to get a great light source. The quality which you can get from your artificial light depends on the quality of the light source that you buy. Don’t be forced to get something cheap as it may end up adding some unwanted color to your photos. Look out for an intensely bright, non-overhead light that is designed for a job like this. Also, keep in mind that kitchen lights are bad for photos. The use of kitchen lights could cause all of your pictures to become bright orange colored and unclear. 

Turn off all the lights in the room and eliminate any weird colors which may appear in the photograph and make use of only the artificial light to illuminate the food. If you purchase a light that is designed to simulate natural light, you can trust it to do just that. You can make use of a bright small tabletop light as a hack if you’re on a budget. This would still make it possible to get some clear photos. 

Get a Reflector. 

The next thing for you to do would be to get a reflector. And it shouldn’t cost you too much. You may decide to get yourself a little piece of cardboard to reflect the light. However, if you purchased an artificial light you can expect them to come with a white reflector. Make sure that you set up the reflector in such a way that it bounces the light on the food which you intend to snap. Turn off all the light around and leave only your artificial light on. 

Make use of Side or Back Lighting

These are the angles in which you can set up you’re lighting for the best photographs. Side lighting or backlighting is the best angle that you can make use of whether using natural light or an artificial one. With the side lighting, you illuminate the food and take your photos directly from the side. This is usually done when the lighting comes up from directly beside the food. Usually, it’s recommended that you place your light setup from the left. The reflector is to be kept on the opposite side to the source of light to ensure that the light bounces evenly on your food. Our eyes will get attracted to the lightest part of the image from where the light has been introduced into the image. It’s a good approach to food photography. It works virtually for most images and is easy to use. Depending on how much shadow you want on the food, you may decide to move it closer farther from the food or make use of a smaller or larger reflector. 

However, for backlighting, the photos are taken from the back of the setup. These lighting setups help to add more quality to your photos. It is an ideal setup for beverages or soups, as it adds a sheen to the image and highlights the liquid properties present in the food. Basically, it flatters the whole image and makes the texture of the image clearer. But it can be a quite tricky setup to accomplish. A problem with backlighting is that it can cause your image to be too bright at the back and too dark at the front. It usually emphasizes drastic color contrasts and can make them quite hard to balance. And there are some foods which you shouldn’t use it with such as; 

  • Tall foods such as a tall stack of cookies, brownies or a tall mound of pasta. It’s difficult to voice the required amount of light on these types of food from the back. 
  • When shooting in a vessel that is tall or deep
  • Dark or brown-colored foods such as meat especially when kept on a white surface. 

Make use of a white object.

Making use of a white object in a photograph is a bonus that can be used to make the overall quality of the picture come out better. The white object will make it easier for you to adjust your white balance later on. It also makes it easier to control when trying to balance the features of the artificial light. It serves as a reference point when you’re editing the photograph for the final results.

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