|I used my window and the early morning light to create a dark back ground with a ray of light coming in from the window to the right.|
|This was taken in my dining room, I have lots of wood and the light is not reflected, creating shadows. Again, I have a window to the left that is directing the light onto the chili.|
My thought is that I can give a few simple suggestions and ideas once a week to help those that would like to improve their photos. I will say, that I am a professional and have lots of different pieces of equipment that I use to create my images.
A little bit about what I use. I shoot with a Nikon, I use a tripod, I have a gold/white scrim (light disc) and I almost always use natural light. The only reason I would not use natural light is if a client has me shooting inside, then I use my Lowell Ego lights. I also have a tool bag full of clamps, white/black fabrics, diffusers and back up equipment (camera). I do own a POS camera that I use for snapping ideas, locations, prop's and quick shots in the kitchen. These camera's each have their own uses, pros and cons when shooting food.
In this day and age, the camera companies have made it affordable for lots of consumers to own and use a Nikon or Canon camera's that allow you to control the light through altering the aperture and shutter speeds, ISO and white balance. I don't know what each of your are using and this makes it challenging to cover all the tips of simple lighting in one short blog. I would recommend that if you have a specific question you can leave a comment on the blog or visit my Simply Gourmet Photography fan page.
When we go on shoots with clients, we have a team: stylist, chefs, art directors, company employees, photographers, prop specialist and anyone else who feels the need to be there. A lot goes into creating a professional looking picture of food. I don't have that at home. I am the stylist, chef, photographer, etc...
When I think of food photography several things come to my mind.
1.What is the mood you are trying to create? Romantic, sunny, focused, blurred....
2. How do you manage your time when trying to cook, create and take pictures?
3. Where will the pictures be taken? Kitchen, outside, bay window, dining room table....
4. Can this be shot the next day when you do have more time?
5. Are the pictures being used as a tutorial or as a signature dish (posed picture)?
|I love shooting on my deck in the late afternoon. For this shoot I required the assistance of my hubby to hold the reflector, it cast a golden hue over the crab cakes. The SOOC is below.|
|SOOC (straight out of the camera)...I used a reflector to bounce some light onto the crab cakes and plate.|
You may have many more questions that come to mind, but this is what I think about before I start cooking my food. I always have my camera in the kitchen along with my tripod and some type of reflector. I use a large white/gold scrim or a large white piece of poster board.
When shooting food, the light is one way that can make or break a "great" picture. The good news is you can control that light with a little bit of knowledge. This can be achieved several ways:
1. aperture and shutter speeds
2. ISO (film speed)
3. bouncing light with reflectors
5. white balance (each camera has different settings to shoot in. My POS has 21 (portrait, night, sports, etc... and my Nikon has 8. These are fluorescent lighting, sunny, flash, cloudy, shade, A (auto) etc..) Light has temperatures and these controls tell the camera how to read the light.
I usually know in advance how I want to shoot my plate of food, I usually have to go to that location. I have three rooms in my house that have awesome light. They have lot's of windows. I love my kitchen because the window above my sink gives great directional light. It almost looks like a beam and shoots on the corner of my counter across the way. My living room is wonderful because the windows are on all three sides and my base is white (lots of reflective lighting) I like this spot because I don't get a lot of shadows, especially on an over cast day. Another place is my dining room. This is where I can create a mood that is darker because I have two windows that don't produce a lot of lights, plus my table is dark. My front porch and my back deck are other favorite places to shoot.
|This image is SOOC. I used my camera to adjust the shutter speed and aperture. I did have my camera mounted on my tripod. This helps with shake, depending on how low you have to go with your dials to get the shot.|
Find your favorite places to shoot and learn the lighting for that time of day. I have been known to get up at 6 in the morning just to capture the light in my kitchen window. If you are serious about taking quality pictures you will have to be flexible with your surroundings. I think that most people don't understand how much light there is during an overcast day or in a shady area. With the right settings on your camera you can shoot in "imperfect" scenario's. KNOW YOUR CAMERA. This is pivotal. Many people don't read the manual. I read them and then reread them and highlight.
All of my personal food pictures are shot with natural light. If I do need a little bit of help, I turn to the lights in my house. These will be fluorescent or tungsten (light bulbs). One will give your pictures a cool look and the other a warm look. I have an Ott light that is easy to move around and offers a little bit of light if I need it. Light travels and you don't need your light source right on top of your picture, you will over expose your food if you do this. Take a couple of test shots until you find what you are looking for. Move your feet. This sounds odd, but it's true. We get in one spot and forget to move left or right. Food looks different at different angles. This rule applies to your natural lighting source too. Sometimes we get so close to the food, that we create a shadow and by moving the food or ourselves we open that light source up.
|I used the reflector to bounce some light in the very middle. This is SOOC.|
If you are not using any type of enhancing software or actions on your pictures then you will find that their are better times of the day for you to shoot your food. This all depends on your camera too. I can shoot in a pitch black room and you would never know it, but again, not everyone has this ability. I recommend that you invest in a simple software program that can lighten your pictures, if necessary. Photoshop Elements is an easy and inexpensive program to use. With this program you can also import actions to use on your photo's. A free program is GIMP. These actions can sharpen your images, add soft focus (blur) or center light. Florabella Collection is the company I use and they are awesome (Shana does not know that I am mentioning her in this blog), they are just that excellent. You can find many free actions too. Do a search for "free photo actions" and they should have a PSE or PS version to download.
|My window is awesome. Lots of light. This was shot on an overcast day and so I had very little shadows.|
The last thing I would recommend is to practice, practice, practice. If you are shooting with a digital camera, you have unlimited shots to take and delete. When I shoot food or a dish, I generally take anywhere from 15-30 pictures of the same food. I am constantly moving the food around, spinning the dish, moving props behind the plate; shooting every angle and possible shot. I know that you don't always have time to do this on every dish, but find the time to do it on some. I don't take as many pictures if I am shooting a tutorial for a blog. My "teaching" photo's are different than my "featured" items. I even will use my flash on the camera to take the "teaching" pictures. (OK, I confess, it happens...LOL)
This is a vast subject with lots of different ways to answer your questions. Hopefully you were able to find something that you can use to enhance your food photography experience with lighting from your own home.
1. Know your camera.
2. Know the lighting that your house has to offer.
3. Invest in a reflector of some sort, or two.
4. Purchase a simple software program that will sharpen your images.
Lighting is just one aspect of taking pictures of food. Next week I will give some simple idea's and instruction on styling your food. ENJOY
Below you will find the pictures that I will use to help you visually see some of the ideas I mentioned above have been used. There are quite a few, but after all, we are photographers and pictures are the best way to show you "what I mean".
WHERE I SHOOT, MY "SETS"
|My Kitchen. You can see my cutting board that I use a lot by the sink. And you can see the light that is reflecting in the sink. This is my "ray" of light. I used this for the Almond Macaroon above.|
|Dining room with dark furniture and smaller windows. By having the two windows , I can close one depending on the "mood" of the picture.|
|The other side of my kitchen. That corner of my counter that is highlighted with the "ray"..that is how I captured the crab cakes above. Love this spot in my kitchen.|
|This is what I use at home to reflect light. I have a white piece of poster board, a large reflector that is white/gold and white fabric. I use this to cover up backgrounds too.|
|My living room with my white bay window.|
Lots of images with SOOC and afters.
|SOOC. The image is okay but not perfect for the look I was going for. I opened it in PS and did the following: sharpened image, added the action of Pearl from Florabella Collections.|
|I wanted this image to look aged and yet sweet. I was able to do this with the PS actions. Some times my time is short and don't have all day to work on the perfect picture.|
|I changed the setting on my camera and added reflected light.|
|This is a common picture to see with flash, regardless of quality of your camera..it just happens. I am not a fan of this look.|
|This is SOOC...again it's an ok picture, but not what I would like to see.|
I went into PS and sharpened the image, added a soft light to middle and darkened the edges. It show cases the plate much better.
|SOOC..in my kitchen. You can see the tungsten light at work with the color on the image.|
|The tungsten light did not bother me, I just wanted the jerky high lighted more , so I used the reflector and directed my light from the window onto the jerky.|
|SOOC..better. I adjusted the camera settings.|
|SOOC..I held the reflector to add more warmth and light to the sandwich.|
|SOOC..Sometimes our digital pictures have a dark/cool look to them.|
|I use PS in this image to once again create the sweet/vintage look that I was going for.|
|SOOC...still too dark|
|Just right. I did sharpen this image. Sharpening helps a ton in digital photography. To learn more about this and why you can find several sites through google that talk about this specifically.|
I used the same plate in two different locations...MOVEMENT, it helps.
|In the window sill, too dark and not what I was looking for..so I went to the kitchen.|
|SOOC..this is what I wanted, dark in the rear, light on the macaroon. Perfect!|
Well, I hope that this helped. I enjoyed writing this and look forward to next weeks: styling your food>
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