It's been a little while since I posted about food photography, so today is the day! If you are a newbie food photographer with only basic equipment you might struggle with light. I know I did. I You should study the light around your home as you will probably find that the light changes around your house throughout the day. My patio is great in the mornings, and my kitchen window is great around midday or later on if I am looking for backlighting.
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However the sunlight coming through the slats on the patio or through the palms I have out there can cause harsh light, and dappled moving light and shade which can be a problem. I've struggled with it many times...... I've never shown this one before - it was a dreadful shot. Look at that harsh January sunlight and those shadows!
So what is the solution? I have bright sunlight coming through my dining room window, especially in the morning. However it can be too harsh. So I hung up a light-weight, white scrim type fabric over the window which diffuses the light nicely. Opposite the window I stood up a white "fill" card to reflect light back into the shot.
You can get an idea of what I did in this image here. Because it is an overhead shot I have set up the tripod directly over the set and rotated the camera downwards. Those boards on the floor I bought at a salvage yard. They are old boards from a demolished house. They make a great false table top - I love them!
Can you see the effect of the white fill card in the shot below? Amazing isn't it? Just natural light coming from the left in the first shot and with a fill card on the right in the second shot. The closer you have the fill card to your subject the more light that "bounces" into your shot. Have an experiment so you can see for yourself. Any sort of stiff white card will do. It doesn't have to be a huge piece of card (but that does depend on the size of what you are photographing).
Because the light was diffused by the fabric there was less light than I would normally have in this position, so a tripod is essential to avoid camera shake and so you can slow down your shot - which also lets in more light - without adding "noise" by upping the ISO (which also lets in more light in low light situations but adds digital "noise" (speckles) to your image). Using a remote trigger also helps avoid camera shake as you are not actually touching the camera when you press the button to take the shot.
If you don't use manual controls on your camera, let "auto" work it all out for you. "Auto" worked for me for a long time! But do start having a look at your manual controls. Aperture Priority is a good place to start as you can set your depth of field and the camera works out the light.
I am a bit of a fan of the overhead shot. I put a large white tile on the floor to do this shot below. You may need to straddle the dish with your tripod, and turn the head of the tripod so that the camera is facing straight down. You might even need a step ladder if you are vertically challenged.
When you first start out playing with food photography first experiment with simple fruits and vegetables. Don't these cherry tomatoes from my garden look yummy? Don't panic if you don't have a whole bowl full, just put something in the bottom of the bowl so that you don't need so many to fill it up! Don't forget to give them a light spray of water to give them that fresh, just picked look.
You can take this a little bit further with breakfast -
How about a bowl of peaches? I love this time of year in Western Australia where I live because we have an abundance of stone fruit available - delicious! If you are going to use a patterned dish like I have here, choose something that is going to compliment the food you are going to photograph. Hunt through your mother's crockery cupboard for vintage china, or scrounge around second hand or antique shops. And don't be afraid to crop the shot as I have done here. You don't need the whole plate.
While you are at it, you might as well try a simple recipe like this which I found in the "Woolworths" supermarket "Fresh" magazine.
Stonefruit with Yoghurt
Preheat grill. Split peaches in half. Sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon. Place fruit cut side up on the grill and grill for a few minutes until sugar caramelizes and fruit is warm.
Spoon some yoghurt into the serving dishes. Top with peaches. Drizzle over some honey and almonds.
Serve and enjoy! Great for breakfast or a simple dessert.
Don't forget the spoon when you photograph the dish - what is the viewer going to eat it with?
Another quick tip - a bowl of cherries in a rustic canister will look different in a elegant glass dish photographed on black tile like in the images below. Both have their place, you just need to decide what suits your theme the best.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed these few food photography tips. I am going to be running a short food photography workshop at Lyndendale Gallery at Dardanup in a few months time. Stay tuned for details if you live in my area. Or message me.
I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.
I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Our World Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and What's It Wednesday. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!
Our World Tuesday
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
What's It Wednesday
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Photographing food is not just a bowl of cherries