Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist. Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Thursday, 12 February 2015

Playing around with food and light

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.
Please click on "read more" to read more!


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!

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
What's It Wednesday

You might also like - 

Hello sunshine and yellow lemony delights
Cook it, take a pic, and pack it for a picnic
Photographing food in the Ferguson Valley
Photographing food is not just a bowl of cherries


  1. Hi Jill,

    You are such a talented photographer of such a wide variety of subjects. From landscape to interiors to food, you always seem to capture your 'models' in their best 'poses', and today's collection of edible pretties, is no exception. The food styling, your fabulous tips, and the actual photos themselves, are alluring and pure eye candy! Thanks for sharing your know-how. Wishing you a wonderful week!


    1. thank you so much Poppy! One day someone might pay me to do this!

  2. Oh yes, food can give me concern. I do have a couple of the white boards but didn't know how to get them to stand up sometimes and I see you've utilized some clips. Your examples of lighting and background with the cherries is definitely something to learn from.
    Thanks for sharing at Mosaic Monday Jill.

  3. Hello Jill, your food photography is just fantastic. It all looks delicious, especially the breakfast and the peaches, YUM! Thanks for sharing, the tips. Wonderful post, have a happy week!

  4. Great shots and fascinating tips...thanks!

  5. Jill, This was helpful information about photography. I am always looking to improve my photos. Sylvia

  6. What a difference your little tricks made!

  7. So much to consider in food photography Jill and I do appreciate your tips for setting up the shot. My favourite is "cherries in a glass dish". very professional.

  8. Hi Jill, wow we fell out of touch with each other. I've continued to be a subscriber all of this time though! This post caught my eye because of the food photography and ironically I just put up a food post. They were taken in a dark restaurant and that is sooooo frustrating. I still to this day use two of several things I learned from you...the need for LIGHT and letting the AUTO setting do it's thing. That has been an immense help and thank you! I hope this finds doing great! :)

    1. I am glad I have been able to give you a few tips Mike. And yes, trying to photograph ones dinner in a dim restaurant can be very frustrating. Perhaps you could try standing up the menu (if it is white) to one side (or a white napkin) to put some extra light in. Thanks for reconnecting with me on my blog Mike.

  9. Great photography tips Jill. You have made my mouth water with your lovely images. I really like the sound (and look) of the stonefruit recipe. Must try it!

  10. Beautiful shots! That white card makes a big difference.

  11. I love what you do, just love it. So creative and talented and always very kind too. Your foodie images are so incredible. You could sell me on any of the foods you have shared, just for the photography, well I may have to fiddle with eggs a bit ;) Thank you for helpful hints you have provided...beautiful post as always Jill. Happy week~ Hugs

  12. These are lovely, you are making me hungry!!!

  13. Thank you for the tips. I don't take many food photos but I can see how your tips will be useful for flowers and other stuff I may want to take.
    Take 25 to Hollister

  14. First I went through and tasted everything with my eyes ... No spoon needed. Then I went through the post again and thought about the great hints. Then I went over to my blog and deleted all my terrible food photos. (Well, not really, but I probably should have). Thank you for the free class...I will try to remember some of it!

  15. Simple is best for food - that fruit & yoghurt recipe made my mouth water! And although simple is best for the photos too, you've made what looks like a complex process seem simple!! I'm amazed by the difference between the two large tomato shots - who knew a piece of cloth and a white board would make so much difference? Especially when both shots actually look quite natural! I'll have to start experimenting!

  16. I've always enjoyed your food photography. Thanks for sharing your tips and set-ups.

  17. Jill, thanks a lot for sharing these tips! They are great, I'll keep them in mind!
    Nice pictures, your breakfast made me hungry :-)

  18. Thanks for sharing this!! Your pictures are simply beautiful!!

  19. Hey, that looks like real photography and not only like point and shoot... ;-)

    Regards from Germany, Uwe.

  20. This was interesting. I am more into eating the food than photographing it although sometimes I feel like giving it a go. Usually that urge comes after one of your posts.

  21. I wish I could take your food photography workshop. I am such a novice and have a hard time figuring out what I'm doing wrong. I often times don't hit my goal - making the food look appetizing. I'll give that fill card a try.


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.