Food photography could possibly be considered one of my favorite topics to give pointers on because at the end of the day, who doesn’t love food? When it comes to food photography it can be so simple yet the results are so amazing and leave you craving whatever you just shot. In this article, I will be giving you some tips on how you can create amazing food shots without the whole Speedlite and softbox set up. There are times when setting up lights to shoot a particular subject can be so hassling and not to mention time-consuming. When shooting with natural light you need maybe just a few cheap materials and when doing indoor shoots, a window. So let’s dive into what we need to get amazing food shots.
I always recommend this as the first tip because if you’re shooting indoors then this would obviously be where your natural light source is coming from. You don’t need to be exactly by the window but at least a few meters close enough so you can get a substantial amount of natural light on your subject. However, you can make your own estimation as to how far away from the window you would like to be, depending on the amount of light passing through it. I always suggest doing food photography either early in the morning or near the golden hour in the afternoon. My reason behind this is, you get that soft even light when shooting outside or even using natural light through your window. This helps to eliminate shadows while also leaving a subtle evenly lit photo. In addition to that, it also helps a lot to reduce the amount of tuning you do in post-production as well. As the day progresses and you approach midday then you will notice your natural light is at its highest point and might be a bit too harsh in your photo. However, no worries, I’ll be sure to mention a quick fix for this problem.
I’ve noticed a lot of photographers overlook the how useful a foam core can be in photography. Being that the light from the window would be hitting on side of the dish you’re shooting, you will more than likely end up with some shadows on the opposite end. A quick solution to this would be the use of a white colored foam core. As photographers, we all know that white bounces light and if we manipulate natural light enough, we can use it to at least cast out any shadows on or around your subject. Before you run out and get some white foam core, be sure to get a sheet of black foam core as well. Black foam core can be used in instances where you have too much harsh light in one area and you’d like for some of it to be absorbed. Black generally absorbs light so in this case, it can come in handy whenever you end up in a situation where there is a bit too much natural light on your subject and you would like to use some.
Speaking of absorbing harsh light, brings us to our next topic of diffusing it. As I mentioned earlier, you will find natural light getting a lot harsher as you hit the mid-day mark. However, lucky for us as photographers we always have an idea as to how we can manipulate natural light to our advantage. Of course it would perfect if we could simply turn a dial and adjust how bright we want our natural light to be but, in this case, we have to find some way around that. Diffuser sheets can often be found with 4 in 1 reflector sets or on amazing for little to nothing. They are very useful in harsh light situations and will probably save you a lot of work in the future.
Another tool that could help you diffuse light when using natural light is an umbrella. If you have a photo studio, you more than likely already have one of these and know exactly what I’m referring to. The Umbrellas are also a very cost-effective way as to how you can diffuse light and reduce harsh shadows on your subject. If you have a fairly big umbrella then that’s perfect as it can no spread the soft light throughout your image making it that much more subtle and amazing.
The great thing about doing food photography with natural light is, it’s something you can do within the comfort of your home without too much equipment or having a huge setup. In addition to that, the best part is being able to finally eat what you just photographed which should give you enough energy and encouragement throughout the post-production period. It was a pleasure giving you these quick tips on shooting food with natural light and I hope to see you again soon.