Professional food photographers will lecture you endlessly about how food should be shot only and only in natural light. They will tell you how good that is for the photo and the food, creating an overall appetizing effect.
But there are circumstances when shooting in natural light is simply not possible. It could be a dark rainy day, and there is no way you can wait for the sun to come out. Many people get time to cook and experiment in the evening, or at night. Photographing food as soon as possible after preparing it is also essential, so waiting for the next day’s light is totally out of question.
Dark wintery days are another menace. Or it is possible that your apartment or kitchen simply doesn’t get enough natural light. With all these factors working in conspiracy, you must always be prepared to photograph your food in alternative lighting.
Artificial lighting, though not as great as natural lighting, can still be made to work wonderfully if you give time and patience to setting up the stage.
1. Get lights specially meant for indoor photography and use them while shooting in absence of natural light. Turn off your kitchen’s light or any other supporting light and use only the special ones you’ve got.
2. Buy a reflector, which will reflect the light coming off your special table light purchase. Place it on the opposite side of the table lights, with the food placed in between the two. This way, light from the source will be reflected so as to ensure even lighting.
3. Diffuse light as much as possible. You can do that with simple household items like a white curtain, a white tshirt, or a white paper placed over the direct light source. This will soften the effect of a direct light and reduce shadows.
4. Use a white background as much as possible. White table, white bouncer, white plates et al. If getting an all-white setting is not possible, then place your plate or bowl on a clean white napkin and then proceed to shoot. This will enhance the colour of the food and reduce background distractions.
5. Never use the built-in flash of your digital camera. It will light up the food in an unnatural way and colours will look flashy. Hot spots and stark shadows do not add up to make a good photo.
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