Free Workshop How To Shoot Like a PRO With Your DSLR
Natural Light for Food Photography
Great product photos are filled with light. Soft natural light is easy to use & will help show off & flatter your dishes for great images! Check out these tips for finding your own soft light to take gorgeous shots!
1. Seek out areas with soft (non-direct) light from windows and doorways, or set up in open shade outside such as in your garage or under your patio. If you’re getting stuck try and think outside the square and scour your home or office for little pockets of light. The images below were shot in an all white bathroom that acted as a natural reflector for the small amount of window light that was available. The window was to the top right of the image.
2. Place your object at a 45 degree angle to the light source for the most natural looking images that have soft shadows but enough definition. Take test shots and watch for pockets of shadow or glare off your food or cutlery, and adjust accordingly. Soft light wraps itself gently around the subject and has a gradual fall from light to dark in the shadows. Hard light creates dark shadows and a much more dramatic look that doesn’t generally suit food photos.
3. To bounce light back onto your food and add more soft light, use a reflector to fill the shadows. Place it opposite the light source, on the other side of your subject and move it around until you see the shadows soften. A reflector doesn’t need to be an expensive, purpose made photographic reflector, it can be a white canvas, a piece of white foam core, or white fabric draped over something. In these images I used a piece of thick card bought from a stationery store for around $3.
Reflectors also don’t have to be white. If your natural light is very warm (yellow), balance it by using a silver reflector. Or if your natural light is too cool (blue), balance it by using a gold reflector. Think aluminium foil or those car sun protectors that you place on your dashboard.
4. If your vision is a studio look with a seamless coloured background, you can achieve this with natural light and a cheap, hand made light box. All you need is a storage box, and a large sheet of paper in your choice of colour. Attach the paper to the box as shown in this pull back image. Ensure the box is only semi opaque so that your subject is surrounded by the ambient light on all sides.
When placing your box relative to the light, experiment with different positions until you have the least amount of shadows whilst still showing good detail. If using it outdoors, place it in open shade such as a patio or garage doorway.
5. If your test shots are still a little dark, don’t forget to adjust use your camera settings by increasing the ISO, reducing your shutter speed or opening up your aperture to let in more light. Use a tripod with slow shutter speeds to ensure your shots are lovely and sharp and to prevent blur.
6. Don’t forget to compose your image with plenty of room to add text or to create share-ables and visual marketing flyers, or to accompany your latest blog post.