In the field of food photography, especially in indoor studios where natural light is not available, or shooting at night, many photographers choose to shoot with multiple light sources. However, it is necessary to control the output power and illumination direction of each light source, and also take time to think about the effects of light and shadow on the subject, and then make corresponding adjustments on the camera and flashes, which will become more complicated for beginners of photography. So this time I will share with you how to use “single light source” and some DIY appliances to take natural food photos!



The artificial light source used this time is a top-mounted flash. The top-mounted flash and the flash unit are installed in an octagonal diffuser with a diameter of 80 cm. The flash head is reflected towards the silver material inside the diffuser and the light is illuminated by a white soft cloth. To the surface of the food.



Octagonal Diffuser-When the light is reflected through these two large-scale reflections, it will become very soft, closer to the soft light characteristics of natural light, and more directional than ordinary white soft light umbrellas.


In terms of lighting, side-lights are mainly from the left or right, but because the light source is from one side, the subject will only be illuminated that side and the other side of the subject will be dark, even with no details. Students can place a small reflector on the dark side to reflect the light from the flash to the dark position to reproduce the details. The “reflective sheet” mentioned above is very simple, but every one can easily buy a white pearl board (Foamboard) in any Dollar Store, then use a small clip to hold it firmly on a flat surface. Its size depends on the area of ​​the subject, but be careful when placing the reflector, it will affect the composition and increasing need for post-production.Comp_fotobeginner

As shown in Figure 1 above, when the reflector is not used, the white coffee cup and brown Macaron are missing details and are slightly underexposed on the left. When the reflector is used, the reflector on the left is placed to reflect the light from the right to the red mark in Figure 2. The final effect is the same as in Figure 3, but because the light beam is refracted once, the light intensity will be darker than the right side, which makes the subject appear to have a certain contrast. This setting can enhance the texture of Macaron itself, and at the same time, the coffee cup becomes brighter, which makes the whole picture seem natural.

In addition to handling the light and shadow effects on the subject, utensils used are very important also. Remember to clean the utensils. When pouring liquid into the cup, avoid touching the edge of the cup or the countertop. If you accidentally stain it, wipe it away immediately. Trivial objects, such as ground coffee and wool, should be avoided from falling into unnecessary places. Some students will choose to use PS to remove unwanted traces in post-production. This is not the right move, because it takes more time to wipe off the excess dirt in a computer.


By the way, different tools are often used in food or still life photography. Among them are creative DIY supplies. For example, the black background in the picture above is covered with double-sided adhesive tape on a black pearl board. The intention is to set off the greener Macaron, and the low-reflection characteristics of the crushed stone are more layered than the black paper.

Finally, I will share more work with you, thank you!


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Pictures and articles: Ivan Chan @ IVC PHOTOGRAPHY (Photography website)