Monday, August 5, 2013

Food Photography Lighting

Vegetarian Chili
Mindy has a blog called It All Begins With Dirt  in which she posts about vegetarian meals for Meatless Monday's.  When I'm around she'll usually enlist my help for taking photos of the process as well as the finished meal.  We're both trying to hone our skills regarding this whole process and lightening is a big part of it.

Our kitchen faces the south and is darkened by shadows come dinner time since the sun is to our west by then.  Out of frustration regarding slow shutter speeds when closing the aperture down for depth of field, I'm starting to experiment with some lighting solutions at Mindy's suggestion.  I've tried the Speedlight and while it certainly brightens up the picture the image tends to be a bit flat.  Certainly more experimentation is warranted here, though.  For the last two weeks I've used two utility lights bought at the local hardware store.  The photo above shows one light placed behind and left of the camera and facing the stove top.  It is actually clamped on a shelf in the cabinet.

And here is the second light clamped to the overhead kitchen lighting.  So for this meal one light is coming from directly behind me as I shot this photo and the other one is directly above where the food is being prepared.  Both of these are equipped with 100W bulbs.  Next, I turned on all the lights in this room which amounts to 13 ceiling and 6 countertop lights.  Seems like a lot of light doesn't it?  Yet I still used +.7 exposure compensation, turned Active D-Lightening on to extra high, and shutter speeds were still in the 1/5 to 1/3 second range at f/9.  Not to mention, I still cranked up the exposure and shadow sliders in post.

The fact that I wanted to use f/9 this time around absolutely required the camera be mounted on the tripod for this shoot at these shutter speeds.  (BTW - these last three photos were taken with a little Panasonic DMC-ZS7.)  Anyway, it was an interesting exercise that will be modified again next week I'm sure.  It may take some time but I'll find a good working solution.  Trying to keep costs low so as to not spend unnecessarily on lighting equipment I may not need so if anyone has suggestions, I'm open. Thanks for reading and I'll post again on this quest.


  1. Good article. Thanks for taking the photo's for me. It makes it so much easier for me to cook and still get those shots for my blog. Thanks hon!