5 Lighting Tips for Food Photography

Food photography should not only highlight the freshness and deliciousness of the food, but also the texture of the food – soft, crisp, delicate, oily, etc., to arouse people’s appetite.

Before shooting, it is necessary to consider the influence of light and dark tones on the food, so the combination of various props should be considered according to the characteristics of the food being photographed. In the selection of the focal length of the lens, food photography usually uses a macro lens to shoot close-ups in order to express the delicate details of the dishes.

In the process of shooting food, in addition to the set, the use of light determines the texture and atmosphere of the final work. For photography enthusiasts who have been in contact with them for a while, they can use LED photography lights for lighting. Because this continuous light source allows you to directly observe the visual effect, and can easily set the camera parameters.

Of course, commercial food photography still mostly uses flash for shooting, and you can also choose to use flash and continuous light source (fill light) to shoot at the same time to create the lighting effect you need.

Here are some lighting methods for you to refer to before shooting:

1.Light in the same direction as the camera position

The light in the same direction as the camera position will cause the subject to have no obvious light and shade changes, thus lacking a sense of hierarchy and three-dimensionality, making the picture slightly dull, so it is rarely used in food photography.

Similarly, when the light shining from directly above the food will cause vertical shadows and affect the beauty of the food, it is not recommended to be the main light. However, it can be considered in overhead shooting. It is easy to capture the texture of food when the subject itself has more details or when the lighting is slightly angled.

2.Light up from ground level

Light shining upward from ground level is more used in stage plays and dramatic lighting, and less used for food photography. However, in order to express the fresh and tender texture of fruits and vegetables, the fruits and vegetables are placed on a professional shooting stage that can transmit light when shooting, and the scattered light is projected to the subject as the main light, and the light irradiated upwards from the ground height is used as the supplementary light.

In this way, the translucent crystal effect of fruits and vegetables can be expressed, and the texture and three-dimensional sense of fruits and vegetables can be more expressed.


3. Light irradiated by the light source from the back light direction

The light irradiated by the light source from the backlight direction is very artistic and expressive. It is very emotional and vitality. It can also create bright and transparent outlines for food. It is a very commonly used light in food photography.

4.Front metering

The front side light has a certain three-dimensional effect, which can better highlight the main body shape. This light position can better reflect the details of the food. When photographing lighter-colored foods, such as rice or noodles, the bright graininess of the rice can be captured. When shooting food and still life details, because the subject is generally small, it is recommended to use a tripod for shooting.

When the metering illuminates the subject, there is a clear distinction between the light-receiving surface and the backlight surface. The direction of the light and the relationship between light and shade are very clear, and the three-dimensional sense is strong, which is especially suitable for the shooting of dark food. However, you need to pay attention to controlling the light ratio when shooting, and use a reflector or add a light source to fill the dark part according to the shooting needs.

5.Side Backlight

Side backlight has the characteristics of both backlight and side light, which can shape the outline of food, highlight the delicate texture of food, and reflect the color effect of food.

Food shot with side backlighting is easy to take a three-dimensional effect, outline the outline to separate the background, and can well express the level of details of the food. In addition, the side backlight has a strong expressive force on the color transparency of the food, and the atmosphere is full, making the food look more appetizing. For example, the fluffy texture of the cake, the red and white texture of the salmon, and the steaming steam of the hot ramen can all be expressed in the works

In terms of the background processing of the picture, the side backlight also has its own uniqueness. In order to express the main body, the side backlight hides the messy things in the shadows, making the picture simple, which is also the angle commonly used in food photography.

6.Learn to use light flexibly

Different ingredients have different lighting methods, and you need to try more according to the actual situation. For example, food with rough texture such as sliced bread and cakes, vegetables with green leaves, and various cooked meat products are light absorbers, and the light should be soft and bright. There is directionality, so when shooting such food lighting, diffuser and honeycomb cover are used more.

For vegetables, fruits, ice cream, fresh raw meat, etc., they are semi-absorbers, which are prone to projection due to irregular shapes, so it is more common to use scattered light

For some foods with oily surfaces, such as stir-fried vegetables, braised or smoked meat and poultry, the lighting should not be too realistic. The average light can only make the food darker and lack aesthetics, so the lighting should be Pay special attention to the lighting on the main body.

The light should be transparent, and it is okay to be slightly rigid. The light does not necessarily illuminate the food from the front or above. You can try to use the main light on the side and the secondary light with personality, and use warm light for lighting. It will make the color and texture more vivid.

If you shoot food with a certain degree of light transmission, such as jelly, candy, drinks, etc. The intensity and softness of the light should be skillfully combined, and it is crucial to properly use the rim light and backlight to express the attractiveness of the subject.

Retouching This is the last step to complete food photography. Simply adjusting the levels, curves, contrast, hue/saturation with PS can achieve good results, but don’t overexpose, it will lose a lot of details in the picture.

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