Light is everything in photography. Light drives the f-stops and shutter speed and light tells what filters to use. Understanding light is crucial for photography and yet light is something that very few new photographers think about. Starting this post, we will talk about light and lighting for food photography.
Lighting for Food Photography
Lighting scares photographers that don’t understand light. It gives people nightmares and makes food photography challenging. As we’ve talked, light is the single most important element of a great photo. It defines everything in photography.
A desired exposure and true color are two essentials for food photography. We have talked about importance of correct color in food photography. In almost all forms of food photography, accurate color of food is a requirement.
Anyone can take improve their food images by understanding light and how it works and by learning to light. So before jumping into bounces and reflectors and flashes and the lighting gear, lets understand the basics.
What is Light?
How would you define light? What is “light”? No I don’t want to make you a physicist by the end of this post. But for becoming a better photographer, understanding light is mandatory. So coming back to the question, what is light?
One dictionary defines light as, “something that makes things visible..” another defines light as “radiance or illumination” from a particular source. Without getting into too much physics there are two things about light that you should know: 1) light has direction and 2) light has a color.
Light Has a Direction
Light has a direction. It travels in a straight line. “So what does this have to do with food photography?” you may ask. Well, everything. A reader asked “How do I know where to place a reflector or mirror?” Understanding the direction of light will help you to determine where to place the bounces and reflectors. Using bounces and reflectors, is coming up in a later post.
Light Has a Color
Right color is absolutely critical for appetizing food photos. Color of a subject is often changed by the light available while taking the picture. We have talked about why cranberries won’t have true colors and how light affects their color. Color of light depends on the source of the light. Tungsten bulbs, for example, radiate yellowish light and give a warmth to photographs. As a photographer, understanding color of light and how to achieve “colorless” light is important so that the color of your food is not manipulated by light.
Direction and color are two aspects of light that will improve your photography. In the next post, we’ll start talking about controlling light.
What is Your Lighting Challenge?
What do you struggle with when it comes to lighting for food photography? Is it the reflectors and bounces? Flash? Tell us in the comments below, what would you like to learn and what is challenging in food photography for you? What would you add?
Photo by Illusive Photography