Low Light Food Photography
With December here, the bright, sunny days are gone. It’s the time when almost every photographer struggles with the lack of natural light. And out of all times, your clients demand food photography from you, welcome to the club of low light food photographers (There’s no such thing, right?). But seriously, why now of all times!!
Many food photographers rely only on natural light for most of their photography sessions. They might not be comfortable with artificial lighting and all the hassle it brings along.
If you’re one of them, don’t worry, you’re at the right place now. We here have compiled best 7 tips for low light food photography:
1. A Little Overexposure
While shooting low light food photographs, I recommend you to expose a little higher than what you need. A little overexposure doesn’t hurt, does it?
Overexposing the photographs gives you better control over grain and important parts of the food are not lost in shadows. Rest can easily be taken care of in post-processing.
But use it intelligently. If you eliminate details in the bright regions, there no getting it back. It will simply ruin the beauty of your delicious subject.
2. Low light food shots with Aperture Control
Choose lower aperture number (f-stop) for wider open aperture. Wider the aperture, more is the light captured.
With the lack of incident light onto the food you’re shooting, make the most out of what little you have.
You will have a shallow depth of field, making your food in-focus and the background out of focus, maybe along with some of the props around. This effect, however, isn’t pleasant in all scenes, you need to choose wisely.
3. Perfect ISO is the key
Golden secret— Doubling your ISO simply halves the light needed. For instance, capturing the same scene with ISO 400 requires half the light as of with ISO 200.
By simple Math, you can capture the same scene with ISO 200 and 1/15 shutter speed, or with ISO 800 and 1/60 shutter speed. However, choosing between the two settings for same low light food scene decides whether you get a sharp photo or a blurry mess out of it.
With Tripod: If you’ve got a tripod (you should have), you don’t need to worry about camera shake. Choosing a longer shutter speed is your perk. As you know, slower shutter speed captures more light, helping you in low light food photography.
Without Tripod: In case you don’t a tripod with you, shoot photos keeping elbows closer to your body for better stability. Resting your arms on a chair/table can help a lot. With hand-held camera shooting, biggest concern is the Camera Shake.
To avoid camera shake, you need to have very fast shutter speed, but that obviously leads to underexposed photos. Increase ISO to meet right exposure in low light food photography.
4. Styling Your Tasty Subject
There might not be enough space to place your subject with all the props near window to get maximum light. You might have to struggle to set up even the minimal gear in the ‘confined’ space you’re left with because of circumstances.
In such cases, carrying out low light food shooting with large subjects gets even more difficult. It’s much better to photograph smaller food items.
Doing so definitely helps you to manage and setup the scene easily. it also offers freedom to use small sources of artificial lighting, like a smartphone torch or something like that.
5. Using Reflectors
When the weather is cloudy outside, natural light is not enough for carrying out food photography indoors. Making the most out of what you have is only option left.
You can use bounce boards or reflectors to bounce back the light from windows or the artificial lighting you have in studio right into the shadowy side of your subject.
Highlighting the details and reducing is important. But don’t overdo it, otherwise, important details of the food will be shot. Also a bit of contrast in images make them stand out from the rest.
Capturing great shots in the least of lights is what low light food photography all about.
6. Shoot in RAW
Benefits of shooting in RAW are innumerable. You’re able to post process your low light food photos in Adobe Camera RAW with much more ease and are able to cut noise.
Shooting in RAW is recommended not only for low light food photography, but for every type of photography.
Shooting in RAW gives you flexibility of adjusting exposure, white balance, color and what not!!
7. Cuddle up the Shadows
Shooting with intense, directional artificial lights creates ‘hard’ shadows. Why not use them? Push the shadows further to a point where contrast is interestingly dynamic!
It’s time to enjoy the darkness. Don’t bounce light (use reflectors) this time. Let whatever light you have highlight your subject and leave not-so-important parts in the dark.
You will be surprised to see how lack of light can help you capture some breath-taking pictures.