Do You Back Light Your Food Imagery?

IMG_20190521_050036_835Bigger Is Softer

We have all heard it before, or perhaps not if you are new to photography, “…the larger the light source, the softer it will be.” Softer light is the goal in most food photography. I say “most” because it isn’t always wanted. Believe it or not I have used hard light before and it has it’s affect on the overall image. For this post though let us focus on softer light. How does one capture this soft light? If you are fortunate enough to have at your disposal a large unobstructed south-facing window you have struck GOLD! This is the best for shooting inside and food as your subject. See Bea’s Cookbook for how she uses her large window to showcase her beautiful creations.


The above image I shot with a nearby window. It was about four feet to camera left with the shadows falling to the right. Here is the thing though, out that window is an over-story of large hardwoods which, if taken in the morning, this image would have a terrible green cast to it with all that light filtering through the leaves. I counteract this by simply waiting until the afternoon to shoot. Voila’! (Yes, I baked this heavenly sourdough)


I did the same idea using that nearby window for this food imagery. Ingredients for Chicken Tagine. It was about five in the evening close to the summer solstice so I had plenty of light…BTW this window faces east, not south but the effect still takes hold very well. So with softer light we achieve an even, pleasing effect either with or without using diffusion.  What if we have NO window from which to create that soft light?

Off-Camera Flash

There are other options…there are ALWAYS other options. As a photographer/artist/business person it is so important to be flexible and use our creative brains to solve little problems. (They are all little BTW) Off-camera flash may be intimidating but if you read manuals and can follow directions, you have it made. Plus you have to practice using the “master/slave” connection while in optical mode.(look it up) Here is a shot of a sour orange pie that I made.IMG_20190507_113900_901I achieved this food imagery by using a speed light, up and to the right, of the subject, diffused with nothing other than a shoot through umbrella. To fire the flash I didn’t use optical tech but a trigger with a transmitter and a receiver from Photix. Notice that hot spot on the right side of the pie. This was not intended but without it the surface would appear really flat/dull. IMG_20190507_113900_903

A closer view of a slice was shot the same way and turned out pretty well. I didn’t fuss much with styling as it really didn’t need it. Notice the texture of the whipped cream. Yes, it is real whipped cream! Oh and the pie was super delicious…thank you Cook’s Country!

Next in our bag o’ tricks is shooting food imagery using constant lights. We have three LEDs with and without diffusion so that will be in our next post. Any questions? We are always up to answer them. Thank you for reading our blog and we look forward to more food imagery fun!

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