Food photography-lighting and backdrops?

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by phrenic, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Hi folks,

    My wife has asked for some assistance taking pictures of her cooking, and we've noticed our kitchen isn't great for it. Incandescent lighting (though good diffused sunlight by day) but it would be nice to have a bit more control.

    I was thinking a simple 2 light source setup should be fine to eliminate shadows, and then maybe find some neutral or textured backgrounds? Hoping to spend less than 50$. I also have a Nissin Di466 for flash though I'm not sure if that's a very good option vs constant light sources. Anyone have any suggestions?

    I was thinking maybe I could try my hand at those DIY tent like this How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent – DIY
    but the downside is that we are in a small apartment so the less odd/big bulky stuff the better!

    Thanks. :thumbup:
  2. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I prefer the DIY approach. And mirrors ... lots of mirrors. I have 4 flashes and I'm not afraid to use them all at once either.

    Sneaky food photo tip ... dry ice to create that bit of wispy "smoke" like stuff to give the illusion of hot out of the oven look - some tricky back lighting to highlight the smokiness is nice. I do also tend to prefer black backgrounds over white.
  3. inkista

    inkista Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 13, 2012
    San Diego, CA
    Just me, but I don't think you need a backdrop. Clearing a bit of counter space and shooting from macro distances will pretty much give you a clean(ish) background for the most part--out-of-focus blur can hide a lot.

    The flash you have is probably your best bet, and you can simply use pieces of cardboard or typing paper as reflectors to do your fill light.

    You also probably don't need modifiers, unless you've got super-high ceilings. Just bounce the flash. And diffused window light will work, too.

    Simple diffused lighting and an organic feel tends to fit best with food photos. You're not gonna be doing white seamless shooting, here, as with product shots. :D Watcha white balance, though. White balance can mean the difference between an appetizing shot and one that looks non-edible. You may need to gel the flash to match the window light.

    Last thing: angle counts. You do not want a straight-down shot. You want an angled in-amongst-it shot.

    Here's me doing food photography with a truly craptastic lunchbox.


    Main light is diffused from a window (upper left), a little bit of fill (lower right) from flash I bounced from behind me and to the right. Could have has easily used a reflector.

    If the light is already soft, you don't need a light tent.
  4. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Sorry for the slow response, but thanks for all the suggestions folks! I like the idea of the all-in-one kit. As long as it packs up small..

    The light is mostly soft, but it's inconsistent and often my shooting is at night with only ugly incandescent lighting.

    I need to put a little thought into current set-up isn't always so patient. ;)

  5. gnb40

    gnb40 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 9, 2011
    Real Name:
    Take a look at my one light set up: (Photography | m43Trek | Page 4)

    Scroll down the page and there's a lighting diagram. It uses 1 flash, a cheap umbrella, and some cheap foamcore. It might give you some ideas.
  6. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    Very nice and cheap setup, the bag photo looks great.
  7. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    For food photography you might also consider to get Yellow/Red gel or golden umbrella. This will give warmer colors that can do miracles to cooked foods.