Food Photography Lighting

Probably the single biggest question I get about food photography is lighting. Just like photographing anything else, food photography lighting can make or break your food shots but let’s talk about something more than just finding the best natural light in your house. What if you are one of those people who can only shoot at night? Or how about that daylight’s savings time, hey? Things like shorter hours of sunshine, long dark strings of winter days or only being able to shoot after 5pm can make a foodie photog want to pull out her hair.

Give me a bright, slightly overcast day any time & I’ll be a happy girl. But knowing how to use a lamp for night shooting is sometimes the only option you’ll have & it can also help to stretch your creative muscles when you’re feeling a bit uninspired. Here are some tips to help you get your best shot (hopefully without too many tears, because there shouldn’t be any crying in food photography).

Food photography lighting via Click it Up a Notch

Food photography lighting

1. Get the Right Gear
When I shoot at night I use a Lowell EGO tabletop fluorescent lamp. You do have to assemble it when it arrives but after that, it’s about as user friendly & simple as any table lamp could be. You put it where you want it & plug it in. It’s perfect for food photography because it’s small & lightweight. It can easily be stored away when you’re not shooting. You can place it on the floor or your table & it has a long cord in case your outlet isn’t right next to where you’re shooting. It also comes with a reflector card to use for bouncing your light.

Speaking of reflectors, I sometimes use more than one. I like to use inexpensive foam boards from the craft store.

I’m also a fan of using a tripod when I shoot in low light. Shooting food in dark light can be tricky. Sometimes you’re bent over at the waist if you’re subject’s on the ground or you’re squatting if your subjects on a small end table. Rarely are you standing in a perfect position with two feet firmly on the floor. This can be problematic when a high ISO, slow shutter speed & shaky hand all meet together! I use a Manfrotto tripod.

2. White Balance
This is one of those situations where white balance can easily ruin your shot if not set correctly. I use Kelvin for white balance. Since I’m dealing with a florescent lightbulb, I adjust my Kelvin anywhere from 4000K to 5000K. If you’re using a camera that doesn’t allow you to adjust white balance in Kelvin I would suggest starting with the setting used for fluorescent light.

3. Consider Diffusing your Light
That table lamp can get awfully bright & sometimes it seems to cast a harsh light on your frame. If you’re feeling frustrated that your shot is either blown out or underexposed, consider diffusing the light with a white curtain or sheet. A lot of people are a fan of using a thin, white, cotton t-shirt too. Experiment with different ways to diffuse your light & again, be aware of what you’re using & how it could affect your white balance.

Below are examples of using the table lamp with & without a diffuser. You can see how adding a t shirt to diffuse the light gives it a softer light. All images are SOOC.

Food photography lighting via Click it Up a Notch

Food Photography. Night Shooting.

4. Use your Reflector (or Two)
In a dark room with a bright light pointing at your plate, shadows will start popping up fast. By using at least one reflector, you’ll be able to bounce that light back into your frame. If you still find there are too many shadows consider using a second reflector. As I mentioned before, I’m a fan of inexpensive foam boards you can buy anywhere.

These images are all SOOC & shot with the same settings of ISO 800 / f3.2  / 1/125 K4550

Food photography lighting via Click it Up a Notch

Here’s a pull back of my 2 reflector set up. The lighting & reflectors provide a sutler change but enough that I think you can see it might be worth using two reflectors if you want more even light in your shot.

Food Photography. Night Shooting.

Hopefully with some practice & these helpful tips you’ll be able to create images at night that are just as lovely as your natural light images!

Food Photography. Night Shooting

Diffused table lamp. Two reflectors. ISO 800 | f 3.2 | 1/125 K5000

Gift Ideas for Photographers

Finding the right gift can be a challenge. We wanted to help you whether you are searching for someone or don’t know what to ask for, we have created a great list of gift ideas for photographers. Our list includes some of our favorites and some we are hoping for as well. Some links are affiliate links so thanks in advance if you purchase something and support Click it Up a Notch.

Gift ideas for photographers via Click it Up a Notch

Gift ideas for photographers

Stocking stuffers:
gift ideas for photographers 2
Editing Day Mug
*Anyone in my family reading this…take note*
How cute is this coffee mug! Maybe if you feel this lovely up with tea and coffee you will stay motivated to sit and get all your editing done. Plus there are tons of other photography related mugs and more on this site.

Eye-fi card
The Eyefi card is perfect for the photographer who wants quick access to her shots on another device. You can take a shot and if you want to use it for Instagram you can quickly view it on your iPhone & then share. It saves time when you want to share something fast.

Joby GripTight GorillaPod Smartphone Tripod Stand (XL)
A really flexible and stable tripod for your smartphone makes capturing photos super easy! So much potential for creative perspectives–you can wrap this thing around a tree branch and shoot from the bird’s eye! So much fun!

Peak Design Capture Camera Clip” target=”_blank”>Peak Design Capture Camera Clip
This clip allows you the ability to carry your DSLR directly on your backpack strap, belt or purse bag—right there!! So close! It’s a quick release for instant access to get that shot. Ideal for any situation where you’re carrying your camera around and wanting to shoot as you go–hikes, photo walks, weddings, etc!

Bronze Vintage Camera Necklace (Blue)
Show of your love of photography with this fun necklace.

The Unexpected Everyday
If that photographer in your life is looking for a 30 day challenge to improve their skills and capture the everyday moments of their little one’s lives, this ebook is exactly what they need.

Gift card to Design Aglow or Artifact Uprising
Both of these companies are my new obsessions. They have so many cool products and since it would be hard to know exactly which one your photographer would want, go ahead and get them a gift card. They will thank you for it!

Under the tree:
gift ideas for photographers
Manfrotto tripod
This Manfrotto tripod is perfect for food photography. Relatively light weight, with an easy to use ball head. It’s sturdy enough to hold a heavy DSLR & has a quick release plate with safety. While it doesn’t have the smallest minimal height available, at 19 inches, it’s still a good height for table top shots.

Lowel EGO Tabletop Lamp
This lamp is the one thing that saves you in the winter when shooting food! You can now shoot at night with it.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5
A powerful editing tool that polishes off your photos with a variety of controls and adjustments! Read more about why we love Lightroom and some of our basic Lightroom tips.

Forever Notes
This is perfect for the photographer who not only wants to capture the photo but loss to write down their thoughts day. A 365 daily journal leaves space for you to write and for the child to draw or include an image. Already ordered one to give as a gift.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 and film
The Fujifilm Instax is perfect for any photographer wanting to capture fun and unique snapshots Polaroid style. It’s also so easy to use that the littlest members in your family can contribute to the fun too!

SHUTTER|bag camera bag
I adore my SHUTTER|bags. They hold up well and are so stylish. I use this bag not only for my camera bag but my everyday bag as well. The padding helps keep my gear safe and there is plenty of room for my personal items. Use the code: CLICKITUP to receive $25 off.

Clickin’ Moms membership
Clickin’ Moms is a friendly forum for both beginner and seasoned photographers. Clickin’ Moms offers tutorials anywhere from shooting and editing to finding your style, portfolio building, and building a business. And as always live interaction with other photographers. It’s a go to place to learn for any photographer wanting to build skills, take classes, and build relationships with others in the field.

Photography heart tee
I may have just bought this as I was putting this guide together. It’s too cute to wait for Santa to bring it to me. I love a graphic tee and this one is simple and is so me.

Santa baby:
gift ideas for photographers santa
Tamron 70-200mm 2.8
This lens is amazing! The compression, focal length and color are incredible. It blows me away every time I put it on my camera. You can read more about how great this lens is – 70-200mm 2.8 review.

Nikon D750
This camera is amazing. It’s light weight, includes video and wi-fi plus has great ISO capabilities. I sure hope this one ends up under my tree.

Looking for more gift ideas for photographers:
Gift ideas for photographers
A photographers wish list
Photographer’s Christmas wish list

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