How to take good food photos in low light

In AdviceLeave a Comment

jo harding. food photography, food styling

Food is one of life’s most powerful medicines. I’m a true testament that once you find the right diet for you, you can overcome chronic illness through the healing power of food. Starting this blog has been my dream and whilst i’m definitely becoming more of a creative cook, my pictures weren’t quite matching those Good Food magazine shots I drool over on a daily basis! Good looking food is all about light and presentation. I’ve been lucky enough to attend two of William Reavell’s food photography course’s already. The man is a genius, I think he could make a rotten cauliflower look like a bundle of soft dewy snow! Not only that, he’s a total pleasure to learn from. Always so welcoming and patient so when this course on how to master low light photography came up and specifically tailored for food bloggers, I knew I had to attend.

If you read any food photography book, everyone talks about the importance of natural light, which I totally agree with, but lets be honest, most of us bloggers are trying to feed a hungry brood and many, like me, work full time. By the time I get home and have actually cooked a recipe I’m left with darkening skies at best. The course set out to cover how to work in the confines of our kitchens at home, how to use artificial lighting when in low light situations and basic post production techniques using Lightroom and Photoshop.

Could we really replicate natural daylight using artificial lighting?

I was keen to find out.

The day started at 10 am and we were welcomed with breakfast and a nice cuppa tea! The group was small and intimate, 6 of us in total meaning we each had plenty of time with Will individually.  We were lucky enough to have the amazingly talented Tara to help us with food styling.

William Reavell, food photography workshop, Paleo Crust

The structure of the food photography course was really informal and a great balance between hands on practical work and demonstration. We were all asked to bring our cameras and were given a quick run through of the basic camera settings like aperature, ISO, shutter speed for those who hadn’t done much photography before then it was straight into the practical work. Will guided us through how to tether our cameras to our laptops to see our shots directly on Adobe Lightroom. This was game changer number one. It’s amazing the things you notice when you can actually see it on screen. I never realised how drunk some of my shots looked sloping off to bizarre angles!

Time to rig up the artificial lights

Wow these things are big. I felt like I was in a film studio, waiting for Channing Tatum to turn up, oh sorry dreaming again! Will ran through the differences between using just a soft box against flash and also how if you want to avoid that yellow glow you need a daylight bulb in your soft box and to change the setting on your camera to tungsten. Scribbling notes furiously at this time! We used lights from Elinchrom and just one directional light source to replicate natural daylight, bouncing it off the walls to avoid unnecessary shadows. As there were already two windows in the kitchen it was interesting to see the influence these had on the shots. We played around with blocking off windows, incorporating the natural light and moving the artificial light to different positions to see the varying effects.

brushetta, food photography, food styling, Paleo Crust

After the practical it was time to break for lunch, wonderfully prepared by Tara. Getting to know the other food bloggers was brilliant ( MelGraceAlexGemma and Marta), each with their own stories and offerings of support.

Post production

The afternoon focussed on post production. How to import our photos into Lightroom and then the basic editing techniques to make them ‘pop’. We discussed watermarking and copyrighting our material to avoid people stealing them and then how to export to Photoshop for the finessing. Removing an unwanted crumb for example and how to add highlights to certain elements of a dish. Scribbling notes furiously again!!!

As I cycled home I was literally buzzing. I’d never have thought I could have learnt so much in the short space of 6 hours. This has to be the best food photography course I have ever attended. It was perfect for the stage I was at and my continual frustration with insufficient lighting. Will and Tara are the dream team. I met some wonderful people that I know will become dear friends. If you’re looking for an introduction into artificial lighting and its use in low light situations, I’d highly recommend you book now onto this food photography course.

The food photography course currently runs in a studio in Elephant and Castle , London and costs £250 for the day.

Share this Post

About the Author
Jo Harding

Jo Harding

My food philosophy is all about awakening a carefree, happier, healthier you whilst reducing inflammation and toxins in the body. I believe the secret to radiant health starts and ends with a super strong gut so my recipes are all grain, gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. I want my blog to show how simple and tasty healthy food really is and by using a little imagination, you can still enjoy all your ‘crust’ food favourites without feeling bored or deprived. I’m here to show you that eating low starch paleo is so much more than just bland meat and overboiled veg!

Leave a Comment