Food Photography Tip of the Week |17|
Change it up!
Last week I had an aha moment. It totally blew my mind while at the same time making me completely embarrassed at myself. And now you get to hear about it.
The photo above shows how I typically have my photo station set up. Sometimes I cover the north window if I want a lot of shadow for an overhead shot or if I want a truly backlit photo [facing east]. I will also sometimes face north and put a board up to create a background and block most of the northern light. This gives me a side lit shot with light coming from the east. Since I started shooting in at the new house this is pretty much how I’ve done things. However, I’ve always felt somewhat limited with the light even having two windows.
Eastern light can typically be harsh since it’s in the direct path the sun takes, but I do wait until the morning sunlight passes so it’s not direct. Or, I’ll cover it with a thin white sheet to help diffuse. But still, I haven’t loved the photos and have become pretty frustrated. This is the best location in the house for photos, so I’ve tried my best to make it work.
One thing I’ve felt that I haven’t been able to achieve in this new-ish space of mine is a fully lit, bright photo with little to no shadow. This is directly correlated to the window orientation and the direction I’m facing to take the photos. This I knew.
Below is an example when I’m facing east. This was taken around 4pm so the light was already up and over our house, creating a nice, soft light. There was also light coming in from the northern window. It’s common to hear natural light photographers prefer northern light for it’s soft feel + consistency.
You can see the front is in shadow with light coming in from the back + side. This is a great effect sometimes but not always.
So after nearly one year in this space I made a change. One very easy change.
I pulled the cart about 4 feet to the other side of the kitchen, which gave me indirect northern side light and indirect eastern front light.
And would you look at that. My fully lit, vibrant, nearly shadow-less photo.
I first tried this out last week after becoming completely annoyed with the light while photographing the grilled cherry milkshakes.
In the setup you see below I’m facing north and the gray board is blocking some of the northern light. The photo is mostly lit with indirect eastern light. I didn’t like how shadowed the side of the glass was and how blown out the spoon handle was. I tried bouncing light with a white board on the left [west] side of the glass but it just wasn’t doing it for me.
And here’s where I turned counterclockwise by 90 degrees, facing west with my back to the east.
The cherry color was more vibrant with more consistent lighting on the entire face of the glass. The slight shadows on the left side of the glass were exactly what I wanted.
The spoon still had a bit of harshness to it, which is when I decided to take the photo below [which took about 15 attempts].
I was seriously in shock and also like, DUHHH.
This post is similar to the idea from the guest post by Sonja and Alex, which was to “move your feet.” While I already was moving my feet, trying different angles + positions, I never thought to actual move my entire table.
Total game changer.
Where before I felt somewhat burdened by this 2-window setup, I am now loving it so much. I feel like I have entire new set of lighting options to choose from.
How have you changed it up lately?