Food Photo 101-2: Photonic Inspirations

November 16, 2007 in Food Photo 101, photography

mushroom macro

Lighting can be frustrating in food photography, no doubt. One can accrue rules and think they got it but sometimes certain subjects rather like lighting that would make other subjects die a photonic death.

I have put these photos up for you to consider. These mushrooms LOVE the strong direct light from the almost straight-above sunshine. We have delightful detail in the mushroom gills, neat slight fuzz on the stem, the oddness of the giganto scale, etc.

What is extra special about these images? The light catches water droplets and highlights a completely different dimension and texture in the photo.

I shot these with my Fujifilm FinePix S3100 P&S.

mushroom yumminess

On the other end of the gamut, using extremely soft light with a bit of a harsh key light (off to the right) can give you amazing results.

egg - soft lighting

Leave me a comment if you can figure out how I made this shot .. notice the lighting, the background, and the reflection.

Alas, you have to watch out for harsh artificial lighting, always. Sunlight contains the full spectrum, although different atmospheric conditions will filter it differently. Cheap artificial light is inherently reduced in it’s spectral qualities (not being made by a more expensive daylight balanced light). This will give you a color cast that you will need to white balance out.

Case in Point: This one is fantastically woeful in that regard! This was shot with the FinePix S3100 P&S as well.

electronic mushroom

Laughter is a goodness, laugh away! The one awesome thing about this photo is that at least I was experimenting :-).

Note to all budding food stylists: electronic components have no place in food photography.

Here is another example where harsh overhead lighting is used but in this case it was NOT a good thing.

Today's lunch: 8-2

I just wanted to add this last photo, below. The lighting was diffuse northern light from behind. This is the very first food photo I took (Fujifilm FinePix S3100 P&S). When I saw how the humor could translate and then when I saw how people responded to it on flickr, I was hooked!

mustard 1

Take Home Messages:

  • Experiment extensively with every photoshoot with an eye to pegging the “best” conditions.
  • While your experimenting, step out of what you think MIGHT be the best condition and try the risky ones.
  • Dont leave your photos all alone on your disk drive, take them out for a test drive on flickr for some feedback (but put on your tough-skin jacket if you submit it to critique forums).

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