Available lighting

Sometimes a studio food shot takes a lot of skill and equipment to set up. Some can take hours to position the lights just right to make the food look succulent and delicious. Some location shots can take just as long if not longer. Other times you just need to use the available light to its best advantage.


(Camera: iPhone. Lens: 3.8mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f.2.8. ISO: 122)

My wife, daughter and I recently went out to dinner at a little restaurant called Palermo Ristorante Italiano in Elk Grove. The food was very tasty, service and atmosphere were decent and it was all reasonably priced. There was even live Jazz when we were there on a Friday night. I wanted to take a photo to post on FaceBook to recommend the place to my friends, but I had left my camera bag at home (I know, I know, what’s the first rule of photography? Always have a camera). But I was able to borrow the camera of my wife’s iPhone.

In addition to some rapidly dwindling window light, each table was illuminated by a single small halogen light over head, which created a vague circle of warm light at the center. When my dinner came, Prawns Olivia (prawns sauteed in olive oil, wine, butter and garlic), I moved the plate to the edge of the circle of light closest to me, nearly outside of the spot entirely. The angle of light gave it an almost backlit appearance.  There was light falloff at the upper part of the circle which got the look of a background spot light to make the picture complete.

The dish looked warm, inviting and delectable. Had I left the plate at the center of the light, it would have appeared flat and a bit unappetizing. But moving it just about a foot or so used the light that was there to its best advantage.

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