Food Photography With Flashes and Favas

I started a long and rambling post on food photography here, but I thought I would start trying to add a few posts on what goes on behind the scenes here at Cookography. I took these photos back when I was working on my post on fava beans and how much they suck. I am hopeful this gives you a better idea of what goes into taking the photos, figure out how you can make them better, and how to read a photo to learn how the lights were positioned.

First off, this is sort of a boring, simple photo. I just wanted to show how the different lighting elements contribute to the photo. The overall setup is pretty simple–the food is on a piece of white matte board that is resting on a folding work bench. There is a light stand with Nikon SB-26 flash and a shoot through umbrella to the left of the camera. On the other side of the table from the camera is another light stand and Nikon SB-26 flash with PhotoFlex Small LiteDome soft box. I got the softbox, stand and flash connector together as a kit, which was a great purchase.

One Light From Rear


As you can see this is a pretty simple setup. The rear flash casts a shadow that falls forward. The shadow is pretty soft though. The edge of the shadow is not a distinct edge and fades out gradually.

One Flash With A Reflector



So the only thing different with this shot is that I setup the umbrella in the front and to the left of the camera. The flash attached to the umbrella is not firing, but the light from the rear light is bouncing off the umbrella. Since food is a small subject you can really do a lot with just one light and a lot of reflectors. The shadows underneath the fava pod have lightened up a bit. The shadows in the front of the pods have also lightened a bit.

Two Flashes



Ok, here we have both the flashes firing. The dark shadows are largely gone and the lighting has become pretty even across the bean. The flash in the soft box was set one stop lower than the flash in the umbrella.

So let me know, is this helpful? Is there something I can explain in a little more depth? I will try to do couple more posts like this future, so now is your chance to shape them.

3 thoughts on “Food Photography With Flashes and Favas

  1. I am excited to find your post. Am a happy amateur, have never understood lighting at all, and actually understand a bit now. I mostly take pictures of my cooking product to send to my sister and my daughter, to share what I am doing. Am interested in using different colors for surface, to look more like a table serviing.

  2. Hello Luke, your explanations are very helpful, above all knowing that I love natural lighting for still life and food photograph!

    Thank you very much.

  3. Hello,
    I find your tutorial is very informative. Food photography is become my newbie. So far I shoot with natural light. but I haven’t had any luck with it lately as the weather keep changing so fast from time to time. Mostly when I am done cooking, I find no enough natural light anymore.
    So I am thinking to buy inexpensive lighting. I don’t have much budget for this hobby right now though.
    Do you have any idea which one is giving soft light with low budget.
    appreciate your help:)

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