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A Go-To Daylight Setup
The best advice for a beginning photographer is to start with daylight, explore it, and understand how you can manipulate its qualities. Daylight can be a bit difficult to work with, but is also the most flattering type of light in food photography. It can change its color, quality, and strength, which will drive you nuts, but can also create beautiful effects and happy accidents.
In the photo above you can see our favorite daylight set-up. Place a table close to a window, let the light come in through the side and slightly above the food, and mount the camera on a tripod over the scene. Overhead shots are great for ingredient shots, table scenes, and flat foods.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
02 of 03
Fine Tune the Light
I took a wider shot of my setting so that you can see what's going on in front of my camera. My goal is to get soft, diffused natural light that washes over the food. On the day of this shoot, I got lucky and it stayed overcast all day. In case the sunlight comes directly through my window, I place a diffusion screen or a translucent white curtain next to my scene. When I looked through my viewfinder I noticed that the light hit the surface a bit too hard, so I placed a couple of glass containers in its path to cut down the light and to create a subtle shadow play. Use whatever is around to manipulate the light, and don't be afraid to get creative. You will be surprised by the beautiful effects you can create with simple tools such as a mirror, water bottle, a piece of aluminum foil, or your curtains.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
03 of 03
In the photo above you can see that my camera is hooked on a tripod and connected to my laptop with a USB cable. (You probably can not see my JerkStopper, a little device that prevents the USB cable to be jerked out of the camera.) Shooting tethered allows me to study the image on a larger screen and to do minor edits on the fly. You'll be surprised how much you'll notice (and want to adjust) once you see your images on a larger scale. Lightroom and CaptureOne are two software examples that let you shoot tethered--most camera manufacturers offer software too. If your camera does not have tether capabilities, see if it has a Wi-Fi option and experiment with sending the images to your tablet or tv to see them on a larger scale. If you are working with an older camera, a Wi-Fi memory card might work for you.