Photo Tips: Great Ways to Light Your Food After Dark

  • 01 of 06

    What to do when it's dark outside?

    Salad lit by DIY softbox
    Salad lit by DIY softbox. Evi Abeler

    I always advocate for photographing your dishes in diffused natural light. It simply is the most flattering, appealing, and cheapest light for food photography. But—what’s a girl going to do when it is dark outside? Resist the urge to use your on-camera or, even worse, your​ phone’s flash. Your food will look flat and unappetizing, I guarantee. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a fancy light kit either. You just need to know how to manipulate and diffuse the light you can afford. Here...MORE are 5 lighting setups, from hack to pro, that will make your dinner photos look like you took them at noon. 

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  • 02 of 06

    Construction Light Hack

    DIY softbox in action
    DIY softbox in action. Evi Abeler

    You probably already have a construction light or other clamp light in your garage or basement. Make sure to use a daylight balanced fluorescent light bulb with it. The other ingredient you need is heat-resistant translucent paper. I found that white backing paper works quite well. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to hack your construction lights.

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  • 03 of 06

    Fluorescent Light Bulbs

    Lowel Ego Lights
    Lowel Ego Lights. Tiffen/Lowel

    Fluorescent light bulbs have come a long way in recent years. Kinoflo bulbs are reliable and daylight balanced lights that work well for food photography. Lowel makes a wonderful Ego Lighting Kit that includes diffusion screens and background papers. I think that this is an easy to use and affordable light setup for any food blogger or amateur photographer.

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  • 04 of 06

    Fluorescent Light Tubes

    Kino Flo setup with diffuser. Evi Abeler Photography

    Hearing the words fluorescent tubes might make you shiver, but we are not talking about the greenish flickering light in your gym’s changing room. Daylight balanced Kinoflo fluorescent bulbs are my favorite artificial lights for food photography. Here is how to setup your fluorescent lights.

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  • 05 of 06

    Off Camera Speed Lights

    Speedlight setup
    Speedlight setup. Evi Abeler

    There might be a little speedlight in your camera bag, waiting to be discovered. Most people don’t know how to use their off-camera flash. They try it a few times, with mostly horrible results and then toss it in their bag. Yes, it does take some practice and you have to get out of auto mode, but speedlights are powerful tools that can create beautiful light. As with all the other lights, do make sure you diffuse. Here is how you set-up your speedlight.

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  • 06 of 06

    Pro Softbox

    Softbox setup
    Softbox setup. Evi Abeler

    This is where you can spend real money! Professional lighting equipment is very pricey, but, oh the light they produce is stunning. Your first decision will be whether you want to work with flash or continuous light. Both have their unique advantages and disadvantages. There are plenty of brands to drool over. Learn more about softboxes.