Improving my Food Photography: Creating Lighting

(Last Updated On: January 9, 2013)

One thing I really want to achieve on my blog in 2013 is my food photography. I will be the first one to say that I am not very good at it. It’s not something that just comes natural to me. But I am trying to learn. There are a lot that goes into taking a photo: lighting, composition, angles, props, the food itself, etc. It can be overwhelming to try and master everything at once. So first I am starting with lighting. While natural light is best that isn’t always an option. Plus it isn’t always consistent (what time of day is it, what time of year, is it sunny, is it overcast). I felt a good place to start is learning how to master light that I create without having to worry about the external circumstances that I cannot control.

In these posts you are going to see me as I am learning. See my mistakes and triumphs. I hope they will be of help to other struggling food photographers. So what I started with here is taking a picture of a ginger cookie on the first plate I got out of the kitchen. I am not worrying about the composition just how the lighting looks.


This picture was taken using just the overhead light coming down from my ceiling fan in my living room at night. Not very good.

This picture was taken after I turned off the overhead light and turned on a desk lamp. You see better detail on on top of the cookie, but there is a huge shadow underneath. Not good.

For this picture I used white foam core to reflect some of the light from the desk lamp. Look at what a huge difference that makes. A simple $2 piece of foam core was able to get rid of that huge shadow. Still it’s not as clear and sharp as I would like. I did not own a DSLR camera, just a simple point and shoot with some limitations. My goal is to overcome those limitations.

This is the same picture that I edited using the online photo editors, Pixlr. I ran the Auto-Fix first and then did a couple minor tweaks by sharpening the picture slightly and increasing the vibrancy. Now it doesn’t look half bad. Not going to submit to any food photo sites, but it just shows with a little foam core and a brief free online photo editing session you can vastly improve the quality of a photo.