When you shoot with artificial lighting, you have all the control over it. But, there’s a lot to have in mind if you want to get your shots just the way you want them. In this informative video, Joanie Simon of The Bite Shot discusses the three most important things that you should always keep in mind when photographing food with artificial lights. And even though she is focused on food photography, this is something everyone should have in mind when using studio lights.
You can diffuse all types of lighting: natural and artificial; strobes or continuous lighting. But no matter the type of lighting you work with, there are some things to keep in mind about the diffusion. First, remember that, if you add more diffusion, the light will become softer and the shadows will be less hard.
Then, you can use a diffusion material (you can DIY it), or use a softbox. There’s also an option to add a baffle to the softbox for extra diffusion. And finally, have the thickness in mind. The thicker the diffusion material is, the softer the light is going to be.
Another thing to consider is the size of your light source. Larger light sources give smaller, softer shadows, whereas the smaller light source gives more intense, harder shadows.
When it comes to food photography, Joanie would say that “bigger is better.” But account for the diffusion as well – this is why you can have a small light source, and when you diffuse it – it practically becomes a large light source.
Just to give you an idea of how big the light source should be: the smallest softbox Joanie owns is 35 in. But of course, you can go beyond that, and she often uses a larger diffusion material, too.
Joanie points put that this is what people often do wrong when using artificial lighting. However, the proximity of the light source to the subject is important to have in mind for several reasons. First, the size of the shadows: the closer the light source is to your subject, the smaller the shadows are going to be. And the further the light source, the smaller the shadows.
The proximity of the light source to the diffusion material is another thing to consider. The closer the light source is to the diffusion material, the harder the shadows are going to be. Logically – the further the light, the softer the shadows.
Finally, don’t forget that the proximity of the light source determines how bright your scene will be. When the light is closer to the subject, the scene will be brighter, so adjust your settings as you move the light source closer or further away from the subject.
[3 Tips for Using Artificial Lights for Food Photography | The Bite Shot]