In the summer of Virginia, should take photos in evening. It stays light pretty late. Sometimes you can take shots at lunchtime to get real picture. If this does work out through the winter months, it can be too dark to get those really lovely light filled shots. It can work out good. Natural winter light can be really magnificent. It can have an almost dreamy, distant quality. It can also be gone in a flash too.

Now a lot of people spout out food should only be shot in natural light. But natural light is a great way to help make food look wonderful, but it certainly isn’t the only one way.  Light changes too much, so continuity can be a problem. Artificial light isn’t bad. It really isn’t. Some of my favorite shots on this blog I took using artificial light in a room with no windows. Unfortunately it can also be far too easy to turn up artificial light food photography, and then end up making food look greasy, fake and unappealing.


1) Buy a light rig

Natural light is basically free, but in my mind good artificial light isn’t. There are a few options here like Umbrella lights, Soft Boxes lights,

2) Diffuse, diffuse, and diffuse

This is the complete key to artificial light food photography. Take the bright light and diffuse it. If you want soft, voluminous light, not pointy sharp light that makes food look greasy and unappealing. Soft light give the look of foods more depth and dimension too.

If you use an umbrella light, you already have the diffusion in that case. Either bounce the light off the umbrella, back in to the scene or turn the stand around so that the light is cast through the umbrella on to your subject.

You can diffuse this further using a sheet of artist vellum held in a frame. You can stretch this vellum out between two posts too if you want. Position the vellum between the light and the subject. Make sure not to get it too close to the light, otherwise you might melt or burn the vellum.


3) Bounce it

There is little natural fill light in the winter, especially when shooting at night. You want to use a sheet of white card to spring back light back in the scene. This adds some light to the shadows, helping fill out shape, and not make the lighting too harsh.

4) Prep everything in advance

This is quite important. Halogen lights can get really hot. If you use a small room, and a strong light, then the place can heat up quickly and food can start to wilt pretty fast. Get everything ready to start, then turn on that bright light of yours. Work fast and keep it simple. Turn the hot lights off when you aren’t shooting or adjusting your lighting.

5) Turn off the incandescent lights

Need to turn those off lights before you start taking pictures. Even with the bright halogen lighting the way, those will have an effect on your shot and cast a nasty color tint to your work as well and can destroy it.