3 min read

Photo Friday-Food Photography with artificial lights


spaghetti with a lamb ragu

I posted a photo of this spaghetti dish on Flickr yesterday.  It’s your basic “spag bol” (however let’s call it a lamb ragu) made with lamb mince instead of beef or a combination of pork and veal.  I didn’t want to bore everyone with another basic spaghetti dish on the blog.  However, I did want to share how I photographed this shot.  This post was especially written for Anh and Xiaolu who  were curious about my set up over this dish.  I recently purchased a set of Elinchrom lights and I am happy to say that I have been experimenting with artificial lights for food photography in the last few weeks.  One of my goals this year was to learn food photography with artificial lights.  It’s been a tremendous learning curve and at times quite frustrating.  I ‘m trying to get my head around that I’m not using natural light! The more I play around with these artificial lights the more I am enjoying it.  The fear initially was quite strong but like anything I’m enjoying the challenge.  As a matter of fact it’s been quite refreshing not to have to set up everything in the room with the biggest window!  I think if you challenge yourself enough you can achieve anything.

My love of shooting on darker backgrounds has definitely not gone away.  I’m finding with artificial lights I can control the mood a lot more rather than having to rely on Mother Nature.  Again, I haven’t given up on photographing with natural light.  It still remains as my favourite way to photograph and capture food.  The photograph of the lamb ragu was set up in my lounge room.  I used a softbox to cover the lights and I pointed them away from the food-they are placed on the right hand side of the set up.  The lights faced a large white wall about 6 feet away from the picture set up and I had switched them to their lowest power setting (which for the Elinchrom’s is 2.0).  I’m finding with artificial lights there’s a lot of moving around and adjusting the power settings before you find the desired “sweet spot” and effect you’re after. (this has been my experience!). On the left hand side of the set up I used a piece of black foamcore to enhance the darkness and mood.  The rest was a little post processing in Lightroom to tidy up the picture. My next experiment will be photographing “white on white” using artificial lights.

In the mean time please enjoy another picture of a simple pasta dish.  Spaghetti with a tomato sauce.  My “go-to” dish for those nights when I can’t be bothered cooking anything too laborious.  This was photographed in all natural light.  I was after a straight forward , stark, plain pasta shot.  In the end it doesn’t matter what lighting you use.  I have always said it’s important to understand how the light affects your subject and what you want to achieve.  I often say “it’s all good”.  And it is.  I hope you enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you around the blog next week with a few more recipes.

If you prefer a simpler way to use artificial lights check out these Lowel Ego Lights. They do a great job.

spaghetti with a tomato sauce