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Five Tips for Food Photography with Low Light or Winter

Five Tips for Food Photography with Low Light or Winter


All seasoned food bloggers will know that the daily struggle of taking beautiful photos during winter is real.

Throughout December and January in the UK, you can expect to get a measly eight hours of  sunlight, which makes taking pictures using natural light pretty impossible.

Here at the HBC, we are not willing to take no for an answer (just try to stop us taking pictures of our food). We asked some of our favourite bloggers their top tips for taking food pictures on gloomy days, and this is what we found.

Use an artificial light

For us, natural light will always trump artificial light. However, sometimes it’s just not possible to get a good picture in winter. This is when an intensely bright, non-overhead lamp can come in handy. To get the best results, turn off all lights other than your artificial light: you want your light to be the only thing illuminating your food. Pairing it with a reflector works well but you could also use a light box to prevent shadows and reflections.

This tabletop fluorescent light doesn’t come cheap but does an amazing job. Or for a more mid-range but equally as impressive lamp, we recommend this PhotoSEL tabletop studio lamp. If you fancy making your own DIY artificial light studio with a smaller and cheaper light, this tutorial may help!

Take photos outside

Instead of taking photos of your food indoors next to a window, go outside. Unless it’s raining, you can often get much more light and adjust your camera settings to make the pictures warmer.

Use a reflector

Enhance the amount of natural light in your pictures with a reflector. You could use a mirror, foil or even just a piece of white cardboard! Using a shiny surface allows you to bounce light where you want to and reduce dark shadows where you need to. You can easily add specular highlights to food and improve the brightness of your photography this way.

Adjust your white balance

Learning how to adjust the white balance on your camera can help to warm the tones in your photography. In the winter, the harsh light can give a cold, blue-ish cast to your pictures. Try experimenting by moving your white balance to daylight, shade, or even cloudy before you shoot.

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Take photos around midday

A great excuse for lunch time blogging, taking your pictures between 11-2 will help you to make the most of the day’s natural light. Direct summer sunlight is often too harsh on food, creating too many shadows, so the slightly darker and cloudier days of winter work to your benefit by diffusing the light.

Use Lightroom or Photoshop to brighten your pictures manually

An easy way to make your photos pop is to gently edit them by raising the clarity, saturation and vibrance slider bars. This helps to make the colours stand out just a bit more, and you can increase the brightness levels if necessary too.

Surprisingly, most of the food bloggers we spoke to still prefer to use natural light to a day light lamp in their food photography in winter! We hope these suggestions help to improve your winter photography game.

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