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FAST CLASS: Food Photography

Lesson 8 of 14

Understanding Light Meters and Settings

Andrew Scrivani

FAST CLASS: Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani


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Lesson Info

8. Understanding Light Meters and Settings


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 What Is Food Porn? Duration:11:48
2 Food Photography Lighting Duration:07:14
3 Food Photography Props Duration:05:01
4 Food Styling Tips Duration:12:29
6 Camera for Food Photography Duration:13:53
9 Workflow Prep to Post Duration:09:51
10 Post Demo Duration:13:43
11 Photo Copyright Duration:06:09

Lesson Info

Understanding Light Meters and Settings

shutter speed is pretty self explanatory. It's how fast the shutter closes to record the image on the on either the film or the card. Right? The faster that number is the easier it is to stop action. So like water flowing and all these other things that does. That's one of those things where you have something that's moving where you really need a high shutter speed. So 250 of a second, 500th of a second. These are the this is where action is going to stop for you, where you're gonna still have detail and it's going to be crisp aperture for a lot of people who don't understand aperture. Okay, the best way to understand it is the human eye, right? The human eye and the eye of a camera work identically. So this let's say this is our I. And when we're in darkness, what happens the pupil of ri gets bigger to allow more light in. Right? So we're in darkness and you can look at your eye and it looks like the pupil is almost the entirety of the iris of your eye when you are in bright sunshine...

, that's why I have to When you're in bright sunshine, the pupil of your eye is like a dot. It closes down to protect your eye and to make sure that you can still see what's going on. Because if your if your pupil was wide open it would be like being having somebody shine a light right in your face. So the camera aperture is the same. So when it's like a pin point like this, this is the higher end, right? This is where you're talking about Like F 22, right? Where it's like a pin point, it's just really really tiny. And then when it's wide open like this, You know this is the bottom part where like with some of the better lenses you're talking about like 1.4, here's the problem with this. The idea is as it gets smaller, right? As as it gets smaller, the number gets bigger. Right smaller dot, bigger number. It's an inverse relationship as this gets bigger, this number gets smaller, right? That's I think the confusing part. I think in the initial stages of learning photography that was the thing I was having a hard time with understanding how bigger meant smaller and smaller meant bigger. So that's the idea is if you can relate it to something in the real world that you understand. If you relate it to the idea that your eye opens and closes with light, that's exactly what happens with aperture. The other thing I noticed with photography, especially stuff I see on the web is white balance. White balance is something that when you we shot film had to be calculated really carefully before you took your shot. It's very different. Now with digital because white balance is something that you can do in the camera and white balance is something that you can do in post production. It's always better to get your white balance correction as close as you can in camera, you should experiment with the auto white balance and then from there when you're editing your pictures, if you find that there are a little too blue or a little too orange based on the color temperature, you need to um make that correction in your camera. Now the color range that we use in photography ranges from around 2800 and we use what's called the Kelvin scale right? Goes to about 2800, which is called Tungsten light And we go to about 5500, which is daylight. We and food photography tend to be around 50 200. That's about the comfort zone that I found when I do post production sometimes it ranges from about 4800 to up to 52 above that. I mean it depends if you're outdoors where 5500, that's where that really, really bright white light comes in. But if you understand this, this is also a way to correct your color balance in post production or in camera where you understand the reality of what does this color light look like and what does this color light look like and how do you want that to be put into your into your camera setting? This is something that you can research but understand like if you're buying a bulb for indoor lighting right? You can get this rating on it and anything that's closer to the high range of this is closer to white light which is better for food photography. So let's talk about baby steps. Okay. Now I went through a lot of mathematics here of all these different things and I understand that counting and clicking but here's our here's our goal that red A. Okay we need to get rid of the red A. What's the read? A I say the red A. I'm going to do dr Seuss now you know this right? The red A. I say is automatic. This is what we don't want. Get rid of automatic. So what do we do take baby steps? What? So what's a baby step in getting from from auto to manual. These are the priority modes in your camera. There's an A. V. Mode which is aperture priority and it is an S. Something mode and most of them or something that has related to s which is a shutter priority mode. So we went through all this right? We started to say shutter is our priority in this particular image because we have movement right? But I'm not really comfortable yet in completely setting my camera up. So I have automatic white balance on. Okay that's taken care of. I know I want my shutter to be the thing that's the priority. So I set my camera to shut a priority and then it will automatically adjust the aperture in the camera To get you the shot you want. So if I need 250th of a second and I know I want to stop action. I set the camera at 200 shutter priority per second. Then that then the rest is the camera will take care of. Then I would go with those aperture priority shutter priority kind of settings to start to understand the relationship between those two things and then from there once you start to understand those things, learning how to read a light meter is the next part. Okay so do you have my light meter? I don't want to hold it in my hand. So when you're talking about using a light meter Which is one of those essential skills, all the things we just talked about in the last 10 or 15 minutes are all about how you use your light meter and how to set your camera settings. And here's my light meter. Okay so I said I talked about this yesterday. Okay so again this is like that whole priority thing on your camera. Right so I go here and I'm out. I set my first thing I do is I pushed the button to set I. S. O. And it's clearly stated here I. S. O. So I got it at 100. So now I've got that set at 125th of a second which is the beginning of my comfort zone for um for shooting. Now I have the mode button. Now the mode in this one gives you what's called a non chord mode which we're not going to use because that's when you have a strobe that's being blown and it'll read what the strobe is throwing. Then you have accorded mode where this thing is plugged right in to whatever you're working on your camera and your your tether or whatever and then that's gonna read it automatically. But what we're gonna do is ambient mode now ambient is obviously related to ambient light. The light that's around us, the light that's in the room. So so far on this meter I have it set for 100 I. S. O. And and 25th of a second. Now I can control that with the buttons on the side. So let's say I want my shutter to be 60 or I want my shutter to be 250. That's the first control that I have. So I make my decision what my priority is. So I'm at 125th of a second. My light is coming in from this direction. So I want this bulb to read the light that's coming in from this direction. So now it says to me I'm really at a hunt at 100 I. S. Oh I'm very low for for f stop for aperture I'm only at maybe 1.2. So that's not gonna work for me in here. So what's the first thing I want to do? I'm going to bump up my I. S. O. Okay so I'm gonna bump up my I. S. O. And as I do this it changes the numbers on the screen so tell me exactly where I need to be. So in order for me to get to four point oh I'm gonna keep clicking keep clicking keep clicking. And I need to be Close to 800 ISO in here for this particular shot. So this thing is your tutor. It's not only your essential tool but if you're learning how to work your camera this is the one that will teach you the relationships between the three numbers that we've talked about.

Class Description


Try a Fast Class – now available to all Creator Pass subscribers! Fast Classes are shortened “highlight” versions of our most popular classes that let you consume 10+ hours in about 60 minutes. We’ve edited straight to the most popular moments, actionable techniques, and profound insights into bite-sized chunks– so you can easily find and focus on what matters most to you. (And of course, you can always go back to the full class for a deep dive into your favorite parts.)

Full-length class: Food Photography with Andrew Scrivani

SUBSCRIBE TO CREATOR PASS and cue up this class and other FAST CLASS classes anytime.


  • Understand the business aspects of food photography, including food styling, pricing, negotiation, marketing, and copyrights
  • Shoot on a budget with a point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone
  • Prepare for your shoot and organize your materials
  • Learn food styling for various types of food, from soup to pastry
  • Write about food and create a blog


The food on your plate looks absolutely scrumptious. But somehow, when you take a picture of it, the result is less than appetizing. Great food photography isn’t just about taking a shot of a delicious dish, it’s about carefully selecting and styling your food, appropriately using natural light or studio light, and editing your images to leave viewers hungry.

World-renowned commercial photographer, food stylist, and New York Times columnist Andrew Scrivani will teach you the essentials of preparing your food before the shoot, using the right camera and lighting gear, and performing touch-ups in post-production. He’ll also give you expert advice regarding the business of food photography, so you can turn your hobby into your dream job. Special guest Shauna Ahern of the Gluten Free Girl blog and book fame will talk about food blogging, recipe writing, and growing your online audience.

This class will help you:

  • Select, prepare, and style your food so it looks professional and enticing.
  • Find and use the best gear for a food photo shoot.
  • Choose the right camera settings.
  • Create an optimal workflow and post-production process.
  • Deal with low indoor light by using inexpensive lighting equipment.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for food photography tips to expand your skillset or a novice using nothing more than a smartphone, this mouth-watering workshop will provide you with the strategies, tips, and techniques needed to captivate your viewers and reach your food photography goals.


  • Anyone who wants to become a professional food photographer or a photographer who wants to add additional revenue to their business by venturing into food photography.
  • Those who love taking pictures of food, but aren’t sure how to turn a hobby into a career or business.
  • Those who want to know how to choose the right food and style it appropriately for great food photography.
  • Bloggers who write about food but need high-quality images to go with their written content.
  • People who like to photograph food for their own pleasure, but want to take better, more professional-looking images.


Unicorn Dreamlandia

I loved this fast class, the whole course was very complete but in this fast class you can easily get the idea of the business!