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Getting Started in Professional Food Photography

Lesson 13 of 21

LED Lighting Overview


Getting Started in Professional Food Photography

Lesson 13 of 21

LED Lighting Overview


Lesson Info

LED Lighting Overview

So, I'm going to go with, the one I use for commercial, anything that's not moving, I use LED Lighting. And I use the Data Lights and the Flex Lights, pretty much exclusively now. I got started using the ICE Lights, and I'll grab one. This is actually how my style as it is now, got started. And I don't know why that was on. Why was that on? How long is the battery life on this? (laughter) I've used, I've actually had a cab in New York, run over one of these and it didn't break. I was shooting in Dumbo in Brooklyn, and I left it. It rolled out of my bag and I didn't know it, on the sidewalk and a car ran over it. It was fine. It was totally crazy. But this is actually the ICE Light 2. But this is kind of how I got started. These have barn doors that attach to them. These are fairly expensive. I think they're worth it, I really do. They're tough and they're really strong and powerful. Especially the new ones. They have a lot longer battery life. But I had the barn doors, I closed them do...

wn, and when I was on location in a restaurant, they would have a plate of food. And I would just go like this with the barn doors and I would double up daylight immediately in one hand. And I would just take a shot with the other hand. Or, I'd be down on a tripod preferably. But this is a really good tool. If I had one, if there's one tool that I could have that was reasonably priced, it would be this. The Flex, is a step up from this. I would start with this, go to a one by one Flex. But they're commitments. They're like $2 grand for the soft box, right here. So you get a couple of those and then you're starting to talk about some money. But they are amazing and they last a long time, it's LED. It really is worth it. They don't burn out, they're fantastic, they're bright. I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but we were shooting cinema at 400 frames a second, somewhere in there. With just these, just this light. And we had enough light to capture that much speed, with just these lights. They're really amazing. But I'll quit gushing about these. But this really is a handy light. Thank you very much. So compared to natural light, LED is close. The reason I say that, there's a CRI Index, I believe, I don't know the science behind it very well. It's just the index of how light reflects, how light reflects colors in a scene. And daylight is 99, I don't know why it's not 100. Maybe it is 100, but these are 96, I believe. I don't want to, don't quote me on this, but they're super close. So you really, it's really hard to tell with the naked eye, the way that these light up food. They look really natural. So as far as, whoa, went ahead there, tools and modifiers, this is where it gets really nice. Because I'm using, we have a lot of natural light spilling into the studio, because otherwise you wouldn't be able to see me on a camera. But fortunately we're inside of an oven, which is a really controlled environment, it's like a mini studio, so this is going to be great. As far as getting the shot without any influence from the outside. However, if we did have these blacked out, which we will be doing, this is where you can really control the light. So, if you have a light, right here, you can come in, let's say you just have this and you don't have a strip light. But you get this, and one of these. You can just come in with this and you can shape the light. You can have just a little bit come up and you can continue. You can have a scene that's really dramatic. I love light like this. I love to flip strip lights horizontally and just put them right down below, on the table. It looks fantastic. It looks a lot like what we just accomplished with this, only even more dramatic. A lot more raking light, a lot more shadows. The edges of the shadows are a little bit harsher. And it just adds a little bit more drama. So, don't, you know, don't feel like you have to get every single piece of gear to do every specific thing. You don't necessarily need the data light. But it would be really good to have, if you're a food photographer, this is it, in my opinion. This is the piece. Because you can have a strip light, you can have, you know, you can actually just put cinefoil over this or you can drape duvetyne over it. There's so much you can do with this, and it rolls up into your backpack. It just rolls up in a roll this big, and that's it. And it's light and you can bring it with you. You don't need a strobe, it's really powerful. It can capture quite a bit of action. Not perfectly sharp, but it's close. People ask me, so when you're using LED light, it won't feel like you're getting a natural light look. Sometimes it'll be, it won't really be, you won't be able to put you're finger on it, but it just won't look like window light. And it's hard to describe what you're not seeing. And what it is that's causing that. So, when you have natural light, you're just getting a gorgeous window, that in relation to you're food is gigantic, it's massive. Because you're just shooting a little plate, and you've got this bank of lights, so either you would take one bank and just eliminate it. So that you at least have some focus, but, the important part is just really control the light vertically. I just like to get down and low. But that takes away from the natural, kind of that light look so what you're missing is that fill. So what I do, is I usually get a light like this and I'll get a piece of eight by four foam core. Just the whole sheets that you get, like the massive ones, you kind of bend them in the middle, and then bend them, you can actually attach them to a C-stand. So you take the top of C-stand and you clamp the foam core into the top here. And this is a C-stand that's fully extended, with the arm kind of coming out like this. So you'll actually take the top of the foam core. Jam it in there and kind of have it create a little 'v'. So it'll hit the ground, come in and then come back out. And that'll create a massive amount of fill, similar to what you're seeing in natural light. So if you just have a piece of foam core, you can just create that, very soft, if that's what you're looking for. You can create basically the same as natural light, it's almost impossible to tell. Like a pro can look at high lights and see, and possibly guess. But if you're really good about it. It's just creating that dramatic fill that's usually the issue. But that's the opposite of what I do. I come in and I get rid of fill. I don't like the fill. And I'll create little splotches of fill here and there, but it still looks somewhat natural. There's scenes that I have that are dramatic, but look like the windows just really small. So it is just a matter of using the high quality lights as opposed to the fluorescents. You really get a good response when you invest in that. This is going to be kind of a cool shot, so it's going to be a lot of fun. We're going to be shooting into an oven. We have roasted chicken, that we've just kind of glazed with a marinade, a lot of vegetables. We're going to be assembling this. So it might be cool to have a shot of just the assembly of the actual product. And then we're going to put it in the oven, we're going to kind of problem solve, and then we're going to blast it with a lot of steam. What we're trying to achieve, is the look of you, just kind of opening an oven when a chicken is three-quarters of the way done. Just checking on it. So it's already got a lot of color. It's already almost there but not everything is just burnt, you know, it's not roasted to a crisp. It still has a lot of life in it. Can you just reiterate for us, Steve, what is the Westcott light that you're using inside the oven? And also the one on the side there? So these two are the, these came out recently. This is the Westcott Flex two foot by two foot. This is the, it's really hard to see, because it's just rolled up in here, but attached to the top here is a one foot by three foot strip light. And they both have the option of, you can actually get these encasements and I also believe they have egg crates for these too. And these actually fold up into nothing too, so you have a full soft, these are, it's really remarkable. There's a diffusion panel in the front too. Which is spaced just far enough away from the LED lights so that the cross beams kind of merge. And it's a very neutral light. The only time you see it, is when you do a backlight situation. So you do need to double diffuse it. Because if you're doing window light, unless you're F-stops just like at F-2 so, if it's really shallow, you won't see it as much. But I don't shoot that way so you do see like the dots of the lights. So if you put a scrim like a white scrim or any kind of diffusion paper in front of it, it really helps to diffuse it a little bit more. But beyond that, this just looks like a window, it looks like a bright window, it's perfect. And so this would be like the one, if I were to tell you the one light to get. I've a lot of local food photographers see it in my classes and on set too and they say, oh, is that? I really want one of those. I didn't know they were out. They're really good. I use the strip light more because it just fits in my style better, but that's just a window in you're pocket basically. Which is amazing. So we've got a camera set up in here. I'm going to be showing you the multiple uses of what I love, three inch gaffer tape. I have one inch and three inch and I don't have two inch. And I don't, I do know why actually. And I have three inch painters tape too, because I just like the way, I use painter's tape to you know, it wraps around things. It's just better. And I'm actually going to, one of the trouble shooting things that I'm going to show you how to do is to actually create kind of a mock egg crate situation with this light. By actually taping to the ceiling, to block, I'll show you in action. It'll even be more sense at that point. But yeah, as far as business stuff, we're really going to dive into that in the end. It's going to be a lot of good content, so be prepared for that. Clarification question for you. When you said, I've already shown you the dots and fingers remind us again, what the dots and fingers are? Visually? May I bring them out again? Are we going to use them? We might, we might. Yeah. Let's bring them out. So the dots and fingers, they're really obscure, like I had to hunt down. I mean, Jack was with me when I was trying to hunt down, just the French flag attachments. And they're hard to track down. They're made by Matthews. But I had to order them on B and H. A lot of this can be found, but it's either like there's no picture, because they're some obscure tools. But just look for french flag adapters. Which are the adapters that these stick into. And then you attach those to a manfroto wavy arm. I don't know the technical name. Flex arm. What is it? It's a flex arm. It's a flex arm, yeah, flex arm. So these are, this is a scrim and there's diffusions. There's large diffusion dots. There's smaller ones. Every single one has it's place. But I just really like that small, the small cookie, or the gobo dot. So those are really handy. I have a lot of these, and you don't need to have a lot of these. The think is these can be. If you're willing to hand hold it or just get, you know. I actually like to put an A-clamp and attach it just to a piece of black foam core. And you can put it on set and that'll block light too. So there's a lot of different ways where you don't have to invest fully in this, until you're ready. These are just, on set, I like to be able to grab these and just put them in. It looks, it's more professional on set, where you don't have a lot of coat hangers flying out. But when you start out, that is the only way to go. Because these add up in a big way. So these are one of the last things I purchased as far as modifiers go. But they're really handy. I use them all the time.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

With the advent of social media foodie culture, food photography is everywhere. The market is saturated with top-down smartphone images of cappuccinos, barley salads, and elaborate toast. This represents a real opportunity for photographers looking to expand their businesses. Professional photographers are in a position to provide high-quality, captivating images of delicious food for clients eager for an alternative to stock photography and social media images.

Join veteran photographer Steve Hansen for this comprehensive basics course, and you’ll learn:

  • How to shoot a beverage, main course, and dessert.
  • How to light and style your shots to get the most compelling images.
  • How to build out your basic studio gear to get the most out of your food styling and photography.

Steve will walk you through the basics of becoming a food photographer by drawing on his own experience as a chef, certified food stylist, and photographer. You’ll learn about the equipment you’ll need; how to interact with food and prop stylists, and direct them during a shoot; how to work with digital technicians and editors; and you’ll learn Steve’s tips for marketing food photography. 


Christy cwood56

This class has appeal for the beginning food photographer as well as the photographer that is already a bit further advanced on the path. There is quality info about gear and other logistics for the beginner that is absolutely necessary and establishes a strong baseline of knowledge. When Steve starts to shoot then the magic really starts to happen as we get to see into his creative process, how he styles, how he problem solves, how he continues to push the envelope until he comes up with his incredible images. That was the most enlightening part of the whole class...being able to observe an artist in his creative zone. Steve is a master at what he does and whether you are a beginner, intermediate or even advanced photographer, there is something for you in this class. It is well worth the minimal cost of the class. Part of the value of purchasing this class is that you can watch it again and again and again and each time you will walk away with boatloads of info. It is one of those classes that you will go back to again and again and use as a reference point for improving your images. Thanks Steve for being willing to share your gifts and talents to help others! Awesome day!

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