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Lighting Q&A

Lesson 10 from: Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling

Todd Porter and Diane Cu

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Lesson Info

10. Lighting Q&A

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Lesson Info

Lighting Q&A

So some folks would like to hear more about the best ways for blocking light, and india has want to know in texas. Are you moving the food as you move yourself changing the angle of the light? Yes, so it for all these shots basically were keeping the same camera front, so as we're moving, we're just taking the dish and then rotating it with us, so that way it stays the same. The subject stays camera front the same camera front all the time, so it rotates as I rotate. So it's going here and here folks are really liking that you're defining it in this way are explaining it in this way. Hopefully it makes sense we have a doctor on this model you have to savvy mohair ask so you don't have to worry that much about waiting for that golden hour for the photo shoot. Yeah, not so much! And and similarly, who moved my coconut oil, which is perhaps my favorite chat name, right? Asks what is the best way to define best delighting? What do you mean when you say the best sites? Very question there's...

no best lighting best lining is really dependent on what you're looking for? It really is because, for example, if someone says the best light is a filter light it essentially it is because it's the easiest to work with so maybe we can redefine that question and say what is on the best light to work with for this situation because the best light for us to shoot something moody is going to be cloudy it's obviously for that day the best light would be probably an overcast day where filtered light is coming through the window or light source that has some type of diffuser or a like a flight sheet on it to soften it that's gonna be the best light for that situation but if someone like an editor were to say I need you to shoot something that gives an outdoor festival feel I want a stronger light tio tio emulate sunshine well, the best light in that sense it's going to be really direct sunshine because we're gonna want those shadows were gonna want that golden bright look and some of the harsh shadowing to give that kind of creative look so in that case that's the best light for that situation if somebody else were to say oh that's here that and how we shot that they say that is the worst like to shoot with and most people would say bright sunlight is probably the worst and the hardest situation to shoot it it becomes an aesthetic choice yeah isso e when we look at, you know major magazine like bon appetite for the for a good time period they were doing more that harsh dramatic shadows I mean, it was very eyes very fashion very fresh for you and so in situation like that it's like then you would actually want to be on the sunny side you want that hard light coming through or maybe you have, like, the cool vertical blinds and you want that light coming through and to give the line's through through the shot so in that case, the best light is actually gonna be on your sunny side, so I think part of it is understanding what you particularly want, so if you want a soft image, you want light were just kind just natural or gently follows the shadows don't get to extreme different from the exposed part of the the image, then in that case, yeah, you're gonna want to do filter light and also sometimes when you're filtering, I don't think you have to just filter once so let's say you're on lee light source and the only time of day you can shoot is hard, son, then what we'll do is we'll basic and we will, but you still want that softer light say how'm, I gonna deal with this, right? Just I put one diffuser clock a cloth in front and like has still not enough you don't have to just do one all right, you can defuse it three, four different times if you need to, depending on the light to get that softness that you want or you strip that away and then you let that hearts and come through. And you have that more dramatic shadow, that harsher change between deep shadow and a bright sun. So find the best light is always going to be a relative term, but it comes from what you want your image to evoke what you want to come through the image. So you guys speaking of that harsh light, randall would like to know, how do I deal with glare on soups, for example, or on top of ducey steak question, and sometimes that would be a matter of moving two inches it's literally, particularly when you get to straight liquids and like things like steak, very juicy things it's, like you are right, let's say you really close to getting the image that you want you like, how they the light is through the image, but it just a little bit off it's just not quite there. Sometimes if you move just a few inches one way or the other, you'll see that reflection coming across and just mellowing out where it catches just a little bit, and we're actually well, demo that later today, we'll show you know what? Angle where it's. Like it's. Pretty good. And then if I move just a little bit too much, then there's a lot of glare coming across. So it's going to be justin the angle that you approach the light there's also, little tools you can always add which help with it to a point. If you do like a circular, um, polarizer on your lens, you can use that to do it, but we tend to avoid trying to use a and extra tool to do it. When a lot of times we can just do it through ourselves and just threw moving. So just by changing your angles, sometimes literally moving almost imperceptibly it's, like you will change how the light is reflecting across an image. So just moving a little bit less to a little bit less backlight, we'll get your less glare. When you're getting a little bit more backlight, you're gonna get a little more glad I came. Come here and, you know, for that, um, for that person, if you can maybe upload that photo to the photo album, you know, make a market, it will take a look at it. Fantastic. Yeah, great folks, we definitely wanna encourage you to go to our course page and right there at the bomb you'll see student galleries so you guys could just upload your photos and tom diane are going to take a look so I think that's really awesome of you guys and we'll give you some shout outs as well yeah that'll be helpful because you know, it's hard to know until we see the image so many times people have ah subject or sometimes it's hard to describe the best thing to say is can I just see the image and then we can get an idea of how maybe youjust do have too much back light or maybe in that situation maybe it wasn't had it didn't have anything to with the back light maybe it had everything to do with too much light and there wasn't enough diffusion so definitely if there's a problem issue go to that album load the photo and if that question was posed will go and take a look at it. Yeah that's really cool that we have a great way to incorporate galleries and deal live event that would be maybe just right there's an area for you to write comments next to next to the image, so feel free to write on there what you're interested in knowing about your image and darren mckenna just commented, I've been in the gallery and they're really, really good images uploaded to the gallery so well done, guys, there's actually is a block posters. Well, if you're not sure how to do that, if you look in our block and search galleries who khun get more directions when we answer and not during the live events, but no in the in the way we can answer, you'll be able to make comments to that let's, do that. S so for the last person on your suit for the reflection loaded, cool, and they will, it might not be today don't weigh, but at least for that particular because she she asked in the chat room, mary answered it. I want to be able to be a little more thorough you to see this it's a photo, but yeah, I think I have a question I love the light, actually just one other point about angle times or so far, we've talked a lot about side to side, just moving around that also applies to moving up and down teo so, you know, think of all the times you can also think of the light coming in, like pool shot banking off a rail, right? Where it's coming in, so if you're coming at a higher angle when you could get a little bit less reflection if you coming at lower angle, you're getting more so sometimes like you found your side to side, but if you're moving up and down to ping on how you wanna frame it and compose it, it's like that may affect your your lighting as well. Yeah, next question, this is a pretty good, typical one that a lot of people have from the wellness wolf wolf. Well, how do you feel about using light tents for shooting like that's? Gonna be great? Yeah, I mean, like tents are great because it allows you to isolate again. We talked about when you're shooting outside and you have light coming in all different directions, you don't have a roof. This is a great way to be able to bring give yourself a portable shooting area because it gives you the roof and it gives you the walls of the future, and it gives you the diffusion and I think the most shooting tents that we have or that I know of how velcro openings that allow you to close one end off toe, let light in or close both ends ofthe so that's, you're basically shooting area and that's a great way to start it really is, and particularly if you're shooting outdoors detail. Because a lot of times the shooting tents aren't that big tour, you can shoot like a big, full scene or multiple dish, but if you just really need to get detail, I think they're shooting tents are great, and I think the new ones now they're collapsible so they literally can fit into a m a bag or something like that. And a lot of the things that we teach in regards to natural light photography, it plays directly to artificial light too. So if you're using the the light, you know, the tents and then you know, filling with artificial light, it becomes the same sort of principles apply light is light, it doesn't matter where the source is coming from. We're using the example of artificially one because our excuse me of natural light, because it's free and it's also a lot of times it's it's stable it staying in one place, and then we're moving around it. You can apply mostly almost all the same things, too artificial light. And so, you know, those long winters and stuff like that it's, like you can do the same sort of thing just the way you see the light is going to be the same, just your sources, jane. Yeah, and that's a really good point. I'm glad you brought that up because what we're talking about here does applied artificial light and there are a lot of food photographers out there who only shoot without official light, which is great so you can use the same model and be able to move that you might be at it better advantage because you can actually move your lighter on, but moving it around to be able to get the direction of light. So if you have artificial light at home and you want to practice this model just moved light sources to your twelve o'clock one, two, three, four and see all the different moods it creates and from there you can really kind of get a feel for what's going to work best for that dish and or whatnot is the best light but what's, the better light for this situation where this dish for the story for this voice, yeah, they got me on and everything that we're talking about here and great question, right on top of that from one of our regulars. Fashion tv, can you tell us a little bit what your communication and your processes with working with clients when you have a vision for the light? And you have a vision for the mood and there might be a little different how has that communication were and and that's a great question and god it's ah, so this is not a business question which we're going to talk about later, but this is definitely a lighting question that we deal with clients too feel with with clients too it's not just business questions, so how we do that is every time we approach any project, the first thing we say is we need a storyboard from you. We need a vision, board, weeding and mood board. We need some type of referee sent ation of images to show you what you're looking for in the voice of you that your client has, sometimes we work with agencies and or or for yeah, whatever it is your voice or your client's voices finding what they like, what they do is they go usually go online, they'll or they have a set of images that they'll collect, and then when we see that story board will immediately know what temple lighting it is. So, yeah, these are my people at twelve o'clock like people let's do if you know, but sometimes they will have a lot of images that we can tell right off the bat it's a lot of strong backlight and that's how we identify and help continue that project in conveying what it is that they want and a lot of times nowadays a lot of clients now are changing and they're lending towards a lot of these darker, moodier picture so when we see that we knew immediately it's not back light it's going to be artistically sidelight and an art director at an agency or the art director at the client side, well it immediately identify that and they'll usually ask, can we have this type of lighting that's usually the first request they'll say I want this lighting, the next thing they'll say is I want this mood what is, even if they're not saying the lighting it's like, well, basic, you know, from how what they're telling us from those images like we're understanding it's like I like this shot okay, then this is sort of lighting that this is how we're gonna beginning to set up and a lot of times they didn't know what they liked until we said it well, you like moody light like, oh, I guess it is moody, maybe that's what we want in this new campaign or this new project that's what we want moody and then they get excited cause there now they're understanding the word in which what they're looking for and what they want to convey in the pictures get back to that question that just thought of something else for the client and when you were shooting on set and this often happens with lighting on lee will shoot a light that they thought they liked because they showed us the storyboard on once we shoot it on their food or their product, they don't like it so that's where the conversation goes, and actually, in fact, we have gone through this with our clients, where we'll actually go through the clock with them will actually teach them a little bit, and we'll say, okay, so what, you're not looking, you're looking for his actual little more bright, and then todd will do this clock thing and it's amazing. When clients see this clock thing, he will literally take it, and he'll just shoot and say, ok, if you don't like this one, because this is what came off of your story board, which one do you want? And you'll be amazed how, when they see this, they each have their own opinion, and then it opens up it can and can't open up a can of worms, but it does actually help narrow their focus and narrow their creative request, and this clock is something that it's a tool that we use often with clients, because they don't know until we start showing them, and also just for yourselves for understand your own personal would voice you wantto to convey its like that can actually just look at an image and know which direction the photographer shot from so it's ignoring which direction that the white comes from it's like how you do it, you're just looking at how the shadows are falling, you know, the shadows we're falling off to directly after the side, you know that they're using a sidelight whether it be three or nine, whether it's more of a back light where they're coming more of a front light. So you begin to look at all these images that you love that inspire that he vote, please, the sense is that you're trying to capture yourself and like, oh, I see how they did it. I know where they're coming from, and then that helps you in the next step of, like, taking that yourself. And so when you're capturing your own images it's like, okay, they're probably coming from somewhere around here. You get yourself in the vicinity and then you move in group and you find it and yes, when I'm setting up shots, I do all different kinds of things on the knife. Each time it seems like I like something different like I might like the three o'clock one time with the twelve up do you feel like um for consistency should always try and do the same like so that all the patient on your block look like your pictures or is it okay tio change it, change it out yeah and it's a matter voice I mean I know there's some people who want to be known for its particulars nile because they've already to find that that's their brand and that's what they want to be known for and that's what they want to shoot so they always shoot dark and moody and that's okay it's more a matter of you deciding what type of photographer you want to be, what you want a photograph because if you are drawn to that field and you've tried the bright twelve o'clock and you just don't like it and you can't force yourself to do it because if you're not feeling it in the shot and you're not liking it, you're not gonna nurture the shot because you'll know just like a dish when you know it's good you're going to keep nurturing and make it better like your hair if you like it, you're you're you're done if you don't like you're gonna keep nurturing and it just doesn't go anywhere the same thing with food if you know that that's not your life don't even try but there are some people who want to try but just maybe just keep adjusting it maybe just move the clock move around maybe it's not don't take the clock so literal like it's direct twelve and three be that person that says somewhere between the one into or between back inside you know the clock is just an example to help illustrate to how you can move around all those little politicas ishan is just like the mark the hour markers in the clock every time you move an inch or two or one hour in one direction and immediately changes but there are a lot of people who I feel stuck so they want to be able to shoot both and there's some people that are very just I want to be bright merry you know I want to be like that cookie shot that was pink but and if you're finding yourself that's like I get bored with having the same light all the time I want to change it up I am not the same person day after day then it's like rocket you know change it make it you and that's you know for us personally it's like we aboard that so we can't just shoot one thing we can't just do tabletop photography we get bored we can just to cook books we get bored we can'tjust few restaurants we get bored that's why we like to do it all and we try to make ourselves the best we can and, like all these different things and so that's the same way with our images, there will be times when it's, like I like shooting that bright areas stuff other times they want to be a little darker, moodier and so that's what we'll deal, but there are other people it's like this is them, they have vory if you want to call specific brand or just a very particular style, that's always them, and there are people that are like that they're amazing at doing one particular thing. I'm kind of jealous of those people sometimes because it's like they know what they want. I feel like when we when we love, like so many different things is like what? I want to be it's like, you know, like a kid in the candy store can't like stop grabbing this stuff, you know, it's together is like, I want my lollipop, I love my lollipop and so, you know, it just depends on who you are individually and if you are that person words you find, I'm bored with or not bored, but it's like today, I'm not feeling this I'm feeling that then I say, rock that, you know, that's, that's, who you are and let your senses let your emotions let who you are, just come out and on a personal there's, two of us riding a blogger, at least from block perspective, there's, two of us, a boy and a girl. You know, sometimes I'm emotional. Sometimes I'm not sometimes he's emotional, too, and that becomes challenging. Sometimes, is is. People always ask, how you going to find the brand in your personal blogged pictures and that, you know, we use lighting to help to find that, to create a lot of these moods, and for us, for two people, we just are kind of all across the board sometimes, so we'll do bright and dark, so for us, for branding wise, there is no so so much of a brand, because we can shoot light and still make it feel authentic.

Class Materials

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Gear Guide
Places to shop for Food Styling Props

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

First, thank you to Diane, Todd and the CreativeLIVE team for a wonderful exploration of "shooting" food with artistry. This course offers the beginner and professional photographer many incites into the world of natural food photography. With some business and lifestyle tips the majority of this course showcases an effective natural shoot style that allows anyone to deliver wonderful images. The strongest point I found useful is to “find a voice” for the story, your images or your client. While I understand “finding the voice” when writing copy it is the realisation that any activity can have its own voice. Your voice can be the style of image you like, the shoes you wear, the books you read, etc. it is not limited to how loud you (or anyone else) shouts. Using general principles and building good habits through practise will allow you (and me) to achieve, not just find, success. The “lighting clock” is a useful shorthand helping communication with clients, producers and peers. The strong emphasis on practise, speed and taking advantage of any appropriate situation both improves productivity and reduces the impact on a client. Last but not the only other gem in this course is the bald (not a joke Todd) fact that any photography business was, is and will always be based on the relationship between the photographer and the client. Building a relationship is the best marketing device any photographer, food stylist, entrepreneur or creative mind can develop. Other courses offered by CreativeLIVE also stress the relationship aspect of good businesses as their best marketing asset. I highly recommend this particular course for lovers of (in no preferred order) food, photography and life. Thank you for reading and I hope you find your voice in all things. FJH...


Diane and Todd are amazing! They've held nothing back when giving the rest of us an honest, detailed look into what it means to be a food photographer. I've seen many seminars on the topic from different companies and photographers and this one is my favourite. I love their no fuss approach to food photography. It leaves me feeling like food photography is manageable without having to fuss with cameras and lighting gear that are outside of my budget. I love that Diane often mentions how there's more to food photography than the plated dish. And Todd is just adorable and has the cutest laugh! They're a fantastic team that are engaging and make it easy to learn from them. Highly recommend purchasing this course!

MAlisa NIcolau

I loved this class and how Todd and Diane taught it. It was very personal and inspiring, with lots of insight and tips. This is not a camera technical class, but more an artistic, motivational and visual food photography learning environment. Their examples on how to set up scenes and stories behind the food and people involved are very enlightening. They gave me a lot of great ideas and hope that I, one day, will become as good of a photographer as they both are. Great team!!!!

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