The Softener

If I am in the studio, I will start with a Broncolor and a big soft lightbox over the food. Then I might add a secondary light or use a variety of light shapers to style the look. The food stylist, art director and the client will eventually be happy, hopefully.

What if I am eating inside a very dark market and need an impromptu photo for myself? I tore off the styro foam box cover and placed a small light behind it. I used a Manfrotto ML-240 in this case, but a phone’s LED light will do almost as well. The idea is to soften an artificial direct light source.

I was attracted to the chicken char siew rice because it is totally vegetarian. It is mock meat but it sure look and tastes like the real thing. See the close-up in the second pic below.

Olympus OM-D, ISO 200, f3.5, 1/30 sec.

The Softener

Char Siew is like the pork version of Tandoori Chicken, if you think about it. This char siew and chicken rice meal is the vegetarian version, probably made from soy and/or wheat gluten. It is found in the Hot Springs New Village market food court.

To show texture better and to give your food a more three-dimensional look, shoot from an angle of about 45 degree or below.  If possible, soften the light but you probably don’t want to diffuse the light until there are no highlights. Shadowless “light tent” shots are good for supermarket product catalogues but not ‘magazine-style’ food photos.

Since you are doing it for yourself, experiment and style it to your own taste. The fun is in learning how both natural and artificial light shape the food in front of you.

Olympus OM-D, ISO 2000, f6, 1/80 sec.

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