Food Photography Tutorial: An Easy Way to Measure Light

Learn how to measure studio light with ease and precision, thanks to Alkimia

Photographing a piece of meat is a whole different ballgame to recording the colors in a bowl of fruit. But with the right light, you can reduce the brutal difference between their respective appearance and beauty.

Mexican photographer Ernesto López, specializes in immortalizing images of food culture for clients including Cinépolis, Coffee Tree and Spyral. This founder of creative workshop Alkimia, taught us the basics of studio lighting and how to get the best out of any subject.

Learn more in the video:

3 Steps to measure light when you’re photographing food

1. Choose the artificial lighting mode

The only thing you control in artificial lighting mode, is the diaphragm. Keep it as tight as possible (11, 16 or 22,) to increase the area in focus. But if you want to capture a small area of something, then you need to do the opposite: open the diaphragm. Select a low sensitivity (for example, 100), to remove digital noise.

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2. Adjust your speed

The synchronization speed is the speed at which the camera can perfectly capture flash light. Below 1/200 is safe, because this is faster than the flash duration, guaranteeing you enough light for your polaroid.

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3. Try halving your flash power

If you haven’t got a light meter, you’ll need to test things out on set, using your flash to discover if the lighting is correctly set up for this project. Start testing with your flash at half power. Then check the results on your computer in Lightroom, to see if the image is over or underexposed. How?

If the shadows are harsh and reveal clearly marked areas of transition, then your image is overexposed. Try decreasing the exposure values in Lightroom to compare them with your original photo.

If you decide it is overexposed, then go back to your camera and lower your flash.

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Like this tutorial? Remember you can learn how to direct food photography shoots in Ernesto López’ online course: Food Photography Basic Techniques.

You may be interested in:

- Food Photography in Full Color, a course by Alejandro Osses Sáenz.
- Creating Culinary Photo Series, a course by Espacio Crudo
- Food Photography Techniques for Advertising, a course by Alfonso Acedo.


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