How can I improve my food photography lighting?
This is a big question that we cover quite a lot. There are numerous food photography lighting tools. Each topic is full of minutiae, from strobes to light meters, everyone has endless opinions and technical details. But, there is also a free digital tool that everyone should try out: The Online Lighting Diagram Creator (OLCD). It gives you a way to learn from yourself and others, or even teach. Many photographers may struggle in a studio setting, not quite sure how to arrange the strobes and reflectors. There also could be a lot of pressure if you rented the studio, or a big client is paying for your time there. So, let’s find out how you can be confident and quick, impressing everyone.
How OLCD works
When you arrive at the website, click “creator” in the menu bar. You should see the screen pictured above. When you hover over items in the main screen, you can rotate, move, or delete them. The left-hand side is full of objects you can add to the diagram, such as softboxes, reflectors, and continuous lighting. You can even change the subject and indicate when colored gels were used. It is extremely intuitive and easy to use. Exporting diagrams is simple. To better maintain the quality use PNG format, although JPEG is available as well.
Take notes of your lighting schemes
Food photographers are artists, and, well, some artists really have trouble being organized. If this is you, maybe you have numerous pages of notes about what you have shot in the studio, but rarely review it to learn. The Online Lighting Diagram Creator gives you an easy way to create a digital archive of lighting setups. Imagine you took a few shots to expand your portfolio some months ago and now a client wants you to give them that same look. Without relying on luck, that cheeseburger will be lit the exact same way…if you have your notes. The right food photography lighting tools will make your job easier.
Learn from real examples or show off your own
There is another section on the OLCD website where the diagrams are put to use. They have teamed up with another great online resource, Strobox, to show real-life examples of studio lighting with intricate diagrams. Something really interesting is that many great shots on this platform were taken with just one lighting source. This can be a good reminder that you don’t need to think too big in order to get started.
In the example above, exposure details and the lights used are listed. As you can see, there is just one strobe on the top-right. All this information is completely free and shows how powerful this food photography lighting tool really is. An expert photographer sharing their lighting techniques could find these diagrams illustrate their techniques better than words. It’s just like the old expression goes, “a free online lighting diagram is worth a thousand words”. Or something like that…