How to use HARD LIGHT in food photography (ft. The Bite Shot)

and I feel like having some hard light in your portfolio can really help you stand out from like the hundreds of other food photographers out there what do you think absolutely I was actually recently in a portfolio review with an art director who recommended I add some variety to my lighting because I had a lot of softer lighting in my portfolio and they said you know to really kind of round it out you might want to add some heart light looks to the equation so that was some really helpful feedback yeah hey guys it's Lauren welcome back to that stage where we talk all about food photography to help you build the creative career you want today I am so excited to be joined by my friend and fellow food photographer Joni from the byte shop and we are teaming up to bring you two amazing videos all about hardlight now Joni and I are both kind of light nerds we both love playing around with artificial light and all the different things you can do with natural lights so we're gonna bring you two videos to help you add some hard light your portfolio to help differentiate you from all the other food photographers out there so in today's video I'm gonna be focusing on showing you how the distance and the direction of your light is really going to change the look of your hard light images and then I'm gonna hand over to journey to tell you what her video is gonna be about yeah we're gonna play a little bit with as far as the size of your light so whether you're using a window what's the size of that window and the shape of it and now how that can determine the hardness of your light and then also playing around with some artificial light and some different modifiers which can really change the mood and look that you're going for and then to bring this all together Joni and I are running a week-long challenge so you guys can get involved in sharing your hardlight food photos with us so make sure you stick around to the end of the video to get all the challenge details and don't forget to hop over to Johnny's channel to watch her video too and let's jump in normally in food photography we're used to working with soft light which is light that is passed through at least one layer of diffusion material this layer of diffusion disperses the light particles creating those really soft shadows that we used to seeing in food photography under fuse light is coming directly from the light source so it creates these shadows with really harsh edges and a lot more contrast in our images so we're going to start off with a little bit of theory just to make sure you understand the principles before we hop in to a few examples so let's take a look at what happens when our light source or our subject moves around so starting with distance the closer your subject is to the light source the bigger the shadows will be and this is because the object is blocking more of the light source on the other hand the further away your subject is from the light source the smaller your shadows will be because your object is blocking less of the light source and when it comes to direction there are two things that make a difference to your shadows one is the height of your light source and the other is the angle so the shadows will always face in the exact opposite direction to your light source so as you move your light source backwards and forwards or left-to-right your shadows will move in the opposite direction and the higher your light source is the shorter your shadows will be as the light is pointing much more directly down on your subject whereas a lower light source will create long shadows this is exactly the same as the midday or evening sun when you see this effect pronounced outside okay so now we've got the theory down let's hop in to some examples so we're gonna start with a drink I think drinks are a great easy starting place when it comes to hard light because their transparency allows you to create some really interesting art with your shadows for this first example I'm going to be shooting this strawberry drink with a continuous artificial light without any diffusion and I'm going to be playing around with the length of the shadows to see which composition works the best in order to change the length of the shadows I simply raised my light source higher or lower higher up created a shorter shadow and lower down created a longer shadow and you can see this effect really clearly in the final images as you can see the length of the shadow makes a huge difference to the final picture so let me know in the comments which one is your favorite next up we're going to be shooting a cake and this time I'm going to be using a speed light on top of this cake I've got some sliced apricots which I've sautéed with a little bit of maple syrup so with this hard lay I really want to capture some really nice specular highlight on top of the cake this time I kept the speed like pretty high up and very close to the cake because I didn't want super long shadows in this composition I used a 3/4 back light to really allow the light to bounce off of the top creating those specular highlights from this 3/4 angle shot okay and for the last example I'm gonna be using natural direct sunlight now when you're working with direct sunlight you don't have as much control over the direction and the length of your shadows because you can't move the Sun around so you'll have to move yourself in your scene in order to get the shadows pointing in the direction that you want you're also going to need to work pretty quickly because the Sun is not going to stop moving for your photography shoot so if you've got things set up in a really specific way with shadows falling in a very intentional place you need to make sure that you get those shots quickly if you shoot at midday when the Sun is at its highest then you're going to find that your shadows are very very short so if you want slightly longer shadows then you're better off shooting in the early to mid morning or early to mid evening when your shadows are gonna be a little bit longer as I was looking at how I wanted to light this scene I noticed that I had this natural diagonal falling from my wall where my window ends and I wanted to incorporate this into my scene so I cut off the top left hand corner of the photo with this shadow and then I pointed everything else in diagonals either going with the shadow or against it to create a bit of dynamic tension so I pointed the board on the opposite diagonal creating some dynamic tension keeping this composition interesting so to bring all of this together Joni and I have created the hard light food challenge which is going to be running all of next week from the 15th to the 21st of July so you can take everything you've learned in this video and in Joanie's video and put all of that knowledge together to create your own hardlight food photos and then we're gonna have something super exciting happening here in a couple of weeks so Joni do you want to tell us about that yeah absolutely so on July 25th after we've received all of your submissions we're gonna have simultaneous like back-to-back live streams one on Laurens Channel and then one on my channel where we will be sharing some of our favorite images that you've submitted as well as sharing the winners of the hard lake food challenge so be sure to tune in for that as well yeah it's gonna be amazing we are super excited so make sure that you click the link in the below to sign up for the challenge where you're going to receive all of the rules and a link to a Dropbox folder where you can put your images also don't forget to watch Joanie's video it's also linked right here and we will see you back here on the 25th

12 Replies to “How to use HARD LIGHT in food photography (ft. The Bite Shot)”

  1. lol @ you can't move the sun. I have been playing with some hard light food photography recently too and your detailed explanation has brought everything home for me. Thanks, Lauren

  2. Seriously? Thank you. I feel like you made this video just for me:) I've been striving for more information about how to achieve these looks and can't wait to join in on the challenge!!!!

  3. thanks for the video i was well informed.

    Can i reccomend a light or that lamp to the right of the frame? can you get a vintage bulb to put in it like

  4. Aso for shadow length from your pictures, I preferred #1, the shorter shadow. It has the feeling of being a mid-day drink outside. I think that #3 may have benefitted from a warmer color temperature reminiscent of sunset. It's funny how your mind subconsciously makes these decisions.

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