My kitcken is very dark. We have a wide deck that wraps all the way around our house. While this has some obvious benefits there are drawbacks as well. The main drawback is that the interior of the home can be a bit dark. We have lots of windows in most of the rooms which helps a lot. My kitchen has only one window and it is a greenhouse window so it doesn’t let in a lot of light. The ceiling lights in my kitchen are small LED recessed lights which do not do an adequate job. Michael mounted fluorescent under-cabinet lights. These are a good option for task lighting. What I can’t do in my kitchen or any other room in my house is take decent pictures of food. My new camera has a food setting but it is not enough to overcome the problem of inadequate lighting and the wrong type of lighting. Most of the cooking I do is in the afternoon and evenings. It is nearly impossible to get a good shot. This picture was taken at 5:00 p.m. I have threatened to rename my blog Cookin’ in the Dark.
To get a food picture you would need to remove the dirty dishes from the sink, climb in, set the food in the greenhouse window, run outside, put up a ladder, climb up and take the shot through the window. Too much backlighting makes the object appear very dark so you can’t shoot it from the inside. If you have looked at my pictures and thought they looked pretty good, please consider that the main reason for that is editing software. Every picture I take requires editing in Lightroom and then Photoshop. Nothing is usable straight out of the camera. Last night was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I made a beautiful burger last night as part of my Memorial Day recipes. By the time the burgers were done and ready to photograph, it was dark outside and inside. I could not find enough light to even focus. Here are examples.
This was taken on my countertop under the fluorescent light. It is dark, yellow, and out of focus.
After much editing it only looked a little better.
It too was only slightly better after editing but not good enough to use. It was too dark out for the autofocus to work correctly. I opted not to post the burger recipe because I didn’t have a suitable picture.
This morning I did more reading about food photography and the only solution to my problem was to buy lighting. I researched until I was thoroughly confused then headed down to Pardee’s cameras, an awesome photography shop in Sacramento. A very nice gentleman took time to answer my questions and make recommendations. I came home with a 2 light fluorescent lighting kit, and a set of five reflectors and a stand. The salesman assured me that the bulbs are corrected to daylight standards and very little editing, if any, would need to be done to remove the yellow tone. So I set the kit up in my dining room which now looks like this.
I have a lot of studying and practicing to do before I turn out any really good stuff but I am excited about the prospect. After we got it set up I grabbed a bunch of tomatoes from the fridge and started shooting. This picture was taken with just the light from the window and the light fixture with fluorescent bulbs. I used my $4,000.000 Canon Mark III with a 50 mm lens. Even with the best camera and a good lens the photo is too dark, flat, and yellow. It’s all about the light.
Here is the same shot with one light on the right. It is better already.
Lights on both sides washed out the color and was too harsh.
So I put in a white diffuser, turned to left light toward it, spritzed the tomatoes with a little water and got this. The tomatoes are red and in focus, the plate is bright white, and I like the photo without editing!