About a month ago we had some friends over for dinner, and were talking about my recent foray into the world of food blogs and food photography.  They sent me a link for DIY food lighting, as I had been researching it a bit and flirting with the idea of buying something to enhance my photos.

They sent me this link that was an article on food lighting, from the blog jugalbandi, which details the construction process quite nicely.  My husband decided to make me the lights they give you step by step instructions for, and they work well, and were pretty cheap to make.

One Saturday he just decided he was going to make them, and went to home depot to buy the supplies we needed.  Luckily we had some wood left over from an ikea project that we didn’t need, so those are the base, and from there he built me fancy (well fancy for me) lights.  And let me tell you, they help out so much.

Before I was taking photos in our dimly lit kitchen (every other room has much better lighting), and going through tons of photos that would not work, and then processing them a bit using Picasa when I was done.  Picasa is awesome, for those of you who don’t feel like dealing with photoshop.  If you just need to fix a few lighting issues, Picasa is your go to tool, and best of all, it’s free!

Not too long ago, my friend Laura Jean asked me about my camera set up.  And while I can pretty much take very little credit for it (my husband is a researcher extrordinaire, so he did all of the comparisons and pricing out, all I did was pick up the bigger camera at Best Buy, and say “let’s get this one!”), it’s an amazing camera, at least to me.

It’s great for point and shoot, as well as playing around with settings and lighting.  I’m sure there are many more features that I haven’t discovered yet, but we did play around with curtain flash when we first got it.

The lens (again, my husband just ordered it because he wanted it, turns out it’s awesome for food photography) I use is a Sigma 30mm.  It has a really large aperture, so you can get lots of light in there, but the trade off is that your depth of field is really small.  Which is why the lights are so great, you can get more light in there with a smaller aperture, so your depth of field is larger, and therefore more of your object can be in focus.

We also have your average slight zoom lens for regular outdoor photos, and it works just fine.  It wouldn’t really work in my limited light, and you can’t get quite as close up as you can with this lens.

Let me show you a comparison.  I made a giant pie (more apples doesn’t make it better, the ones on the top were a little dry, I got a little carried away, I probably could have made two pies with the amount of apples I used on that one), and took pictures of it with the new lights, and then in my kitchen to compare.  I did do a little light adjustment in picasa, but nothing drastic.

This one was taken in my kitchen, using the standard overhead light.  The light is defintely yellowish, and you can see some detail on the pie crust, but not a ton.

This one was taken with my new setup, on my table that almost matches the color of the wall (and that is a legit VINTAGE 1950’s dining room table, I love it, sqeaks like nothing else).  You can see more details of the pie crust itself, and the lighting is less yellow.  I obviously need to play around more with the lighting, but this is a good start.  I now take all my completed food into my “lighting studio” aka my dining room that only gets used for entertaining and holidays (we eat dinner at the coffee table, in front of the tv).

That’s it in a nutshell.  Food lighting can be your friend!  And so can expensive-ish camera equipment!

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