You don't need to have the most expensive gear to make the best pictures. It is very easy to get swept up in the attitude of " if I only had this I could take better pictures." You do not need $10,000, or $1,000, or even $100 worth of lighting gear to make a great picture using artificial light. What if I told you that you could take a beautiful picture of food with a $10 light, a picture frame, a T-shirt, velcro, and cut up foam board?
Say hello to my picture frame diffuser!
To make the diffuser, cut an old white undershirt to the size of a picture frame. Velcro® the shirt to the frame. Velcro® two pieces of foam board to the side of the frame to create a stand. You now have a diffuser that is perfect for a 500 watt halogen work light that will cost around $10. You can find this light at your local hardware store.
A word of caution, this light will reach high temperatures very quickly. Be careful when touching and keep away from any flammable objects and small children.
This set up is small enough to fit in a hallway or on a kitchen counter. Here are a few pictures showing its capabilities.
Yes, you can take similar pictures with more expensive gear. Yes, this set up may be impractical if you are traveling or shooting large sets. If you are wanting to explore the world of food photography and don't own a flash or any other lighting gear don't let that stop you. With this set up you can start practicing. The worst thing a beginning photographer can do is lose track of what they need versus what they want. As you are beginning and climbing the learning curve, start with what fits in with your budget. For $10 and objects you probably have lying around your house, this is a great way to start on even the smallest of budgets!
For more information on the picture frame diffuser and other food photography tutorials visit photographing FOOD.