Have you ever been assigned to take pictures of a chef's creations in a restaurant? Photographing food on location at a restaurant is a very common assignment for a food photographer. I have an editorial client that sends me to 4 or 5 restaurants every month to take pictures of the dishes. Through these assignments, I have discovered that most restaurants are not designed with the photography in mind. They will often be very dark and have a myriad of light directions and color temperatures. In these situations, you will have to bring your own lighting gear. There are other occasions when there will be large beautiful windows for natural light. If you have never been to the restaurant before, then you have to be prepared for both scenarios. Here is an example using two light sources with the same dish.
The Natural Light Look
Here is a picture showing the lighting set up and the image.
The Artificial Light Look
Here is the image taken with artificial light.
Notice how the tabletop is a dark wood colored and not picking up a highlight like it was in the natural light example. For this shot, I have a different angle to my light and a different sized light source. The white highlight on the table to the right of the dish is from the dish reflecting off of the table. Here is the lighting diagram to go along with it.
Notice how the part of the table that is right next to the light source has this bright highlight. If you moved the dish closer to the light source and re-framed the image, this highlight would be in your image.
If you find yourself shooting food in a restaurant environment, make sure that you are prepared for both a natural and artificial light set-up. The Apollo Orb is a light modifier that I have found to work well for me, but it is not the only possibility. Whatever you do use, make sure it is small enough to stay out of the way of the hustle and bustle that occurs in a restaurant before service.