A lot of food and product photographers begin their journey in a tiny space with limited room for lighting and equipment. Food photographer Rachel Korinek has an amazing setup for recreating big window light in a small space.
The thing that really stood out for me with Korinek’s setup is how she makes use of her window to recreate big-yet-soft window light using a strobe and a diffuser. I often use a white wall to bounce my light off before sending it through a big sheet of diffusion material to recreate that same soft-window light effect. The flash is in between the wall and the diffusion material. When shooting onsite, I’ll bring a small V-flap or a trifold presentation foam board to create the same effect. This video was the first time I saw a window with a modifier being used to bounce the light off.
The thing I really like about this method is how easy it can be to duplicate the angle of the sun if you want to recreate a particular shadow length. I also like how space-saving the setup is. This is a great setup for not only homes but also restaurant shoots where you may want to recreate the atmosphere of the window seating and you don’t have a lot of space in which to work. When shooting in restaurants, you are often confined to a small area as to not interfere with service.
The window Korinek uses is rather large. Not everyone will have access to such a large window. But I can see a use-case where you tack the diffusion material or modifier to the wall. In fact, I tested bouncing the light off diffusion material directly on the wall, directly off the wall without diffusion, and my regular method to recreate window light, except I used the wall instead of a V-flat.
As you can see in the close-ups of the shadows, the first two methods produce near identical results. If you don’t have white walls in your space, you could use a white reflector against the wall and bounce the flash off that to create a hard sunlight look. And if you want softer, more diffuse shadows, which is my preference, then you need that extra two-feet of space to create enough space between the wall-flash-diffusion for the softer shadows.