Before we jump in, it is important to note that I was brought in on this food project to match an already in place look and feel for the client.
The menu at the restaurant was expanding and the client was in need of capturing updated photographs of the new plates that were starting to be served.
This tutorial is a quick rundown of a two strobe lighting set up that was shot inside a restaurant.
The plate styling was being handled by the kitchen staff and head chef, so they were bringing and taking away the plates. The lighting needed to stay consistent throughout the shoot to keep things streamlined for the small window of time the food was available. Being able to move quickly through the shoot was a large component.
- ISO 100
- Shutter - 1/250 s
- F-stop - F/8 - F/11
- Lens - 35-70mm with Macro
- Position - Camera Right
- 5 Feet off the ground (about 2 feet above plate)
- About 4 feet from center of plate
- Set around 3/4 power
- Beauty dish - No diffusion sock or grid
- Position - Camera Left
- 4 feet off ground (about 1 foot above plate)
- about 3 feet from center of plate
- Set around 1/4 - 1/8 power
- Silver reflector - No diffusion
The lighting set up came together rather quickly, knowing exactly what the client was looking for was a huge help in setting up and planning out the shoot. Since this was to match a certain look, it was easy to break down what was already in place and get the lights dialed in quickly from the get go.
Staring with the main light (camera right,) the beauty dish was attached and power started around 3/4 full. The main light was not aimed directly to the center of the plate but a little off the center line. Because the beauty dish creates parabolic light, shape is added through directional lighting verses the same amount of light through a diffused source. Moving it away from the plate increased the contrast in the main light. The light was placed about 4 feet from the plating and above the plate about 2 feet, giving the food more of a top down light. The fill light (camera left,) was set up with a silver reflector attached which threw light on the food from the opposite side of the main light to fill in the shadows and create highlights from the left which enhancing texture and reflections on the food.
A macro lens was used to knock down the focus and get closer to the front and middle of the plate to keep the focus plane on a smaller part of each plate. The dishes that were brought out from the kitchen had all type of shapes and textures, having unchanging lights kept the direction of light consistant throughout the shoot. That allowed for smoother movement through the photo shoot and gave way to creating more frames before the food shifted or lost its prep.
Again, this project was matching a certain set up I had not originally designed but was hired to mimic. In the end, what mattered most was that the the client was happy, which in turn makes made me happy.