Hey Beautiful, let's do this guest post thing again, shall we? I get so many compliments and questions every time I post photos by Meghan of @meghanelizabethphotography, so why not get the goods straight from her? Keep reading to learn how Meghan lights and sprinkles her way to some of the prettiest food photos on Instagram.
Finding the best light.
Hey guys, Meghan here! When Mandy asked if I'd show you how I compose my photos, I knew we'd have to start with lighting. As with every photo, the perfect "sprinkle" shot starts with finding the perfect light. Usually that means light that's soft and even. I’m a natural light photographer, so my goal is to find the light and work within it. When shooting at home, I usually find the perfect light in my living room by my front door (photo 1 is my actual home setup). To find your lighting happy place, you'll just have to walk around your home with camera in hand, seeing where things look prettiest. (If you’re shooting with flash or a softbox, you can skip down to the next section since you'll be creating your own light)
Exactly where you place yourself within that light (and whether or not you need a reflector) will depend on the particular look you're going for. You can choose to create an evenly lit image or an image with a blast of light on one side or the other. As you can see in photo 1, I’m set up for an evenly lit photo. If I were to move my set up further to the left, I would get a blast of light on the left side. But for now let’s say I want an evenly lit image. While my light IS soft and even, a shadow will still be created on the right side of the photo simply because the light is coming from the left side. So to make a truly evenly lit image, I’m going to need to use a reflector to even out the light.
Photo 2 is an example of even lighting. I shot it at the home of Elise of @winniesbakery. The light inside her home was too dark so we moved outside to her covered front porch. The porch was open on the left and had white siding on the right, which served as my natural reflector!
Photo 3 was also shot at Elise’s home, but this time in her kitchen by her big sliding glass door. Right outside the door was a light wood deck, which provided me with another natural reflector. What did that give me? This amazing blast of light on the left side of the photo! It's all about using your environment rather than fighting it.
I’ve found the absolute easiest way to make these shots happen is to have someone there with you – you photograph, they sprinkle! But for those days when you don’t have an assistant, you can set up on a tripod.
With option one, you’ll just need to communicate with each other by counting down or telling the sprinkler to start sprinkling as you start to shoot. Then you just shoot rapidly until the sprinkler is out of "sprinkles". For option two, live view is going to be your assistant. Make sure you’re focused on the part of the image you want in focus - the bowl or the sprinkles - then at the same time, you’ll have to release the material while rapidly shooting. In either situation, be prepared to have multiple takes.
Keep in mind, though, that you’re still working with food that needs to look good. You don’t want to drown the prop you’re sprinkling onto. For example, I didn’t want to completely lose the ice cream or have so much granola piled on the ice cream that it left the viewer thinking “who puts that much granola on their ice cream?” So be aware of the amount of material you’re using in each set and maybe practice sprinkling before you add your dish to the scene.
Obviously, this is going to be completely based on your light situation, that goes without saying. But the main question you need to ask yourself is – do I want the "sprinkles" to be sharp and in focus, or should they have some
movement/blur to them? If it’s the former, make sure your shutter speed it set high and adjust the rest of your settings to work with the shutter speed. If you want it to be blurred then set your shutter speed at a mid speed and adjust from there. I've included the specific settings I used in these photos at the bottom. If you're shooting on a phone and want the sprinkles to be out of focus, there are tons of blurring apps out there. I know Mandy's obsessed with Fab Focus, but try a bunch out and see which you prefer.
That’s it guys! Just remember to take your time and practice these shots. They’re pretty easy but they do take time and effort to get that perfect amount of sprinkling that moves how you envision it moving. Have fun with it and good luck!!
Photo 1: 50mm Lens, ISO 800, f1.8, 1/2000sec
Photo 2: 35mm Lens, ISO 400, f 1.4, 1/640sec
Photo 3: 35mm Lens, ISO 1000, f1.4, 1/1600sec