Food Photography with LED Studio Lights

Natural light is great for food photography.  A nice big window with sunlight pouring in, preferably with some kind of diffusion, is perfect for food photography.  But light changes during the day or one day its cloudy and the next sunny.   A northern exposure provides the most consistent light though out the day but what if you don’t have a north facing window?  What if you want to shoot at night or on location at a restaurant?

That’s where artificial lighting comes in.  You can shoot with studio flash units that produce a burst of light but the drawback is not being able to see what is going on with the lighten until after you click the shutter and fire the strobes.

LED lighting panels like this one, have come down in price recently and provide bright, white light on a continual basis without getting hot or using a lot of electricity.  These panels can even be used in remote locations with battery power.

The benefits of shooting with a continuous light source such as these LED panels is the lightweight set up and ability to get the light out of the way of the camera.
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The fact that the panels are continuous light sources makes it easy to set them up and evaluate what the result in the image, be it a single shot or a sequence of video, will look like.

Small LED Panels

Small LED lights can be used in the studio by placing them close to objects or food and are dimmable to get the right amount of light for filling shadows. These small LED lights can even be placed on top of a camera to provide light for video or fill light for portraits.

The downside of LED lights is they are not as powerful as a flash and don’t provide the quick burst of light needed to freeze thing such as a water drop. You also have to be careful about color cast with LED lights. Be sure to test any new light and return them if they have an obvious color cast.

LED Photo Studio Bulbs

Another way to go is with LED light bulbs and photo studio umbrellas. You can get splitters that take a single outlet to three or four and then use color balanced LED bulbs and a diffuser system like inexpensive umbrellas.