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Outdoor Food Photography Tips From Taylor Mathis

Outdoor Food Photography Tips From Taylor Mathis - Photographer Taylor Mathis shows us how to capture good food shots outside.

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General Photography

This is an extract from Photographing Food issue 6, an ezine series written and shot by food and lifestyle photographer Taylor Mathis. It's available as a PDF download and is formatted to work on a computer, iPad and iPhone. The ezine is currently available for $5 per issue on the Photographing Food website - photographingfood.com


Looking For The Right Light

When traveling, your schedule will be dictated by more than just the ideal time of day to shoot. If it is sunny with no clouds, you will still want to be outside and enjoy your trip. Remember that the key to shooting outdoors is understanding how the weather outside will impact your images. If there is an overcast sky, you are fine. All you have to worry about is the chance of rain and your composition, and the story you are trying to tell.

If the weather is bright and sunny, packing a collapsible diffuser will provide diffused even light wherever you need it! If you forget your diffuser, don’t worry. You can still take beautiful pictures. All you have to do is read your environment and look for the best lighting situations.

Take a look at the image above. This is a scene you would see at a typical farmers market set up in a parking lot. Looking at the distinct shadow lines of shoppers’ shadows tells you that the lighting conditions at this market aren’t ideal. Fortunately, there is a built in solution. The white 10x10 pop up tents make the perfect diffusion source! This translucent white fabric is similar to what you will find on a collapsible diffuser!

Here are examples of produce shot under these white tents: 

Lemons strawberry
Carrots Beans

Be careful about shooting under coloured tents. They can leave a coloured tint on your subject. Can you see that there is a slight red colour cast on the peach pastries? 

Colour cast on pastries

Use The Shadows

If it is a sunny, cloudless day and there are no tents around, you can shoot in the shade! The image here shows a food truck. Notice the large shadows that the truck creates. In a pinch, you can shoot your food in the even light of this shadow. Remember that shadows can affect the colour temperature, so you may need to change your white balance setting or warm up the final image.

Taco Van


Can't Find The Light? Make It!

  • Image 1 - Does your image look like this?
  • Image 2 - Use your diffuser and a collapsible reflector for fill.
  • Image 3 - Look at the difference!

Situations like this are reasons why I always keep a collapsible diffuser in my camera bag. 

To read more, visit the Photographing Food website where the ezine can be purchased.

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