Food lighting setup – red pepper

There’s nothing more relaxing than a day shooting in studio. Especially when that studio is also close to coffee making facilities and lunch (i.e. my kitchen). It can be quite hard to motivate yourself when the weather isn’t great and, on the face of it, you’ve got nothing to shoot. So to counter all of that I spent an afternoon photographing food. Lighting setup is after the ‘more’…

Ok, so the lights first, which act as your base for this (you’ll see why in a sec). It’s all pretty soft, flat lighting, so softboxes either side and above the pepper. Underneath is a single flash shot into a reflector (gold side). Your type of lights don’t really matter here so if you have speedlites or studio heads you’ll get a similar result. All the lights are hitting in same plane.
Now here’s where you shape them. What you can’t see is that there are four blackout cards placed to control the side lights (without them the light wraps too much on the pepper and overpowers the background). The back cards are placed to limit the light on the pepper and angled so to block light on the backdrop. The others prevent light spill into the camera lens (and also shape the light on the pepper). I didn’t use cards to shape the top and bottom light for two reasons. One they’re lighting the background, two they’re a smaller source than the side so the risk of lens flare is less.
The pepper itself is sat on top of a damascus chef knife, that in turn is held by a superclamp. This was taken out in post production. You can also use fishing line but I find it hard to stop it spinning. For some food, small tomatoes on a vine for example, the line is great.

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