To me it seems that most cameras nowadays can handle a wide variation of both natural and artificial lighting.
However I often run into trouble when photographing food, and that can be a real problem when I’m travelling as I usually don’t have any control over restaurant lighting.
There is a lot of unappetizing light out there – you know the one; your photos all end up looking slightly sulphuric like these tasty chicken wing tapas in a bar in Spain. This was taken with my Nikon Coolpix point ‘n shoot which is horrible at handling this kind of lighting.
This fabulous artichoke, almond and fennel salad in a very cool restaurant in Amsterdam, doesn’t look that tasty even after I tried to make it more interesting with a photo app.
Even adjusting the white balance doesn’t work that well when the lighting is truly horrible. Here are three different white balance settings on this pasta dish at Il Vicolo in Galway, Ireland.
Some cameras are better than others when handling indoor light. My Nikon Coolpix is horrible.
I’m not at all pleased with the Nikon Coolpix shots, even after they’ve been edited. On the other hand the one shot I took with my iPad mini is fine, just the way it is, no retouching or adjusting, colours perfect.
So for me, the camera itself, and how it handles white balance makes a bigger difference than whether the lighting is natural or artificial.
That said, food looks at its most appetizing under natural light. If it’s still light outside I often try to get seated outside on a patio or inside near a window.
Sometimes the quality of natural light changes. ‘Golden hour’ with it warm colour temperature and long shadows is beloved by landscape photographers. For food it can be more problematic. This salmon salad was consumed while sitting by the window during ‘golden hour’ at the Wicklow Pub on Vancouver’s Sea Wall.
On the other hand, any kind of drink tends to look fabulous during the golden hour.
Just lately I’ve been trying to duplicate some dishes I had in Europe that contain asparagus.
My apartment has a galley kitchen and the only lighting is the awful kind. Taking photos of food prepared there and making them look good is challenging.
Inside, in the dining room under a chandelier.
Incidentally, the salad was delicious – fresh asparagus, hot smoked salmon, arugula, grape tomatoes dressed with a mix of mayonnaise & lemon juice. While I like the way the dressing tasted I wasn’t overly pleased with its slightly lumpy appearance. A chef friend of mine suggested that I whisk the dressing to smooth it out, and if I still didn’t like the look then to add chopped chives, or a touch of Tumeric to turn it yellow.
Another day, another salmon and asparagus salad. This was more or less the same, but with just lemon juice as a dressing and some dill that was growing quasi-wild out on a nearby boulevard. These two shots were both taken with the Nikon Coolpix, one inside under artificial lighting and the other outside on the deck. The Coolpix obviously deals with natural light waaaay better than it does with artificial light.
Obviously there’s a lot more for me to learn here and this includes both the plating of the food as well as staging the dining area with placemats and other extras. But enough for now.