I went with a simple setup to get as soft and unidirectional light as I could with my equipment. So I pointed one flash at the wall behind the food and placed one flash close to the food (on the left) and shot it through an umbrella. I placed a reflector to the right of the food to give some fill light.
I had the bright idea that an umbrella placed very close to the food would fill a large part of the 'sky' from the food's perspective and thus would give as soft a light as a larger light source placed farther away. Turns out that I was right! I got very soft even lighting from this simple setup. This could easily become a 'go-to' set up for food shots.
I deliberately plated the salmon on the one and only blue plate that I own because I knew that blue + salmon = great color contrast. If there is a weakness in my photography so far, it is monochromatic images lacking good color contrasts. (Tip: Food tends to be red, brown and yellow. Invest in blue and green plates, tablecloths, glasses and other gear.)
Overall, I feel that this is my most successful set to date. Whee!!!
I'm going to try to get Jhan to give some tips on the food (since it looks so good). Here's her first commentary on the food:
The salmon filets were generously rubbed with a combination of coarse sea salt, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano and summer savory and quick sautéed in sizzling curry oil. (Curry Oil: roast powdered curry in a dry skillet over medium heat. When the curry is very fragrant, add olive oil to the pan and bring to a sizzle.)
The salmon fillets were served with a Greek couscous pilaf that included chopped green onions, feta cheese and fresh Basil leaves; and accompanied by a medley of pan grilled zucchini coins, mushrooms, and red onions.
- Color contrasts in food photography are essential. Invest in colorful plates and other stuff - particularly in blue and green - to offset the earth tones of the food.
- Small light close to the food can provide a seeming large - and soft light.
- Placing a glass or other table gadget in the empty corner of an image can really fill in the blanks and make an image sharp, full and well composed.
- Curry makes your whole house smell good.