Recently, I made two pretty big investments in my amateur food photography endeavors: I bought a Lowel Ego digital imaging fluorescent light and a subscription to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
Given that still-life photography is such a huge part of many blogs and given that each of these investments was fairly pricey, I wanted to write a post reviewing each of my new investments, hopefully to help those of you wanting to improve your photography to decide if either investment is right for you.
Editing Versus No Editing
The photograph below was shot using my Canon EOS Rebel t6i DSLR, on my kitchen island at night, using the Lowel Ego light (not diffused). The top half of the photograph is exactly how it came out on my camera, while the bottom half has been processed using Lightroom.
When I started the free trial of Lightroom, I was skeptical that it could do much more than a free iPhone app. I feel like this photograph alone proves me wrong. There is no way I would have been able to achieve that kind of white balance and added vibrancy on my iPhone.
I honestly don’t even think I realized how dull the original photograph looked until I edited it in Lightroom.
The colors look so much more colorful, the white so much whiter — everything just looks better when the use of my Lowel Ego light is complemented with good post-photography processing.
So, what about comparing the lighting to not using the lighting?
Light Versus No Light
The photograph below was shot twice: once with the Lowel Ego light on, and once with it off. Neither photograph has been edited.
As you can see, the light alone brought out the white in the brie’s rind, as well as the details in the surface of the grapes. Without the light, you can really tell that it was nighttime in my kitchen. The food just looks dull and lifeless!
I think the results speak for themselves!
Looking once more at these photos side by side, I am amazed (though not surprised) at the results.
The unlit, unedited photograph (top left) is about as dull and lifeless as we would expect, despite using a fancy camera. Moral of this photograph: A DSLR alone does not guarantee a fantastic photograph.
Looking next at the photograph without the lighting but that was edited (top right): I honestly feel like editing alone did very little to help this poorly lit photograph. All the editing did was make the grapes a bit brighter. Otherwise, the photograph looks very yellowed! Moral of this photograph: A DSLR and sophisticated editing software still does not guarantee a fantastic photograph.
Now, onto the photograph using the light but not editing (bottom right): Here is where I feel like I can really see some positive improvement. The grapes look delectable, and the bread doesn’t look yellow. Moral of this photograph: A DSLR and proper lighting works wonders!
Finally, looking at the photograph that had the lighting and the editing (bottom left): I love how vibrant and delicious the food looks. The colors all look so real, not washed out or yellowed. Moral of this photograph: A DSLR, proper lighting, and post-processing really does pay off!
So, if you have got about $100 sitting around to invest in your still life photography, I personally recommend investing in a good light before investing in processing software. While they both will do wonders, I think it is clear that the lighting alone will go a long way, while even the fanciest software cannot fix poor lighting. Photoshop isn’t a miracle worker, after all!
Tell me, what are your thoughts and experiences with lighting and editing still life photography?
Until next time,