swede whole and mashed with parsley

Using natural light for food photography.

You don’t always need flash.

You don’t need expensive strobes to get some decent food photography. Here I just used natural window light from a north facing window to give a nice soft light to the image and what’s more it is free.

My camera was mounted above on a sturdy tripod and with an aperture of f16 a shutter speed of 4 seconds was required at ISO 100.  Using this shutter speed meant that I could keep the swede and the mash in focus but slightly throw the wooden floor out of focus just a little bit


Using flash isn’t always necessary its about using the right light for the job in hand and sometimes there is no better light than diffused window light. The benefit with flash is that you can control or modify the light a bit easier in my experience.

Have a go.

Still life window light photography is something everyone can have a go at. The thing you really need to do is keep your camera steady so a tripod is great however, just supporting your camera on a flat surface and using the self timer to trip the shutter will let you take a longer exposure possibly needed for this type of shot.

Razor Back Craft Beer Ringwood Brewery

Razor Back Beer Bottle


Craft Beer Shot

For those tuning in to find a blog on shaving your back, well I’m sorry to disappoint.

Razor Back is a craft beer and one of the perks of taking photos of beer is, of course, the fun of taking the empties back to the bottle bank with the stench of stale alcohol wafting around your car.

Using a shutter speed of 1/250 @ f8 ISO 100 ensured that no ambient light was going to be messing with the lighting, which meant that there was no interference of the studio strobes. It also helped to maintain a black background.


Lighting was two strip boxes either side using some diffusion material to make it a softer fall off of light around the edges and then backlit.

I will be disposing of the bottle carefully but I shall make sure that the contents don’t go to waste either.  Well, someone had to drink it!



Razor Back Craft Beer Ringwood Brewery

Feeling part of the party with shutter drag

Shutter Drag

Shutter Drag

No its not smashing your camera up and pulling some important internal parts of your camera across the floor.  Shutter drag is a technique where, instead of using your cameras sync speed to take a flash photograph, you set the shutter speed to a slower amount, for example 0.5 sec.

The examples here are of a Wedding function from last year. You can see everyone is having a great time and the camera has caught that.

Dancing shot without slow sync

Example using shutter drag

However, in the second example, you can see the motion of the disco lights as they streak through the image which gives a more dynamic feel to the images as if the viewer was in that dance.

Dancers having a great time

So what’s going on?

What happens is the flash fires as the shutter opens and freezes any movement caught by the duration of the flash.   The trick is then to move the camera in that half a second window to streak any light from the disco lights thus giving the look of streaky coloured lights throughout the scene.

The trick here is not to overdo this technique. I like to give clients a mixture of both to see what they prefer but I usually get asked “Wow! How do you get those crazy lights?”  Now you know.

With flash there are really two exposures going on. Your aperture controls your flash exposure and your shutter speed controls the ambient light.

I hope to get more into this in future blogs but for now just try messing about with a shutter speed of around 0.5 sec, an I.S.O. of about 400 and f5.6 Aperture – but do experiment with these figures and give it a go next time you are out at a party with your DSLR.

More about flash