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How to Improve Lighting


My dishfolio

Lighting can be the bane of your existence as a photographer, particularly when you're shooting food. Given that the job of a food blogger is to share what he or she eats, we must sometimes take photos in inopportune lighting. Here are some tips on how to improve your lighting so your photos don't have to suffer the consequences.


  • Never use the flash on your camera when shooting food. The flash will create too harsh of lighting and will make your food appear greasy and shiny...not appealing. Bad idea.


  • Get to know your exposure compensation button on your DSLR camera (look at your camera's user manual for where this feature is on your particular camera model). Exposure Compensation allows you to increase or decrease the amount of light that is being shown (exposed) in the shot. This is a feature that can and should be played with for every shot, depending on the lighting, time of day, shadows, orientation, etc. This handy little button will make a huge difference in your photographs.


  • Use natural lighting as much as possible. Got a window that allows good lighting in? Use it! Pull the table over to the window to capitalize on natural lighting. However, also be weary of direct sunlight, as this can cause harsh shadows on your food. If the sun is too bright from the window, just lower the shade a bit or place a white sheet over the window to help diffuse the light.


  • Avoid artificial light if at all possible. It's sometimes necessary to use artificial lighting when natural lighting is too faded or just not quite enough. In these cases, try to diffuse the artificial light as much as possible to avoid potential harsh shadows and/or discoloring the actual color of the shot. We recommend using a simple studio lighting kit with an umbrella and light, such as this Photography Studio Continuous Lighting Umbrella Kit and Photo Lamp Bulb.


  • Learn about the ISO setting on your camera. ISO (International Standards Organization) refers to light sensitivity ratings and how sensitive your camera sensor will be to light. More sensitive, or faster ISO settings (like 1600), will react more quickly to light, while less sensitive, or slow ISO speeds, react more slowly. You will usually want to have a very fast ISO setting if you're shooting indoors or have dim lighting, as this will capture the image more quickly. Consequently, a slower ISO (like 50) is better for outdoors in bright lighting. Play with your ISO setting to see what has the best result.


  • Harsh lighting can sometimes be remedied by lessening the highlights and bright tones of your image through photo editing software, while lessening the shadows or increasing the highlights and bright tones of an image through photo editing software can help with dim lighting. We recommend using photo-editing software, such as, which is free and easy to use (you can use it at There are plenty of other photo-editing software options out there, so use whatever one you feel the most comfortable with.

Interested in learning more?  We are very excited to announce our first online course to help you expand your knowledge and abilities as a photographer!  We have jam-packed tons of useful information in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step manner over the course of an eight week email course.  Click here to learn more about our Dishfolio Photography Course Series!