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Hard light photography is lush!

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

Photographers and light? It'a love and hate relationship. When shooting with natural light, managing

rays of light filtering through the windows, it can be tricky, especially when taking culinary shots. I want to talk about the challenges we face and showing you some examples so that you will know how to act next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

Hard light photography, coffee, window, sunlight

If you check the above picture, you might think I have used a special light effect or even artificial light, to get this result. In fact, my answer is no, I simply used hard light coming straight from my window's kitchen. Facing south apartments are privileged in many ways and when taking photos from home, you probably already experienced how difficult it is to find a great spot to place your set, if your apartment or house faces north. I consider myself lucky to be able to have lots of light in my apartment, it allows me to shoot in any room, I just need to place myself next to a window and the trick is done. Actually is not that simple, there are those cloudy days which are the best ones and then you have those extremely sunny days, where you just have limited time to shoot, because you want to avoid shooting when the sunlight filters through your windows.

What do you do when the sun is hitting hard on you? You take advantage and take some hard light photography!

As I was saying earlier, the above picture, was not really planned at first, however I tried to take advantage creatively of the light conditions I had and as I saw the shadows created by the structure of my window, I was inspired and let my imagination do the rest of the work. I decided to take a test shot with my iPhone first and see if by adding a cup of coffee and my hand saying hello, would work, and I fell in love with the picture that I ended up taking more and more pictures. What fascinates me here is that with the play of shadows and light you can create your story telling around a simple subject as a cup of coffee and that is why most of the time, hard light photography are kept simple.

Let's talk about Settings

If you shoot in manual mode, then keep reading. If you don't, then, soon I will make a free course where I talk about the basics of manual mode.

When shooting in hard light, your ISO will have to be left at 100, so obvious right! On the other hand, the shutter speed needs to be increased, as you will need to lower down the amount of light into the camera, depending on the aperture you are aiming for. For this specific shot, I have used my Nikon 50mm lens and I used ƒ/5.0 of aperture because I wanted all the different details to be sharp and present; then I adapted my shutter speed at 0.0015625s with ISO 125.

My advice here? Experiment, take a few first pictures to test and see the settings you need to apply to get the desired result. At first you might stress a little, but then you will hardly want to stop taking photos! You can be so creative and by getting out of your comfort zone, you will challenge yourself and grow. Having your subject extremely over exposed, it is not a normal situation in #foodphotography and in any type of photography, let's be honest!

Remember those raspberries cakes? Well the reason I had to take a few shots before I was really satisfied of my pictures, wasn't only the strength of the sunlight. The amount of shadow space created by it, really did not fit in the idea I had in mind before starting this spontaneous photoshoot.

In fact, in #foodphotography I tend to plan my shoot, defining the set, the props and the mood, knowing exactly, most of the time, the result I will get. I literally found myself out of my comfort zone because of the simple set, no layers, no flowers or additional elements were there.

One thing was sure: THE SUN WAS ILLUMINATING EVERYTHING, so I decided to give it full space and these are some of the results, finally much appreciated.

Here are some more examples of photos I took in the past using natural hard light photography and I hope that this can inspire you to try if you haven't already!

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