Saturday, May 25, 2019

How to photograph vegetables

May 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Photo Technique


Photographing Vegetables is a very important field in food photography. The main attribute we must keep in mind when photographing vegetables, is freshness.

When we choose our produce, we have to make sure, they are absolutely fresh. Their texture and color must be perfect, and the leaves must be free of spots or blemishes.


If we are going to be using studio lights, we should have at least two similar products of the same kind. One to make our proofs and another to make the final pictures. Vegetables, and especially the leaves, tend to get dry very quickly under the heat of the lights.

Natural light gives us more time and let us to work slowly, but it is more difficult to control and it can change dramatically in just a few minutes. If we are going to use natural light, we must plan ahead of time to be able to have it under control.

I personally love the quality of natural light, and I use it very often to photograph flowers, vegetables and food. It is important, however, to photograph in a cloudy day or to filter the light through a white curtain.

We must always use one main source of light. Our natural vision is regulated by the sun, and any image that denotes multiple lights and shadows is going to feel artificial.

This doesn’t mean, that we should keep the dark side in the shadows, we must have a very soft lighting around the whole image. To obtain this effect, we must use reflected light to fill in.

The reflectors can be purchased or we can build them very easily from white cardboard and/or aluminum foil.


We must be extremely cautious abut the exposure, we must avoid that the bright areas in our picture can loose their detail. If we have an histogram in the camera, we must use it.

We have to keep the ISO very low, ideally 100, and no more than 200 to avoid digital noise.

Depth of field:

We can see that food photography uses a lot a creative out of focus, but unless we are very confident about how to use, it and keep it under control, we should keep everything in focus.

We also need to be very, very close to our product to be able to show its quality and texture, and this can only be achieved by using a small lens aperture.

All of these, take us to the second most important piece of equipment after the camera: the tripod. The tripod allow us to get a great depth o field and to frame our image meticulously.

Special tip:

Every supermarket knows and use this: water sprayed over the vegetables. We can use the same technique to show freshness. Although fresh water works well, it dries up quickly and it slides down from round surfaces, so it is better to use sprayed glycerin instead of water.

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