Video – Food Photography w/ On Camera Speedlight

by White On Rice Couple Photo on February 1, 2010

fried bacon shot at night with speedlight on camera

Adding a few step-by-step pictures of our cooking preparations really help readers visualize the process of the recipe. But at night, it’s almost impossible to get a decent picture of food cooking on the stove top because there just isn’t enough light.

Shooting with speedlights attached to our camera help solve our lighting dilemna and it allows us to get stovetop photographs that are still visually appetizing. Shooting with one speedlight attached to the camera is really simple and only requires one extra piece of lighting equipment.

Our previous post discussing photographing food with speedlights touched upon some basic speedlight tips. We’ll be sharing more later on.

In the meantime, we thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peak into our kitchen at night while we’re cooking. This video is kind of like a modern day Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood scene (which was NOT intentional).

This video lets you see how we shoot with the speedlight at night to achieve our recipe process shots. It’s not meant to be a tutorial, per say. But rather, it’s a way to show you how we get those night shots and how we all try to share what we do on the blog and still have a normal meal at night.

Video – Sneak peak into our kitchen at night – food photography with speedlight


Next Videos: Speedlight photography using attached diffusers and Off-Camera Speedlight photography !

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 matt February 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm

TIP TOP. I have never used a speedlight, and now feel I have to get one. I never actually knew the difference between on camera flash and a speedlight – the angle adjustment in pure genius.

Todd is a natural either cooking, taking photos, or being in front of the camera presenting. Great production value guys!

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2 White On Rice Couple February 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Matt- thanks! the swivel head gives tremendous bouncing capabilities!

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3 Divina February 2, 2010 at 7:21 am

Cute dogs and the bacon looks so good. So, that’s what a speedlight looks like. But it does help if you have knowledge about aperture, ISO and shutter speed before purchasing a speedlight, right? So, moving the light creates a different effect on the photo? This is a good option. I live in sunny Philippines but sometimes the light doesn’t come in.

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4 White On Rice Couple February 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

Divina- yes, moving the light can make huge changes to the photo and the shadows that fall on it!

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5 Richard Stevens February 2, 2010 at 8:07 am

Great tutorial video! Todd is such a natural in front of the camera and I’m very impressed with his knife skills! Someone recommended a filter for my speedlight??
Keep up the good work guys!!!

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6 White On Rice Couple February 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

Richard – filters? Maybe they’re speaking of light color filters (or gels) or even different types of diffusers that help soften the light. thanks!

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7 Manggy February 2, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thanks for the great video and tutorial! I’ve always wanted one of these but I thought Canon did not produce one that could swivel. Turns out I was just lazy and didn’t realize that the internet has many 3rd-party options on offer (including an off-camera flash cord for my canon Powershot G7!! Sweet!). They’re not as expensive as accessories for SLRs but if I’m accessorizing as much, I guess I might as well save up for an SLR (though the price climbs exponentially after that, sadly).

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8 White On Rice Couple February 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

Manggy- Canon speedlights do swivel. Maybe you can try to rent one and play with it!

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9 Sarka February 2, 2010 at 10:44 am

Wonderful video! I tried to make a couple of shots with my speedlight and it’s not that bad! :) I just had to use a reflector to bounce light as my ceiling is higher and didn’t bounce enough light. I always shoot in natural light which is quite difficult during winter months. So I will have to practice shooting with speedlight more! :) Thank you for the tip. It was very helpful!

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10 White On Rice Couple February 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

Sarka- yay! now you can really start to add more bounces and such there to practice more!

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11 Byard February 3, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Great info once again. Had to try my hand at a bacon shot using your technique.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/9534802@N02/4328886128/

Thanks!

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12 White On Rice Couple February 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

Byrad- great photo!!

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13 Gastronomer February 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Todd – You’re such a natural in front of the camera. Thanks for the tutorial, guys.

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14 Karen February 4, 2010 at 7:55 am

I use a daylight balanced bulb in a clip-on desklight to provide some directional lighting. I clip it to the cabinets above my stove when cooking and diffuse the light with the cut out bottom of a milk jug. What can I say, I’m a low bidget gal ;) I use my speed light, bouncing off the ceiling and with the flash dialed down a stop or so, for fill. I started using the speedlight a few months ago, and have been very happy with the results. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.

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15 White On Rice Couple February 5, 2010 at 10:59 am

Karen- glad to know that you’re using the speedlights too!

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16 TripleScoop February 4, 2010 at 8:32 am

Great tips guys. The video production looks really good. I’ve been practicing off camera flash to try to give it a little more natural looking shoot as if the sun was coming through a window. Still practicing….it hard to take a lot of shots when the ice cream want to melt!

Love the blog I check it daily!

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17 kris February 4, 2010 at 10:08 am

thank you so much for this…have always been interested in alternate lighting for our late afternoon and evening cooking, but didn’t realize it could be so simple, without tons of equipment.

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18 Angie February 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

I am so glad I got to see you do that. It gives me alot of ideas. I am using a portable shop light with a daylight bulb for extra light at night, and I see now I need to point it at my suspended white kitchen ceiling, and I also need a steadier hand.

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19 Dawn (KitchenTravels) February 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for another great tutorial. Your videos are wonderfully put together – professional composition and editing, and both of you are very approachable and natural on camera. Nice!

One thing I’d like to see added to future videos: music credits. I really like the music in this vid, and would love to know the artist. :)

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20 White On Rice Couple February 6, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Dawn- we used music loops from Mac Garage Band. The opening is Pendulum!

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21 Dawn (KitchenTravels) February 8, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Thanks much! Now if only my P-n-S flash could swivel to bounce off the ceiling…

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22 Stephanie - Wasabimon February 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Dude, your kitchen is bad ass.

And I love my speedlight. It’s the only way to get anything close to a good image in my black kitchen with black countertops and a black stove. Thankfully, I do have a white ceiling.

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23 Jen Yu February 5, 2010 at 7:37 am

You guys are the best and Todd is so cute, although I think Sierra and Dante kinda steal the show every time :) Thank you for dispelling that HORRIBLE myth that you can only shoot in natural light. What kind of photographer are you if you can only shoot under *perfect* conditions? Yay Todd and Diane!!!

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24 White On Rice Couple February 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Jen- Sierra and Dante definitely love being on video. They send u all their love!

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25 Kristina@FormerChef February 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Great video! SO well done and I loved seeing the pups! Todd is a natural in front of the camera.
Now I know I need a bigger speedlight. The little one I have doesn’t swivel backwards like that, so when the camera is aimed down toward the plate, the flash bounces out instead of up! I’ve been frustrated by that for a while now.
Thanks again for all the time you take to put this stuff together.

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26 ruhlman February 5, 2010 at 8:05 pm

sweet video. thank you. loved seeing it. brought to mind really good cheese and wine and salumi, don’t know why. grateful for you two.

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27 White On Rice Couple February 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Thanks Michael. Sometime it isn’t a bad thing to be associated with a piece of meat ;) That meal was one that we won’t forget. The only thing better than the food was the company.

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28 lax-goalie February 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Great tutorial. My kitchen is kind of dark in general, so even shooting in natural light can be dicey most of the time. I’ll give the speedlight technique a try.

BTW, what kind of glass are you shooting with?

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29 White On Rice Couple February 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Thanks.
In the video I was shooting with Nikon’s 24-70.

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30 Eat. Travel. Eat! February 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Great video! Love the editing involved and how different scenes and photos are pieced together. Just have started with using a speedlight and it is certainly helpful when bouncing from a white ceiling. Makes the photo almost seem totally different with the extra light given, but yet the flash isn’t too harsh since it is bounced from the ceiling.

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31 dinah February 15, 2010 at 9:52 am

Wow. so that’s how it is done. i always thought the food was cooked during the daytime and wondered what was cooked at night. I don’t own any fancy cameras besides my canon compact digital camera. any suggestions for capturing food photographs at night?

Thanks

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32 Winnie February 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Great video! Thanks for introducing me to the speedlight…I’ll put it on my wish list!

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33 Hannah February 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Speedlights have always intimidated me for some reason, but now I really want to try it out. It’d be great to be able to shoot at night!

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34 Fuji Mama February 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm

You guys are HORRIBLE for my budget! LOL I just added a speedlight to my growing photography equipment wish list. It makes so much sense, especially after seeing Todd in action.

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35 White On Rice Couple February 25, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Fuji Mama- LOl! for now, just use what is free, which is natural light. Don’t jump into getting a speedlight unless you really use it alot.

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36 Harry February 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Agree practice & practice will paid off. Love speedlights they’re little wonders for anyone who can use them:)

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37 Winnie February 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Ok- you talked me into it. I took the plunge and ordered the speedlight. Looking forward to learning how to use it and improve my nighttime photos.

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38 White On Rice Couple February 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Winnie- yay! congrats and welcome to the world of speedlights.

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39 Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen February 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Wow! This is incredibly helpful. We just purchased a speed light and have been using it for the past 5 or 6 posts and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like screaming every time I use it. Thank you for this!

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40 White On Rice Couple February 25, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Adriana- we’ll be adding more video’s on how to use speedlights. Stay tuned!

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41 Dani May 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Thats a really great video :D Those speedlights seem to work like magic! I’m not sure if my camera is up to quality like your, but what kind of speedlight would you recommend to use with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi? Within a lower budget if you know of any? Lol I would love to do more with photography and adding a new lens and flash might really help :]

I really love your photography tutorials! Thank you in advance! ;D

(PS- Your dogs are adorable <3)

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42 White On Rice Couple May 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

There’s a Canon speedlight which we’ve seen people mention quite a bit but can’t remember for sure. If you check out some Canon forums or if you ask on Food Blog Forum, you’ll probably get a better answer than we can give.
Thanks for the compliments. You have a great camera and as with any camera, as we learn more we start to unleash it’s potential. Good luck.

T & D

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43 Stephanie July 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm

So how do you get rid of the yellow cast from your overhead lights?

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44 White On Rice Couple July 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm

The exposure on the camera without the flash should be almost completely dark. Keep that same setting when you use that flash and you’ll know most all of the light for the exposure is coming only from the flash.
Or you just have to have your white balance dialed in for the combined light. Usually we will do that through setting a custom white balance or by using the Kelvin scale option.

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45 Claudine June 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

A big thank you for this! I’ve had a speedlight (mostly unused) for the past couple of years and this has helped to inspire me to use it more! And… love the puppies! Thanks again for the helpful photography tips!

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46 Terry February 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

I stumbled across this video while searching for more food photography tips. It’s so hard to find anything about on camera flash (for shooting food)! Thanks so much for proving that you can so take good food shots this way.

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