Quick Tip – Improve your food photography with glass block
Most food photographers will agree that natural light makes for the best photographs. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to take advantage of natural light. In these cases you are left to artificial light, usually in the form of speedlights or strobes. While artificial light can be used to produce beautiful images, it generally requires the use of some type of modifier as, on its own, artificial light tends to be harsh and flat. Modifiers come in all shapes, sizes, and forms – from the DIY bedsheet diffuser to a professional Softbox.
I have been experimenting with another type of light modifier, glass block. I picked up a pre-set 2 x 4 basement window pack at my local hardware store and the image below illustrates my basic setup. Here I’ve placed the glass block in between my off-camera flash and my subject.
The next pair of images demonstrates the subtle, but powerful effect of the glass block. Both of these images were shot with the same off-camera flash using the same camera settings (f/4, 1/50). The image on the left was shot with the glass block in place, while the image on the right was shot with unmodified flash. The glass block produces beautiful soft shadows and streaks of light that more accurately replicate soft natural light than the flat light from the flash alone. It is clear from these images that the glass block also reduces the amount of light hitting the subject; however, for comparison purposes, I did not compensate for the light loss in these images.
Finally, here is the image after post-processing in Lightroom and On1 Perfect Effects. I love the look of the light coming through the glass block.
BONUS TIP: Like the “tabletop” in this image? It is a piece of tile that I picked up on that same trip to the hardware store (refer to the set-up image above for a better look).