I thought I would share a tip with you that I used while photographing the cupcakes. I almost always shoot with natural light. It is much more flattering for food and it it just pretty! My typical set up is either next to a window or right on the edge of the shade if I’m outside. For the cupcakes I was outside almost to the edge of the shade. I had Kevin help me bounce light back into the scene using a piece of foam core. You can also buy a reflector and use that. For food I like that the white doesn’t change the color at all. Plus, poster board or foam core is much cheaper than a reflector!
So here is a little sketch of what I did (as if you are looking into the scene holding the camera… this is what you see):
Here is the before/after:
Like I said on the images, I didn’t change any settings on my camera and I didn’t edit the photos at all afterward. The difference is amazing! So much more color and the cupcakes pop against the green grass so much more. When you are holding the foam core you’ll want to move it around to see exactly where the light is filling in. If the sun isn’t very bright there won’t be a big difference. Once you play around with it a little bit you’ll get better at getting the light just where you want it.
This trick also works with portraits and people (although sometimes it can be a bit blinding depending on how much sun you are reflecting). It is a good way to fill in shadows and soften the light even more. You generally wouldn’t use this with a group of people (it’s just too much space) or with little kids (since they tend to move around rather than sit still) but it works really well for head shots. It is actually how Richard Avedon lit his series called In the American West. He had a north facing wall and filled in using a reflector and southern light.
I do the same thing when I’m shooting by a window as well. Give it a try!