Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 70-200 ƒ/4L IS lens
Left image: 1/125 sec at ƒ/5.6, back-lit with Canon 430EX speedlight
Right image: 0.3 sec at ƒ/5.6, overhead available light (tungsten)

For this post I thought I’d show the difference between using back-lighting versus using overhead available (in this case, tungsten) light. I photographed the image on the left and used a back-light setup (here’s a link to the behind-the-scenes). Then, I switched off the PocketWizard so the light didn’t fire, changed the exposure on my camera and used the overhead light in my living room (just normal, boring light-bulbs in a light on the ceiling).

I had to do quite a bit to the color on the image to the right to get the white balance back to normal and get rid of the yucky orangeish/reddish cast, but because I always photograph my food images in RAW then the color ended up not looking too bad (a bit unnaturally green, but otherwise okay). The light, however, is extremely different. Can you see the depth, rim-lighting and soft shadows in the photo on the left compared to the flat, harsh light in the image on the right?

In a nutshell, try to not use overhead room lights when photographing food. The image to the right doesn’t look terrible, but my personal preference is to the image on the left … back-lighting adds depth, soft shadows and rim-light and makes food look gorgeous when photographed.