I have had a tidal wave of desperate emails recently that I wish I could answer one-by-one, but my time is limited at the moment because of holiday madness/goodness.  The pleas are about shooting products or images for their shops or blogs when the days are shorter and darker.  How? And please help are the cries.  I asked my co-professor Michelle P. if I could re-print this tutorial that we featured in our Food + Foto class, I hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions! And for the record all the recent D.I.Y. photos on the blog have been shot in the middle of the night!
I know a lot of you have asked about shooting at night and have been afraid of not having available light when you finally have a free moment to shoot. I am hoping this little behind the scenes opens a new shooting-op for you!  I used to be a natural light snob, but then I got a job where I worked from sun up to sun down (and then some). If I wanted to shoot (and I really, really did) I had to change this natural light only thought process and just embrace ‘light’ in all its many facets. That is why I saved up some extra dough and bought myself the Lowel Ego light set.  I did buy the set with two lights, but ended up giving one away (I still regret that decision).  This little light is perfect for tabletop photography and allows me to get beautiful natural looking light at any time of day. The samples below were shot in a complete black room, at night with only the above set up. The reflector set up above is not so much to add light to my set but to be able to manipulate the light within it.  I use the reflector to move where my highlight will be more pronounced or to cut down on a glare, etc.
50mm | f/ 4.5 | 1/160 | iso 400. Below in the first photograph you can see that my iso was set at 400, not too high and my aperture was not open too wide so I could ensure detail. Would you believe this was shot in the middle of the night?

Below silverware: 50mm | f/ 4 | 1/250 | iso 400. I wanted to show that with this set-up you can manipulate the light to increase the detail on your subject just by moving your reflector at different angles. This takes practice and I feel is just a creative decision so use this tip if you like, don’t if it stresses you out.

Below teacup: 50mm | f/10 | 1/60 | iso 800.  Here I wanted to show you that even in a blackened room with a dark subject + a dark background, very small aperture that with the Lowel Ego light you could get beautiful natural light results.

I hope that this post opens up more shooting options for you and you aren’t a slave to the notion of only shooting in optimal lighting conditions during only certain times of the day. In my my photographic journey I have learned to embrace all sorts of lighting conditions and really enjoy the challenge of shooting in light that I would formerly not have looked at prior. Light from the television or a computer screen? Yes, I will use it to my advantage if I think I can get a certain mood/tone from that image. I think the goal for me is to feel confident that I can shoot in any light and not ever lose a memory that I want to capture + keep.

P.S. If you shoot with your Iphone/Cameraphone the Ego lights (or whatever light set-up you choose) are really helpful since most of those types of cameras have a hard time with lowlight situations and introduce a lot of noise or blur if there isn’t enough light in the room.


  1. This is so helpful – thank you! I live in the Pacific Northwest where daylight is practically non-existent these days and all my photos have been looking dreary. I think I’ll have to request the Lowell light for Christmas!

  2. You are so welcome! They were an amazing investment they have saved me so many times (from ripping all my hair out). They also help if you are having white balance problems (images coming off too yellow or blue). It’s just a nice even light and I often can’t tell which images were shot in natural light if I were to look back. Let me know if you have any questions!

  3. I came to your site looking for tips on product photography or to see if you were offering a foto class on the subject and was so lucky to find this early on in the search! I’ve been having the most terrible time with lighting in my house and all my product photos are coming out dreadful. I spent an hour freezing my buns off taking photos outside yesterday and they still came out blurry and tinted with blue.

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