It’s finally warm enough to shoot outside. I love natural light and will go to great lengths to use it for all of my shoots. Whether I’m setting up inside near a window or outside on my deck, I have some tips about using natural light that I want to share along with this summery Tomato Carpaccio Salad recipe.
1) Sunny vs. Overcast Light
A lot of people think that a bright sunny day is better than a cloudy day for photography. This isn’t necessarily true. Unless you know how to work with this type of contrast in light, direct sun can cause harsh shadows and bright spots causing you to lose details that you might want to highlight. Overcast skies are my favorite when I’m shooting food outside because the light is soft and balanced. The clouds basically act as a natural diffuser and the results can be gorgeous.
2) Control the Light
Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and you can’t wait around for the perfect light. It’s up to you to control the light and make it work for you. Whether it’s a sunny day or an overcast day, I highly recommend investing in diffusors (softens the light) and reflectors (bounces light back) so you can control how much of the light hits your subject and where it hits your subject. If you have an umbrella on your deck, you can start with that. Take a couple pictures in the sunlight and then set up underneath the umbrella to see how it affects the results.
3) Manual Mode
I’m always pushing for people to shoot in Manual mode. It’s intimidating at first, but it’s crucial to really learning how to take control of your images. It helps you gain a much better understanding of ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture when you actually start adjusting them yourself. You can read about what they do, but until you start actually playing with them on your camera and seeing how they work together, I don’t think it truly makes sense.
The best way to learn manual is to go at your own pace. Go for a walk and shoot. A good thing to memorize is:
More light = wider aperture, higher ISO and slower shutter speed.
Less light = smaller aperture, lower ISO and faster shutter speed.
Adjust the aperture, ISO and shutter speed individually to help control how much light you’re letting into your camera.
I shot this recipe by Jamie Oliver outside on my deck, using the deck umbrella as my diffuser and adjusting my camera settings in Manual mode to get the right effect. And, after a Midwest winter, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a refreshing, colorful salad outside on a beautiful spring day.
TOMATO CARPACCIO SALAD
- 4-5 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Extra-virgin olive oil 1 package of fresh raspberries
- 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
- Handful of basil leaves
- Raspberry vinegar
- Arrange the tomatoes on a plate.
- Season with salt, pepper and olive oil.
- In a small bowl, drizzle the raspberries with a little vinaigrette to taste.
- Crush raspberries with a fork so it becomes like a dressing.
- Top the tomatoes with torn mozzarella and the crushed raspberry dressing.
- Scatter with basil leaves and serve.
If you can't find a raspberry vinegar, use a raspberry vinaigrette.
Did you make this recipe?
Show me! Tag @reganbaroni on Instagram.
All images © Regan Baroni 2016.