Photo hack: make a window diffuser for food photography at home

Photo hack: make a window diffuser for food photography at home
(Image credit: N-Photo Magazine)

There are lots of great home photography ideas, to keep you and your camera busy when stuck at home. And out of all of these, food photography is one of the most rewarding – as you can eat the subject after the shoot!

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 Food photography works well under natural window light – so you don't need studio lighting kits to do this. The soft, wrapping quality of window light lends itself to making food look delicious. Moreover, when you need a large light source, for soft shadows, you won’t get much bigger than a window. However, if the sun strikes the window directly, the light streaming through casts contrasting shadows that can ruin your shot – and creating a contrast range that means that a decent exposure is near to impossible.  

A really simple solution to this problem is to tape some baking parchment or greaseproof paper over the window and voilà! You have instantly diffused your light. 

The translucent paper spreads the light and creates soft, wrapping light with diffuse shadows. Combine this with a paper or homemade tinfoil reflector or two and you’re well on your way to taking great food shots.

1. What you need

(Image credit: N-Photo Magazine)

A roll of baking parchment is all you need - plus something to attach it to the window frame that will keep it in place. Masking tape or insulation tape are great solutions here, as they are less likely to pull away any paint when you take your DIY diffuser down.

2. Placing your diffuser

(Image credit: N-Photo Magazine)

How much baking paper you need will depend on the size of your window, and also on the brightness of the sun. However, you only need to cover the part of the window that is throwing light on your subject. So it is sensible to set-up your food or still life in situ, before you tape your diffuser to the window.

End result: Soft, daylight balanced light envelops the cake scrumptiously! (Image credit: N-Photo Magazine)

Read more

Food photography tips

The best books on food photography

The best reflectors for photography

The best softboxes, diffusers and modifiers for your flashgun

The best backdrops for photography

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Adam Waring

Adam has been the editor of N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine for almost 12 years, and as such is one of Digital Camera World's leading experts when it comes to all things Nikon-related. 

Whether it’s reviews and hands-on tests of the latest Nikon cameras and lenses, sharing his skills using filters, tripods, lighting, L brackets and other photography equipment, or trading tips and techniques on shooting landscapes, wildlife and almost any genre of photography, Adam is always on hand to provide his insights. 

Prior to his tenure on N-Photo, Adam was also a veteran of publications such as PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, so his wealth of photographic knowledge isn’t solely limited to the Big N.