Dark Moody Food Photography

So my Pinterest Still Life board is full of all these wonderful darkly lit images of food, with rich colours, subtle lighting and deep shadows, giving a very different feel to the light, bright and airy images you usually see associated with food.

The “dark light” look (as I call it) really appeals to me and over the past few months I have tried to replicate it, and…..failed quite noticeably.  It was very frustrating!

Today a lady on Awake posted an image similar to the above but with blueberries, and when I asked her how she did it, she kindly summarised her process which was very similar to mine but with ONE CRITICAL STEP EXTRA!!

So goddamn simple I want to cry!

What is it, I hear you breathlessly ask?

Lower your exposure in camera when you shoot it!!!

OMG I truly cannot believe it never occured to me, except I am so well trained as a photographer to get a correct exposure, that playing with this simply just was not something I even considered.

Here is my second experiment, with black and red currants picked from the plants in my garden 🙂

Steps to Create These Images:

  1.  First I decided to get organised and actually do a flat lay setup (when you lay it down flat and shoot directly overhead)
  2.  In my lounge – put down black art paper for the background, black foamcore at the top of the image and to the left, closed the curtains on the window at the top of the image
  3.  Setup camera in overhead position
  4.  Pick fruit and arrange on plate
  5.  Put plate under camera, adjust tripod legs to suit
  6.  I have two A4  black cards folded in a shallow V shape (so they stand up on their own) – these are used to block the light coming in from the window and shape it to best advantage
  7.  Arrange light to suit while viewing in live view
  8.  Edit in Lightroom
  9.  Add a Kim Klassen preset

For the red currants (and any translucent fruit) I tweak the luminance up a tad and it makes them glow internally in a pretty way.

Below is a slideshow with the before image being the basic edit done in Lightroom, and then the After shows the difference with a further process with Kim Klassen OLight preset and a bit of tidying up (removal of spots etc) in PS

This is a very dark moody lighting style, but is due to the difference from the usual style of photography that it appeals to me.  I am still learning how to stage food images (it is an art in its own right) but having fun while trying not to buy ALL the props 🙂

Even if the style isn’t to your personal taste, do you appreciate these images? Do they tell you a story? Or make you want to reach out and taste the fruit?

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About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in Camera Adventures, For Beginners, LR & Photoshop and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Dark Moody Food Photography

  1. Personally I love this style too, your images are just gorgeous, so decadent and lush, gorgeous colour and vibrancy

  2. I like what you are doing here. Thank you for sharing the steps to achieve the look, I find reading about the process to be very interesting. I would not have thought to lower the exposure either.

  3. Very interesting! I love the dark and moody style too, but I don’t have any editing software at all, so I’m guessing that I’ll have trouble creating this effect with my camera alone.

    • I only did the final tweak of intensifying the colours in editing – 95% of the image was done in camera.

      • OK well that is encouraging. I will have to try your set up and tips – should be a good challenge!

      • I am not sure what your situation is that you don’t do any editing – whether its by choice (for whatever reason) but getting access to editing software is pretty achievable these days for reasonable pricing- PS Elements can do an awful lot these days as it has elements – it has layers and some level of raw processing – here is a good summary of the options – its a bit old but still relevant


        I can point you in the direction of tutorials etc if that is the limitation too 🙂

      • You’re so kind, thank you! I guess I’ve been a bit stubborn about editing, wanting to force myself to improve with just the camera before taking the step into editing software. Maybe it’s just time to take the plunge. I’ll have a read of the guide and may come back with a few questions. Again, thank you for taking the time to make this suggestion. I look forward to following along on your blog and seeing more of your wonderful photos 🙂

      • Its a perfectly valid choice – even when I was editing my images, I was so new and uneducated that I barely processed them at all for a long time, until I did some courses that really taught me what the value of Lightroom was.

        I checked out your blog, and see you like food photography too 🙂

        I am a HUGE Fan of Kim Klassen, who does wonderful still life photography, and I am doing some of her styling courses. She does a free intro to Lightroom which you can find here


        Her presets are AMAZING and I love them and use them with nearly all my still life/food images cos they just give the final image a pizazz.

        She has just started a new Lightroom Essentials course (which includes some of her presets) at a discount price at the moment – and it covers everything for a newbie and she has a very low key teaching style.


      • OK you are really convincing me here! I’ve briefly looked at the links and they look great – love that she promises “non-techy talk” – that is exactly what I need! Thank you, again, and also for sharing your behind the scenes set up in your post today. I’m so glad that I stumbled across your blog yesterday!

      • She is quite lovely, I have enjoyed her courses a lot

  4. Robyn G says:

    Stacey they are gorgeous!! Love the richness you’ve captured/created. Very appealing.

  5. ruthyardy says:

    My favourite style of food photography (actually photog in general – dark and moody, emotive….)
    Love the last, edited version – I started the LEAP course last year but didn’t manage to finish it – time to try again.
    I use ACR & PS and got myself in a muddle over seeing up a new LR catalogue v using the Bridge library I already had etc…..
    Well done x

  6. leecleland says:

    Love this style Stacey. The touch of luminosity on the red and black currants really makes me want to pick them up and eat them they look so delicious.

  7. coolquilting says:

    I love these rich and dark photos!

  8. Zia says:

    These photos are DELICIOUS. I can absolutely taste them.

  9. Beautiful photos! I love that you showed the before and after with the editing. It goes to show how a few edits can transform a picture from amazing to AMAZING! 🙂

  10. fitnclassy says:

    This is so beautiful! I love the tones in those photos ❤

  11. Thank you so much for that elaborate description. That was something I was looking for.

  12. thefigfarm says:

    Love this!! Thank you

  13. mybeardandmypenguin says:

    looks fantastic!

  14. Sumith says:

    Beautifully captured!!

  15. Cooking Malandrina says:

    Hi there! happy that I found you. Very inspiring!

  16. Wauw this is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  17. sarahelaa30 says:

    This is beautiful! I may just have to try this. I also may try finding a way to Photoshop my images in case they don’t turn out the way I intended. Thank you for the inspiration!

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