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Digital Food Photography by Bill Moss, Lou Manna

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A Visual Comparison of Lighting Setups

Generally, light is more widely distributed when a light source is larger, and the reflections of that light source—seen on the subject as highlights—are larger as well. The shape of the light source also influences the shape of the highlights. For example, a rectangular soft box will create rectangular highlights on a flat glass or metal object like a beer stein or knife, while a round reflector creates more rounded highlights. The difference is not as pronounced on spherical objects, such as fruit.

The following tables illustrate the impact that a variety of reflectors, umbrellas, soft boxes, and mirrors have on the highlights, shadows, contrast, and detail of the same food subject. You can clearly see ...

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