If the light­ing is dim in a restau­rant/café there are a few op­tions I like to use:

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iPhone apps

When I don’t want to bring out ex­tra light­ing gear, my fa­vorite op­tion is to use my iPhone. Whilst most peo­ple might think this means the ash light on their mo­biles, I per­son­ally nd that light­ing too harsh. And in warm light­ing con­di­tions, the cool light from mo­biles can some­times make the food look un­ap­peal­ing or cre­ate un­ex­pected re­sults like a blue tinged fore­ground and a yel­low tinged back­ground.

In­stead, I use an app called SoftBox Pro (other apps in­clude Light­Box, SoftBox or Photo Light HD/Ref­board for iPad) that al­lows me to use my iPhone or iPad screen as a light box. I can change the color of the screen to match the light­ing con­di­tions in the restau­rant so that the col­ors of my food are pre­served.

If the restau­rant uses in­can­des­cent light­ing, choose a yel­low tone so that the food main­tains its color; and in uores­cent light­ing, use the white to cast light on your sub­ject. Be­cause the whole screen is lit, the light cov­ers a larger sur­face area with­out over­ex­pos­ing any par­tic­u­lar spot.


If you want to take clear photos in a dark space, opt for a speed­light, which is my fa­vorite op­tion if the lo­ca­tion al­lows. Ob­serve your sur­round­ings and try not to im­pose on other guests or make them feel un­com­fort­able, and never use ash in a ne din­ing restau­rant.

Even the most ba­sic speed­light helps as long as you can an­gle the ash so that it’s not aimed di­rectly at the food. It’s al­ways best to look for white walls or ceil­ings to bounce the ash off of, as col­ored walls will af­fect the color of your photo. My per­sonal fa­vorite is to nd a white wall and bounce the ash to the side. This cre­ates bet­ter light and shadow play.

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