Why Flash? 

For better food photography.

By Mezame, Professional Photographer

We’re in a time when food presentation is tantamount to its taste. So I don’t blame people for snapping a quick photo before tucking in. Whether it’s for social media postings or a client, using a flash can instantly turn this afternoon’s meal into a work of art.

And where else better to start than with Sony’s flashes that work perfectly with your Alpha camera?

I like using Sony’s HVL-F60RM flash because of its unique Quick Shift Bounce feature. It boasts a flash head rotating mechanism that tilts to horizontal and vertical flash positions (90° left and right, 150° up/8° down). This way, you gain better control of the light, from toggling the softness of the image to bringing out the food’s textures and shapes with shadows.

For food styling in action, using more than one flash is quite essential. The HVL-F60RM radio trigger function makes delivery of multiple flashes go smoothly. You’ll be able to capture a splash of wine or falling sugar crystals in mid-air. Furthermore, the buttons on the flash are customizable, allowing you to pre-program functions for an easy shoot.

Check out the video below to see how I ‘play’ with my food. Scroll on after watching the video! I’ll be showing more how-to’s when using a flash in food photography.

Read on to glean my step-by-step guide to nail each photo as shown in the video. 

Freeze delicious moments

With 1 flash

With 1 flash

With 2 flashes

With 2 flashes

Without flash

Without flash

The ambient lighting of the shoot location venue may affect the outcome of your shot. In this case, tungsten lighting has cast an unflattering yellow on the pancakes. Using a flash will help to color correct the shot. You can also achieve a different style of lighting with more than one flash.

07

With flash

06

 Without flash

With a flash, you can capture the motion of each sugar crystal in mid-air. In this close-up view, notice how each sugar crystal particle is frozen in place with all the crisp details intact. 

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash with tripod) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

59mm | 1/160 sec | F/9 | ISO 100

Set up

• 2 x flashes
• 1 x A4 white card as a reflector
• Position one flash behind the pancakes, aiming at the area of the falling sugar using the unique Quick Shift Bounce feature. You should capture a clear shot of the pancakes and falling sugar crystals frozen in mid-air.
• To illuminate the entire pancake stack, use a second flash and use its Quick Shift Bounce feature to aim it at a white card to bounce light onto the pancakes.
• Employ multi-flash mode to fire off the camera and the two flashes simultaneously.

Pro tip: With the flash’s fast recycling time capability, switch the camera to high continuous speed mode to fire off several shots to capture the falling sugar in action.

07

 With flash

06

 Without flash

While wine is the main focus of the shot, using a flash also highlights the table elements of flowers and the tea light burner.  

09

 With flash

08

 Without flash

The dramatic motion of liquids is frozen with the use of a flash. 

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash with tripod) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

53mm | 1/125 sec | F/5.6 | ISO 100

Set up

• 1 x flash
• 2 x white boards as reflectors
• Aim the flash with Sony’s Quick Shift Bounce feature at one white board, positioned on the right of the wine glass.
• Using the on-camera flash, aim the light at the second white board, positioned to the left of the wine glass.

Pro Tip: When pouring liquid, try to angle the reflector so that the light falls onto the liquid’s edge.

Make food colors pop

11

 With flash

10

 Without flash

Ambient lighting has altered the beautiful azure of this cake for the worse–color-correct this by using a flash to make its decorations and colors pop.

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash with tripod) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

39mm | 1/50 sec | F/11 | ISO 200

Set up

• 1 x flash
• With the flash’s unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, aim the flash at the wall to bounce the light off the cake. You can use a sheet of white paper to help angle the lighting.
• There was sunlight streaming in from the left. To factor in some of this ambient lighting, slow down the shutter speed to 1/50.

Pro Tip: The shutter speed controls how much ambient lighting goes into your sensor, whereas the aperture setting determines how much flash output goes into the sensor. Finding a balance can incorporate both ambient lighting and flash in shots.

13

 With flash

12

 Without flash

The egg tarts display more texture, depth and beautiful contrast when light is bounced through a patterned texture. 

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash with tripod) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

56mm | 1/125 sec | F/4 | ISO 100

Set up

• 2 x flashes (one mounted on camera with tripod, the other mounted on light stand)
• A material with patterned cut-outs such as curtains or lace.
• With the flash’s unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, aim light through the material at a distance. Don’t place the flash too close or too far away from the material.
• Set the flash mounted on the camera to commander mode, and the flash mounted on the light stand to receiver mode.
• Fire off the camera and flashes simultaneously.

Pro tip: Use colored plastic bags or colored cellophane paper and fire the flash through them to set different moods.

Remove undesirable shadows when shooting flatlays

15

 With flash

14

 Without flash

Capturing a flat lay with only ceiling lights as the light source will cast unflattering shadows. Rectify this with a flash to achieve vibrant colors and eliminate pesky shadows in the way.

Shot with:

HVL-F60RM flash | Alpha 7 III (on-camera flash handheld) | FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

33 mm | 1/100 sec | F/4 | ISO 100

Set up

• 1 x flash
• With the flash’s unique Quick Shift Bounce feature, aim the flash at a wall to bounce light onto the subject. This recreates a sun-lit setting

Pro tip: Bouncing the light off a large, white surface gives soft lighting to your subject. You can even bounce light off walls in a warm tone for a different effect.

Have these pictures succeeded in making you hungry? It’s now your turn to create food pictures that are as mouth-watering as they are in person. Don’t forget to try out Sony’s flashes with your Alpha camera for product and portrait photography too!

Mezame’s Gear

HVL-F60RM

High-speed flash

HVL-F60RM

FA-WRC1M

Wireless Radio Commander

FA-WRC1M

Alpha 7 III

Alpha 7 III

ILCE-7M3/ILCE-7M3K


FE 24-70 mm F2.8GM

SEL2470GM