Every food photography image I've looked at, every article I read about food photography, every food photography I admire all illustrate just how important is lighting. A speed light can make critical difference in lighting. Yes, natural light is the best but it's not always available or even sufficient.
And that has been a big issue for me: getting sufficient natural light. To some degree, I've seem to have solved that problem. I recently bought a speed light and placed it on the window seal. The flash is positioned to bounce off the white ceiling or a white foam board.
This first image was taken with a speed light, the second without a speed light:
What's in this favorite snack?
Cranberry and walnut bread
Rosemary baked ham, thinly sliced
And of course, a lovely Riesling wine
The speed light sits on a window seal from where it boosts the natural light. I used the speed light diffuser and positioned the head to bounce light off a white ceiling. Paying close attention to the histogram, I was able to avoid white blow outs and get colors that were a little softer and more natural.
In the second image, you can see lots of white blow outs. Colors are flat and hard. I had tried to compensate for insufficient natural light by bumping up my camera settings. Nor did I utilize the histogram.
I only have one speed light; still, I find that I'm able to get not only better lighting but also more dependable lighting by boosting the natural light. Next goal, get more creative with that one speed light!