Perhaps for every food blogger and food photogragher, searching for the right lighting is a challenge that never ends. I've come to accept this search not only as a challenge but also just another adventure in the day of a food phtographer. So when I ran across a couples of articles about using China balls, I thought why not give it a try. China balls are cheap. Finally, I found something cheap in photography! Sort of.
I bought a 25" diameter China ball, a 75 watt daylight bulb and light socket kit. I got really lucky with the light socket kit because a tech assistant at Home Depot put it together for me. All I had to do was screw in the bulb and plug in the cord to an outlet. Nice things like that happen when you run across a fellow photographer. Anyway, the project did get a little expensive when I decided to purchase a boom arm. Make no mistake, getting the boom arm was a great decision! It allows me to easiy move the light around wherever I need it.
In the above set up, I'm shooting in the dining nook of my apartment which is right off of the kitchen. I'm using a two-light set up. The second light is a speedlight through a translucent umbrella on a stand. You can see it's located on a covered porch just outside the window.
For the images below, I had moved the tripod and camera to the floor and China ball closer to the table. My camera is a Canon EOS 80D with a 50mm prime lens.
The China ball gives a wonderful soft light while the flash through the umbrella gives a back highlight to the food.
I don't think you'll find a food photographer who would disagree that natural light is the best light for food photographer. I certainly don't disagree. But natural daylight isn't always available or sufficiently available. So the location of speedlight on the porch helps to "carry" natural light onto the food. (Sorry, I don't quite know photography speak.)
I should add that the 25" diameter China ball was much to large for shooting dark images. For that, I plan to try a much smaller one.
The articles I read were "China Balls: The Classic Affordable Lighting Hacks" from B&H Photo which also speaks to getting light spill from China balls. The second article was "Strobist: Cheap, Soft, 360 Degree Light" from Strobist.