Have you ever wondered how to create beautiful fake window light with strong shadows? It’s never been easier than now! As a food and product photographer I’ve come up with a solution that doesn’t require cutting out fake windows by hand, hooray!
Typically when you want to create a photo or video with bright hard light with hard shadows in the frame you have two options.
- You find a south-facing window at the time of day when there are no clouds in the sky so the full sunlight beams in through your window panes creating hard light and strong shadows. In this case you’re on a time crunch because the sun will move and any clouds in the sky will cover the sun keeping you from capturing those hard shadows.
- Buy a fake window that’s heavy and hard to stand up or use some sort of cardboard material and use a box cutter to cut out shapes to replicate a window. It can be tricky to perfectly cut level clean crisp lines and you have to make sure not to cut yourself!
Luckily I’ve found an easier solution that creates beautiful patterns of shadows that add visual interest, contrast, and drama to your scene.
What are fake windows called?
Fake windows used in photography and videography are called a cucoloris. This can be any device or item that casts a pattern of shadows on a scene. They can also be called cookies for short. Another term for them is a gobo or go-between, which can be any device or item that is place between the light and the scene your are filming or photographing.
How do I create a window illusion?
I’m excited to share that I’ve created three different self-standing faux window pane styles that are available on Amazon! All you have to do is set up an artificial light on a stand and find the best position for the light to beam through the window to create the shadows you want in your scene.
Raising and lowering the height of the light, as well as changing the position of the stand will alter the way the shadows hit your scene. You’ll want to play around with the position and height of your light so that you get the best looking shadow cast for your scene.
Pictured below is the traditionally-shaped faux window frame.
Faux Window blinds
I find window blinds shadows to be captivating in photos and videos because of the consistent pattern of lines. Typically you have to use real blinds even when using artificial light, but you still need to hang them up while filming or taking photos.
These Self-Standing Faux Window Blinds are so easy to stand up and light, no extra equipment necessary!
Artificial Light for food and product photography
I almost exclusively use artificial light for photos and videos now because it’s consistent and doesn’t move or change like natural light. Plus video needs more light typically for better quality videos. Because I do both photos and videos I like to use a continuous light since I can use it for both applications.
I’ve been using the Godox SL-60W for over a year now and I love it! It’s not the most powerful of all the continuous lights but it’s a fantastic budget light if you are just getting started. You’ll also need a tripod stand that works for artificial lights.
I eventually want to start using a flash for photography since it’s emits more powerful bursts of light that are great for shooting with faster shutter speeds which enhances the quality of your photos.
Can I use these faux windows with natural light
Using natural hard light as the light source with the faux windows is a tricky and more restrictive but can technically be done. If you are indoors, you are going to need to shoot next to a window will full sun beaming through, but if there are already window panes in your window, you’ll have those shadows in your scene as well.
Another option would be to shoot outside in the full sun (preferably when it’s not windy) and let the sun beam through the faux windows. You’ll likely have to work fast, but if you just need a few quick shots or videos you can make it happen.
Using artificial light is ideal though, because you can control the position of the light, you don’t have to deal with the outdoor elements, and you can take your time creating your scene since your light source isn’t changing.
Arched Faux Window Frame
For the final look I created an arched window frame. The window pane lines are a little thinner than the traditional faux window pane shape and the curve at the top adds a little something extra to the shape of the shadows.
You can’t underestimate the power of great lighting in videos and photos. Creating images and videos that really POP is more important than ever in order to stand out from the crowd. Hard light and strong shadows creates impact in your scene and can stop people in their tracks when scrolling.
More photography tips
- 3 Essential tools and resources for Food & Product Photography that aren’t cameras or lenses
- 3 Easy ways to hang backdrops
Follow my backdrop account on Instagram and see the content that all of our customers have tagged us in for lots of inspiration!
You can also check out our Amazon store with all of our backdrops.