Mar 28, 2018

How I Got The Shot: Light and Airy Cake Photo at Night

One of the things I really love about Community over Competition is getting to share knowledge and help buoy each other up. I remember days of longing for community, longing for a photography friend, longing for help and it wasn’t around. But now I’ve found it, and it’s amazing!

I will forever be grateful for those who have reached out their hand in friendship and help, and who continue to do so today. It would be selfish and ungrateful of me to then turn around and not reach out and help as well! Lifting others up is my jam!

I never say anything’s my jam, but it felt right there. I’ll roll with it.

So today’s post is born from that desire to help others! Maybe it’ll help someone to get aha moments much faster than I did. And that would be awesome!


I was asked recently how I got the shot of the cake, as it was night time in a dark venue, and I had to use flash to mimic my normally sunlit style. This was one of my early major flash triumphs and working to get this shot taught me a lot!

For Tyler and Jacob’s wedding in 2016, I started the day at the reception venue. I wanted to make sure that I got daylight shots of the venue and decor, as the building was only lit by a few strands of lights and I wouldn’t see it again until after dark.

With the white walls and the open windows letting sunlight stream in, getting the decor shots was so fun! It was the perfect fit for my style.

But the cake was not scheduled to be delivered until later in the day. That meant I wouldn’t see it until after dark. I desperately wanted to get some amazing shots for Tyler and Jacob as well as for Torey, (with Cakes with TLC), and to make it look consistent with all the other decor and detail shots. I was on a mission!

At the time I was still very new to flash. It took a lot of thinking through and trying various setups. Finally I realized that the other photos from earlier in the day had a backlit element to them from open windows behind, as well as front light from the open doors. I knew I had to imitate that.

So I set up a flash unit behind the cake table on the bench pointing up and angled onto the white window shutter. This would light up the shutter as well as reflect light back towards the cake, like an open window would. I set the power to about 1/2 strength.

(At the time my flashes only had indicators of full power down to zero power in 8 increments, no flash powers designated, so all I can tell you as far as settings is I had it on power level 4).

If you’re a little more visual, like me, this shot doesn’t show the actual flash unit, but you can see a bit more what I’m talking about:

For my on camera flash I angled my flash towards the roof behind me. The building has an angled roof like a circus tent (tall in the middle, shorter on all sides). This meant that I needed it to hit the roof and reflect anything possible back to me. This would soften the light to achieve a similar look to what I’d taken earlier in the day with ambient sunlight coming through the windows and doors. I had that flash set to full power.

Because of the roof angle, I couldn’t get as much bounced back at me, but the full power flash was able to get enough light bouncing around that I had enough flash come back to lighten up the front of the cake.

I shot this with a 50mm lens at f/3.2 at 1/200th, and an ISO of 1200, with both flash units on. Were I to do this now I would shoot at f/2.0, 1/100th (maybe slightly slower), and I imagine my ISO would be around 800 or so.

I decided to narrow my field of view to frame the cake. This gives it more of that light look I was going for.

And finally this image was born!

Cake photo at night


Torey’s reaction to this photo of her cake was my favorite!

“To wake up this morning and see this BEAUTIFUL photo of one of my cakes! It looks like something straight off a Pinterest board! When I first saw your photo, I could not believe it! This shot is pure talent! I knew how dark that building was, I tried and tried to get a decent photo of the cake set up. But I’m a baker, not a photographer. You made it look like it was in the middle of the most beautiful sunny day! I am so excited to get to work on more events with you!”

If you found it helpful at all to see how I got this cake photo at night, here are three other “For Photographer” posts that you might enjoy!

The Sweden Dress: The first post in a planned series about what I wear while working a wedding. 

Workflow Help that saves me 20+ hours a week!

Do’s and Don’ts for Second Shooters


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  1. Karen Shoufler

    March 28th, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Great job Marquette! Thanks for sharing. I get intimidated by flash still and this is encouraging to me! 🙂

  2. Marquette LaRee

    March 28th, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    You know, I still get intimidated as well, but slowly it’s becoming less and less scary!

  3. Ashley Ziegler

    March 28th, 2018 at 7:43 am

    That is beautiful! 🙂 Well done! Also, I consider you that one friend in my “community over competition” life. You are seriously so helpful all of the time and I’m so glad that we’re friends!

  4. Marquette LaRee

    March 28th, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    I’m so glad we’re friends too!! I’m so excited to see life take off for you in Idaho!

  5. Chris Hunt - The Venue on Main

    April 27th, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I love your blog site!! Your pictures are amazing!!!

  6. Marquette LaRee

    April 30th, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you so much!! I hope we get to work together in the future!