So this semester I've been sitting in on a lighting class that should be for third years, but I was interested in the subject, so I made an exception for myself and the teacher was fine with it, so woo!
We were given a set of pre-rendered fruit with bowl and cloth background. It was basically doing an oil painting, but with Maya. I thought it was pretty cool.
Anyway, first off we were given the following image to begin with:
Once we were given that, we were told to create three different lights in three different places and make the fruit look delicious. The lights were placed in places that made sense based on the principles of real lighting, we were just adapting them for Maya. Basically, that means we included a Key Light (The main light of the scene, coming from the right in my image), a Fill Light (a secondary light that adds dimension to the shadows), and a Rim Light (a light that comes from behind to illuminate just the edges of the visible objects).
Once we had that, we went into texturing. The orange already came with some texture to it, but the rest of the fruit were smooth and blank. We began by simply drawing a texture in photoshop and applying it to the Diffuse attribute in Maya.
I continued by adding textures to the entire scene, background, plate, and everything in between. He then began to teach us different things to add to the scene to make it look more realistic. Ray Traced shadows, different types of lights and textures, and different options within a texture to adjust the reflectivity, specularity, and a few other things.
And then at the end we added some final touches including ambients (both ambient light and ambient color), some procedural textures, and just some final touches on all the ways that light interacts with the texturings, and then Ta Daaaa! A completed fruit bowl!
EDIT: And now a version with the final Ambient Occlusion added to make everything just look better: