Anatomy of a Product Shoot

by Mar 13, 2011How To, Product Shots2 comments

After I did the post on the Pooka Pure and Simple photo shoot, a few photographers asked for a little insight into my lighting.

Basically it was a tabletop setup. I used white seamless paper for the background and the bottom. I used to strobe lights—one with a white shoot-through umbrella that was set 45 degrees to the left of camera. The second light was used with a 3ft octobank and placed above the table. It add reflection, I used a sheet of glass that I purchased from Home Depot for about $5. I used two so there would always be one ready for use while the other was being cleaned. Since I was going to be using wax to keep items in place, I knew there would be glass cleaning involved. The thing I didn’t count on were the sharp edges of the glass. That made handling and cleaning a bit tricky. We taped the edges of the glass, which showed up in some of the images. Next time I will use a larger sheet of glass to make certain I don’t have to worry about the edges.

The goal is to make certain that the products are well exposed while the white background is as white as possible. I tried to minimize the Photoshop use as much as possible. When I shoot in studio with strobes, I usually shoot at 1/125 with ISO set to 100. The meter reading for this setup was f16. I wanted to create nice, bright images to freshness of the body products, so I bracketed my images between f16, f18 and f20. I had one shot at these 50 or so products and I wanted to make sure I had the image I needed.

I don’t usually use a tripod, but on this day I did so that placement is the same for various setups. Having a good assistant helped things move along quickly. To help the items, like lids, stand up on end I used wax. It’s important to use as little wax as possible or you end up doing a lot of Photoshop work. Of course wax had to be cleaned off the glass for each set up. What couldn’t be cleaned from the glass was removed with Photoshop. All in all, the Photoshop work was minimal, but I’ve learned a big lesson—sometimes it pays to outsource. Next time I do a shoot with this many images, I will be outsourcing the editing and retouching. By the way, I ended up with a total of over 1600 images from the day.

All of these behind-the-scenes photos were shot with my Blackberry Tour, but I think you get the idea.

First assistant Luigi (aka @Heliopolis) preps glass for the next setup.

The honey drip gets a little help starting.

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