Tutorial: Product lighting in detail, part 2

Tutorial: Product lighting in detail, part 2

Tutorial: Product lighting in detail, part 2

This week, we’re dealing with the shot below, showing the front and side of the product

Front/side shot

Front/side shot

Last week we discussed how the shot below was lit. Please click here to read that blog post, because a very similar setup was used and I haven’t repeated this basic info here.

Rear/side view

Rear/side view

This one is virtually the same but shows the side/front instead of the side/back. So, all that I really needed to do was to swing the subject round the other way.

front_both_softboxesExcept of course that the softboxes were now at the totally wrong angle, so they had to be changed too.

I followed exactly the same procedure, setting up a strip softbox to light the underside, and then setting a larger softbox overhead, to light the top. Of course, the back isn’t visible in this shot so it doesn’t matter that I also stuck a honeycombed beauty dish behind it but slightly behind it so that it put some extra light on the top, bottom and side.

Photographing the flash head at this angle shows different things, and does a better job of showing some of its features, for example both the slave sensor (top rear) and the release mechanism for the accessory mount (top front) are now seen much more clearly.

And there’s the tilt mechanism too, just above the light stand, which is only fully visible from this side.

But although it’s nearly finished, it lacks oomph, punch and the desire to reach out and touch it, and these are the things that are essential in any product shot. Apart from retouching, which of course comes last, all that we need to do is to add a bit of life to the image. The reflector needs some light inside it and the handle at the back is in a bit of a black hole, so a subtle increase of light there seems like a good idea.

honeycombed-headGetting some light inside the reflector is easy. It’s tempting just to switch the modelling lamp on, but that isn’t really the effect that I want, all that I actually want to do is to put enough light inside the reflector to add some life to it, as well as to show the detail of the  modelling lamp and the protective dome for the modelling lamp. And the way I did that was to use another flash head, this time fitted with a standard reflector and a tight 10 degree honeycomb that would only put the light exactly where it was needed.

It’s not obvious from the setup photo on the left, but the honeycombed flash head is positioned so that none of the light can get past the reflector and splash any light on the side . At the same time I did want to put a bit of light inside the handle at the back – but I didn’t want to put anywhere near as much light there as I put inside the reflector, and because of this I placed the honeycombed light pretty close.
What difference does that make?
It’s the effect of the Inverse Square Law. By placing the light close, there was a fairly dramatic fall off of light as the light travelled from the front to the back.

With honeycombed flash lighting reflector

With honeycombed flash lighting reflector

Without honeycombed flash lighting reflector

Without honeycombed flash lighting reflector

You can see how much difference this made by comparing these before and after shots, above.

What we now have is a shot that is lit from both top and bottom, the reflector is lit, and the shot works on either a black or white background, or come to that on any other background that you care to add. It’s important to have these choices, and cutting the subject out from the background is the only way to leave all of the background options open – and of course by NOT shooting against a white background, we retain full control of our lighting and of edge definition…

Having said that, I’ve sort of volunteered to do a model shoot against a white background, so watch this space and see how it’s done when it has to be done that way 🙂

Front/side shot

Front/side shot

Cut out to a white background for web use

Cut out to a white background for web use

Please bear in mind that every single brand new product, straight out of the box and carefully cleaned, always photographs showing dust marks and tiny little bits that aren’t even visible to the naked eye, and these need to be retouched out. Also, we may want to make some subtle changes in curves and perhaps to the colour saturation – but I simply don’t do this to the shots that I show in my tutorials.