Light Modifiers for Product Photography

Started Mar 3, 2010 | Discussions
h317
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Light Modifiers for Product Photography
Mar 3, 2010

Hi,

Looking to have some fun in product photography.

I already have a 30" softbox, a couple of umbrellas, a couple of flashguns and, a light tent, a couple of Lastolite reflectors and a few foamboards (white and black) I bought from Staples. What other light modifiers are useful/essential in product photography? Thanks.

p.s. I am not a DIY guy (though I really wish I had were 8

hotdog321
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to h317, Mar 3, 2010

I'd get a snoot or two for precise lighting control or create a spot effect. Black velvet for space black backgrounds. White and gray seamless photo paper. I assume you have some stands, clamps and masking tape for the foam core. Maybe a few props for small products: I like black sandblasting grit, river stones, a piece of thick glass, thin clear monofilament, GELS for the lights. A piece of canvas, a piece of burlap for different surfaces.

http://craighartley.zenfolio.com/

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slowhands
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to h317, Mar 3, 2010

Since you are just starting...
and have NOT defined what "product photography" you're interested in

you should invest in the book... Light, Science and Magic.

Without understanding the principals of light, and how to deal with difficult situations (even - how to recognize situations that are diofficult)... a boxload of props and modifiers will leave you lacking.

Sometimes some posterboard / tagboard, or aluminum foil...and sissors are handy

A collection of reflectors (mirrors, clay to hold and position them) can be handy too

 slowhands's gear list:slowhands's gear list
Canon EOS 40D Canon EOS 350D Canon EOS 7D
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h317
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to slowhands, Mar 3, 2010

slowhands wrote:

Since you are just starting...
and have NOT defined what "product photography" you're interested in

you should invest in the book... Light, Science and Magic.

Actually, I did get the book and almost finished with it. I have been experimenting with some techniques in the book (e.g. shooting glassware, white on white, reflective subjects). That book is very good and got me hooked into general product photography.

I am not going to re-post my "practice" photos (they are not that good anyway 8

http://forums.dpreview.com/galleries/5728070145/photos/

Thanks.

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h317
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to hotdog321, Mar 3, 2010

hotdog321 wrote:

I'd get a snoot or two for precise lighting control or create a spot effect. Black velvet for space black backgrounds. White and gray seamless photo paper. I assume you have some stands, clamps and masking tape for the foam core. Maybe a few props for small products: I like black sandblasting grit, river stones, a piece of thick glass, thin clear monofilament, GELS for the lights. A piece of canvas, a piece of burlap for different surfaces.

http://craighartley.zenfolio.com/

Thanks, Craig.

I do have most of the things you suggested except ...

Snoot ... I use SB900s, any particular brand of snoot you recommend?

Props ... I do not have any of what you suggested. I guess I will acquire them as situation requires.

Once again, thanks for the suggestion.

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hotdog321
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to h317, Mar 3, 2010

No particular brand of snoot--just whatever fits your lights. You can even use a rolled up tube of black paper if you are careful.

I'd go ahead and buy the other stuff--it will only run about $100 or so and you will have it on hand. It helps creativity if you don't have to stop what you are doing to go buy a prop, and it will last forever. It also help when envisioning a set: "oh yeah, I've got this neat chunk of rock and it would look kickin' with that crystal wine glass."

Have fun!

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Quantum Help
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to h317, Mar 4, 2010

The glasses were interesting, but you may want to try using transmitted light (a spot light lighting the area behind the glass(es). The light is transmitted through them and gives gives a black light edge to the glasses to really define the shape. This is the same type of light you would use to illuminate the glass(es) if there were a liquid in them.

 Quantum Help's gear list:Quantum Help's gear list
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BAK
BAK
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Cheapest, semi-cheapest
In reply to h317, Mar 5, 2010

The cheapest fun addition is buyng some colored bristol board.

For a little bit more money, colored foam core, which has the advantage of being stiff.

Bounce a light off this, and your products can take on a new color tone.

By movingthe light in reltion to the boad, and the board in relation to the product, alters the degree pf colors that you see.

FILTER SHEETS -- cost less than you might think.

You can place thesee over lights, and change the color.

But for more fun, cut a hole in the filter sheet, and now plain "white" light will go through the hole and colored light weill be both colored and not as bright, coming from around the hole with the white light.

Place a second sheet, with no hole, over the first, and now the centre will be, for example, light blue, while the surrounding will be darker blue.

BAK

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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to h317, Mar 5, 2010

I've done studio still-life and product shots for a long time...and I've always preferred 'continuous' cool (ie: fluorescent) lighting over the strobe/flash approach...simply because there's no 'trial n error' involved...(ie: what you see is what you get) plus it's a lot easier to have complete control over glare/reflections, etc...and you don't have dial in, meter, and balance the different light sources used. Even back in the early 70's we built our own continuous lighting banks with FL strip tubes, MDF speaker board and cloth for diffusers Those were the days...well, at least we had Pink Floyd too

Here's a few examples:
http://kvincentphotography.ca/fooddrink
http://kvincentphotography.ca/designerflorals
http://kvincentphotography.ca/still-life

You have a 30" soft-box tent (which will suffice for small to medium sized subjects)...so to go with that 3-4 lights will be needed. Left & right side, above and behind. Underneath/below is also good for getting that 'suspended' look - but I wouldn't bother with that until you have some experience with this.

Daylight 5000K - 5600K FL bulbs are the ticket, and approx 600W (Tungsten eqiv) is required for each source. Once you get this kind of setup in place...it will be good to go for a whole range of different sized subjects. All you will need to do is move the light lights closer/further all depending upon the result you are seeing.

It's that simple.

For backgrounds....just shoot against some quality art card of your desired colour. It's better than velvet or cloth because card doesn't hold so much lint-specks/dust/flick/hair, etc....and it doesn't have to be perfectly clean anyways...coz one simply "enhances" and "cleans up" the background in NX2, CS4 or whatever, using the standard layers-mask techniques.

Concentrate on getting 'the subject' as perfect as possible, coz you can always change/alter the background or add a gradient, reflection layer, FX, etc later on in Photoshop.,

This kinda stuff:
http://kvincentphotography.ca/still-life/h10c422c9#h10c422c9
http://kvincentphotography.ca/still-life/h10c422c9#h3150f35

Your pics on the site are clean and reasonably clear...however, they come across as somewhat flat/sterile. You need to create more depth and introduce compositional elements that generate multi-dimentional points of interest, etc.

Hope this helps...

KEV

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h317
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to KEVZPHOTOS, Mar 5, 2010

KEVZPHOTOS wrote:

Your pics on the site are clean and reasonably clear...however, they come across as somewhat flat/sterile. You need to create more depth and introduce compositional elements that generate multi-dimentional points of interest, etc.

Hope this helps...

KEV

Thanks, Kev for your suggestions. Yes, that is generally the comments I got on those picture i.e. flat. Making sure the subject sharp and clean is relatively easy comparing to the compositioinal part.

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KEVZPHOTOS
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to h317, Mar 5, 2010

h317 wrote:

Thanks, Kev for your suggestions. Yes, that is generally the comments I got on those picture i.e. flat. Making sure the subject sharp and clean is relatively easy comparing to the compositioinal part.

Well, product photography has it's own conundrum and catch 22.

It's relatively straightforward in many respects because the studio environment is 100% controlled and mostly the subject is un-cluttered and/or singular in nature.

However, on the other hand...composition is key (as always) and then there's the extra challenge to make the subject look special and very appealing, etc...by introducing other elements.

Nothing is easy - eh!

KEV

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aearnest
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Re: Light Modifiers for Product Photography
In reply to h317, Apr 18, 2013

I was looking online and found this post about lighting products and modifiers to photograph products.  A few years back, I too was looking for an all inclusive book dedicated to Lighting Products and found there wasn't any on the market; therefore, I wrote a book that was just released  February 2013 through Amherst Media titled "Lighting for Product Photography: A step by step guide to Sculpting with Light®"

What is great about this book is I designed it as a textbook with case studies, everything from white on white, metal, embossing, paper, and putting it all together.  The link is below,  Would love for you to check it out.  I am certain it will help.

http://www.amazon.com/Lighting-Product-Photography-Step---Step/dp/1608955443/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1355514524&sr=8-4&keywords=sculpting+with+light

Happy Shooting!

Allison Earnest

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