product photography question

Started Aug 14, 2012 | Discussions
tomoco
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product photography question
Aug 14, 2012

I'm shooting some small products on a white background (white paper sweep). I'm using 2 Ego lights on each side and a 100mm lens on a tripod. The shots look fine but I seem to get a little off-white, yellowish shadow around the product i'm shooting. Any tips for making the surrounding area a nice solid white? Thanks

Hugowolf
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Re: product photography question
In reply to tomoco, Aug 14, 2012

tomoco wrote:

I'm shooting some small products on a white background (white paper sweep). I'm using 2 Ego lights on each side and a 100mm lens on a tripod. The shots look fine but I seem to get a little off-white, yellowish shadow around the product i'm shooting. Any tips for making the surrounding area a nice solid white? ThanksIt is easy enough to desaturate the cast shadow in Photoshop.

It is nearly impossible to create a shadowless white background when the object is sitting on the background, unless you also light from below. If you can raise the objects above the background add an extra light, then a shadowfree hot white background is quite possible.

Brian A

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unknown member
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Re: product photography question
In reply to Hugowolf, Aug 14, 2012

It's a bit hard to judge without seeing an example. Is the shadow a contact shadow, or something larger? Is the yellow reflected from the subject?

Do you want to eliminate all shadows so the object is "floating"? It's a matter of personal preference, of course, but there's something to be said for a contact shadow that anchors the subject to a surface ... as here:

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Sailor Blue
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Re: product photography question
In reply to tomoco, Aug 15, 2012

One way to completely eliminate any shadow is to place the object on a sheet of white Lucite or acrylic plastic and illuminate it from below.

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Barrie Davis
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Re: product photography question
In reply to tomoco, Aug 15, 2012

tomoco wrote:

I'm shooting some small products on a white background (white paper sweep). I'm using 2 Ego lights on each side and a 100mm lens on a tripod. The shots look fine but I seem to get a little off-white, yellowish shadow around the product i'm shooting. Any tips for making the surrounding area a nice solid white? Thanks

Part of the problem is having all your lights as skim lights from the side. What is needed is a downward shining light from above. One of the Egos will do it, or maybe two. They are light enough to be boomed over the top of the set on a home-made lash-up arrangement of dowels (broomsticks?)...

.... although it will be a lot easier if you buy a proper boom lightstand with counterweight. If you do that, it would then be worth buying a proper softbox.

Ego lights are not bad, but they do suffer from being fixed height, and that height is a bit low... OK for a FILL light, not so good for a MAIN light.

A word about reflectors in product photography..

If necessary, the side light that is missing on re-allocating the Ego can be replaced with reflectors made of silver foil on stiff cardboard. Prop the reflector(s) tilted at about 45 degree angle such that the new 'toplight' is reflected forwards into the subject....

Anything makes a prop... block of wood, can of beans, whatever. Make the prop grip by putting blob of Blu-Tack on the contact point.

Note 1: Simple little cardboard reflectors are at least as much use to the product photographer as an actual powered light. Indeed, much professional product photography is done with nothing more than a soft overhead light on a boom, and two or three silver reflectors A4 size...

Note 2: A contact shadow underneath the subject adds a real sense of solidity to the product.... something which products hanging in complete shadow-free limbo do not have.

Note 3: Placing a spotlight beam in the back can also dramatically increase this sense of 3-D, a tactile quality which product photographers have called "pick-up-ability"... which is just what you want with a product shot. Your photograph is, after all, standing in for the buyer's chance to handle the item in a normal shop environment.

See below for some examples ... (these are a bit old, but the lighting point is made, I think.)

[Two from rollfilm scanned, and one from a humble Minolta Dimage 7. Which are which?]

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Regards,
Baz

"Ahh... But the thing is, they were not just ORDINARY time travellers!"

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benjaminwhite
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Re: product photography question
In reply to tomoco, Aug 17, 2012

use a lightmeter to make sure your exposure is absolutely spot on, don't rely on the camera. Always use manual mode.

standard set up to use is SS125th A11 ISO200

You will still have to do some additional post production to get the pure white in photoshop but this will give you the best start in camera

Benjamin White
http://www.procterphotography.co.uk/

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ryan2007
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Re: product photography question
In reply to tomoco, Aug 18, 2012

To sort of combine the responses as I do product photography too. B&H photo is a good resource.

Use a seamless white background. I use Savage paper in the 4' roll. Number 1-53 is pure white.

If you don't have a shooting table (do not use a tent) use any table. Take the roll and tape it with gaffers tape to the wall and roll over table. I have a space with concrete block wall so I am not worried about any paint getting ruined. If not buy stand and center bar to roll the paper.

Place camera on tripod, turn off any image stabilization, use manual mode, Cable release if you can. A light meter is helpful, but not a deal breaker. Using it is easy, I suggest a Sekonic model.

I am using Elinchrom D-lite monolight kit with soft-boxes, 200 W/s each light so its a 400 W/s kit. Move the lights, adjust strobe output power to get what looks right. It also depends how small or large the object is. All I need are two lights for now.

For product stuff a Macro lens is preferred. F-stop between 5.6 & 11. Use the lowest ISO possible, shutter speed is usually 125 using a 160 ISO.

If a product is small use a table top tripod and the Joby Gorilla pod works.

I also have a selection of props to make things not seen by the camera. They are items a jewelry store uses for a display to show jewelry. I use clear or white whatever matches the background.

A lot is on the fly to think outside the box. Techniques that a food photographer uses I may use for product stuff. No hard fast rules.

tomoco wrote:

I'm shooting some small products on a white background (white paper sweep). I'm using 2 Ego lights on each side and a 100mm lens on a tripod. The shots look fine but I seem to get a little off-white, yellowish shadow around the product i'm shooting. Any tips for making the surrounding area a nice solid white? Thanks

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DecibelPhoto
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Re: product photography question
In reply to tomoco, Aug 19, 2012

Everyone is giving you advice for getting rid of shadows... is that what you were asking? Or are were you wondering why your shadows are yellow-ish?

Shadows can often take on a warm hue, which looks very unnatural to the eye because in nature shadows are usually blue-ish (due to the sky). In still life photography this is caused either by a warmer fill light or fill card, or by a warm bounce coming from the object you are shooting itself. In certain cases it can be caused by the modelling lights, or by the color of the paper itself (most white seamless paper is slightly warm). I often need to desaturate shadows in post when shooting on white.

If you are simply trying eliminate shadows, there are plenty of ways to go - although shadow-free lighting looks pretty bad. Don't light a translucent surface from below, this is a bad recommendation that I often hear. Try lighting with a soft light source from directly above the lens.

Good luck.

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tomoco
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Re: product photography question
In reply to Hugowolf, Aug 22, 2012

Thanks everyone. Great advice all around.

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TableTop Studio
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Re: product photography question
In reply to tomoco, Mar 19, 2013

I'm shooting some small products on a white background (white paper sweep). I'm using 2 Ego lights on each side and a 100mm lens on a tripod   The shots look fine but I seem to get a little off-white, yellowish shadow around the product i'm shooting. Any tips for making the surrounding area a nice solid white? Thanks

I think folks missed the point in the replies. The yellowish shadow is no doubt due to some stray light source in the room.  The camera's white balance is set for the Ego lights which are daylight color.  In the shadow areas, where the Ego lights are not shining, there is light from another source, probably an overhead tungsten light or possibly morning or afternoon sunlight from a window, which are yellower than the Ego lights.  That is what would make the shadows yellowish.  Turn off or block the other lights and the problem should go away. Shooting inside a light tent can block stray light sources.

As for getting shadowless imaages, there are tips for that at www.tabletopstudio.com

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