Lighting up belts for product shots

Started Apr 27, 2013 | Discussions
Scrozzy
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Lighting up belts for product shots
Apr 27, 2013

Hi all,

I'm going to be shooting some belts on a light table for a friend in the next week or so.

I've got 2 strobes and I wonder what the best setup would be? I've got 2 large soft boxes, and I was planning on getting them in real close and 45 degrees facing towards the belts with even power. The theory is they will be outside the family of angles to avoid hard highlights off the buckle, but enough in front to keep things well lit.

Does this sound good in theory?

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Sailor Blue
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to Scrozzy, Apr 28, 2013

Try it and see.  If it doesn't work then try something different.

Equal lighting will throw two shadows but that might be okay.  Once set up you can always try unequal lighting by making a couple of quick changes.

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hotdog321
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to Sailor Blue, Apr 28, 2013

I think it will largely depend on the material the belts and buckles are made from. Shiny, smooth leather? Coarse fabric? Textured, patterns, artistic weaves? You may want a broad softbox in close to show a mirror-like surface, or a cross-light to show texture, or both. Should be fun!

The best book on this is stuff is Light Science and Magic.

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Scrozzy
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to hotdog321, Apr 28, 2013

These are (smooth) leather belts with brass buckles. I don't think texture will be important, just clarity and detail. They're too be used on an amazon listing, so artiness is off the cards.

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24Peter
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to Scrozzy, Apr 28, 2013

The biggest challenge will probably be the buckles. Family of angles for your lights is all well and good but for really reflective buckles don't forget to include something to reflect back into them - usually white foam board. Otherwise whatever is in your shooting environment will show up, including the dark recesses of any unlit areas of your studio.

For leather belts, it is easy enough to light them. There is usually a diffuse reflection on the leather so I would use (relatively) large softboxes to create a highlight. Texture may also be important, even for Amazon non-artsy shots. That may required harder lighting.

If the purpose of the lightbox is eliminate a shadow underneath the product, make sure your color temp/WB matches with your strobes. Instead of a lightbox, I usually just use a piece of clear Plexiglas raised off the (white) surface of my shooting table to eliminate shadows. If you are getting unwanted reflections in the Plexiglas add more light under the Plexiglas or use a CP filter.

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Clueless Wanderer
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to 24Peter, Apr 29, 2013

24Peter wrote:

The biggest challenge will probably be the buckles. Family of angles for your lights is all well and good but for really reflective buckles don't forget to include something to reflect back into them - usually white foam board. Otherwise whatever is in your shooting environment will show up, including the dark recesses of any unlit areas of your studio.

For leather belts, it is easy enough to light them. There is usually a diffuse reflection on the leather so I would use (relatively) large softboxes to create a highlight. Texture may also be important, even for Amazon non-artsy shots. That may required harder lighting.

If the purpose of the lightbox is eliminate a shadow underneath the product, make sure your color temp/WB matches with your strobes. Instead of a lightbox, I usually just use a piece of clear Plexiglas raised off the (white) surface of my shooting table to eliminate shadows. If you are getting unwanted reflections in the Plexiglas add more light under the Plexiglas or use a CP filter.

The hardest thing about product photography is getting the colours of the image to match the real world product. The second hardest thing is reflections.
Personally I would do as you said with the two soft box's first try them both on equal power, then turn one down -1EV and see which image you prefer..

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Scrozzy
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to 24Peter, May 4, 2013

24Peter wrote:

The biggest challenge will probably be the buckles. Family of angles for your lights is all well and good but for really reflective buckles don't forget to include something to reflect back into them - usually white foam board. Otherwise whatever is in your shooting environment will show up, including the dark recesses of any unlit areas of your studio.

For leather belts, it is easy enough to light them. There is usually a diffuse reflection on the leather so I would use (relatively) large softboxes to create a highlight. Texture may also be important, even for Amazon non-artsy shots. That may required harder lighting.

If the purpose of the lightbox is eliminate a shadow underneath the product, make sure your color temp/WB matches with your strobes. Instead of a lightbox, I usually just use a piece of clear Plexiglas raised off the (white) surface of my shooting table to eliminate shadows. If you are getting unwanted reflections in the Plexiglas add more light under the Plexiglas or use a CP filter.

Thanks Peter, that's really helpful. I particularly like the idea of using plexiglass to eliminate the shadows.

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Barrie Davis
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to Scrozzy, May 4, 2013

Scrozzy wrote:

24Peter wrote:

The biggest challenge will probably be the buckles. Family of angles for your lights is all well and good but for really reflective buckles don't forget to include something to reflect back into them - usually white foam board. Otherwise whatever is in your shooting environment will show up, including the dark recesses of any unlit areas of your studio.

For leather belts, it is easy enough to light them. There is usually a diffuse reflection on the leather so I would use (relatively) large softboxes to create a highlight. Texture may also be important, even for Amazon non-artsy shots. That may required harder lighting.

If the purpose of the lightbox is eliminate a shadow underneath the product, make sure your color temp/WB matches with your strobes. Instead of a lightbox, I usually just use a piece of clear Plexiglas raised off the (white) surface of my shooting table to eliminate shadows. If you are getting unwanted reflections in the Plexiglas add more light under the Plexiglas or use a CP filter.

Thanks Peter, that's really helpful. I particularly like the idea of using plexiglass to eliminate the shadows.

So let's get this straight... you want to (a) kill the highlights in the buckles, AND in the surfaces of the leather... and you ALSO (b) want to kill the shadows.

This leaves me wondering one thing.... HOW are you going to show shape and texture in your products, with the two principle lighting tools available to you for doing so...

-(highlights and shadows, respectively)-

... not used? 

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Scrozzy
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Re: Lighting up belts for product shots
In reply to Barrie Davis, May 4, 2013

Barrie Davis wrote:

Scrozzy wrote:

24Peter wrote:

The biggest challenge will probably be the buckles. Family of angles for your lights is all well and good but for really reflective buckles don't forget to include something to reflect back into them - usually white foam board. Otherwise whatever is in your shooting environment will show up, including the dark recesses of any unlit areas of your studio.

For leather belts, it is easy enough to light them. There is usually a diffuse reflection on the leather so I would use (relatively) large softboxes to create a highlight. Texture may also be important, even for Amazon non-artsy shots. That may required harder lighting.

If the purpose of the lightbox is eliminate a shadow underneath the product, make sure your color temp/WB matches with your strobes. Instead of a lightbox, I usually just use a piece of clear Plexiglas raised off the (white) surface of my shooting table to eliminate shadows. If you are getting unwanted reflections in the Plexiglas add more light under the Plexiglas or use a CP filter.

Thanks Peter, that's really helpful. I particularly like the idea of using plexiglass to eliminate the shadows.

So let's get this straight... you want to (a) kill the highlights in the buckles,

To be honest I hadn't thought of killing anything until I read your post, but I'm happy with highlights, just not harsh/blown ones.

AND in the surfaces of the leather...

Not exactly, no ...

and you ALSO (b) want to kill the shadows.

Again, bizarrely I still have killing on the brain too, but I want to kill the shadows under the belt, yes. There's a website called Amazon that sells all sorts of things. If you check out the majority of their product shots you'll notice a theme of clean and white backgrounds: www.amazon.com or www.amazon.co.uk

This leaves me wondering one thing.... HOW are you going to show shape and texture in your products, with the two principle lighting tools available to you for doing so...

-(highlights and shadows, respectively)-

... not used? 

Well wonder no more. I'm torn between voodoo or just flopping out an appendage and flapping it about a bit in a ritualistic manner. I'm sure that will improve my photography no end.

Cheers.

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