Basic advice needed: minimum set-up for indoor product shots

Started Feb 8, 2013 | Questions thread
DecibelPhoto Contributing Member • Posts: 791
Re: Basic advice needed: minimum set-up for indoor product shots

MUFFLER wrote:


Moon on a stick time. I need to take indoor shots of motorbikes and attached accessories for later clipping into InDesign. I have no experience of indoor photography (and this is a personal thing, not a paid for job - er, obviously)...

This is a bit of an experiment because the stock photos we have access to are good, just not quite the right specification but if this fails miserably I don't want to have thrown thousand of pounds at it.

We've built a little area where we'll have silk white plasterboard to three sides, and white paint on a concrete floor which I hope will be sufficient, but I need to light in sufficiently to take half decent shots.

What's the minimum I need to sufficiently light the scene? I'll be shooting with a 35mm prime lens, from around 2.5m, and the lighting needs to be either celing mounted or around 1m from the bike.

Would two 80cm soft boxes with 450w 5400k equivilent bulbs be sufficient to light the bike well, or am I massively underestimating it?

I really appreciate any help.



The largest issue you are going to be dealing with here is the size of your space.  I think you need something at least 4 times as large to do even consider doing this in a normal way.

Don't worry too much about your light power.  You should be shooting this with a tripod, so you can easily just use dim lights with 15 second exposures if need be.

Motorcycles are very difficult objects to light even half way decently.  They are some of the most complicated things to light at a professional level.  They are basically just large, shiny objects, so you need to be thinking about lighting everything that you reflects in them.  This means that you don't really light the bike directly, you light the environment that the bike is in.  If you were using softboxes, I would try to stick with 2m and larger ones, which you don't have the room for here.  This type of stuff is actually easier to do using light heads with reflectors shot at large white boards or walls, or through large silks.

Since you don't have these resources at hand, your best bet would be to carefully light the white walls of the room the bike is in.  You will need to shine lights on them in a way where they only hit the walls, and not the bike.  Lock your camera on a tripod, and start doing this until individual pieces of the bike look good.  You are going to have to do this many times, and take many pictures for individual pieces of the bike, and then combine them later in photoshop.  For the shiny parts of the bike, you will need to be lighting the walls of the room only.  For the matte parts of the bike (the seat, the tires, etc...) you will need to light the item directly using one of the smaller softboxes you mentioned, or something similar.

Good luck.

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