I need advice, about buying light modifiers for product photography.

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Ed Shapiro
Ed Shapiro Regular Member • Posts: 329
Re: I need advice, about buying light modifiers for product photography.

Electronic flash units, such as monolights, combined with softboxes are you best general-purpose light systems for product photography.  There are many brands on the market at a wide scope of price ranges.  You don't need an overly-sophisticated system- just reliable units with sufficient power to accommodate your requirements.

In my studio, I have combined flash units from different manufacturers with no major colour-shift issues, however, if you are starting from scratch, it is wise to buy match units, not only for colour temperature issues but also for more convenient and consistent power setting to establish lighting ratios.

The size of the softboxes and strip lightboxes will depend on what kind of products you are shooting. This is where your knowledge of light technique kicks in.   Here's some basic theory:

The size of the light source relative to the size of the product determines the softness and hardness of the lighting- the later the light sours, as compared to the size of the product- the softer the lighting effect,  The next facto is distance- the closer the lig source the softer and further the light source the harder. Knowing these factors, you can select the best size of softbox for any given product and then control the quality of lighting by moving the light source to various distances to achieve the effect you want.

If you are shooting products with highly reflective surfaces- the highlights on the product are a reflection of the light source. These highlights give the item shape and dimension. If you want a soft rim light on a wine bottle, as an example, you may decide to use a strip light type pf softbox.  For gold or silver jewelry or certain gemstones, a broader larger softbox will be a better choice.

Another method that I frequently use in my studio is extremely simple, It is a softbox of the appropriate size for the product and a few strategically placed reflectors. 1- light only. The softbox equipped moonlight is suspended over the set, slight to the back of the item so that the edge of the light beam strikes the reflector(s) which serve as a fill source.

The Paul C, Buff lights are a good choice. The 640 watt-second Einstein is a good unit to consider

They have a good range of power settings and enough light to provide the depth of field aperture settings weh required.  Their customer service is excellent.  I  have Photogenic and Speedotron units in my studio.

I suggest that you study and master the theory of ANGLE OF  INCIDENCE - this plays a very important role in problem-solving, reflection control and rendition of textures and various surfaces.

The attached images were all a 1- ligh and reflector setup.  The "eggs"  are a test shot to show how this lighting works on various surfaces- eggshells, polished stones and varnished wood. Also, see the diagram.

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Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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