Newbie - my attempt at a product photo for my website


TPF Noob!
Mar 9, 2012
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New York
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Hi folks, first time posting. I run a small website that sells DVDs and just now starting to sell automotive spray guns. I wanted to try my hand at taking my own product photos, and I have a new Sony Alpha nex c3 camera (which I realize isn't a "pro" camera, but it seems to be better than the typical P&S stuff I've owned in the past).

Anyway, after carefully setting up my dining room table with a couple of studio lights (the hooded/soft ones) and a makeshift light box, I took a few pictures that I thought came out ok. I spent some time with them in my old/cheap photo editing software, to get rid of the background -- and wa-la! I had something that I thought was pretty good. Until I compared it with the stock photo from the spray gun manufacturer. :blushing:

So, my photo is on the left and the stock photo is on the right (obviously). I am a total newbie at this but I can instantly tell something is wrong with my lighting -- too much "off white" -- look at the cup on top of the gun. Also the chrome pieces are too "yellow". And I think my depth-of-field was off a little, since the gun is not really in focus across it's entire surface (e.g. look at the nozzle on mine compared to the stock photo). The body of the gun (blue) is actually pretty accurate...that stock photo has more of a greenish gun, which is probably a manufacturing lot difference in the colors.

This was with the 18mm-55mm lens and I think the camera selected an f stop of 5.0, and I had the exposure control to +0.7ev (if I recall correctly).

Any tips, or pointers to good tutorials on how to improve this would be GREATLY appreciated. I sort of obsess over this stuff so until I can get to very close to a "pro" result I am going to be fussing over this. I'm thinking I need to do more/better with my lighting...but not sure exactly what (a flash maybe?). Thanks in advance for any help you can give the new guy starting out :)

$gun pic compare.jpg
Google this => "diy lightbox" and see if you are able to find the article you are looking for.
ok thanks, I will try google.
I think your issue is less about the lighting and more about the white balance. Did you set it to match the color temp of whatever lighting you used?
I agree with red, it's the color temp and also mess with the highlights as well. Maybe set your WB to incandescent?
Thanks for the advice; I played around with it and got a slightly better result. More work to do but I think I can figure it out now.

Get the book 'Light: Science & Magic'.

It can teach you the three questions to ask, that will lead you to good lighting for anything.
#1. What are your Light Sources?
#2. What are the reflectance types of your subject?
#3. What/where are the family of angles?
Will do. Please be honest - did my last attempt "suck" or was it "ok"? Are there specific things in that picture that you can point out, as obvious places I can improve?
No, it looks really good actually.

I think the highlight along the barrel is a bit bright, especially where it's reflecting off the flat surface on the outside of the nozzle.
It will be almost impossible to shoot without that reflection there, but you could spread it out by enlarging your light source (and/or moving it closer). And you could probably get it off the nozzle by turning the product or moving the light etc.

The hardest part to do well, might be the hopper. Because it's round and reflective (shiny), it will always show a reflection of the light. Using a larger light source (and/or moving it closer) could help that. Using a light tent might help. Or if the highlights in the hopper aren't too big/crazy, you might be able to easily get rid of them in post.
Thanks, Mike. You'd laugh if you saw my setup...very tight in my tiny dining room. I'm going to be banished to the basement soon, so I will have more room to move my lights around. I did have a lot of problems with that hopper (cup), and also had to hang a darker piece of background behind just that part of the gun, to make it easier to remove the background in post.

So far it has been a lot of fun though and I really like my little Sony nex-c3. For the price it seems to do a pretty good job.
Since you seem to be getting the help you need from others way more knowledgeable than me, I will instead ask YOU a question:

Just out of curiosity, WHY are you selling DVDs and automotive spray guns on the same website? Seems like quite an odd pairing of items. ;)
Buy a couple posterboards from walmart, black and white, and use those to help your reflections.
Since you seem to be getting the help you need from others way more knowledgeable than me, I will instead ask YOU a question:

Just out of curiosity, WHY are you selling DVDs and automotive spray guns on the same website? Seems like quite an odd pairing of items. ;)

I didn't want to post my site link because I don't want to look like I'm spamming...but probably not enough of an overlap of interest with this community to make it a concern. Here's my website:

How to Paint Your Own Car, Auto Body Discussion Forum and Videos | Learning how to paint your own car and general automotive restoration

I purchased the (languishing) site a couple of years ago and completely re-did the design and wrapped a ton of customized programming around the foundation technologies that drive it. Believe it or not you are looking at WordPress ;-)
If you like to make a large diffused light source, you may want to take a look at the diffusion panel. Google "diy diffusion panel"
You guys will probably laugh at this -- but this weekend I found a really nifty feature on my new camera (keep in mind this is the first "real" camera I've ever owned). One of the options for white balance is a "custom" setting, where you point the camera at whatever in your scene is supposed to be pure white, and snap a sample (it gives you a little round target circle) -- and the camera adjusts the white balance to meet that specification. I didn't redo my spray gun picture because I spent a lot of time getting rid of the background in that photo, but my next couple of pictures came out much better; things that are supposed to be "white" really are "white" now :)

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