Product photography - review please

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by gossamer, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I have a D500 and a 24-70mm 2.8 and trying to take some product shots of pet toys. I'm not a complete novice, but working with light is where I need the most help, and also haven't done much product photography before.

    I recently bought a basic two-light CFL reflective umbrella setup along with a basic LED hotshoe light. The LED light is off the camera and on another light stand on the table, in front of the rings, facing up. The two CFL lights are off to the left and right. I'm holding the camera as close to directly above

    I'd be curious what people think of my first shot. f5, 160, iso 200, at 24mm, SooC.

    Dropbox - DSC5881_Rings.jpg

    The problems I see with it and don't know how to fix are:

    - White balance is off. The CFLs are supposedly 5500, but it still seems a little grey. I don't have a grey card (but am now getting one). Is there something I can do in the meantime?
    - No matter how hard I try, there's always a bit of a reflection off the cardboard. Do I have to edit those out manually? Is there a way to avoid it?
    - Are the shadows around the rings okay? Is that to be expected? It gives it perspective, but how do you determine the proper amount of shadows?
    - Is there some rig I could build (or order in time for Monday) that would enable me to suspend the camera above the table, perpendicular to the product?

    Thanks so much


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    It is "okay", but the cross-shadowing is annoying to me...the two lights, one on each side is the issue...that's dull lighting, and in this case, annoys the eye. ONE, main light source, would look better. Two equal-powere, equal-distance lights, aimed at a subject from 45 degrees from each side: that si the recipe for copy lighting...it is un-appealing lighting. Try using just ONE large light source, and you'll immediately see the difference.

    Overall, the shot is what one would expect from a low-cost import/export type of web-based business; not trying to denigrate your skills or the job you've managed to get, but this is not high-level product work, but it does pay money for being shot.

    The shaodwoing around the rings is expected, and annoying (to me, at least). The "perspective" it gives is one of flatness...how much shadowing is determined by you and the client...I think this shadow pattern could be greatly improved by turning off the light on the right hand side.

    Want the truth? Most people prefer main light hat enters from the LEFT, and high, and throws the shadow down, and to the 4 to 5 o'clock position. Period. We read left to right.we prefer higher 10- and 11 o'clock mian light origin points, in general, over under-lighting from low or from 9 o'clock.

    Cardobard lustre....1)dulling spray... 2)flat paint 3) change the angle of light incidence. The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection 4)Polarize the light sources with sheet film polarizing material 5)Polarize the camera lens with a CPL filter. Start at #5, and work backward thru the list.

    Suspended camera? Two ladders, and a board. Ladder and a boom arm. Tripod and a boom arm. Boom stand and pipe-grip clamp with tripod head attached. TALL, home-built iron pipe tripod (tee-pee style, lashed together with wire at top, legs in board with holes as base). Any numer of ways to get the camera suspended. Two ladders and a long board is the easy. cheap handy way, and has height-adjustment options...top step, one step down, etc..
     
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  3. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Yes, just tried that. I placed the light with the umbrella on the left on top of the table in front of the rings, facing almost directly straight down. You can see the light is a little brighter at the top of the picture in the attached file. There definitely doesn't seem to be enough light now.

    My thinking was that I would experiment with something more inexpensive as a starting point to get an idea of how it all works. I would love recommendations on the proper lighting to buy for something like this. I have the money to spend on the proper gear.

    This created very long shadows on the right. I don't believe it looked correct.

    Yes, truth always. I can try that again. The 450W CFL just doesn't appear powerful enough for moving it too high above the rings.

    Should I introduce my on-camera SB700?

    I have a heliopan UV filter. I'd like to get the equivalent polarizer. Would this be it (for my 82mm 24-70 f2.8)? And how many stops of light do I lose?
    Amazon.com : Heliopan 82mm Slim Circular Polarizer Filter (708280) with specialty Schott glass in floating brass ring : Camera Lens Polarizing Filters : Camera & Photo

    Yes, I also thought of this, but thought with also having the light source above the subject that it would get in the way and create shadows. I'll have to give this some more thought.

    Thanks so much for your input. Always appreciate the real criticism.
     

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  4. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ah, your taking pics of carded items (meant to hang). I would switch to hanging them with the lightest fishing line you can find. Set up your background as normal. Run a pole across the background (several feet forward). Can use a 2nd backdrop cross pole and 2 more stands. Or make something up. Use adjustable knots in the fishing line so you can adjust heights and hang the items from the pole. Then light them as normal. Also light the background. You will have no shadows and good quality pictures. If your doing multiple items like your sample. You can use tape, to tape items together so they stay aligned (hidden on back of course). If doing single items and they tend to turn. Tape additional line back of item to use to straighten it out.
     
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  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    No, there is plenty of light now....but your umbrella is far too close to the set...the light fall-off is steep, because of the Inverse Square Law....you have the light TOO CLOSE to the subject....move the light farther away, and the rate of fall-off will be tremendously lessened, and it will look good. This is an issue many people find when doing close-ups...they get the lights in too close, where the rate of light fall-off in intensity is very steep over even very,very short distances on the set; move the light FARTHER away, and the rate of fall-off will even out, and it'll be super-easy to process the images with even lighting.

    There is plenty of light if you just apply some processing tweaks...a Lightoom graduated filter, or a little bit of dodging on the areas you feel are too dark...simple stuff can improve this frame.

    Overall, this is a MUCH-better image than the earlier one! So much more harmonious! But it needs different image processing than you applied, OR a different lighting technique that will minimize fall-off.
     
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  6. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    I don't think I can do it by hanging them. Some of them are in bags, and the product must be removed from the bags to avoid glare. Inside the bags are up to 20 individual pieces, like mini dog bones, etc.
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As someone who does shots like this every day I'll provide a couple of comments. Flat lighting is most easily achieved with a light tent. They are cheap. Get one and light things as you have been lighting them. Two opposed flash heads is fine. The light tent will do a better job of spreading the light than your softbox. You can add a third head if you want some shadowing. The goal is to show a prospective customer what the product looks like. We aren't looking for beautiful lighting like we would with a portrait.

    If you want a white background then you need to remove the mottled gray background you have now. I'll leave doing that to you and your photo editing software. As an alternative you can use colored a back ground. I handle it by using a frosted glass background that is lit from below and/or behind because it worked in the film days where we collected the light with transparency film rather than digital sensors. Yet another option is to separate product and background and light the background separately.

    Good luck.
     
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  8. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Do you mean something like this?
    Amazon.com : Neewer 36x36 inch/90x90 cm Photo Studio Shooting Tent Light Cube Diffusion Soft Box Kit with 4 Colors Backdrops (Red Dark Blue Black White) for Photography : Photographic Lighting Diffusers : Camera & Photo
    The products are of differing sizes, with some as long as 30" or so. Would I shoot from directly above, standing over it and putting the camera in the tent? Instead of flash heads, would the 450W CFLs I currently have suffice?

    Is there a light tent you particularly like or use regularly?

    Do we not want at least some level of shadows to give the product perspective?

    Derrel also suggested I do a little tweaking in LR, but I'd like to avoid that as much as possible. I find there's definitely a difference between 1/125th and 1/160th in sharpness, perhaps because it's handheld, but it means changing ISO, and anything above 800 really isn't acceptable for me. Can definitely see the graininess.

    I'm concerned with inconsistencies between one shot and the next based on my photoshop settings or other camera/light variables. What is the color of white that I want? Is 4400 too blue? Can I ask you guys to review these pictures? This is the result of my work today.

    # rings at 4400
    Dropbox - DSC5886_Balls_4400.jpg
    # rings at 5500
    Dropbox - DSC5886_Balls_5500.jpg
    # pink animal
    Dropbox - DSC5910_Pink.jpg
    # snake
    Dropbox - DSC5913_Snake.jpg
    # tennis balls
    Dropbox - DSC5918_TennisBalls.jpg
    # rope toy
    Dropbox - DSC5922_Rope.jpg
     
  9. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Do you have a grey card? If you do, meter it, and white balance it. With everything in position. Then don't change the lights or settings or move equipment. Your set for the rest of the shoot.
     
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  10. Solarflare

    Solarflare No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Grey is exactly the same as white, just with less saturation. Thus if you see grey in places you want to see white, you want more exposure, not fix the white balance.
     
  11. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes something like that light tent will work well. You can shoot from anywhere. To shoot from the top you may need to cut a slit in the fabric. There is a door on the front so you can shoot from there. It is a very flexible approach.

    If you plan to do this regularly you want to use flash. You can buy a pair of monolights for reasonable prices on the internet. Then you can handhold at f16 or f22 and not worry about color temp or motion blur or inadequate depth of field. We all use flash - always.

    If you want to. Most catalog shots are made with flat lighting. You can put different power levels on the flash heads or add a third light.

    Avoiding post process is pretty hard to do unless you have a setup like I described above. I generally just have to straighten, fix white point and crop. Then move on to the next one. Use low ISO for all studio shots. ISO 100 or 200. The flash heads will allow you to do this. Back to flash heads again. ;)

    White is white. Color temperature is a matter of the light source. You can adjust that easily in your camera by using a shot of your white background. Go shopping for a pair of monolights. You don't need a complicated set. You need a couple of lights, a couple of stands and a way to trigger them. You can use a cord that attaches your hot shoe to one of the lights or you can use a wireless trigger which leaves you unconnected to the lights. I use a cheap wireless trigger made by Godox that I bought cheaply on Amazon.
     
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  12. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    I
    For the larger items, it occurred to me that I had to stand further above the subject because I have a 24mm lens on a crop sensor. I couldn't fit the whole image in the frame. Will this be a problem?

    Maybe I should plan to be able to do it *without* the light tent.

    That's what I want. There is no way I could go above f5 and below ISO500 with the lights I have.

    That sounds like what I want to do.

    That's very helpful advice. Would you help me pick out lights?

    What kind of setup would I need to do this without a light tent? I'd like to be able to place the products on a white background on a tabletop and shoot from above, or a white background laying on the floor.

    Would something like two of these be ideal, with built-in wifi, iTTL support, exposure compensation, high-speed sync...
    Amazon.com : Godox AD200 200Ws 2.4G TTL Flash Strobe 1/8000 HSS Cordless Monolight with 2900mAh Lithimu Battery and Bare Bulb/Speedlite Fresnel Flash Head to Cover 500 Full Power Shots and Recycle In 0.01-2.1 Sec : Camera & Photo

    Is $300 what you consider inexpensive but not a cheap piece of junk?

    If I don't use a light tent, what kind of modifier what I use? An umbrella? Softbox?

    I was also thinking of a set of Manfrotto 1004BAC light stand. I'd also like to be able to use this setup for portraits someday soon, so I think sturdy light stands for use outdoors would be a good idea.

    I've just ordered a grey card and will do that.

    This is where I could really use some help from your experience. There are a ton of options and vendors. At first I was thinking of just buying two more SB700s, but they don't seem to have the flexibility of others with built-in wifi and the level of power as some of the others.

    This also looks interesting for holding the camera for shooting from above:
    Amazon.com : Manfrotto 420B 3- Section Combi- Boom Stand with Sand Bag - Replaces 3397, 3397B (Black) : Photographic Lighting Booms And Stands : Camera & Photo

    Is 400Wx3 enough light?
    Amazon.com : Neewer 1200W(400W x 3)Professional Photography Studio Strobe Flash Light Monolight Lighting Kit for Portrait Photography, Studio and Video Shoots( MT-400AM) : Camera & Photo
     

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