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Product shot on the cheap

Blog

Product shot on the cheap

sean mcclelland

[07]  I'm not the type of photographer that claims he can do it all (or fakes it). I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, and I also know where I'd like to improve. I've never really been interested in commercial or product photography, however, I have a healthy appreciation for the skill involved in lighting products. I'm a natural light shooter (light painting aside) who secretly longs to control artificial light like David Hobby, Syl Arena, or Alex Koloskov.

But when family comes-a-calling, needing a product photo of their latest invention, you become a product photographer whether you like it or not!

The last time I photographed Skate Fenders, I had access to a seamless, semi-transparent lighting table. It was REALLY nice. I could create some interesting effects by shooting through the table. This time around, I had no such access, so I had to improvise. The shoot-through results were less appealing, but for the quick-and-dirty, I'm happy with the results.

Skate Fenders Compact Pro model

Skate Fenders Compact Pro model

Here are the details:

  1. Canon 5DMKII / 24-70 2.8L / 3 Canon flash units and wireless triggers
  2. One roll of white photo paper
  3. One large, upside-down, clear Tupperware container
  4. Masking tape to hold the paper in place, mimicking the two curves of a seamless shooting table
  5. One flash unit placed underneath the clear container, with wide angle shield deployed
  6. Two flashes, one "eye level" and the other slightly above to remove the extra shadows, either side of product
  7. Images were enhanced in Lightroom, then Photoshop, then Lightroom again (notable enhancements include adding contrast, clarity, removing dust, and my *favorite Photoshop sharpening method)

NOTE: My favorite Photoshop sharpening method is with the High Pass filter: (1) Option-command-shift-e to copy all layers to new, flattened layer. (2) Duplicate that new layer. (3) Add a High Pass filter to the new layer, selecting a strength that makes the edges pop, but not bleed out into other parts of the image like over-cooked HDR. (4) Change that new layer's blending mode to Overlay (for a more subtle effect, use the Soft Light blending mode). (5) To really make things pop, duplicate that new effects layer, and lower the opacity a bit. (6) If some areas over over-sharpened, like the background, add a layer mask and paint the effect out in those areas.


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