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.
Here are the details:
- Canon 5DMKII / 24-70 2.8L / 3 Canon flash units and wireless triggers
- One roll of white photo paper
- One large, upside-down, clear Tupperware container
- Masking tape to hold the paper in place, mimicking the two curves of a seamless shooting table
- One flash unit placed underneath the clear container, with wide angle shield deployed
- Two flashes, one "eye level" and the other slightly above to remove the extra shadows, either side of product
- 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.