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Inside the Home Studio

Lesson 28 of 31

Dining Room Shoot: Product Photography Window Light

Tony Corbell

Inside the Home Studio

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

28. Dining Room Shoot: Product Photography Window Light


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Lesson Info

Dining Room Shoot: Product Photography Window Light

well let's move into our next video which is goingto show us and product photography tabletop tell us about it yeah it's we wanted to do a tabletop shoot with the ambient light in that same dining room uh so we so we brought in a beautiful purse handbag and we're going to light it up with the ambient light they were going to give us up with a little bit of silver were gonna pop in just a little bit of highlight and then from that then it's gonna take us right into uh some jewelry that we did and for that we did bring in a strobe and a soft box and so you'll see kind of how we position that sort of how you'll see my thinking process on those those two elements so we could take a quick look at those then we're gonna come back and do a little bit of retouching and see where we go from there okay all right here we go I think the thing that has to be you have to keep in mind here is we're in the dining room we were in the dining room table and uh if you know the techniques of photography an...

d certainly the tools and techniques of lighting you can't get fooled and you don't miss the opportunity to shoot and areas that you might not recognize as shooting possibilities this is a case where clearly it's the knowledge behind the tools that make all the difference in the world is not the tools himself but the knowledge of the tools and by having the knowledge of the tools you can sit in your living room and shoot a catalogue for any major corporation in the country and shoot small products and widgets as long as you understand how light and shadow and highlights behave uh those that's the key it's like quality like quantity coupled with light direction and if you can do that uh you can't miss and you can work anywhere in the world I could work in the closet I can work in the biggest studio in the country I could work in the bathroom I've done I've done table top shots in bathrooms of hotels for brides and grooms on their wedding day where I've taken the rings and their invitation and the gardener and a boot near and I've gone in the dark room and made these highlights happen for a wedding album so it's the knowledge of the tools that make all the difference so I think this is a pretty good little a demonstration of what you could do with one light and a kitchen table and a little piece of silver foil tin foil if you don't have a silver reflector you know when we stepped into the role of a still life photography when you're going to do a tabletop set up for something like this uh once again this is a catalogue shoot you could do in your home studio it's a real simple set up it's a little bit opposite of what some people think a lot of people in your lighting jewelry or small products people always worry about lighting from the front when you're when you're photographing something that's very very highly polished like this silver is especially on the rings in the foreground the idea for me it has always it's always held better if I can use like a great surface that I'm using to get my spectral highlight of my lightbox now in this case the soft boxes way behind the products and it's aimed down the reason for that is that'll hold great detail in the highlight that you'll see on the fat on the on the mat board and on the top of the jewellery but it also gives me the ability that light assuming is sort of being sent past the jewelry and I'm gonna catch it and redirect it with his little bit of silver right here in the foreground so I'm just going to bring this up and put it in position and it just opens up this this whole front edge of these pieces so beautifully so that hears with and there's without so we'll be able to zoom into these things and take a look and the difference is pretty startling and what you see is you you gain all that detail once you once you put once you go ahead and put this in place you see everything so it really makes a big difference me just double check my I'm just double checking focus your eyes your I will like to you a little bit uh sometimes you look at something oh that looks plenty sharp and then you find out why wasn't very sharp at all but in this case me just move this over I don't know if you're looking at the back of this but you can see there's before me tip this towards you just a little bit and what you're seeing there that's before and here's after after we add in the reflector and it just opens up all that flat surface opens up and certainly there there is a call for and a and a good reason for those translucent tents that people will use to shoot still laughin small product and highly polished things like jewelry on those tents are great but they're not always practical and sometimes you don't have the ability to change directional light very much create direction of light so with this it just works out really well so the lightest coming across the top skimming across the top bouncing into something is redirecting at the senate right back in I want to grab the white side of this also so we just did the silver side and I want to grab the white side of this this reflector we got silver on one side and why don't never side and I want to open that what the rings up in the foreground also with the white just to show the difference while it's a little bit less speculator it's still fills in a beautiful white area in the flat surfaces of of everything that's that's flat and silver or or a shiny so it works pretty well and we just get this set up here and something's going to bring that back into place up here and fire across there and it does it does a really nice job of lighting that up so yep so in the catalog shoot this works beautifully I got a great great exposure everything looks good I might open up the exposure just a little bit uh for those for these rings in the foreground actually instead of that I'm just going to power this light up a little bit hey john just watch that power back there I'm gonna try to take it up like about a about three or four tents one two three four okay great let's do that and you're manually focusing today I'm mainly focusing yeah thanks for reminding me I did turn off the john remind me to turn off the focus on the lens because I want a manual focus this this is something that you can get yourself in trouble on because the focus is so critical here uh I'm shooting at sixteen so my depth of field while you think well that's a lot of depth of field it's not that much actually when you're that close so right there I'm pretty optimally focused so let me do one without and then I'll bring this in and I was gonna place that right like that and there's another one so I might want to do one other option and that would be let me move this board slightly forward I'll move the rings slightly forward and the prop in the background that will be a little bit out of focus this necklace it'll be just a little out of focus back there and I'm probably gonna crop some of it out anyway in the final I just want a little bit of a problem that I'm going back up just a little bit and that'll just give me a little bit more room toe to bring the white guy up a little bit straighter let me get you to help hold this we're done if you don't mind just if I want to go around outside and we'll put that in place and it's right against the lines uh let me just take a look at it right like that you got it okay your stabilisers on too thanks okay that's looking good I'm gonna come a little bit closer even bring my lens just a tiny bit closer your movements when you're this close your movements are pretty uh we're focusing rail comes in handy pretty microscopic there we go there we go there we go bring these guys just a tiny bit away from that necklace oh yeah now we're cooking now we're cooking this gun is commended hey devon inch way g oh good good good I mean just double check that oh yeah I'm real happy with that now I'll come in let me just double check it one more time yeah I think I'm gonna take my power up just another two tents so you're his double check me and make sure my four five five five six okay great let's do that do the same thing one more time and nothing's changed here so there's one mean do a couple more here just to make sure I got safety backups okay I got it I mean just double check it one more time this is one those things it's pretty focus is pretty critical oh yeah do you ever use alive you focus on this I don't very often I really don't um now sometimes if you're using a tabletop surface that's a little a little more highly polished than this or shiny ah lot of people do this work with black plexiglass ahs the tabletop surface that's great but just know that what you're seeing is a mirrored image of the light as it fires into the plexiglass uh does make for some great looks but you do have to account for the lines from the jewelry on the surface and the highlight on the surface from the light source uh but for a quick tabletop catalog I could see it like this all day long and just knock out great great pictures that could be published uh and it's real simple and easy it's two lights one light and a reflector that that makes all the difference in the world when you open up those shadows it's not just open up the shadows but it's placing uh it's the placement of a speculum highlight in any area that it doesn't see light so that's kind of what the job is here on this one so I think that uh is the most important takeaway from this particular shot let's get another meeting here but what we're basically doing folks is we're going to be doing a basically a window like portrait of this bag again I'm going to trying to illustrate that some of the things that you could do that or possible working around the home that air so quick and so simple and so easy this is same backdrop that we used outside in the garage earlier this backdrop is very very versatile I'm just putting under the bag to shoot a catalog shoot of the bag turn the bag a little bit opposite the light here uh then we're going to be bringing in a silver highlight to give us a little bit of detail on more richness in the leather but there's no reason why we can't use this ambient available light to our benefit it's great and we've got it all day long so let's use it for a second at sixteen point seven sixteen seven so this is on aysel four hundred so four hundred right so I'm gonna I'm gonna shoot it f eighteen so that's gonna be within two tents so let me do a couple of shots of this first like like it is and then olla then I'll bring in that silver what kind of accent a little bit great great great so first and foremost it looks great enough to my eye this looks a little tiny bit dark uh but that's what I'm seeing that's dark is the blue that's not being hit by highlights once we introduce the highlights everything gets a little bit better okay great so now I've got a foundation for my exposure now let's bring in the silver and just stand it right up next to it go ahead and move it in on a little bit now behind it very slightly and would let toward me a little bit now back back back back right there freeze perfect perfect perfect I don't think of products and people any different folks I have tried to light my way my products just like I would like a person I just use different tools and so if I'm going to light uh this is the same example is my window light with my teenage girl right I had that big white highlight her the speculum jewelry here I'm using the silver toe highlight the speculum leather I'm still using the same light source nothing changed right I just sometimes we use different tools and different technologies I mean different words for those tools but it's all basically its light and its understanding size of source its distance it's highlight control its shado control and true totality control of exposure so it's really kind of easy thing to do once you get into it I'm getting one bright speculator on that one buckle so can you move that away just a little bit that did it and this tip the top forward a little bit little bit more right there right there right there good good good great I'm going to one more of those and again this is um let me just change one thing here good here we go I want to slow this down just a little bit slower on my shutter speed and what this will do is give me just a little bit more by going up to eighteen f eighteen and let me just double check my history graham my history ram is absolutely perfect um I'll spin this around show you guys hear this this history graham we've got a great gap on the left I got a great gap on the right which would be my trouble spot in many cases if I'm not careful that right side is the one that's most most critical to me the right side of history and I've gotta have plenty of that I've gotta have plenty of room on that right side and everything in the scene is kind of medium or darker tone so the the history ram tells me that we've fallen right into the right spot in terms of exposure I'm shooting daylight balance I'm sure none raw I'm shooting on manual manual focus all of that stuff all comes together to make a real quick easy catalog shoot uh that now there's a lot of things that you can do here and you can spend all day here you know fine tuning and making it better we could put another little edge thailand on the other side uh you could add a little bit of color from the bottom if you want it there's a lot of little different things you can do them just to spice it up but for a quick and dirty down an easy kind of shots like this use the window light used the ambient light that you have and then start filling it in with fillers for white and accents for silver and you find that things go like this and you get these great great pictures and clients can't figure out how you're doing it so fast because it's set up time was nothing to do this again what we're all about here this week is trying to figure out things that you can do in your home studio that quick simple easy and frankly you can make money doing this because let's face it we're all artists but somewhere in our brains were also capitalist pigs and we need to make money cases we need to make a little money so it's a fun it was a fun shoot on both of those little things it didn't take very much time at all as you could see uh but there's a great little lessons that were learned and you can see that you confined tune things to death and you can just keep going and going and going with fine tuning and I'll do a little touch up here in a second show you some of the things that I would do on some of these files but first I just wanted to double check and make sure we got any questions let's make sure that we hit those if if you have any or kind of has some from the chat rooms sure absolutely so you were you were just leading into that but can you can you talk a little bit more about the different variety of things that people can shoot in a home studio so for example people who might be new and are exactly looking for different ways to make money like what are some of the what do you know one of the one of the silly little jobs that I picked up one year this is a lot of years ago uh I wanted to start doing more and more commercial work and I didn't know how to get into it and I finally got a little bit of guidance from art director from an ad agency and I started visiting and going out with business cards and visiting small manufacturing plants manufacturing companies and small businesses in industrial areas around my town I found a company that I stumbled into that I'd never heard of before and they made floating rubber key chains for the boating industry all boats keys are on a floating chain on a floating teaching so if you drop your keys in the lake which you're gonna do they won't sink to the bottom of the lake they just float and I said well that's a unique business and the guy goes yeah we have the trademark on that and the patent on how we make these and he said we make floating key chains for twenty for thousand different clients logos and I'm like this is in my town in a small manufacturing plant and what are you kicking me and this guy says we're making thousands of floating rubber key chains every day and then they go through finishing and they put different logo's on depending on who orders and what color is the order what I did with that was I taught myself how to do tabletop with thes floating colorful fluorescent green and bright orange and pink hot pink floating key chains and I didn't do anything muchmore differently than this um it was it was quick easy catalog work that it sounds all it's also exciting well it is for the first thirty minutes it's after the seventh day it's not so fun or exciting anymore but it didn't matter was helping pay the bills when I was first starting out so the answer is I recommend you starting out with this kind of work by going around your communities and going to small manufacturing companies uh small firms that you can see that they're industrial companies that are struggling with their own image making inside most of them don't have their own in house art director zoran house photographers if it's a small company great going there and become a resource for them and become a partner and helping them market their products and you can start throwing ideas outlook the catalogs and sad love to talk to you about some of the work you've done and is there anything that maybe I can do it maybe we can help improve the look of your branding the look of some of the products and I've got some new uh I've got some new tools and equipment and some new knowledge that's coming out in our industry and I can show you some things that you might like with photographic controls that might help your particular products or your hearings or you're floating key chains I think it's pretty smart idea to get out and go around and meet people and take a load of business cards with you you know and you'll be surprised at how you can get that work it just it takes a little bit of effort so I hope that helps yeah absolutely any questions here I think it's it's so interesting because you started thinking about all the different people that you know and and there's work there but they know people they know people and it's all about just putting yourself out there and asking right and this this little town of mine I had no idea they made thousands and thousands of full of being key chains it went all over the world you know so it was pretty it was pretty in a pretty enlightening for me so so a couple more questions tony it looked like you were using a twenty four to one o five minutes folks were asking about the leads to toy with that jewelry shot yeah you guys busted me on that one uh it was a twenty four one on five it was this twenty four one oh five that's on this lens on this camera sadly that day that we went on that shoot I forgot to take my macro lens and and I'm standing there on location going oh it sounds like what last I forgot my macro and he's like you're an idiot you know he didn't say that john would never say that but but frankly you guys that are at home going I told you I told you he forgot his macro on that day you were right I forgot my macaron that day and I could have died so I did back up a little bit further than I wanted to be I wanted to be closer I wanted to be I wanted to do all those things that you're thinking g he should have done this yet I should have I didn't have the right lands with me so when we do this we'll edit I'll be crapping in a little bit to get rid of some wasted space on the edges that couldn't get in closer sometimes you just gotta deal with what you have you know it's just like it's like the seventy two hundred you know that seventy two hundred lens has become such a it's so identified with me it's mine it's mine it's in it's in my hands all the time it's my baby uh and there are some things that are just too close to focus with it I just I can't get him that close and it's just like I hate to take that thing off you know but but you have to sometimes so and more questions whether we do we do have a couple more so this is from a photo mom twenty two can you explain again tony why you're using light gray board as the background for the jewelry instead of something like a white one yeah so at the angle I was shooting for the jewelry in particular I think about think about this as my surfaces my table top and my camera is my camera's over there aiming down and if my life sources here coming down this table it's on the exact angle of reflecting into my lens if I use white it's gonna be awfully bright when I powered up enough to give me the true brightness that I need on my subjects it's going to really blow out and I'm gonna have an awful lot of white without details uh it really if I do that it limits what I can do in in postproduction I think plus I'm not sure that that's what the client wants I think certainly your client hasn't has the say here and what you do and how you do it and there are a lot of catalog shoots that you'll do where they're going to knock out the background make it white anyway if they're going to do that then certainly using a white piece of board under there is that is the right answer and just do it forms they don't have to make a selection and extract and drop it out later uh making extractions and dropping out on jewelry is especially difficult I think because of because of all the facets and because of all the reflections s so it's it's smart to use the white if that's what you're going to do but for me I you know and that's why that that's a met matt surface across that board so it's it's not shiny but it did pick up a little bit in the in the in the highlights where it was on angle to the lens it is a little bit brighter than it's true true great brightness if the flat like this it's and I knew it was gonna do that I know is gonna get brighter so I just wanted to get brighter without clipping my highlights and that was the whole idea was to keep the highlights under control I couldn't do that at that angle with a white board but the main thing that takeaway with this is I live from behind then I filled it from the front and if I if I light it from the front it's had totally different look than if I like it from behind and I found the same thing with food in food photography I found that some of my best food shots ever were I say again this is where my cameras and here's my light source if my light sources over the food set and just slightly behind so that my shadows air very slightly falling forward I find that my food shots are better and my clients seem to like him better there's more snap there's more contrast there's more colors better color I just think it over all it's just a better picture and so for that reason almost any still life I do I start with my life source just a little overhead and slightly behind and I said it and it seems to turn out okay generally so you guys are really quiet today you guys I don't think you guys got any sleep last night because you're just like being why today I have one more question sure that has been sitting here for a bit from brian some brow ski as we think as people think about setting up their home studios who've gone through this whole thing everything else being equal would you rather have a room with windows or without windows when you're looking at setting setting this out well I would rather have a room with windows because I can always get rid of the windows by covering them up so uh if I have windows that there's always an option for something if I don't have windows that option's off the table and I can only use flash in that room uh so it's just a matter of giving a little bit of an option even if the windows in a bad place I can redirect the light with mirrors and reflectors and silver and go bows and shiny pieces of plexiglass so I can redirect him sort of place it where I wanted to be here where it needs to be for a given shot but if it's not there I can't do anything with it so I've immediately eliminated my ability to do much with ambient window light if I don't have a window so I would like I like it and uh and then I would just fill it and covered up with backdrops or with foam core when I don't need it so yeah grab grab the microphone there I decided to break the silence do you find in your work in your product work that clients prefer a very sleek background that is minimally distracting versus something like we had with the bag which you could see that it was a drop cloth type of background to find any difference between the people that you worked with and what they haven't preference nothing no preference it is product by product and brand by brand you know many many products have already they've already got a brand they've already got a look and in fact you have to sometimes step into a role as a new photographer for a company and you have to match your style and what you do sort of with what they already have been doing and they don't want to make a change sometimes they're coming because they want to make a big change but there are subtle nuances that as a commercial photographer tabletop food especially to think about food joe goliath my friend joe glided in tulsa oklahoma won the top food guys on the planet was a senior photographer for kraft foods for thirty five years he shot more covers of boxes of macaroni and cheese he shot over macaroni cheese box you've ever seen you know and joe was still with angel was working there he turned every noodle on the shots for the cover so you would never see the dark opening of a make a piece of macaroni he always turned every single noodle so would be non there would be no black opening that's how much detail food photographers and still laugh attire was put into their work this is not simple stuff this is a lot of work and it's a lot of detail and and it can be really lucrative work but it's back breaking work and it's long days and it's not as easy as it sounds this stuff I'm just trying to show you some quick down dirty things you can do in your home studio but if you seriously get into this you'll find that it takes some time and you need to study and you need to learn from the masters that do this well so yes ma'am and we have some classes for that there you go that's great absolutely can always check out what is in our created by back catalogue but certainly we have some classes on tabletop photography product photography because it is completely different than if you are photographing portrait it is it is its hole it's got it's got its own little micro climate around it you know it's just like there's a whole you know is like working with the food stylists and working with the chefs that cooked the food for the shoes and the oh my gosh there's so much to that kind of work but it's really great work

Class Description

Working from home is a great way to minimize costs, but it can be challenging to deal with the inevitable space and light limitations and it can feel awkward to explain to clients.

In Inside the Home Studio, Tony Corbell will help you address the logistical and practical challenges of working from home. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Work with low ceilings, dark spaces, and small skinny rooms
  • Market and sell in-home shoots
  • Store and organize your equipment.
  • Work with family and client schedules

Tony will help you come up with new ways to shoot in ordinary spaces by sharing real-life examples of home studio scenarios. He’ll shoot formal and candid portraits throughout the entire house, teaching you how to leverage each room for its specific uniqueness.

Inside the Home Studio will show you how to approach different photographic genres and help you make the space you have to work for your business.



Another great course by Tony Corbell. I loved this course. Tony is a great teacher, great photographer and great business man. He's enjoyable to listen to and a great teacher. He holds nothing back and shows how to shoot great pictures even in small shooting environments or on a low budget. I would buy again Tony's courses.

Penny Foster

Wow! Tony is fantastic! So many hints and tips, crammed into this great course. I shoot portraits out of a small converted garage, about 9 ft high, 9 feet wide, and about 19 feet long. Tony has shown me so many ways to make this small space work for me, for which I am eternally grateful. What this course highlights is that whatever small space you have, there are ways of making it work. You need to buy this course and watch it over and over because, every time I watch it, I gain more and more info that I missed the first time around. Brilliant!

Kat Ciemiega

Absolutely wonderful, I cannot praise the content enough. I value Tony's stories as much as the information he is giving away, because it puts the data in the perspective and practical context of the actions we take. Thank you for this class!