Basic Tabletop Photography


Tabletop Product Photography


Lesson Info

Basic Tabletop Photography

got a couple of different toys here one of these items here and we'll move into the live you back there guys one of his toys that we're using is a this's a bolt um led it's uh kind of neat because I can dial it down to whatever I want it's led so it's not hot and that's daylight and if you're shooting under tungsten that's okay khun turn the tungsten ones on cool uh two hundred watts so you can see it's pretty bright just push the button here um probably went to sleep way go so you can see what a yeah you know I'm not going to say this is a bad light necessarily you know there may be a time maybe a time and place for a light like that that could be very dramatic if fast what you want I'm the last person ever to say that doesn't work it's theirs definitely a place for hard light in this world it's a great way to do it but you can see how harsh that isthe big bright speculator very efficient surface we are so hot up here that by the time we get down to here against dark now you see this ...

part of the apple right here that gets real dark why is that black table the apples turned down isn't it so what's it doing it's reflecting the table back to me angle of incidence is hank and equals angle of reflection is everything in photography it is one of the most important things to understand that everything will reflect light back to you at the same angle that you've re put the light on to the subject so angle of incidence angle of flexion right up in the years okay this shadow up front is a shadow but underneath the apple is not a shadow that's a reflection of the very dark shadow coming back we can mitigate this by taking a small light surface or so uh small light source here and making it a larger light source and after break we're going to show you how to make a couple of these things so those of you at home I can actually get to say those of you in the home audience yeah those are you know money's khun conjoined along we made some some real simple things yesterday because one of the fun things about tabletop photography is you do get to make a lot of stuff you can go out and buy it there's some wonderful products brown color makes a great four by five soft box for about twenty eight thousand dollars that rocks this was way less than twenty eight thousand dollars could you imagine going to target spending twenty eight thousand dollars that like throw you out that this is never gonna check on pay so we took a piece of foam core and we put paper brett parchment paper which is a cooking paper on it why because sometimes you might want to use the hot light and this will not burn some things burn burning things in the studio bad bad so we take this very small light source we're going to make it a little larger changes things up quite a bit doesn't it we still have so this crazy speculator some of my backwards that one right here we still have that goofy speculator there but what is that speculum yeah so I move this right I'm starting to block out I think it's that one over there sure is so I'm blocking out that's a very bright light compared to this one here now look at that apple there down we have a little speculate coming up over here we gotta find out where this one's coming from though that was still on that side okay still on that side so I can bring this down like this and change entire photograph and that's made with the parchment paper which I think is about a buck and a half a roll and a piece of foam core from target now question's gonna come up can this be a speed light sure it can absolutely be a flash could be a pro photo flash it could be a loom a pro it could be anything but the thief effect is were defusing the light here and then we're creating a much larger source down on the apple right about there now that's parchment paper this is gonna change just a little bit way also built this now this is our medium level this is built out of four slats of wood at home depot I sell these on my website for fifty seven dollars and ninety six sex sense I thought it's worth a try you know charles with the when we bring this over the top and we get a much different look we still have kind of a speculator look to this up here because this light is very close to it right way have very high tech way of working with things that by the way used clip clamp the second piece of wood and this is really easy for you to do when you're working as you can take this and clamp it this is where the internet gets me watch me be defeated by a clamp there we go so we can put this right here like that is that cool and we move this light back and as we move it back brett thiss one here we have a we have a funky can you pull this up yeah just bring it on up as we make this circle of lights larger keep going all the way up we will diminish you see how we're diminishing the look of ah of very bright speculum let's just move it back a little bit now to thank you very much right there so we still have a nice speculate on the front seven nice speculate on the apple there and then we can diffuse it further if we want it by adding a double diffusion to it we're still getting those speculators from those lights over there which I wish I would not have but brett uh whiteboard thanks sir don can you can you say again what is that parchment paper is well this is uh shower curtain from roadie shower curtains shower curtain yes cloth shower curtains yes two reasons two reasons plastic shower curtains have blue foss furs in them to make them look white and when you shine a light through him they get blue real fast so you know you're gonna have to start doing some serious color correction uh the second reason is they smell really bad uh especially when they melt and I've only heard that either let's clamp this to the top of a stand sir so I can get it right over here and kill those kill those guys much better right there okay so we know where to put this and see that's what you do it what I'm doing here is what you do when you're shooting tabletop it's like okay where's that light coming from we gotta figure out a way to block it angle of incidence angle of reflection it's always a challenge when you're doing it so we have thank sir way use this yeah yeah if you could just clamped to the top all moving into position here when I say it so we have a nice looking light for this single apple here's one of the things about lighting tabletop and still life you'll want to remember everything looks better when the light comes from here around there when the light comes from here not so much let's show you okay I'm gonna take this over here I'm gonna turn mother bolt off and by the way this is this I love this little guy um it runs from a battery saying put it in your camera bag and go out with an led two hundred watt led light with the battery on it that's pretty cool this light very complex lighting that we use here has a a tension surface mounting tool anyway well that's not really going to work very good if I put the black white thing in front of the camera this is what snow looks like dot art by beta says you should do stand up actually sometimes just standing up is a job in itself taking stick that right over there thank you sir so let's take our our apple and lets light it from the front shall we boring really boring it's there's no shape to it you know and this is where everybody puts their light all right let's put our light where we make the most boring photograph possible here but watch the apple as I bring it back to here and as we go around look at that we get a little highlight in the table come around over here we can place that speculum wherever we wanted video is cracking is reaching its limit there without speculate what weaken do things with our light back over here that are very very cool that we can't do when the lights up front so it's a rule of thumb because every time anyone says never there's a certain amount of the population who wants this guy will really so I would say never I'm just going to say it kind of you know it's kind of a rule of thumb that most things just don't look all that cool from the front especially when it's in front of the lens but you can take the same subject and move it to the bag brett grab a pair of cowboy boots over there the red one sir we have such a wealth of stuff to play with here is just amazing so we have these great snakeskin boots um well this focus and live you yeah by george it does focus in live you okay what we have right now is we just have the lights on it and actually since our main light is from behind it's not really too bad is it we take a little bit of our our light here and add some nice speculator across the top of it starts to get kind of fun doesn't it so how you can play with it this is what you're doing when you're doing product in still life set it up get your composition and you start to play with it we bring this light in from the back play with this stuff here brett small white card like a like a flag small piece left over um but I want to do is only block a little bit of light out from back here or is my hand I know what it is the pictures backwards isn't it way just wanted to keep you on your feet can you tell us again just there from ken underscored dire design is there a reason for o s o one thousand I thought we were just there is a reason for aya so one thousand it's a very good reason that's what the camera was on last night I thought that he was actually I didn't read the question and that I was asking about the wattage of the bull no I s so one thousand is that's what the camera was on but at the same time we did want to get some decent numbers down here because we can go toe so one hundred and f two on this lens actually when go to f one point four on this lens trust me look how shallow the depth of field is now at half five I just didn't want to be down enough to and have tiny slivers of stuff the little one thank you sir we bring this guy right across here and see one of the things I really love about see this how this lights up back here in that cool in that cool like that and then we can bring this card and we can just darken it down back there so don can you just tell us for that for people who are watching the card that you just pulled out the size of it this is just what we cut up our phone core yesterday to make all lot of little shiny bounce cards we just ended up with all these little pieces left over these air gold mines you want to save every one of them if it was half this size you'll want to save it because you're going to use it at some point and you end up with this great little box of pieces of foam core and foam and a little it's that little plastic things that you khun stick into things that hold things up you know it becomes a lot of fun if anyone's ever ever remembers the fun of it playing as a kid with little things little detail things that's kind of what this is about to yeah when you're doing this you're on your own or do you have an assistant moving all the lights about to have them all clamped up both that's always my problem I'm always trying to prop something up and if it's a uh yeah well you know what happens when you're by yourself too you get in a hurry and you start leaning things against a coke bottle or something and it just seems like such a good idea at the time until you bump it and it slides off the coke bottle hits the spoon the spoon jumps up knocks the entire set around we were working I was working with a photographer's assistant quite a while ago ah good kid hardworking kid and we were working on a plate of soup and the way we lit it with a with a beauty dish with some slats on the beauty dish just to add some places where we needed to get some dark area and we had done about twenty five polaroids to get the exact shot and I said that's great we'll shoot film and he said coolness he turned around just like that we were like okay back to the polaroid box so we could find it again so we take uh I like working alone and I like working with collaboration but a lot of times I need to be left alone to think through what I'm going to do um so you have the camera on a remote you just have it on a remote yes yes when it when you're doing this kind of work I don't think of it as the wooden one I don't think of it as chipping I really don't I think it's more like digital polaroids you're going to shoot and get the light where you want to get the final shot thank you sir and we bring this into the top of that look how pretty that hard light looks like on that long that leather that's pretty cool isn't it I could live with that you bring this in to soften it had changed all kinds of manner of this of this light bring it right and like this the closer I bring this light the softer bigger speculum becomes the larger the speculum becomes and the more diffuse area around it the more what we call softness occurs I don't have any problem putting flags behind my soft box so this could have gone a little boom arm right here and spring off the back that real bright area back there just kind of flag it off a little bit to get what you want and you khun you can see how when you're backlighting what we're doing is angle of incidence angle reflection back into the camera

Class Description

Don Giannatti returns for a special workshop on tabletop product photography. Don starts with an introduction to tabletop lighting - tools, scrims, DIY gear - and how to organize your shoot around a tabletop to bring everyone up to speed. Then Don will teach you the basic concepts of Tabletop Product Photography. Finally Don will ramp up to more advanced topics adding extras such as kicker lights, snoots, and grids that can bring your work up a notch.



THere are some courses in CL i think of as not covering a to z but covering -z to z. THis is one of those courses. The value proposition is over the top. The instricutor: Don Giannatti is so experienced he's a relaxed in his knowledge and practiced in cutting to the chase to provide answers to really good questions about set ups for product photos (vs. art/ still-life). The topics: complete workflow from first principles in order to understand what we're trying to achieve with table top work, Don Giannatti makes it clear that we're using light deliberately to give shape to an object. Example insight: using a white card (or black) reflector is not the same as using a silver/gold reflector. The latter create a new light source; the former shape the light that's there. Can imagine the arguments but the demo brings the points home. Or how about NOT using umbrellas for product shots. Or for "drop and pop" product shots, how to do that without umbrellas and tents "that's 50 dollars a shot right there" says Giannatti. Example tool demo: one of the joys of this course is that such an expert does most of the class using readily makable tools like scrims from shower curtains and baking paper. The specialist tools like a modifier on a flash is well within the range of an aspiring commerial table top photographer. And Meaningful Demos LIGHTING/composition what are some of the most challenging and compelling things to shoot when building a portfolio/photographic experience? Can you shoot shiny stuff - like bottles and jewlery. PHOTOSHOP making photoshop unpretencious and accessible, Giannatti presents examples of how to fix bits of a shot, as well as - and this one is worth the price of admission - how to put together a composite of a guitar product shot if you only have one limited sized light to light the whole thing. We also see where highlights can be added - and how. Some basic knowledge of Photoshop layering, masking and brushes would be good to have, but one can work back from seeing it applied into those basic skills. BUSINESS We start with light giving shape to objects as a demonstrable principle, move into how to use light structurally for bringing out something fantastic about that product - that as Giannatti points out - puts bread on someone's table, so respect. From these demos we go from light and camera to post to produce the finished image. Now what? or how have a product that needs shooting? That's the business of product photography. In these excellent sections on Business, Giannatti details the heuristics of hard graft to get gigs: where to look for contacts, frequency of approach, engaging with social media (you don't have to, he says, but effectively, it's gonna cost ya). "Doing just these few things you're already way ahead of your competition." I can believe it: they are many of them tedious, but can also well believe they are what pay off. COURSE BONUSES JUST FOR SIGNING UP - for those who subscribed to a live broadcast, all the slides were provided in advance (you can see this offer on class materials) Now that's classy. What other CL courses have done that: given something to participants who just show an interest to sign up? (It's that gift thing kevin kubota talks about in his workshop on photography business - makes one want to work with that person: pay them for the value they create, eh?) TRUST/VALUE Instructor Personality Throughout each part what's delightful is just the EXPERIENCE of this instructor. He's put together a thoughtful course from light to lighting to parts to gear to post to business. There's immediate trust: plainly this man has made a living from what he's talking about, and has addressed almost any immaginable scenario. There's a great demo towards the end of the course of working with students to take shots. The value to folks watching is to see how he helps us all think about how to problem solve (the mantra for the course) to find the shot - to use light card after lightcard to wrap the light to bring out the countours of the material. Even when he says "that's just not working" - there's not a sense of the people shooting having failed - but an opportunity to think about what's been learned - to keep working the problem. There's a whole lot of HOW in that interaction that is highly valuable. Thanks to the participants in the workshop to be so willing too to do that work. This is the kind of course you leave feeling like ok, i can do this - or at least i have the tools and some knowhow now about them to start to work these problems, to start to create value in these kinds of shots. I am already just from being here a better photographer now. Related CL Course: This course feels like a terrific complement to Andrew Scrivani's Food Photography. And no wonder: both take place in small areas and use light in similar ways. A contrast is that in editorial food photography - scrivani's domain - there's a focus on skills to work with what's there; in table top/product, one can enhane - knowing how to do that effectively/believably is where the skills - learning to see that - come in for this kind of work in partiular . If tabletop/product photography is a space you wish to explore, or you just want to be able to practice working with light in the small, and see how to bring you will be delighted with this -z to z deep dive introduction.