Basic Tabletop Setup and Gear


Tabletop Product Photography


Lesson Info

Basic Tabletop Setup and Gear

this is a table top set up and you can see how small a place that we're working with here and we like to keep it simple when I go into do shoot tabletop I like to have all my stuff set up that I'm going to use because I hate to break concentration you know like when you're reading a novel or reading something and the phone rings and breaks concentration my studio is big it's a big space it's comparable to this space and so if I have to stop and walk all the way over there to get a fill card and come back it breaks my concentration so before I start shooting tabletop in still life I'll get out all the stuff I generally use like normally so to speak and get it ready whether I use it or not it's not really important and that that lessens the trip back over to the other side of the studio where all my stuff is to get stuff so I like to start out table table just a simple table you nose tabletop tyree nothing special there um I start out generally with one light I add many more but I start ...

out with one and this is my main light or what I would sometimes call my ambient light or my main reflective light putting on the surface or thing that I'm photographing I use it on a boom I want to keep things away from this table is much as possible and have just the table with the lights coming into it I mentioned I'm a drummer all my cymbals air on booms so if you've ever seen a drum set with symbol on all my because all my stands there way out there and all that's around my set or my cymbals same way with this um the uh the tool I'm starting out with here is a two foot square soft box and it's just it's going to be fine for the product I've decided to kind of shooters which is these kind of old fashioned keys here on a little ribbon we're goingto do something with those and see if we can make it sparkle a bit um and in a lot of little things that I want to go through some of the props and the tools that I used to make my life easier if you no I'm talking about when I got a bunch of these this one's brats but I've got probably ten of these little gorilla someone called gorilla gorilla pods I love these things because you can set up a little you can put a stand topper on this and use a strobe right down on the set if you want to but I'll use him to lean things against I can lean a little board against them very easily like this not having go anywhere if you really don't want to have a go anywhere you take a little piece of tape curl the tape put at the bottom lean it against your grill apart it doesn't move things about uh this type of photography that you have to be aware of is that things move all the time and so you're gonna make it so they don't move and yes there is a tendency to say well I don't want to take a moment to go and get that little loop of tape I know I know there is trust me do it get the little loop it tate make three or four and put him here because if you don't something's going to crash down this one's going to fall over knocked that one over which knocked that one over and now you're having to re set it up so I'm working with these little things are great I shoot tethered we'll take a second to tell you why and I really stress to all of you to shoot tethered when you're doing this kind of stuff you want to see that picture when it comes back you want to see it we don't use polaroids anymore back in the day we would go through boxes of polaroids way don't do that anymore we use the digital back it's not chimp ing when you're working this way it's digital polar it's okay you're adding a light seeing what it does maybe it's too strong pull it back a little bit we're doing the same thing with the tethered computer as we did with polaroids in the old day except for one thing it's not costing us an arm and a leg he used to do so that's an important thing and there's so many ways to do it these days with all the little soft was the little cards I fi cards you could get a knife I card and go into your ipad you get a knife fight card go into your uh your iphone for that matter you know the f I card will go into almost any computer doesn't even matter and at least you could then bring it up in photo shop it was thie images on your card you could bring it up in photo shop I have to go through a few steps but I shoot tethered and I shoot into capture one uh you've used the cannon version that comes with the candid cameras for years and now light room I think since light room three sense light room three you can shoot tethered in tow light room I didn't and if I don't use light room for much of anything but I do use it when I'm shooting tethered if I'm not shooting capture one and no I do not have capture one on all my laptops I've got it on one laptop because only paid for one license and the other laptop I use light roman so if I'm doing this kind of work I'm doing capture one if I'm out shooting with my little mac book I'm using light room so no excuse these days at this point really there's no excuse not to shoot tether if you've got a laptop or a computer in your office you've got to be shooting tethered um almost everybody has light room and an I fi cards only like what fifty bucks thirty bucks I don't what it is it's not expensive get that stuff up on the screen if you can't see it on the screen you're gonna be disappointed because what did I say earlier detail detail detail you just can't see it on the screens the backs of these cameras so I'm always sitting with my with my tether computer here we're standing and all I put my clamps on here I have in my studio got a lot more little of the little bitty clamps I'll have those right along the front here so I can simply grab him and work I do not want tohave multiple tables set up because I'm clumsy not because of any philosophic reasons at all I knock stuff over okay so the fewer little things set up is possible that's fine I've got a rolling credenza that I picked up at a garage sale so like old fashioned business credenza with the doors on the front and I have tons of stuff on my gels and everything are in that credenza and I can roll it out onto the studio floor and worked with it so I'll have a credenza here my table top monitor here and my shooting surface everything's kept really really tight uh someone asked yesterday about shooting touching the camera when I'm shooting I don't actually fire the camera from the computer that way not touching the camera I love live you uh cameras cameras that have have live you because you khun set your shot up as you're working with the live you before you get into a situation of of uh you know having to bend down you know it was great when you're twenty five when you're sixty doing this all day long I stand up here and look through that through the monitor that way you can really really have a lot of fun with it plus with live you you could get your camera into places that you may not have thought about if it's up against your hair your face think about that for a second way have all this technology in this camera right and it's only usable in one spot slammed up against our face that's a flaw to may that's that's like there's got to be some other way we can use our camera other than just glue it to our face it seems like we've got all this a great technology but we're still stuck with this maybe I don't know flip out screens can be pretty cool I love him that's why I bought this camera that flip out screen gives me a lot of information from angles and places I normally wouldn't wouldn't go so this is our basic set and we use a lot of cards and different things so I got this I'm sorry internet I do not remember the brand that this was all I could tell you was it was so darn cheap on amazon I thought oh why not it was like twelve dollars seriously I bought one and then I got it and thought let's watch about to and I got him and I think that's pretty cool so about two more they do one thing and one thing only is that is they mount here and they hold a card and you place the card and you can get the card where you want it without standing coming up from the back or being involved with it any type of thing you could make these d I y if you want but you want to create some of these way could probably do with pvc pipe couldn't wait you know pvc pipe coming out two clamps over here to hold it but you want to get your your cards we've got this we have such cool reflector holders yes they're called reflector holders good good good question so you khun use these all different ways and of course there's this little guy here which is a manfro dough for those of you are going to ask this little guy here and again this was a very inexpensive item was like under twenty bucks but it'll allow me to get a strobe out here and the stands way back here it's not up it's not a boom it's kind of a little arm that you could kind of twist around get get it to fit places where you might not have been able to get something before never had one of these back in film days never had one uh really like it I use it a lot and uh and like everything that I buy whenever I buy this stuff by to um maybe one is a backup kiss one breaks but eventually you end up using it you know so my rule for this is how many do you need of these one more than you have no that was stan sorry um all those rules mixed up uh regular old stands are fantastic this is a just my loom a pro to brand to companies make these things uh I like them for one reason they're very small easy to carry on location I do a lot of product worked on location lots of product work on location and I love the fact that you can take the bottom of it here and you can take it way down to a flat bottom so it doesn't stick up where you can trip over it or something so when you're doing table tops you can get it in very very close to the table without the the arms like on a stand like this to see how if it was a low table you could only get it in this close because these legs come out with these flat out legs you could do that now I don't normally shoot it like that with it if I'm on location shooting people are something like that I actually have a nice triangle to it because that's when it's the most powerful standing up so clamps everywhere uh another one of those little boom things this is also a loom a pro and which is made by the guys it impacts and they have some goodies to give away two later today so uh matter of fact I believe we're giving a couple of little boom arms away um this's a great little tool it is a reflector holder as well as its gotta stand topper on it so you can put a little light out on here I use it a lot for speed lights I will never put a pro photo that they did that but for speed lights that works great and so you khun you know those sometimes serve double duty so you can clamp your scream on here and have a scrim here and then have a speed light with a snoot or something out there just alittle sidelights into all kinds of multiple things with it but this thing will full right up and goes in my travel bag it's light and it's easy and how many do you need to when you buy this stuff by two seriously you save on shipping almost everything that you buy you save on shipping because they're only charge is a little bit more for the second one but you're always going to need to uh to pretty much everything except house of black one for each ferrari so that's kind of the space and you can see what is this uh working space here is maybe eight by ten so if you have a bedroom or off uh den or a kitchen or living room or something you could roll the couch out of the way and certainly set up and start doing this kind of work keep everything as close as possible can I get one of those super clamps I get it I use a lot of super clamps this is not the type of super clamp I use I generally used the the black man photos on guy have like eight of them and probably need to get maura I use them all the time but you could build a boom out of this with this stand and a piece of pvc through this side and you've got a little boom hooked up uh these air these one things that kill my travel cause I can't work without him and they're heavy so you start packing eight year in your suitcase and you pretty much got one pair of socks left that's it that's all the way you got left so I love him so I I generally end up renting those when I go on far locations

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.