Setup and Gear Q&A


Tabletop Product Photography


Lesson Info

Setup and Gear Q&A

I have very old tripods I love them because they're really heavy so in the studio they make sense they're old bogan and man photo tripods and when you've set him down they're heavy and they hold the camera down now they've got these carbon fiber guys which are very strong tripods that a third the weight I would go with a carbon fiber if you're going to ask for a recommendation I'm probably man photo or logan I love their products mainly because the tripod I'm using now in the studio is thirty one years old and it still works that's a product endorsement can you imagine how often I use that tripod with thirty one years still works tightens up just just like it did the day I bought it it doesn't look like today I bought it it's got enough scratches and stuff on it it's been dropped dropped out of an airplane in the air but on the ground it's all kinds of things happened too and so yeah I would recommend that there's all kinds of great brands out there rule of thumb if it didn't cost two ...

hundred bucks it's probably not studio quality time isjust a rule of thumb you're gonna have to pay for a good decent tripod if you have a fixed studio where you are you know not your living room or something look for camera stands look for used camera stands I got my camera stand very inexpensively from a guy going out of business and that's a uh single pole about this big around on a flat bottoms got wheels on it and you do the pressure thing and wheels come up you could move it around and you move it drops down on the rubber pads and that thing's not going anywhere like six hundred something pounds three people are moving off the off the truck into the studio so it also doesn't travel well airlines want to charge you extra I don't know what's what's up with that so this is where I work this is everything I kind of like tohave um using a pro photo six hundred compact up three hundred compact up in the top here and for those of you who are into power light power and stuff how much power the lights had its a three hundred watt second compact pro photo and it gives me too much light too much I have to cut it down all the time how do I cut it down probably put a scream in front of one of our screams because it's too bright even if I take it all the way down to to its lowest setting its lowest setting is still one hundred fifty one seconds through that box I'm getting f twenty two of thirty two down here find that have twenty two I've got a problem who knows what the problem is irene what's my problem if you have twenty two I got no bracket room because my camera doesn't go with twenty two four of you know twenty four twenty eight or thirty to it doesn't it just does twenty two that's it so I've got brack I would I wantto work somewhere around sixteen so aiken bracket either side many times when I'm doing this kind of work these days I might just back it up on film just never know just might want to get in there but a couple of sheets in the old toyo because it's fun now okay backgrounds yes get this at f sixteen or f twenty two right here that with this type of lighting the backgrounds black so it could be people sitting back there playing cards and you would never say it but what I normally use is either the space in my studio if I want black my studio's painted white but it's so far back there and out of the range of this light that it's black or I can use seems papers or I can create backgrounds if I want a background that's going to show I can take a piece of old planking border whatever I want white for michael and just put it right here and actually build it rarely if it's not connected here ben it's it's space I rarely put a background back here you know I'm saying you know like something dark wood its way in the back I don't do that I'm either going to show it right up here for my shots are gonna be going back to space and that's a stylistic thing for may my style is not to shoot um sets that look like the corner of a barn uh I've done that shot where we actually brought in barn wood and actually built the corner of a barn to shoot spurs for cowboy boots on so we had to build it and put a straw in and all and make the light we had a slight were like sunlight was coming through the boards and the whole bit so this little corner of a barn built the middle studio lights all the way around it that was great for a client no problem it's not my style my style is much more reductive I want to get down to the essence of things you know so if I shoot an apple it's really all it's their play with light so make sense stylistically you could do all kinds of things you know there are some tires whose entire style is to build those little sense it was little vignettes and uh in the studio you get you get a lot of money for doing those things because that you've built your production days into it as well it's gonna pay someone to do it once helped build helped if a tiger bill the inside few salah java japan airlines seven thirty seven I think was seven twenty seven had to shoot six rows of seats and they sent over their specs and pictures of the airline and we actually built in the studio the curfew so lodge and six seats so we could get a shot of the singing of the japan airlines stewardess talking to a passenger think about it how do you light it when the when you can't even stand up inside there how do you like that to make it look right like tv set looks great over here over there is you know props leaning against the wall in some lights if you're using natural light is your life how would you position again with windows if I was using window light nine times out of ten I'm either sideways to the window the windows here you know coming just like this one though is the windows either coming this way for the windows back here I'm either using a big back window light we're going to do that shot in the workshop where we actually use a scrim to create a big back window light or I'll put it to the side because I'm going to sculpt you notice that in all cases here I'm generally side lighting my put my subject right and somehow I'm sidelining the subject because if the light's coming down it's still a sidelight it's just from the top coming down side like so many other coming from the side coming from the top coming from slightly back so I have these different placements you'll rarely ever see me light anything from the front barely um not my style however could someone create a cool style shooting product with ring light maybe yeah I could see that being you know everybody's diggin and you kind of zag off there and you get the clients that doesn't want to do what everyone else is doing so you couldn't find those things can create those things that's what's kind of cool so this is your space any questions on the space and little different things you don't need a whole lot of stuff um I wish we had a bucket here but it was one of the simplest d I y stands that she could make this a five gallon bucket of pain piece of black pvc pipe get a five gallon and empty five gallon paint buck take your little pvc stand thing right here fill the paint bucket up with cement stick this right down in the cement wait for about five minutes till it sets when it's totally dry you have a cement bucket that's really heavy on the stand coming out the top and believe me you can you can hang flags on it you can hang stand toppers on it you can do anything you want with it and that's pretty cheap so if you're on the you want to start getting into this stuff and you say well that's really great but I can't go out and buy six stands yeah for about ten bucks and some old paint cans you can have plenty of stuff to stand around your set so no excuses he will start from measure thirty seven right down we definitely have some some gear questions of thai level okay so a tripod question from fashion tv ah ball head or panhead for product photography photography or no different um I use ball head for the pan pan had doesn't do sideways uh lisa pan had that I have a panhead that I have does up and down and sideways it doesn't curl well when I have it's well it's but the one I have is a video panhead so you know but I used up the ball I love to be able to get the camera tilted or whatever I need to do with great art by vita is wondering if you use ladders or lower tables for above shots or is that another reason for shooting tethered or live um shooting from above is always it's always fun uh yeah sometimes you're your products on the floor and I'm using you know small step ladders to get up and over but we also have a scaffold and in the studio we've got a small scaffold that you got the ladder on both sides and it's uh eight feet tall and you get up on the top of that they used be able go on top thing feel pretty good about it now you get up there and you just you know take your life in your hands and pray to god that it lasts you know five more minutes to get off of it no I'm just kidding but it's it's a little more wobbly than it used to be but it's still it's the scaffold and you get up there and you can mount the camera got a camera mounted right to it we can mount the camera to it and then these days which makes it nice because of live you we can come down and work with our products and make shots without having to get back up on the scaffold and actually touch the camera uh we can also hang a cable released down and fire that way or we can use those triggers and I showed you a little a little you know get the little cheap triggers that will fire your camera because in the studio paternal the lights off quick the shadow camera cameras now open in a dark road and I'll just fire the flash did that for twenty five years shooting product photography at f thirty two on a view camera with the two thousand what second head that didn't give you have thirty two just wasn't there was impossible there was no f thirty two coming out thing so we would make it so I could get my exposure well I'm gonna lose a lot of people on the internet you wait ready for the questions I wanted my exposure to be perfect at four pops perfect at four pops so close all the lights off in the studio open up the camera one too three four pops closed the camera that was a perfect exposure according my meter now y for uh really getting you now why for no one because three was a half under bracket four was right on six was a half over so it be three four and six and I'd have my bracket of three sheets of of chrome to take to the lab and then I would do a second set of appreciates three four and six and that hold them in reserve and if it was a really big client I do another set of three four and six and hold them in reserve because I could always have the lab pushed the film a little bit maybe a quarter a stop on the whole thing a quarter stop hot now I've got a little bit between three foreign six and I've got one left over in case that wasn't enough so insurance policy cheap insurance policy helmer photographer do you think that at the end of any job do you think I ever took those three sheets that I didn't need and threw him away god no boxes and boxes of stuff it's never going to be processed and finally finally threw it away but even then it hurt but that was that hot dog shot from nineteen eighty one what if they call they're not gonna call it's all gone he's still rocket now with digital you just see if you could do it in place um I do bracket with digital ideo because I kind of believe that any time you start messing with a slider you're probably degrading a little bit is it I mean why am I like crazy no no no no I mean you can hit that slider for a house stop probably either way but you know what it's digital what does it what does it matter if you turn your dark room your space to total dark you can get anything you want out you're here your shots including let's say you're shooting with a speed like you've got a little you know off brand speed light that at full power through the back ear scrim gives you f ate and you need sixteen turned the lights off one pop that's f ate two pops that's f eleven three pops is f eleven and a half four pops is f sixteen five pops is sixteen and a quarter next pop sixteen and a half next pop sixteen and three quarters next pop twenty two gone through and shown us sort of all your earlier tools here but you two are friendly to in india would like to know if you could just name off for beginners starting set what is the bare minimum that you would recommend that's a good point that's a good point um I'm going to say four stands to booms even mini booms one or two of the screams that we built on maybe a uh now we're in the inexpensive range here is many of every time these things go on sale at home depot I'm buying ten like they were a dollar each I'm gonna go buy ten of them and I probably at this point in stop because it's getting silly now now it's now it's moved into obsession time and so yeah but clamps little clamps clothes pins all of those things next ladder up for suspending some money the west kind of paolo twenty eight I make absolutely no apologies for saying the west got apollo twenty eight are there other brands out there similar yeah are they is good no and I have no absolutely no official affiliation with westcott they wouldn't they don't send me thank you letters or anything it's the best little light box I've ever used I use it all the time they have a twenty eight and they have a fifty if you can afford the fifty get the fifty is amazing we shot food with an apollo fifty and an off brand speed light at one half power all day and we're getting at s o eight hundred we were getting sick keenan f twenty two on these food shots and we shot all day with it I love that thing so that would be your main you're big big daddy like a cz faras lenses thirty five equivalent on full frame thirty five equivalent or twenty four on a crop uh fifty millimeter and in eighty five and something to shoot tethered into maybe one of those new apple retina display fifteen and remember you always buy two since I want teo I'll hold it for you in case you lose the other one um but that I think you could really really fly with that in fact if you only had one lens like the thirty five millimeter lens you could simply shoot that there are tabletop in still life tarver's who shoot like just one lens they have that like maybe a slightly white angle that's their view of the world they can shoot everything on that one lens next level up at a tilt on shift and a big mega pixel body because you start getting product in still life big megapixels really do start to matter probably probably as much in landscape landscape guys and over here I'm not you know this will catch a lot of internet folks I'm just you know big mega pixels on people shots I don't get it you know I used to shoot kodachrome twenty five men stop shooting kodachrome twenty five because no matter what you did the model you could always see every pore every line in her face you best make up artist in the world be too sharp dumped it went to act a chrome because it wasn't that sharp still object brutally sharp it wasn't that sharp so I'm not really sure I would do head shots with a you know fifty making mega pixel back just be scary it's like seeing myself on hd tv oh god so what is your number of big mega painful with right now right now in the studio uh five d mark to er would be a great camera um d seven hundred would be a great camera the sonys uh my friend kirk tuck shoots the sonys they're fantastic cameras but also coming up right out really soon is the nikon d thirty two hundred uh and the report sent on that on that is just amazing plus it comes in ferrari red I mean if you're going to shoot a camera in the studio ferrari red I think is an absolute must don't you think I'm going to get one of those guys so like six hundred bucks I'm getting one of those almond candy shooter I'm gonna get that nightgown because it uses all my old nikon glass that I saved for my daughter because I knew when I switched to cannon that my daughter might want to be a photographer so she'd have all this really cool nikon film equipment and I held on to it a little too long just you know now they're either paperweights are they're going to go on this d thirty two hundred so I'll be out shooting the latest and greatest camera with a twenty eight year old thirty five millimeter lens on yeah but something in those those rangers would be great that sony a seventy seven is that what it is great camera I imagine some of the digital fourth four thirds would work as well I'm just I just never used them so I don't know great thank you for that that's helpful

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.