Shooting for Dimension


Tabletop Product Photography


Lesson Info

Shooting for Dimension

I want to address a few things that I think we're pretty obvious yesterday and I think that was something that one of you said about how long it takes to do this this is not fast photography there are times when I'm shooting people when it can go pretty quick I mean I've many of you were pretty good with our tools and you're going to do a person should people shot you khun set it up with this stuff everything's different way grabbed a piece of jewelry yesterday and brought it over here perhaps if I'd thought thought it through a little better I might not grab that particular piece of jewelry because it stumped us on camera um so we said we did you know what anyone would do let's move on shall we because we literally could have spent you know two hours shooting that that becomes very fun very much fun for the people here not so much fun for the people on the internet so what we're trying to do is some proof of concept things not necessarily finishing them all out that being said the sho...

ts that we do today will be finished out and up uh some for us to look at tomorrow so we're not going to take too much time to go through all the photo shopping and stuff that we do but well document those things and get them up tomorrow so you will be able to see the finish shots but I'm going to go ahead with the shot that stumped us yesterday the one that almost got away I was on this is for folks who watched yesterday if you watch the rewatching remember this uh this piece of jewelry that we we tried to unsuccessfully photograph here uh and we had it laying down didn't work laying down so the whole gang's everybody was involved with this I think it was really fun we hung it from a boom and then we put a white card below it two silver cards on the side and a top light from the top you struggle with the background because the background no matter what we did we took a black card and tilted it back but there's just enough shine to these phone course just enough texture on the phone course that it picked up our top light so we could never get our background to go black so finally we took our our black table and this is why you can see another angle here where it's hanging in between these two silver cards our top light coming down we're using the bolt is a modeling light because we're shooting us with speed lights the black background even though it was tilted straight up we could still see it it went gray so we tilted it forward to create a shadow to make it more like a like a like a cavern if you want to think of the real shallow cavern and when we did that we lost all the edge back there and it was pure black background well someone read earlier referred to it as stand forest remember I told you you need one more stand than you had and yesterday we were scrambling around looking for one more boom and we ended up using this little mechanical arm toe hold the white card up in the front here it's always that way and all of this for this and you can see how we did it we have charles is holding a soft box over the scrim we have irene over here holding a speed light right there you can see there's a speed light with a grid for small grid on it and who's on this size that barbra barbra's on this side holding the same matching speed light matching power with the grid and they're shining it at the back of the object so thie soft box through the scrim onto the white board and the two shiny boards and the to um rid spots coming in from the side give us that shot so we finished it off way got the shot and uh I think that's really pretty you know three lights a lot of cards and a lot of stands this is my wife worked when I first was married my wife worked with me for about a year and that was it she she's more let's just send it up to shoot it can you after three hours of moving stuff around she's really ready to bail you have to be patient with that you really really have to er you could hang another piece of jewelry in that same location and it wouldn't work you know there's just it's just what you what we have to do is to get through it on I think to do that you have to understand contrast you have to understand uh lighting the tools that we use and the uh is this the is this the right one this um you have to understand that the the light is so fundamental toe what we do because the objects are reflecting the light back and kind of take a quick review off what we want to think about when we're shooting for lighting for texture for contrast for dimension um understanding how the subject can influence the light and one of the things that you could do is you can actually take your subjects you're you're different things that you want to shoot take him out in the garage or in the living room and just put a light around them and watch what happens with it try something that's really textural like would try something that's very shiny like a hubcap uh and you'll be surprised how a small light on a hubcap still you know ninety percent of hubcaps still black um we talked uh monday our whenever monday no was it thursday yeah that day about everything reflecting and that is the truth everything does reflect you saw it yesterday and you saw it in that shot of jewelry that we did right now most everything we did on that jewelry was to create stuff for those little facets of jury to reflect its absolutely in paris how light reflects off the subject what it does I must step over here get this happening what the apple reflects is more important than how you got it how it reflects is more important than what you used to do it how this apple reflects the light has no no relationship to what you did to create it so what you have to understand is the apple is going to kick back light it's way you have to create the light that it kicks back to you your way whether it's a d I y or a box or a strip light or bouncing light into a card I think I mentioned that way had a motorcycle in the studio just couple of weeks ago one of my friends is shooting a motorcycle in the studio had five lights five really big hot studio lights movie lights had five lights and they're not one of them was aimed at the motorcycle they were all aimed away at the the cove at whiteboards and everything all aimed away from the motorcycle he was lighting the motorcycle by lighting what that motorcycle reflected it was a one hundred seventy three thousand dollars custom motorcycle oh I want it that bad I was this close I had one hundred seventy three dollars and he wouldn't deal I'm like wow little rigid our way anyway so the apple reflects light the way the apple will do it because of the apples parameters it's unique qualities this is an apple he will always reflect light the same way which is why way we're talking about some of the questions who moving folks are looking for formulas you know where do I put the light I don't know this apple is different than an orange this apple is probably different than that apple where do you put the light where it looks good so it's a constant constant playing under the under the lights having an idea where to start always a good thing and that's how you wantto proceed by learning whatthe light does and controlling the light is everything that we do controlling the light is why we have lights and boxes and we have little pieces of cards black cards and white cards controlling the light product photography is the main thing whether it's daylight product photography or studio product photography really doesn't matter um you have to control the light one hundred percent of course whenever we're photographing anything we have to control the light so um but controlling the light on a on a big set like let's say you have eighty six inch parabolic reflector on a model on white seamless we are controlling the light but she's able to move all over the place within that light as you're shooting writes a wonderful fashion light I love it you saw yesterday how you can put this apple right here move the light a quarter of an inch and it doesn't work anymore so it becomes much more of a control you have to understand highlights and shadows and surface tension we call surface tension efficiency we call highlights speculators and we call shadows shadows the places that tell us what our surface looks like what our tension is whether it's shiny whether it's not our in the transitions and where's transitioning from speculate to the true object and where it's transitioning from the true object to the shadow hard light creates a very hard transition from the true value the skin tone the apples skin the edge of the tar that's the star itself that's the true value how it separates from the speculator to the true value will tell you if it's shiny so when we were going to get into backgrounds here a little bit as we look at backgrounds how you choose your background sometimes depends on what you want to do with that background as faras how that speculate changes because the speculum can be a part of your background or not shadows the edge of the true value going to the shadow that's where most of us refer to the term hard light it's very hard light someone will say and that's because the transition from the true value to the shadows very very sharp you have to understand how everything that you do affects that we have five areas of light to go over again because it's so important speculator transition from the spot of the speculum to the true value the true value the transition to the shadow and the shadow these are the areas of light that you control as best you can because these guys are subjects will have their very own way of dealing with these we have to figure out which like to use is hard light always wrong no no no no I we've used hard light for years and can be very dramatic it can create drama can create sharp shadows that we can use his soft light always right no it's not sometimes it's to saw soft and you don't have any drama to the picture but the way we create that of course is with our tools and what our tools do with these specific areas so we have here is a sorry hold on what we have here is a simple product and showing how we use the speculum and the true value always through this product uh this is just a very shiny piece of shiny plastic and shiny grillwork speculators this is it's it's speculum her that speck killer even though sometimes my mouth doesn't really make it that way um this is really a reflection of a soft box that's above it this is kind of a reflection of the card that's hanging down in front of it this is a reflection of the card that's down below it this whole overall area here is because I have two cards to the side throwing some bounce so they are throwing some reflection so that those grill edges can show and the one back here that's the card back here that lets that side come through so all the way through this product we have those here's my favorite favorite subject or these little cue balls we have in the studio we have a black cue ball and a white cue ball that's the speculator on the top of the black ball we can certainly see it you can certainly see that it pretty much goes away on a white cue ball it just goes it's almost disappeared because the subject itself is white and then the the speculators white on the seven ball we see the transition to the seven we see that sharp edge of the transition so we know that it's a uh shiny object right but we see a very slow transition from the red of the cue ball down to the dark shadow part of the q ball why because it's a big light source so it's the soft light source soft transition to the shadow on a shiny object fast transition from speculum to the true source the true value uh uh when you're working with speculators you use speculators also to create the dimension this is a knife it's turned a quarter inch away from me and that's what a knife looks like because it's reflecting the top of the studio which is dark I twisted it back a quarter of an inch in now we get the knife because now the soft boxes actually reflecting from the knife this is ah shot that we did has giant speculators running across the top that are very sharp but look at the speculum on the surface very soft it's because the glass is very shiny is glossy and the surface is not well it's shiny but it's not nearly as shiny as the bottle so you can see how the same speculator and the same shot changes up in this shot which was done outside by the way with a five and one the scrim that comes on the inside this was done outside in the sunlight and it's a very soft light going all the way through there's no phil cards involved in this or anything light subjects going very very softly through in photo shop all that's happening in photo shop is just a slightly bumped to the curves throughout the curve channels so that we can get a little more contrast in it but this is from a thing that I call improvisations and I don't I didn't talk about that yet did I improvisations it's great I'll do that in a second very subtle transitions from shadow to the surface very very subtle transitions very subtle transitions from the speculum areas to the true tones because these air not shiny they're porous there seashells they're not glossy so they take the light it's and defuse it throughout the shell while the large light sorts itself creates a very diffuse shadow uh this is a uh just common wrench in the studio and what I did was I brought the this is shot with a bowl like I brought the bowl from behind um in the er p d a and the workbook we show the same wrench shot from the front top and behind and the difference is spectacular because when you shot the wrench from the front you didn't have any shadows up front that's no problem he also had the most ugly picture of a wrench of ever seen because they just had no interest to it when we brought the light back from behind we got a speculator on top of the wrench that's reflecting all that patina that's on the old wrench and we drove some shadows forward which gave it some nice dimension and we've got a nice speculum hot spot right in this particular area and this is this wrench is sitting on foam core so it's not even anything fancy and you khun do that by understanding the angles of incidence angle reflection you understand that that wrench will reflect light its steel it's kind of you know funky steals not right bright shiny but it is steel so it will bounce the light then you also do it by controlling where that center of your life comes back from it now this is just just the bolt with the diffuser on no soft box or anything else above it's just a hard light uh with the little diffuser and I use shadows all the time as compositional elements shadows give us dimension if we don't have a shadow side to something uh we don't have any idea of what shape it isthe shadows are what make our pictures have depth to them um it's one of the reasons why we don't go out on a shoot in midday sun while everybody but helmet noon but the rest of us didn't don't go out in noonday sun and shoot because everything's flat there's no dimension to it we love to get up early in the morning why because we have light coming from the side or from behind us with bright contrast the light at an angle or we like backlight to give us some shadows and dimension but we were out rarely ever just going and shoot it flat if you've ever shot in the others desert southwest which I love the desert south by southwest areas just lie lovett um up around uh you know some people find it not attractive up around vegas and it's it could be just really boring terribly ugly first thing in the morning is amazing little cactuses and things will throw shadows and stuff it's just really really fun at known not so much because it's flat we've got no ship we have no shadows no interesting shadow so I use shadows a lot on this particular thing uh bringing it all together shot is where I'm using speculator highlights non reflected speculum highlights shadows all of it ties together to create something that has dimension to it we know what we're looking at we know it's a shiny bottle we know it's some shiny pieces of crystals that step etcetera all around it we know this because we can see it we know what our eyes see is what we're used to is so important to you look around and see how things work you ever walked by a car and looked in the car and seeing the reflection of the city behind you in the car isn't that cool so we're gonna put a light on a car what we we might want to do is like with that car's reflecting right because we're the cars are proved to us that it could reflect certain things reflect more than others if you're going to shoot that the seattle a night shot of seattle and you want to reflect it back in the hood of a car to go rent a black corvette or a white corvette black corvette white corvette isn't going to show you the reflection it's just not gonna be there not nearly as impactful as the black corvette because the contrast of light to the dark um you have city lights are on their white color their white on a white car white all white not is nearly as interesting is white on black wins we seek out contrast um the five areas of light are covered and this is not a pitch for my book but well maybe it's not just for my book but it is covered in my second book that's what the whole book is about if you confined um thie book by dean collins on lighting his his first book on lighting if you can find it somewhere wow you really really get a lot out of that dean was a master of understanding this stuff and also teaching it so um I hopefully carry on some of the tradition of that because I love looking at light on how it works and it always works this way there's no you know there's no other theories out there that make any sense so I don't mind I'm sure there's any of theories out there is pretty much what we get

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.