Tabletop Product Photography

Lesson 20/38 - The Challenge of Shiny Surfaces


Tabletop Product Photography


Lesson Info

The Challenge of Shiny Surfaces

when you when you do get the workbook uh this rob davidson's picture of a clarinet this is done in camera try it it's quite a beautiful piece of work and when you start to look at it closely you start to say wait a minute how did he do it it's detailed in the workbook it's detailed how rob did it it's beautiful photograph and I love it and it was totally well thought out in advance um you don't take it back there's a little bit of photo shop in there because there's some cards that are in this shot that he removed but as faras he didn't paint this light on or anything this is all done uh through the camera work so thanks rob for that shot highlights are our number one thing with shooting product highlights really highlight control really is product photography it's no matter what you're shooting whether it's something shiny or something with texture it is the highlight that is going to sell our product the shadow isn't going to sell it and the true value just depends on product but our...

highlights working with highlights is the number one thing that we have to do so I'm going to go back to this shoe shot here um and kind of break it down a little bit uh this is ah shoots on clamp the breakdown of this is also in the workbook when you guys get your workbook it's also in the work but this is just a shoe on us on a super plan in the studio and I've got one soft light above it which is a pro photo in a beauty dish with a sock on it which makes it around soft box it's the only really round like that I used these days for product is the twenty eight inch soft box with a sock on it everything else is square but it really kind of liked that light I'm liking it a lot and when they send this this tight to a subject like this doesn't matter because we're not seeing the shape of it it's the shape of its the box itself is so much bigger you know shoot figure the shoes this big boxes this big so the size of it the shape of it doesn't show just all there but that that box is really only giving me these edges here right in here the edges right here is the box everything else in that first shot when you see it in the workbook the rest of shoes black this is silver shoes so I can light it from above but the silver shoe reflects the studio but there's a little bit of texture in the and the thie inside of the shoot there's texture to this silver uh stuff so I think I mentioned he's like nine dollars shoes at payless I was there with my daughter getting her some shoes and they saw things and I thought that would be a great demo so I had these things for two years to use in my lighting classes and never got him out so now my daughter wants e having well you're nine dollars I'm not really shriek and walk on well they would last anyway so what I wanted to do was to create the texture and the shine so I've brought in to speed lights from each side gritted speed lights and kept moving to speed lights up and inching down and inch and over a little bit until I got this light so that this speed light is giving me this patina here but it's also going on the inside of the shoe and giving me that shine coming back so it's doing double duty and the same thing with this side but when I used it on this side and I brought it forward and I lit this side of the shoe this way what happened she just goes flat not that interesting anymore yeah background gradation how did you get that the background radiation is a speed light with a stuff in on it does anyone let me show you the stuff and I used bread it's it's in my camera bag it's the little frosted thing I use these things all the time there's a reason I used this particular brand other than the plastic stuff in is that these things are full down flat stuff in is a is a brand name it's a wonderful thing I just just a little diffuser that goes on top of my speed light and it takes that hard speed light edge you know no matter what you're doing with these old speed lights um thank you no matter what you're doing with these speed lights you do have a situation where um the uh light is coming out of a box with lights coming out of a box it's going to show at some point on the edge so that edges you know defined by the light coming out of the box I put this guy on it with a couple of rubber bands piece of masking tape gum but I put this on the front and now I change the shape of my light from something that's square and coming out to something that spreads all the way out very much as though it were a regular studio stroke that had a bear speed light head in at our bear a flash bulb in it right I we're jumping to speed lights real quick because the question came up and it's a good question when I use speed lights these days if I'm not modifying them with a soft box or westcott apollo twenty eight if I'm not doing that I'm probably using them this way why that's how they remain it really is hard these things excel at hard light they were designed for hard light they put a lot of time and money a lot of time and money and making this little plastic thing on the front scholar little devils and edges and stuff to try to spread the light and it does you know to a point but it also is still a tiny source no matter what you do is just a tiny source so I'll take it put this on so now in the studio when I can have my I s o raised up in my ambience lo all of them or this way so when I put this in time inside on apollo saw twenty eight I've got it this way so that this spreads the light everywhere when I use it on us on a umbrella it's got this on it so it spreads the light in the umbrella it diffuses it before it hits the umbrella and be defused it sort of double defused I used this on the background right down here and it's six inches from the wall the tighter to the wall the more the light chokes as it tries to climb up right down there and it's on one thirty second power you lose any half a stop so I you know initially I thought they lost two stops but all my they're all one stop one stop that's why you know shooting product and stuff like that into in the studio these days you can take a little gammy light here or a westcott apollo the larger the twenty twenty eight if you want a little bit bigger life should take this gammy light you put this on the inside actually don't have to it's not what it's gotten one in it right yes gammy actually has one in it if you could reveal that forming brett do that um to spread that light through the box and the same thing with umbrellas because I can tune my s o up to four hundred eight hundred if I want teo and regain that stopping more so you're showing it pointing at the back is pointing at the background not just like this if you put it up you drive light up I think what I'm trying to do is actually irene it was tilted down a little bit because when it was pointed right at it was too high sort of tilted it down with thing is the closer you get to the background use this chair here the closer you get this light to the background see how it's spreading up like this right now so we start to choke it off we want to choke it off we can actually put it like four inches from the backgrounds little hey little here and I've done that with this uh with this stuff in to get a little halo will actually take it bring it right up and touch the wall with it and you just get a tiny little spread of light this way farther up the wall you know less dramatic it's so it's so mike my photograph might be this part of the wall here with this thing way down here just to give me a little bit of a spring um earlier in the other three other slide you saw the one with the pure black background on dh that was to show that you could do it with pure black background I tend to like this because I think this makes the shoe look more majestic I don't know why it does but I think it does so we create all of these different lighting shapes I lit this side let this side go dark let this side go bright let this side go dark what does that do to the eye gives it dimension things they're moving on it could you've done it the other way absolutely no rules no rules if I gave this shoot all six of you and you went off into little rooms where I bet you'd all come back with different shots that I'll be good shots just be different you know trans solution trans loose clear stuff translations things need definition I didn't misspell technician they need definition if you can imagine in your mind's eye this thing sitting here without speculators on it it is no longer the subject of the photograph we're just looking right through it this is a cover that I did for a client and it's uh and it's in someone's living room this was where they wanted to shoot it and we basically brought in a little soft box over here um this thing is about this tall a little potpourri thing you know stick the stuff in it I brought all the things around it and this is the soft box you can see it right there perfect view and over here is a white card coming up this way and it right at the top of the white card I had to cut it and bend it away because I did not want white line's coming up the sides of these sticks why because I have white tiny little bit of brown and white we needed to show that they were brown so we just for we just forgo the second highlight on the little stick so and you can cite you start to climb up right there and then it stops all the highlights on the sticks from this side so we could see that they were brown on then just basically angle this and cut it away when it got to the top of a class translucent objects need definition our highlights and speculators to give them definition don fidel's shot going from something translucent to something that's not translucent a black men's shoe hears it here's a job for this is don for that one of my project fifty two guys and so we used highlights and speculators to show the shoe if we didn't have highlights and speculators on this shoe we'd have a black blob right there wouldn't be anything there in matter as a matter of fact all we see in the shoe are the highlights and the speck of is the reflections of the sources around it that's what gives it the definition the highlights here this up here and it also tells us what well so this is like tell us when we look at this shit what do we know about to shoot when we look at it way know what's black right even though most of it isn't black most of it is gray and my right but our eyes we've been on this planet for so many years some of us longer than others way know what things look like when they're different colors and they're reflecting we know that's a black shoe I doubt anyone's looking say look that's a gray shoe with some shadows on it no these are not shadows that's the true value of the shoe what else do we know about the shoot that is shiny why do we know it's shiny it's because the speculum transitions are sharp way see the light then we see the shoe done the transition from the speculum to the true value his sharp and shining and we know we in our in our total collective conscious we know that when the speculum breaks that fast it breaks to the true value of the shoe way don't go to kindergarten and explain this to people we just know this stuff even if you have never thought about it you know it so we know it's a black shoe and then we had to do something up here otherwise the black shoe and the black holes you see that to see what happens with the black hole goes on the black shoe nothing if we're going to see this we've got to provide that speculator control highlight control is product photography and it really makes almost no difference what you're shooting from jewelry to perfume bottles whatever it's speculum and highlight control your shadow's sometimes fall where they want and this is a great shot by donna I think it's uh is that another instance where he went the background like he wet the rocks I don't know if he went out for spray painting them he may have another way if you wanted if you want the wet rock look you can wet them with water and now dons in florida so there's enough humidity that they stay way from I'm in arizona you wet the rocks you gotta go and they're dry yeah so you can use a little annoy lll try to get some sort of well whether it's uh it's worthless comes in while clinton you know I have this I rarely use it it's just a mass it's just do I use half half half half work yep um pam cooking spray were pam cooking spray works and it's sort of it's it's organic and vegeta ble just thinks you get even I'm calling your or something you know it would be a permanent title yeah absolutely you could you could create a background with this and just simply pour a thin sheet of polyurethane over the top let it drip down and you would have a black rock background that you could move around but I don't know how he did this I'm sure it's on the sheet I don't remember how he said he did it but to get them shiny you could use pam you could use glycerin mixture of blistering and water you could use uh butter that's to the richness of the photo not that it has been forced to it you know it's it plays with the shoe well yeah and what was dawn's motivation here what we talked about yesterday about portfolios what's going what's the portfolio have to do shine crumbs showing problem solving I got a black shoe can you shoot this on blackrock uh you know the quiet they give you thatjob shoot the black shoe on black rock you know the client gave that job he's already kind of got an idea what he wants you know and what what are you seeing in his head is something that we'll never know I've dealt with enough clients no we never know what's going on in their head that's what they want for some reason so our job is to try to give it back to so when you see a shot like this in a portfolio he solved a problem here they could shoot that black shoe on white seamless you know and not have any detail in the shu who would look at it who would care so showing that you can solve problems in doing it the right way don quick question were you from the reminder in l a what is the color of the background in that shoe shot those air black rocks they're just they're all they're not all totally black they're just really really dark rocks and he's got some sort of oil or something on them to make them shiny which does want to the color of the rock darkens it creates a much darker thing because why more efficient it's more efficient so we're only seeing the speculative light on the rocke instead of the light of the rock when it's not shiny it's a diffuse surface so it's the whole thing is the whole rock is true value when we make the rock wet we get speculator true value that starter because it's now if the wetness is now reflecting the darker area around it pretty much why anything when we get it wet gets darker we've changed the diffuse surface tow tow more efficient service and so the more negative khun b reflected don turns out that question came in when it was the last hold on nine dollars one that wouldn't uh last shoe shop that's my wallet my studio wall right thank you and it's a white studio wall right did I tell you about the guy brought the motorcycle and I just told they're right you know what's really cool about the guy brings the motorcycle in he paints the floor for his motorcycle and I like how I was gonna do that tomorrow good thing you brought the motorcycle race so I don't have to pay you uh I've seen somewhere people like pain is that kind of technique you know it's not common not at all but it's it's cool it's something it's something to think about it ssm one of those things where it can be a stylistic kind of cool thing and it could be something that looks pretty goofy I don't know I don't have an example of it but there used to be a style back in the seventies and eighties from a guy up here you know I'm talking about john the hose master were you in the hose master was aaron jones created this uh fiberoptic light and what he would do is he go around and paint these things with this fiber optic but he would be doing it on a four by five cameras so he paint half the shoe with sharp and then he'd put a soft focus filter on it pull the slide and paint the other half with soft focus and put a different star filter on it paint a little over here and you ended up with these very very interesting in fact his the harley davidson motorcycle catalog that he did is a collector's item I'm talking thousands of dollars for the catalogue to see that that stuff that was ah huge thing and I have a friend in boston who is who still has to host masters and he still uses them for his work because it was a kind of a cliche for a while but he's probably the only guy I know who's still using it so his work is unique and he brings up very twenty twenty first century look to his work but he's still using that I answer that question okay like where did that where did we end up from where we start it's always fun um this is michelle drums shot uh from project fifty two and reason I included it is it's all speculative the photograph is simply a shot of speculators isn't it some sort of ice bucket thing or whatever that I don't know what this is probably a drink thing but that's all we have on this shot is speculative without speculative black photograph so controlling it is soul so important and where you place it helps make the shot that's the working shot you can see and that's the final shot with everything cleaned up all of it is speculative okay that's uh that's what we're gonna talk about what we talked about this morning is the speculum we're gonna move into backgrounds real quick if wei don't any questions any questions guys you'll understand what I'm saying is that highlights are our most important part of our work speculum which means we have to know what the subject is going to reflect way saw what happened last night with the jewelry we laid the jewelry down that piece that didn't work you saw that yesterday lay it down and speculators were going and they weren't having any of it no sorry we're just going to give you dull reflected nothing said to fix anything from the internet before moving on we have all kinds of things from the internet way have about twenty minutes before break so how we doing on time five minutes questions okay uh c from disease when you were showing earlier with the flash wanted to know the speed bike can we get the same kind of amazing sharp with continuous light yes just make sure whatever material you stick right on the front of that like it isn't gonna burn uh he's spun glass that's your only option is the spun glass it's made for video it's made to take the heat but nothing will take direct content or contact or even like an inch or two from some of those five k you get it's even spun glass two inches from it you're going to have a problem it's just gonna melt it it's too hot smith a tx is wondering do you recommend special lights for photographing diamonds sparkly um you know I hasn't take teo too I don't know so many different tire was used so many different things but you've got to really remember to show highlights and really get speculators off the highlights how do we get a vory bright speculator off something very small source right smaller the source so is there a snood over there love that's shaped like a cone did I bring that okay um speed like uh oh you know what um I'll bet you we have one here because I think we're giving one away a snoot pack from gammy light um gammy light makes a snoot that comes to a point and right at the point he's got a little soft box or a little soft diffuser that goes right into the point so it's not really hard light coming out the front but what I do is I'll bring a snood light in very close to the ring my ambient light my cards were doing the ring the silver part of the ring or the gold part of the ring everything and then I'll just pinpoint that little spot a light right on the diamond generally from the back or the side and that will make the diamond then have the facets of pop a little almost like the little stars in it but that's very very precise work have you seen the thie led lights that have the like the round front and the five lights on it get one if you see one by it that's what my other friend uses for diamonds and that little white so he'll do his exposure on um on the digital camera with the strokes with may then without touching the ring heeled open up the shutter he'll do a long exposure and he'll take that little multi led light and he'll just go right around the ring like this and then he'll just basically put because it creates the most gorgeous high multiple highlights on the diamonds they absolutely rock and then all you do is merge that the highlights right onto the other diamond in photo shop it's fantastic digital has given us some really great tools and the same thing with the little snow did I'll do that on a separate shot and emerge the highlights sometimes when you do that with the snoot your cast a little shadow on this side I don't care because I'm just going to grab the diamonds so little tiny snoot or those little led thing with the multiple lights on it or even an led flashlight can be used to pop that those diamonds so in one shot it's tough and multiple shots it's way easier okay a question from silver top could you again explain the distinction between speculator and hot spot well a lot of people use the word hot spot hot spot is probably a speculum it probably is it's just it's a hot spot it's not where you want it if it's if it's a speculum it's exactly where you wanted and yeah I think it's a hot spot supplies have been negative and and if it's in the speculum is too bright remember the um well you remember the first workshop with black bowling ball over there it doesn't matter how bright you make that speculum up there the black bowling ball stays black you khun make that speculum four stops over exposed so it's just burned burned it's gone there's no detail nothing black bowling ball still black putting more light on that black bowling ball where it can't see the light it's not gonna help so that's a hot spot the speculator is either a in the wrong spot or be too bright spectre may not have anything to do with the actual exposure of the subject it may be just a reflection of light source question one more question before we move on sure um studio k w m from bismarck north dakota when would you not want to use shiny aluminum for speculators and instead use white okay perfect shiny aluminum creates speculator light it's actually another light source it takes your source and bounces it like a mirror white phone car core is diffused light so you could put a shiny aluminum board like I could take a shining aluminum board right now and try to like gloria from that light over there but I'd have to move it this way to try to find that point where the speculator hits lorraine right we'll we see you you see it was sometimes walking around the city late in the day and the light's hitting that window and he has his window pattern right there on the street in front of you right that's the shiny building itself is white we don't see it on the street but we'll see it in our meter will see that that street's a slope you know half stop brighter or something because that wall that diffuse white wall is giving us more light in this area but that speculum the aluminum is actually going to bounce the sun in so you use the to for the purpose that they that you want teo so there's times when you do want to take shiny aluminum and he had a really bright speculum which we did on that the jewelry last night we wanted a really bright edge to the jewelry when we use the white cards it wasn't so dramatic but it's also very precise

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.