Working with a Variety of Surfaces


Tabletop Product Photography


Lesson Info

Working with a Variety of Surfaces

backgrounds are fun and easy hit the home depot with lows by you and get yourself some tiles I love these twelve inch tiles because you know one of them you can shoot all kinds of stuff on if it'll fit on this tile you can pretty much shoot it right if you're going to get the smaller tiles like this slate I'll generally get four of them so I can build a little table unless I know for sure I'm going to have to need a bigger space which is for me this is pretty much table top four by four five by five top that's a tabletop it's bigger than this it gets a little bit you know starts become unwieldy you know and that's more of a product shot we're going to shoot it on on the psych er seamless or something so I'll get things like this but the other fun thing to do is to simply go out and get all this stuff here are our prop closet is bigger than our gear closet where we have stuff like barn would old we got an old piece of a circus tent but I love to use just great things have been a probabl...

y probably a hundred years old and I got it from the guys they were throwing it away at the circus one time when I was about twenty years old no I take that from you thank you so much um pieces of other board table tops you find for micah's each surface has a each surface has a uh particular quality to it let's look at these two surfaces next to each other we got barn wood over there and we got this for michael thing here right what is the difference between these two biggest difference that we say yeah this for mike is really shiny we're going to really have speculators on this if we want them if we want that was we were talking about that little bright spot on the jewelry if we want to get a break spot on this we can really do it on this one probably not so easily if at all definitely not easy on that aboard because it's such a diffuse surface so I collect all of these things to shoot on we're going to be shooting on some of these things today and after break we're gonna be shooting on a couple of those brett we're gonna be shooting on a uh a thing that guy way back in the eighties I kind of did a lot of this game named gary per wheeler and I love his work and I still like his work and still they use this for background the's are forcing tubes that we spray painted black out here in the alley and when you lay them all together you get this most beautiful highlight this ridge highlight that goes to it we're going to shoot cosmetics on this surface of fluorescent tubes so before you throw your force and tubes that die and you're ofthis away you know just hey can I have the dead ones take him and paint way have spray painted white ones they don't just use the glass I want the white we have spray painted white ones and we used a matte white paint we've got these shiny black ones that the studio and we also have someone read uh really the cry lan glossy red we did for special shoot but this is a great background from a bunch of dead fluorescent tubes so this is what we're going to shoot are our cosmetics on if you're thinking about sizes for it and you want to create some different tops for it your table tops you will find all kinds of things are available for you out there this is a it's a piece of fencing they'll make a great background for some products that you're shooting you can't have too many and what you want to do is to go and gather them and just create a place and start to shoot on him I catalogue all the backgrounds that I have a catalog them I make them I make photographs of them stick a man I used to you know stick him in finder we don't do that anymore now it's on its digital but I have all these things that I can show him to my clients they pulled my ipad out show backgrounds for the clients I I don't get that kind of client usually but I always have it ready for the client said well what do you got in the studio I can flip through it I probably count on one hand how many times I've done it but I have it having it's more important than ever doing it because you're going to get asked for someday so you need to happen but you catalogue it and then you start to think as you as you start to play what surface what light what product and how it's all going to go together creating backgrounds is also azizi as paint um uh virginia uh design smith whose project fifty two person virginia actually paints backdrop she creates her own sort of folk art backgrounds and then we'll shoot right onto those onto those backgrounds your backgrounds and your surfaces and the types of shots that you do will be a part of your style um some photographers one end everything's very austere everything that chute on stay in the steel or black or pure white that becomes part of their style other for tigers on the other end everything to shoot on his old wood and you know the old circus tent material that becomes a part of their style I don't know if you can mix the two very often but you know most of my stuff is kind of funky like this that's that's me and my neighbor a studio made most of his stuff is all hi tech very glossy chrome's and silvers and shiny black so your backgrounds and your surfaces help determine what your subject's going to look like when you bounce it off most of the time you're lights going to be coming from the side of the back for the top side side top back top and you start to get a reflection on your surface we're going to see this soft box back I can actually see the soft box it's not even on I can see the soft box in this might take this away I cannot see the soft box in this piece of tile most definitely cannot see the soft box in this so you're surfaces help determine what's your highlights your speculators and your and your compositions are going to bait what color is the background of this if we can see the soft box white high white so way shoot it on this and we can see the soft box coming back it's really basically a white background have you ever seen the shots of the apple products and you get the perfect reflection back in front get the life pod or well mp three players sitting a perfect reflection coming in the back and yet it's white it's all white what's it shot on black it's shot on black the reason it's all white is you're seeing the light source reflected back and what you're why you're seeing the reflection of the mp three player is the mp three player that's not a shadow in front of it that's a direct reflection of the mp three player in the black surface the black surfaces reflecting it back just as it's reflecting back you the white soft box or soft lighting above it play with that lie within a lot if you could if you put the mp three player on a piece of white plexi you're gonna be disappointed you'll see a little slight reflection which is very cool but if you wanted to see it like pure mirror like the shot that mm I mean that michelle did here that's pure black that's not white that's a pure black background how we doing uh actually used years to get a black background take it black backgrounds yeah it works very well you just make sure you reflect it we gotta have a black something black to reflect in the mirror right no no it's like you're in your studio here walls and everything they're far enough away okay just make sure that angle of it'd incidents that's what I mean though you've created black background just no light up into the rat race sure absolutely works really well yeah when you're working in this tiny of a space yesterday when we shot the last piece of jewelry we working a very tiny space we were working at f sixteen uh the ambiance involved at all is not a part of it was shooting trying to shoot with the hot lights out here than the ambience become a part of our world there's no way to escape that so sure mirrors work very well mirrors pit real quick they really really do uh be careful with them and they're also most of them are not heat tempered so if you've got a big piece of mirror and you started and it starts to flex it will break uh we're the plexiglass is and things like that probably will do that like san is another thing um your local uh company that does like picturing models and stuff those guys they're gonna have all kinds of little pieces of this stuff a whole box of space is a froth warehouse is happy to get rid of it yes so a question from paul villa floor from the philippines is there any place for green blue screen in product photography and similarly asked mida texas said does don recommend using digital backgrounds um it doesn't it doesn't work for my style I have never done it but I yeah absolutely if it's out there you could apply it to product photography absolutely could uh I just instantly saw in my head of cooker shot uh that I did a long long time ago and they actually use the site tech machine teo put in the background the cooker was imported uh thailand it was a thailand cooker and are the important was actually in phoenix that cos my dish took this shoot this cooker on a porch and they been photographed in the jungle because there we don't really have any jungles and phoenix even even a good locations count couldn't find a jungle but they put in this sort of they put in thailand behind it so today absolutely that could certainly be a part of europe I have a way for you to differentiate yourself from everyone else which is important uh paul villa floor from the philippines is asking referencing uh form from this particular speculum shot is there a way to gradually fade our reflection toe black in camera when shooting on black glass yes that speculate that way were asked about before that's on the that was up behind the jewelry on this on the wet slain if that was black plaques it would eventually that hot white spot would eventually go off to black absolutely the closer you bring that light I will scream any scribble the closer you bring the light to the scrim more differentiated thank you for instance if I brought the light this close to the scrim okay right here I'm gonna have a little pool of white right here in the middle but it's gonna be diffused out through this stuff it's not gonna be a square of light if I took it this diffuser away do this it's hard light this is gonna be much softer but it's gonna have a hot spot that hot center because it's on plexi where this reflection is on the surface off this speed light coming in like this that little round circle of white there is that hot spot but as it diffuses away it's simply goes out to black absolutely lots of jewelry shot that way lots of jewelry shot that way absolutely you're going to see it all over the place in jewelry catalogues you see that hot white spot with jewels on it and then you see a perfect reflection of the ring underneath it it's not also look it's the shadows shadows reflection of the dark side of the ring hundred underneath it and then that pedal of white just flying things off in the black just all he has to do is try it and you'll see it and love it great technique fantastic don well we are perfectly on time for our first break of the day okay does that work for you absolutely all right cool so we are going to take a fifteen minute break folks what are we going to do when we get back I'm gonna come back we're going to shoot some cosmetics to different ways using a tilt shift lens we're going to do it with the the shift part and we're going to do it with tilt part so you can see what the difference is ok on then we're going to shoot that shot to a layout we've actually created a layout and design and we're going to look at the layout and then create the photograph that has to fit the layout okay just like we would get from an art director here's where the headline is here's where the body copy has to go and your picture has tto go in here and it's a full blade pictures so we have to leave room for type as we always hear people go look at that shot like he left room for type that's what we're doing here we're leaving room for type

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.