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Daylight for Product Photography


Tabletop Photography Fundamentals


Lesson Info

Daylight for Product Photography

Daylight lighting for product photography is not dissimilar from the lighting that you're familiar with in food, which a lot of you are already familiar with, and a lot of people watching may also be familiar with what your goals are is to use daylight in a way to display what's on the table in the best way possible. Now, if that means that you need to get really close details if that means that you want to show it in an artistic way, it's all about the things that we've already I kind of learned in a lot of ways using bounce cards, taking shadows down, adding shadows in changing your camera settings and meeting properly and baste the basics the a b c's of looking at light and adjusting a camera and working to make the picture you want to make that's where we're going to start. The first major difference that we're going to do between shooting food and shooting product is your camera settings most being your aperture settings and the fact that you're gonna work primarily on a tripod, w...

hich it's true in a lot of cases in food. But if you watch me work before and you've taken my classes before, you know that I like to run around with the camera and I like to move and shift because I'd like to see the light that way. That's not always an option when you're doing product photography because things need to be square and level and you need to watch your light and have something that's basically reproducible take something out, put something else in, especially if you're doing product and you have very similar products to show so that's really important, so the camera settings will be different, and we'll talk about that and how that's going basically impact the image and what's going to do for for your image, it's also about getting the most out of your year and understanding what is your best? So what is your best shorter speed? What is your best aperture? How you gonna manage your light temperature? How you going to manage lens flare if you're using flashes, which is very different than when you're managing daylight, those air really important? I think it's also about determining the idea of angle of light source and understanding what key light is, you know, when we're working in daylight are key, light is the sun, so we don't really think in those terms and that terminology, but in working with other lights, what's your key light, what's your feel like you know what one of those things mean, and how we can use not just other lights but cards and, you know, mirrors and all kinds of reflective material to either diffuse light or bounce light or or have some type of a manipulation of light, but you have to see it first, you have to know where it's coming from, and I think that when we talk about the sun being our key light that's essentially where we're at, um I think you also we're going to talk. What I said in the opener was we will talk about what's, the controlling factor with different lighting setups, so in anything that steady lighting, h m eyes, um daylight, the impact houses were going to use anything with light bulbs that have steady, like the or controlling fact there, like in food photography is your shutter speed, because you need to make sure that you can get what you need out of that. Now when you're using strobes, that's, a completely different thing, you're controlling factor becomes your aperture setting your shutter speed means nothing at that point because it's on ly about the duration of the flash now that's technical, we're not going to talk about flash durations and our curves and all these other things if you already know that stuff and you're familiar with it, great, we're not going to go there today or tomorrow or maybe even the next day, but the reality is we're going to just understand that when we're working with strobe lights where you're where your aperture setting is is how you're going to be able to control your lighting up or down if you're not going to move the you know, the flash intensity up or down so that's an important thing to understand light temperature, something I've talked about before with food and it's also very apparent here that you need to understand that which lights burn at which temperatures and that's what's really special about that last light. We're going to talk about that led light because that has adjustments all weapon down the kelvin scale, all the way down the tungsten and all the way out past they like so it's that's one of those things that you need to understand the idea and the inverse relationship of warm too cool and what, what all that means we're going to talk about that as we go and I will be referencing what color temperature these lights are most likely burning at and then when we talk about things like blending light it's important to understand that light temperature matters and if you're using a light temperature meter that could help you if you're thinking that I'm going to need to blend light a lot, I'm going to use daylight and I have some augmented let daylight things to put in there that's important because you can use that to your advantage both ways you can blend the lights to make to match, and you can use the lights in different ways and changing camera settings to make two things happen at once. You want your product to look like it's in one type of light, which you want your environment to look like it's in a different type of light, like warming up a morning kitchen scene, and I have a shot like that in my slideshow that we'll talk about a little bit, okay, let's, talk a little bit about shooting tips, so I'm trying to get all this stuff out of the way upfront and that way, if you're hearing it and it's in your head and then as we're going through, when I mentioned it again on the fly, it will make sense to you. We're going to do fabrics in our first segment, and I know that fabrics are in clothing and a lot of the different things that appear on at sea and ebay thiss it's appropriate. So I want you to remember a couple of things direct, light hides, texture so similar to the situation where you move around a subject in food to see the way the light is playing off it it's very similar with fabric in that direct lighting is going to hide texture, but it also hides flaws. So if that's one of the things that you wanna manage, you need to understand that using direct lighting will definitely flatten out the image and side lighting highlights textures. So when you're using cross lighting or side lighting that's going to create shadow and that's going to help you display texture so that's one of those things with shooting fabrics that we wantto talk about, we also want to talk about using angles, the majority of things you you're going to see and the majority of things that were going to talk about shooting will be shot from this perspective right object will be here in the camera will be here right in front of it. I also want you to take into account that moving your camera around similar to what we do in every other part of a tabletop photography can also add something to the work. Using that high overhead angle is probably not something I will use as much in this type of photography, but it doesn't mean we won't. But the reality is that that's, where changing venues and changing subjects changes the idea of how you're gonna approach the angle in which you're going to shoot and finding the right angle and product photography is essential because you want to display your products in it. In their best light and you want to show them in the environment in which they're going to live so that when something is I mean it's very hard with jewelry because unless you put it on a person so trying to show it in context and putting it in an environment that is going to make sense and shooting it on an angle that's going to make sense is important to understand you could also make your products look more interesting or dynamic by using different angles when you're shooting um I saw there was ah couple we've got some questions ahead of time of from some people who had sent their products in and one of things that was that they were having a hard time with distinction of color and one of the things that a lot of people were saying was well because they're shooting on white and then they have white products and they're having a hard time managing that the idea is very simple make contrast using contrast in colors either in your objects from behind or from behind two year objects is important to understand because you will get definition with contrast things will stand out in pop you see a lot of the work that I do I do against black because I think colors are just vibrant on black and when you light things properly and you have a lot of contrast they just jump off the page and I think that's black backdrops will help you also manage your shadows better. So as you're learning and you're progressing as a photographer, shooting against black will help you immensely because your your shadows of disappearing, they're gone. So if you're filling properly, even if you you seeing some shadow, if you were on white, you're not going to see those shadows on black so that's an important thing to understand, too, is that when you're starting, it's better to work against black until you're really comfortable managing your shadows, you are on your composition and focus like any part of photography is really important is to where you want your subject, where you want your audience to look, you want them to see a particular part of an object or a product, or your label or logo or something. You need to compose your photographs and angle your camera and set your settings in a way that the things you want viewable are viewable. If things are out of focus, if things are off center, if they're not in, if you're viewers looking at the screen or a two page and their eyes aren't going directly to what you want them to look at, then you're not doing your job that's what you need to do, especially with product photography, especially with things like logos logo's, have become ubiquitous right? Everybody knows that that logo game, right then we have played that game on their on their iphone there's this crazy game where you play you basically identify the logo's by like a piece it's amazing piece of psychology because everybody you know you see just a piece of the am akhil logo you see just a piece of the hp logo and you know it it's burned into your brain that's why when your branding yourself it's important with your photography to highlight the things that you really want people to identify with your products, those are really important. The other thing is, you also want to highlight the interesting aspects of the products or the things that make them unique. So if europe what setting your product apart from other people's why is your stuff more special than anything else that's available on the internet? You're photography can help you define that the style of the photography proficiency of what you do, how it's lit, how sharp it is. I can't tell you how much stuff I looked at in preparation for this class and it's amazing it's like looking at a portfolio, you looking at all these pictures and I'm picking the looking at things and I'm clicking on the stuff that immediately grabs my eye it has absolutely nothing to do with anything else the initial response that you get when your pictures look good is that's that's the barrier? You push people to your page if the push people to your product and the best way to do that is visually right off the bat and if they can tell from a thumbnail this big that that's a well composed image that looks really great they're going to go there and then the image blows up and then everything from there happens they buy the product, they understand that they share it. All of those things will happen with photography first, you know, I mean nobody's looking at the specs on, you know, the well how big is it? And how you know will fit in my kitchen? Whatever. No, they're looking at the picture going I love the way that looks I love the design of love, the style of love, the color show it show those things, especially stuff that's colorful it's got a pop it's going to jump off the page and you know what is, um, one of the things that's a great, another kind of psychological understanding of how imagery dictates audience is book covers, right when you go to a bookstore, you walk through the bookstore and you look at the covers and all of a sudden you gravitate towards something and it's kind of almost subliminal you know exactly the kinds of books you like to read and all of the books in the genres that you like to read are similar now romance novels are probably the prime example of that but everything including like if you're like edgy literature or you like stuff that you know the teen the teen stuff that young adult stuff all of the book covers have similar feel and style they've categorized same thing works with product photography you're categorizing so when we were picking some of the things that I wanted to shoot today we one of the things we want to shoot with these were headphones and the first one that they sent to me I looked at them and I said to myself that's not what I want to say with this photo I want something techy a shiny you know something cool something that's going to really grab people's attention and that's the idea is that I was really clear is tonight what what story I wanted to tell with that image and you've heard me go on and on about storytelling whether it be in this thing or when paula of is stalking me at other venues I carry on about storytelling but whether I'm selling you emotions or food or products it's the same general psychology I need to get into your head I know who my audience is I know who I want to sell these products too you know the you know, the girls with the tattoos and the make up and all the piercings, right? They're not buying laura ashley stuff, right? So you can't style it that way. It's got to be hard edged and you know that it's gotto reflect the audience that you're selling it to every part of it, all of it, the styling and the lighting, everything has to be edgy and sharp in order to attract that particular audience. Um, scale is really important with product photography is probably the biggest challenges. Well, because how often do you look at products online and say, I have no idea how big that isthe that's a really important thing in any time you have the opportunity to display scale, particularly in your styling it's important now, obviously displaying things that you can wear on your body on your body, on somebody's hands or wrists or neck is all always an option, but you don't always have a model that you can use, so you kind of gotta be creative about objects that people understand the size ofthe that you can incorporate into your work. So for example, we have some books that were gonna photograph and now books, everybody kind of get the general size of what books are, but sometimes, you know, I got that modernist cuisine photography book and, you know, I was out with a friend who works for them last night, and he said, yeah, we're doing a tutorial on how you can attach legs to it, make it a coffee table because it's that big it doesn't fit on any of my shelves it's actually sitting on the floor in my living room, so if you would just looking at that online, you may never know that so scale is important, so we have some really interesting objects that we compare with books, or we compare with other things that are familiar to people in size and scale and pairing them with objects that you want to make sure you understand how the scale of them work. So it's important to understand that we're going to talk about things like managing lens flare, especially when we're using strobes, but we're also going to do some cool stuff with how objects reflect light back at you or back at the camera, you have to think of reflective objects in particular as having eyes. So that thing sitting on the table there is looking at you and it's looking at the whole room, what is it seeing? Is it seeing the reflection of the window isn't looking at the big soft box? Is it looking at the camera? Is it's a seeing you behind the camera and my shiny head? Peeking up above it, you have to manage those things and we're going to show you how to use a lot of different objects bounce cards, filter's broken to cut holes and stuff and stick the lens through him all kinds of fun stuff that will will do that um so to manage lens flare and manage camera reflection and reflective objects for sure the other thing that I like to do is which is different than food work is you see me hovering over the table when I'm working with food, getting really really close hold hand holding the camera what we're going to do here is I'm gonna get further away from the table this time use longer lenses and get further away so that I'm not interfering with the lights and I'm not interfering with reflective objects looking at my camera so it's another fundamental difference in how to manage a tabletop and get further away and sometimes the further away you go the better because then you're especially when you're using reflective objects which often we are ok when we're meeting too a little different here in when you're meeting for cheating products because you really want balance often times. So when you're managing your highlights and meeting for the hottest part of the brightest part of your of your of your set in food often I need her for the food and I let things go out of town really blown out in the background try not to do that as much in product photography because what happens is your edges get very soft when you do that so we're going to manage that those those type of things differently so when we meet oring we're meeting for an overall exposure as opposed to a very spot metering and I know our cameras do that as well we can put we can put our cameron amita ring mode that is appropriate for the way we're shooting so I use a spot metering mode when I'm shooting food but I do a matrix metering mode when I'm shooting product because the matrix metering mogul kind of sample the entirety of the frame rather than just the highlighted a part that I'm putting the dot on so that's an important kind of different you know, fundamental change and going from being you know, shooting one type of object than shooting another also managing your focus very very carefully in product photography because we're goingto work differently here because that kind of artistic fade off that we use in a lot of other styles of photography not so much in product we want to be at you know, really really small apertures we want to be really crisp and sharp straight through the image it's a that's a really important difference I would say we're going to probably start at eight point oh and work our way from there um we're going to talk about the lenses we want to use I don't think we're all that different fact is tabletop photography we're going to still use some macro lenses because we are going to be shooting some really small objects I would prefer using macro lenses I know some people I have a tendency to want to use law wider lenses or regular length lenses and then crop into the image in post I would rather not do that I would rather get the frame I want up close the way I wanted to show um that's a really important thing to understand because you do lose resolution as you zoom in on a photograph now I mean we use some cameras that are really powerful and they handle it okay? But if you can manage it with the back roland's I would suggest that um so I think what we're going to do is move into my slide show well before I do that, why don't we take some questions and see how we're doing and see if anybody has any comments or questions about what we've done so far? You have a question from sam cox says to be a great or even a good product photographer must you deeply understand the particular product in its market? I think it's important in any any art form that you're sharing imagery of to understand what you're using and what you're photographing I mean, I don't know if you need to know how to make a handbag toe photograph a handbag, but I do think it's important to understand the nature of how it's going to be used, one of the things that were going to shoot at the end of day two is a camera bag, but we're going to shoot it both in stills and video with the same type of lighting and that's an important thing that I think some people want to know how to do so to your question, I think it's important understand how a product will be used and by whom not necessarily what it is, but that that particular kind of reference, I think that's important and going back to your point earlier that you need to understand your market large actually is going to be different than tattoos, piercings, that's, right? For sure, yeah, if you're aiming at if you're aiming at, you know, the hamptons or you're aiming at the lower east side, of course I'm using new york references, forgive me, that was a very different, you know, and how those things the market is very different.

Class Description

You don’t need a studio to take professional-grade product and still life photographs! All you need is a simple tabletop lighting setup. In this course, award-winning food photographer Andrew Scrivani will show you how to create and tailor your own table top lighting setup — on any budget. Whether you’re a beginning photographer looking to master lighting or a professional photographer eager to expand your services, this course will give you a candid, comprehensive playbook for tabletop lighting.

Tabletop photography transforms a single surface into a small-scale studio. Andrew, a regular contributor to The New York Times, will show you how to create and then optimize your lighting setup for your needs — using everything from the latest gear to household items. Andrew will cover metering and bounce cards, working with strobes and soft boxes, LED lighting, and tips for shooting glassware and other tricky products.

By the end of this course, you will know how to set up and adjust your very own tabletop studio — and how to use that small-scale studio to expand your services, improve your photography, and market your business.