Tabletop Photography Fundamentals


Tabletop Photography Fundamentals


Lesson Info

Shoot: Single Light - Clear Objects

We're going to drop this black sweep off the table now because to re create the image of the course description I didn't use an infinity sweep actually used I used a drop off her eyes in line because I wanted to shine the light directly onto the backdrop and not affect the subject so really we're not managing light on a subject at this point as much as we're managing light on the backdrop so we're going to do that as a as a little bit of a change of pace and kind of recreate this shot that I made for the course graphic so it'll take us a minute or so but once we get it set up it shouldn't be too bad so what I'm doing now is I'm assembling the light that I used to make the course graphic and this is an arty one fifty fornell light it's also a steady light also works very hot we're gonna use a little tape on this to kind of keep this sinner foil from floating away this may very well fall off while we're working and we'll have to put it back but it's feels pretty good at the moment so wha...

t we have here is we're on a light stand with a cross arm and what's this called people no see we're getting there um and we're gonna boom this over the camera so it's going to be a little bit of ah tricky setup and we're goingto shine the light on on the black behind here the only thing that might interfere with this a little differently than the way we I worked in the studio to make that one is maybe kind of bright in here so my grady it might get not may not be as black, but I just want to show how it's done we've already seen the results so it's important to understand exactly what happened there wei have sam back for this I can already feel it so sometimes what I said before about putting a foot in front basically under the weight sometimes it's not possible because we're trying to get closer to a table or trying to, you know, go up and over something um okay there's my spot and you could see in here it's not as bright because this isn't as powerful as that other like that we're just using this is only one hundred and fifty and that those of four hundred's that's an h m I and this is for nell so they're very different very different animals but we're going to try to get this spot I don't know yet I have to rotate the head there, okay let's see now this is focus a ble so I'm gonna broaden that focus out a little bit you could see how it's getting wider and a little bit a little bit brighter so that's kind of that's kind of the shape I mean I can adjust the shape of that light a little bit with the center foil, so the reason I put the center foyle there is because I want everything that's in this light to be coming into one spot I didn't want it to be coming out this way and bleeding out the sides and lighting what I had going on over here, so the first thing we'll do is, uh, find our mug that we're going to use here it is so the original shock that I saw this on the internet that I wanted to recreate was actually of this this is a get exact mug that was in the shot, so this would be another opportunity to kind of try to recreate that shot so I don't know if it's possible to get this room a little darker, but the last two the last two shots were going to make today are both going to be this way and this in this segment. So if we can make it a little darker on the side of the room that would help a little mood lighting please absolutely I can already tell that that's making a difference because I think that it's definitely going to help you know, if there's any way to turn these chinos down to that would be cool with somebody light a candle cem bath salts it we'll get someone on the yet overhead but you could already kind of see how how this is working right? So this thing isn't direct receiving any light at all except for these things behind us not from this so if we can darken out the rest of this to a re a reasonable amount we're going to really be able to see that the edges of that you know around this are only going to be highlighted by what's bouncing back off of that black card. So do we have any questions while we're waiting let's set up sure dude this is from mainly glass they say I know you could've just white balance to get a true white but what about black? The table is black your sweaters black tabletop eyes black a lot of different blacks going on even the photo of the clear glass as purple in it in the hue is there a way to get a true black you know it's ice harder to do you know, in a less controlled environment like this but I would say that if you're working in a darker room where there isn't any other ancillary light, you're going to get a true black and I think also when you're working on your image in post production and adding black in tryingto make it a little darker it would balance out a little bit better so I would say that working in the most controlled environment you khun b and if you really really want to get that true black then absolutely yes great where using the senate floor instead of the snoot our eyes under there yeah no this newt's under their sorry I should have mentioned that that's a good point I put this nude under there under the the smallest aperture ring that it has I'm really trying to focus that light really sharply but what I what I realized is when I when I did the initial test without the sina foyle I couldn't get the halo to look as clean as it looks in the course graphic because it was the light was kind of bleeding out from the sides of the of the snoot, so I really wanted a controlled environment and the senate foil really helps kind of direct and focus that light a little bit better power. So more general question is is it might be a bit of any current one when you have all these different types of lights, the strobes and the for now lt's on whatever it's a difference really and how you manage them and can you get the same effects with the different types of light? So could you be using like a strobe or speed like I don't know? I mean, I guess you could possibly I mean it would directing a strobe this way might be a little harder because this is already not that powerful a stroke is pretty powerful and it and it throws light in a very kind of wide swath you would have to hone that down with modifiers to get it to go that way. So it's it's totally doable it's just that sometimes this might be the best light for this job but it could be done with all the things but there's also you know you can cut a baguette with a butter knife but it's much better to use a bread knife you like that bringing thing? I think I think we're much better much better condition here. All right uh where's, that black thing with the let something I haven't idea okay, that might not be a good one, but it's an idea. Let me see if I could do this if I could build a bridge between the lens on the glass sort of like here right from like here to here that kind of might knock out whatever other reflections I'm getting from above just get a little bit so I'm looking through the lens and what I'm seeing that I'm still picking up the glass can still see some of the stuff above it but so what we did the other day right where we showed that we put that to give it something to look at that's exactly what I'm gonna do now so as long as it's not interfering with the light we're creating a situation where we're managing the the highlights much better let's see if that helped when I look when I look through bill tio okay don't don't hurt yourself ok it's touching it ok and I'm gonna put one more it's okay? We'll figure it out I got one here okay there's a different sizes what they might do the same thing I don't mind getting close to it so now really boxed it in with black and the only light should be coming from that I don't know what my meeting is either so let me take a test shot look complete darkness um I shot this side of shallow depth of field as well too get that kind of grainy look in effect so I think I'll do the same moving on the other side it's okay, all right, we'll go back to four if you could hold it there and I'm gonna push this a I s so all the way up to eight hundred I think that's where I was when I shot it and okay, we're getting closer way go okay, so the next thing to do here is try to refocus that light a little bit because I feel like it needs to be higher because I only want if you look at if we could look at it you could see that we're still picking up some uh that's the that angle of that's that light those stripes that down the middle that's the curvature so we're not going to manage that as well as we might want do we still have those will go there they're gloves so when you're handling an ari for now it's also important to wear the gloves because it's it's by now it's pretty hot and I want to re focus this light um okay I can hit my face on the thing so now I'm trying to put that halo kind of right at the lip and sort of like that okay let's try that one and we'll see where we're at okay I'm gonna go down a little bit more um I'll do it from here tiny bit law okay for a little off center okay so I think we're in pretty good were pretty pretty close to where we would like to be now I'm going to tell you that and of course graphic I also got it look at those stripes in between and I removed them in photo shop so that you know obviously when you're working with glass where we still have you know we're still picking up a little bit of the room around us it's not completely completely dark in here I think if we were completely talk I have no idea why put those back on um but if we were in complete darkness here we probably would have a lot less of those kind of manageable highlights down at the bottom or around it we can probably create if we created sort of like a tunnel here with cards and maybe if we you know, like a tunnel between the lens and the backdrop in the lens in the backdrop and then put a box over the top basically making a black box it would probably eliminate some of those things and you know, in the interest of time I don't think we're going toe build that because I do want to try to play with one more thing but you could see that we've gotten fairly close to what the course graphic looked like in considering we're in a less controlled environment at this point but that's the technique it's exactly the same thing that I did in the studio with the exception of the fact that I was in complete darkness when I shot that I had all the lights in the studio turned out it was night and I only had that one singular for now being used in that way I won't try to maybe refocus this a little bit I was on a plexi there yeah that's true it probably why don't we do that? We'll quick I hopefully totally forgot about that part of the shock let's do that real quick and andrea I know rusty say that again jim I know you're a two point eight yeses, that about where you'd like to be for stuff like this well, this is a glad I'm trying to get more of an artistic feel on this one. Yeah, cool so I wanted to be a little bit shallower okay, I think I meant to be around four but I was messing around with the controls like two point eight conscious but let's see, we might have teo be a little bit oh, boy let's move this way back that up we could still get the same thing I could make it go closer. It's fine. Yeah that's good. All right, well, just refocus don't don't put the thing in yet I think that's okay, we might want to just move the cup back toward the I wanted to do that first. Um keep going hold on only looked through here. That's fine. That looks good. Okay. All right, let's put them let's put the black in here, so we're not gonna have we're not gonna have truly so well, we were close too symmetrical. Look with these with this, but that is also easier on john's back, which oh, goodness. Yeah, okay, where are you? But there's a problem okay, I'm gonna make you go up just a tiny bit more but remember now when I'm doing this I don't want to lose the height of the reflection so the closer I bring it it's sort of that weird balance between the top glass and the reflected glass and trying to get the both daniel would you mind just rotating the glass where the handle is parallel no the other way like completely parallel to the back no, I meant yeah, I like that perfect and I imagine andrea, if you were in the studio all your assistance would be using white gloves possibly because we don't want to leave fingerprints on everything and just the fact that I you know, insist upon it because we called the studio downtown studio everybody thought wear those gloves, okay, I'll also we're going to talk about something else as soon as I take this one because I want to know I want you to note something else, okay? This is too much in the glass for getting crazy crazy highlights let me see if I can back it up a little that's better okay it's getting a little better so let me let me let's talk about the image a little bit it's a little off center but that's okay? We're not we're not getting his black as we really want to be in here because we're still we're still dealing with ambient light in the room and that's how sensitive still, life photography can be particularly when you're really trying to manage just a single light in a dark space, but what I also want to mention is that you see how you do have this subtle bend to the reflection there's a way to manage that a little bit in the camera by kind of tilting your camera skew where it's a tiny bit you manage the bottom reflection to square off the bottom reflection. And then in post production, you square off the rest of it. So that's how I did it in with mine to manage that manage that bend a little bit is it's it's kind of tricky, but it's natural to the way that thing's reflect off of ah surface underneath them? Yes, you had a question. Oh didn't know that any questions about what I'm doing here or we're good. Okay, great. All right, so we have a few minutes to go and I think that we want to try to tackle the problem off the problem of a mac jim what's the problem of a mack will andrew, the problem with a mac boxes is the fact that they are they have wide surfaces, they're extremely reflective and their transparent almost like, uh, of clear cheese grater, yes, pretty much so what I thought when we when we did the course one and we started to play around with and we said we would recreate that we wanted to try these because somebody very close to me physically at the moment this is his family's business yes, that would be a mac box dot com yeah, my grandfather started that business in nineteen sixty and happily they're part of the museum of modern art and their packaging section pretty cool so let's try to do the same thing that we tried with the other clear reflective surface to do this and see if you can get, like kind of a cool effect, but I also think that there is a way to modify this a little bit teo maybe have a little bit more depth of field because it's a jingle product shot but with having some type of an artistic flair to it that might add something too the website or the sales or whatever because it's a difficult item to photograph and because it's something that might be you know you've struggled with maybe it's better to shoot it in an artistic way? Yeah, see if we can make it work certainly so we're going to do simple just going to drop that in in place of the other so that the plexi isn't holding over okay oh, I see yeah ok john our plexi is a little big for our table and it's it's kind of bending over the edge that john's putting a light stand underneath it to kind of give it some support so that should help is there any you guys have any questions about anything anymore on the online more yeah, you know I have a really great question andi actually I've been think about this the last couple days were tethered here in the studio of course, because we're doing this you know, for instruction do you tether in your studio? I do occasionally I think it's really important when you're working collaboratively with an art director in house or you're working where the cameras in a really weird position like when it's eight feet off the ground and you can literally look through it so there's there's a lot of benefits to shooting tethered thie other thing we talked about earlier was sometimes working with text that on art director can import the page with the text on it and you can arrange that in a live view you can arrange the objects to not be in where the text is so that kind of helps so shooting tethered is definitely something that is a good thing and it's it's not necessarily something I love to do all the time because I like to work free handed and run around with the camera right? But I do think it's something that has value and it's important to be able to do um when you need to okay, can we tend to off the top? Just put just put something over. This isn't nearly as problematic. Is that glass? I don't see as many highlights in it right away that would you shoot through? Would you shoot through the black from your cameras? Well, the card with the hole in it I could yeah, but if I find that it's creating or reflections oh, jim, this is really problematic it that's absolutely true I'm trying to find a little bit of contrast for the camera to look at. Yeah, one of the things I do in these situations I keep a little sometimes I keep a little penlight in my own if I'm working like this little penlight in my pocket and I'll shine the penlight focus on and then take it away so create like a little modeling like cool all right, I'm gonna I'm gonna hand focus the camera. What was that question before? Somebody said the overhand focus the camera this is one of those situations I'm having a hard time getting my face in here too so I'm gonna take it out of water and focused by hand is that way the shadow will release on its own okay, all right that's actually kind of cool guys just straighten that out a little all right, I would like this to be darker because I'm getting what do you think? You see it it's right behind you really nice that's really nice so I think that obviously if we were shooting this in a super controlled environment yeah and we use this technique it might be really cool yeah that's brilliant let's shoot let's shoot it kind of angle point to camera and see if that gives us anything different I just love how you're hitting those highlights in the box yeah, because it really that's what gives it depth and form really nice this might be it'll brighten up in the second that's pretty neat. Yeah, I think if we were really would lie have to try this in a completely dark room really get it super sharp like eight or eleven or sixteen and just that would be so crystal clear and it would look great let's use the bigger one and do and see if the blue makes any difference these also individual boxes there little one you know, you might be cool to like kind of stacked stacked you have more of these little ones we do like at the factory or here here. Okay, I think there's probably one or two at the factory. Well okay, so we have I think they're kind of during the office well let's to shoot the blue one and you can get it before we break and we could play around more I'm just in fun mode at this point this is just let's see what that gives us put my eye out with his life and I know it the reflection is really cool too with that plexi the blue one come up get no there it is it's too dark. Well, that's kind of cool if we get a little it's not obviously because it blew its sucking up more light so I'm gonna go on, give it a third and then I'll give it another third and see what happens let's see one maybe the second one and probably be brighter. There we go. Cannot can you guys crop that into an image where we could see the top and the bottom reflection at the same time? Maybe weaken now? Maybe if I lower the light just a bit behind it. Ha, yeah, I could see that right now with my eyes as opposed to some other part of my body I'm going to give me the tenth grade. Check it out. Uh, cool, great mood. You know, I think I'm going to just this just a little bit more. I really like the idea of the way this is kind of illuminating all those corners, so twenty years of struggle yeah, not easy, so how much is this worth to you? Pretty good, let's say so that's without the tent yeah so I think that you know in that in like I said if we were doing this in a real studio setting this would be we can make this work yeah one hundred percent beautiful so I got a few more things that can play around with here yeah so this is the part where it's like you're the mad scientists love watching you work in this it is a capacity I can almost forget what I'm doing this that that this is on and that is because it's just this what it feels like when I'm working and I cannot get excited about the things that I'm doing these air really this is so much fun, especially solving a problem we're kind of creating a problem by solving a problem that is a longstanding one you know, something that you struggled with and it's important that sometimes you stumble upon things that that could really work now I'm going to put a few of these things here, but I have ah doubt that I can penetrate all of them with this light, so I'm going to try to arrange the light a little differently and see if it makes a difference um nice um give it a little bit more space and maybe shine the light right through it maybe we can come up with something even well let me see I have an idea okay and andrew's people progress in their business and they become you know potentially really well renown product photographers how many people would be expected to see in a studio very well could be quite a lot you could have ah photographer a tech you know attack to be doing the tethering probably maybe two assistants and then people who are you know production assistance people taking care of all the objects and the things of bringing him out maybe prop stylist so they could be quite a few people on a on a professional set to use this type of work for sure what do you think this in place yeah I'm gonna give it a little bit more light yeah that's really cool I mean, that were picked up a little bit more of the spectral highlights with a few of them but it's still kind of manageable and neat to do um I think that that what's happening is we're getting the reflection off the clamp yeah, you know, but it's on that front piece but I think the concept this solid and I think that this is something that we could totally try now I think that you know, easy work on it and just make sure that you're working in a dark environment and I think it would work really well so we got a few minutes before we can wrap here wanna maybe take a few more questions and yeah. Let's. Start with a bow on this one. We'll start with power, and then we'll take a look. See what I noticed? The light is very warm. Is that snatched from them for now? Is it because it's a tungsten light? Right? For sure. Yes, dark environment. Would you bump your s o right up? Definitely on. You know, the other thing is that might try this with a more powerful light. Now that I see what my mama results are, I might try this with something that has a lot more power. Maybe a bigger for nell. Or maybe even on h m I or something else. That kind of thing cannot direct in that in that shape. I think if we were doing this for a real product shoot, we would try to test on three or four different lights and find the one that works the best. So the trial and error process but the technique is solid, so we know that that part works, and then it would just be about tweaking which kind of light we want to use. How powerful it's going to be in a really controlled environment to make that product shot work yep, this's, continuous light, why not just go down and shutter speed? We'll go up well, because, unfortunately, what I was happening here was, as I was taking shutter speed off more ambient light was bleeding into the image. That's. Why, I would say that's, an absolute perfect solution if we were in complete darkness is, but we are in a mixed light environment, so that's, kind of where we run into a little bit of a problem.

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.