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Want a good laugh, look at my dorky-looking product shots

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Steve S, Aug 18, 2005.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Got a Light Tent with intentions of eventually going into shooting products part time, in particular jewelry. What I didn't realise, is how hard this is to do well! I had no clue where to put my Alien Bees strobes. I used just the bare bulbs for these shots, with, let's just say, "mixed results". These are very boring objects that were just laying around the barn studio. If anyone has any tips on how to get better, let's hear it! Thanks :?
    PS, these were shot with my new Tamron 180 Macro, manually focused the min aperture of @f32! Think I may need a focusing rail.
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    View attachment 14015
    View attachment 14016
  2. I don't know Steve, they look pretty good to me, I'd like to be able to take pictures that look that good.
  3. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Thanks Brent

    I know they can be better, and I really wanted to practice on jewelry, but I don't have any!
  4. Hi Steve, are these for a job or just practice. I have not shot product shots so take what I say with a grain of salt. The most difficult thing is to control the reflections and here these images are lacking. The bottle shows the reflection of the brushes, the glasses show a monitor, and the batteries show a reflection of the battery to their right. Positioning is critical in product photograpy. Hope this is the type of feedback you were looking for.
  5. Steve,

    So where to begin? First of all take the light tent back to the store.
    They have a tendency to flatten out the light too much.
    Your 3 shots are what we would call flat, there is no shape to your
    lighting. The first shot with the cosmetics, The chromes are burned out
    and the brushes are completely plugged up. A lot of this ( I suspect ) is
    in the post processing but your lighting technique (( or lack of ) Sorry!)
    contributes heavily.

    The sunglasses are once again flat and lacking shape. Also the lenses
    if they have anything reflecting in them it should be clean and cover the
    whole lens.

    Th batteries, the light should wrap around the cylinder giving the
    viewer the impression of a cylinder. Also chromes burned and blacks
    completely plugged up. These shots would not reproduce well because
    of this fact alone,

    This is pretty advanced stuff, there really is a reason that I have been
    shooting commercially for 20+ years. You are not ready for jewellery.
    It is one of the most challenging of all subjects to photograph well.

    Lighting is the key too all photography!! Get rid of the light tent,
    It does not allow you enough control of the light. If you really want
    to pursue this get either a couple of small scrims to fire your lights through
    or a couple of soft boxes. Don't be afraid of shadows, they give shape
    to your subjects.

    Get some catalogues and really look at the lighting that is being used.
    By looking at most shots you should be able to tell where the light
    is coming from and the type of light that it is. I hope I haven't been too
    brutal but we just love it when a client tries to save a few dollars and
    uses someone without the right tools or knowledge and then comes back
    to us with shots that look like this.

  6. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Thanks Gordon, and Robin, nothing you can say is too harsh

    I like my critiques without any suger coating, thank you, so I appreciate your candor and frankness. I do have a set of softboxes, a full length, a 47 in Octabox, and a med rectangular, so maybe that's what I need to practice with instead of this lightbox. This is a LOT harder than it looks!
  7. Steve:

    Welcome to my game. If you have any questions don't
    hesitate to ask. When I first got out of college and started
    assisting, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work
    with and learn from some very good photographers.

    I used that opportunity to tap their brains for knowledge,
    and I have always believed that sharing knowledge, and
    teaching something that you are passionate about is a gift.

    So don't hesitate to ask.


    This is one of my new promo pieces.
    Notice how all of these shots have a direction to the lighting?
    Remember in the real world there is only one light. That light
    throws shadows, shadows give direction. But shadows can be
    too heavy sometimes and might need to be filled in, perhaps
    with bits of white card or silver card. But never completely
    filled in.

  8. twig


    May 23, 2005
    Robin seems to have this covered, but I would add, "look at your product/photo, does it look appealing? does it convey it's function or manufacturer?"

    In the first shot the make-ups is caked on the jar and the brushes have stray hairs, I would actually trim the brushes to be neat and work on your make-up stuff to present it better. That may be over-manicuring a shot, I don;t know.

    In the second shot the sunglasses are upside down dude. The picture makes me want to stand on my head to view it.. anyway, it doesnt make my mind think about how they would look on my face (right side up), it doesn;t show me how the world looks through them, it kinda looks like how someonw would abandon glasses they didn;t like.

    On the batteries the logo is not clearly presented (if your goal was to sell "WALLGREEN's" stuff)
  9. Wow! Those pics make me really hungry. Can almost taste them through the monitor. I think that is the point. As you point out there is a much to know about different types of photograpy. You make it look simple. And I have much to learn.
  10. I hope that offer isn't exclusively to Steve, Robin.

    You must described me :oops: .

    And to make it worse, I'm the guy that's been touting the light tent rig from BH Photo :shock: .


    My first shots with it were of my lenses which was pretty easy.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Then I tried jewelery... well, actually a cheap watch :-/.

    View attachment 14018

    I hit the wall, though, when I tried wine bottles. I don't think the light tent is the way to go for them...

    View attachment 14019

    Fortunately, the product shots have been of PC boards, and they're simple shapes. One big problem I've had is matching the angle of presentation with the client's standard.

    View attachment 14020
    View attachment 14021

    Any critiques or words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated.
  11. Frank,

    As I said, if you or anyone else has questions about lighting
    don't hesitate to ask. Lighting is everything in photography!

    Light Tents and Light Cones do have their place, for some subjects.
    You must remember that these are packaged lighting units and offer
    little control over the quality of light. Can these subjects be better
    represented by proper studio lighting techniques? Absolutely.

    What these units do also is eliminate the need to learn how to light.
    There are many cases where a packaged lighting kit will not be able
    to correctly solve the problems involved. And at that point the user
    doesn't have the knowledge to modify the lighting style to meet the
    needs of the subject.

    Let me give you a brief primer on commercial photography, where
    it has been and where it is now. In the old days 6-7 years ago, before
    digital really took hold. The client say Steves batteries, would come to
    the photographer with a project, lets say a battery shot for Wallgreens.

    The photographer would set up, light, and deliver transparency film to
    the client for drumscanning, page placement, and eventually press.
    The photographer would deliver high quality, correctly lit shots, that
    reproduce well on press.

    Recently the trend is not to hire the professional to do this work.
    Why hire a pro who will charge big bucks, when Bob down in accounting
    just got a really nice digital camera? Of course the side that is forgotten
    in this cost cutting venture is the quality of the final image. More and
    more we hear the phrase "we can fix it in photoshop". And this has been
    the solution to work being poorly shot by folks who don't know how to light.

    If you pick up just about any publication, and also have one from 6 or 7 years
    ago. It is quite obvious that the quality of the photography has declined.
    Clients reproducing sales sheets or brochures will spend the money for the
    very best paper, inks, lamination, UV coatings etc.... but will cheap out
    on the content of the piece by using inferior photography. Fortunately
    in the commercial world we have seen this trend begin to reverse itself.
    Clients are coming to the realization that the caliber of the photography
    they have been using is not where it was in days gone by.

    It is not that the camera's being used are inferior, although quite often
    they are. ( but that is a whole different topic ) But the lighting has degraded
    by the inexperienced suppliers of photography, who are known to use the
    phrase "Good enough"

    So to sum up, let me quote one of the professors of photography that I
    had when I was in college. "A chimpanzee can be taught to use a camera,
    and come up with some pretty good shots. But a chimp cannot learn how
    to control light. A photographer can." Lighting is the key!

    Can packaged lighting solutions do the job? Sometimes, but learning to
    correctly light the subject will improve your shots immensely.

    So if any one has questions about lighting, don't hesitate to ask. Sorry
    if I ranted, but...... JMHO.

  12. You must be a really young guy to refer to 6-7 years ago as the "old days" -lol! For me, the old days were when Elvis made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

    Any specific help/suggestions you can offer me on my samples, Robin?
  13. For what they are Frank, there is nothing actually wrong
    with these images. I would attempt to get a little more
    shape into the circuit boards. It looks like you are using
    hotlights so back one of them away farther to create a
    difference in the two lights. The satin finish on the watch
    really saves the shot if it were shinier it would have a lot
    more black on the band. I would try to get a light, probably
    front right high to pick up the top of the case. The wine
    shot, I like it. It would be nice to see more of the bottom of
    the bottle, but not necessary. With the shot of the beast,
    it is once again the satin finish that saves the shot and keeps
    the black surface from plugging up.

    These are good examples of what can be done with a light
    tent. Don't be afraid to move the lights around and hit
    different areas of the tent.

    Hope this helps
    Gotta run will check in later

  14. Thanks for the input, Robin! I'll give those suggestions a try.
  15. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    Hehe... Are we playing critique my product shot? Poor Robin. I wanna play too. I can never get those awsome critiques you gave. I didn't even notice all the things you mentioned to Steve till you pointed them out.

    I've tried photographing jewelery, and gave up in vain. It takes me hours and 1000s of shots to get the lighting to look half-way decent, and I still don't like it.

    I don't have a lighting tent, considered getting one, but decided it wouldn't work for my situation, as my products vary in size. I usually shoot with 2 or 3 strobes - main, fill, and background. The biggest problem I have is getting the background to blow out without having the light wrap back around the product.

    Here's a couple of mine, if you wouldn't mind ;) 
    (I already know they're not that any good, but I wanna know how I can improve them):


    How the *ell do you light it so you don't get crazy burnt out hotspots?

    Lost the edge definition on this one:

    One more, where highlights were burnt out again (shot of my daughter's beat-up camera for a web page):

    And just for fun, since UF did a "lense" shot, here's mine (done for a web page write-up on lenses, so "Nikon" wasn't the focus):

    And since you're into food, one that's not really a product shot, it's just a impromptu snapshot taken with a digicam - overcast outdoor lighting (you guess where):
  16. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  17. OK, Paul I think what you are looking for is something closer
    to this.


    I can't find the originals but you get the idea. I am more than happy
    to help you out with your lighting dilemma. But first a little excercise
    for you. Look at the above shot and tell me a little about how I lit this

    Gregory, I like your stuff and I would look forward to critiquing
    it but that will have to wait till later tonight. I have to go be daddy

  18. gho


    Feb 7, 2005
    Thanks Robin, I look forward to your response. I was thinking the same thing after seeing Paul's stuff.
  19. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
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