Ask any novice or veteran product photographer about the most challenging part of the job. The answer is always the same -lighting. Getting it quite right is an uphill task; difficult but not impossible.
Poorly lit photos do not get noticed; at least not with positive vibes. These are frames that appear too bright, too dim or a little bit of both. To gain consumers interest and trust in your brand, you need to nail your lighting pretty good.
Now, there’s a myriad of software and apps specialized for correcting such inconsistencies. Photo editing services**** may also be utilised to fix tint and brightness issues. Nonetheless, it is always better to get it right the first time for enhanced picture quality.
Recommended Equipment for product photography shot
That said, getting a clear grasp of illumination basics is the first step towards bringing your light under control to the optimum level needed for a perfect shot. This includes selecting the recommended type of light sources, illumination tools required and correct positioning.
Choose your light
There are two types of lights for shooting products. Natural light or artificial light. Each of them produces unique beams and thus cannot be used in the same shoot. Stick to just one of these at a time.
You can opt for natural day light to shoot your merchandise. Natural light achieves the most original colors and tones. However, it is not easy to bring under control as it keeps fluctuating. For a lifestyle shoot with or without a model in an outdoor location, a warm morning or late afternoon ray has the appropriate intensity for photography. If indoors, make use of a large window letting in light by setting up studio right next to it. Whether in or out, avoid the glaring direct sunlight.
Tungsten, fluorescent, CFL and LED lamps and bulbs are the most common artificial light sources that work great if chosen properly. Some give warm glow while others lean toward cool blue. Be sure to pick those with white incandescence to prevent any effect on original colors of the wares. Red items for example may appear pink and blues seem green when captured against warm illumination.
Select your tools
Light bouncers, reflectors and diffusers are critical equipment for light control in both outdoor and studio product photography and should never be overlooked. They aid in creating soft but ample light which is ideal for this kind of project. The essence is to keep away dark shadows that normally appear with harsh light.
Bouncers and reflectors
These come in many forms; common ones are reflective umbrellas and white cards. Their main aim is to reflect or bounce back light to your subject to illuminate it instead of being hit directly from the source light. This softens the intensity. Umbrellas with black backs may also be used to block light.
There are two types, soft boxes and light boxes. For large sized object or people, a soft box is used to diffuse light from above and sides while still illuminating the subject but with a softer light hence eliminating shadows. Small objects utilise a light box or light tent which works in the same way. The walls are normally white in color. Translucent umbrella are another alternative. We also have diffuser caps or cyclones meant for inbuilt flash cameras for the same reasons. For additional flash light, especially in dim conditions, speedlights are highly recommended instead.
Usually, three light sources form an ideal trio; the main light also known as key light which is directed to the object and two secondary lights. One is the fill light and the other is the back light. Position the key light to shine toward the front of the object just as the camera is, but , from a different angle or axis. Fill light is positioned opposite the key light in the camera side while the backlight as the name suggest will shine from the back of the object or above it to create a depth separation between it and the background.
There, you go. Now manipulate those positions and distances until you find the ideal effect you want. It is a huge learning curve but in time, you almost master it. While most if not all of these equipment can be improvised, they can also be purchased affordably in Amazon. All tips must of course be accompanied by the right product photography camera and lenses***.