how lighting affects product photography

Today's guest post is brought to you by Melanie from Violet's BudsMelanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Lighting is one of the most important factors in creating beautiful photos of your products. Today I'm comparing different lighting techniques. All of these photos are straight from the camera with no editing. (We will cover various photo editing techniques in the Daft photography section, but today, we're just demonstrating how various types of lighting affects a product image)

camera mounted flash
My least favorite option for lighting is the camera-mounted flash. It creates harsh shadows and often eliminates the details of the item, making them appear flat, without depth or texture.

overhead household CFL lights
Household lights can be useful when there is not enough sun or you have to shoot at night, however shooting with overhead lights that are regular incandescent or CFL bulbs cause odd colored shadows. If you must use a household light, a daylight bulb is best.

outdoor in full sun
Outdoor lighting in full sun creates several issues that distract from your product. Full sunlight creates harsh shadows, distracting reflections, and can eliminate fine details of your products. It is difficult for most camera meters to expose correctly for this harsh light.

outdoor in open shade
Shooting outside in open shade can be a good option that often produces nice results with minimal shadows, especially when using a reflector. The downside is open shade will often give a blue-ish cast to your photos (depending on your camera's settings) which can be edited out by adjusting the color.

indoor with low window light, no reflectors
Placing your product indoors near a window is a good option for product photography, and the directional light gives a good depth to your item. However, without enough light and not using reflectors, the image will often appear too dark.

indoor with window light and reflectors
My personal choice and the one that requires minimal editing is indoors with bright, indirect window light and reflectors. You can see a diagram of my setup here. The light is evenly distributed and the color shows true. Using a reflectors properly erases shadows, making the background even as well. If you don't have enough light coming in from the window, consider using a tripod with a longer exposure to avoid using flash.

Keep in mind that none of these photos have been color corrected or adjusted for brightness and contrast - these are all straight out of the camera to demonstrate how lighting affects the appearance of your products.

So! Get off the computer, grab your camera, and go experiment! It takes a lot of practice to master capturing excellent lighting for product photos, so just keep practicing with different set ups, light sources, reflectors and times of day until you find the perfect location/set up/time for product photos!

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1 comment:

  1. Love it!!!! so excited to see the photo editing post! I'm using that set up this weekend.... but have no clue how to edit after that hahahah