TTT – Anatomy of a Product Shot

Curvature of the spine

In this week’s Tuesday Technique Topic, I’d like to take you through the thinking that went into a product shot that I did a couple of years ago and present you, the reader, with a little challenge.

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Graffiti Anatomy

First of all, let me talk a little bit about the product here.  As you might guess, the product is the wonderful spine with a spray paint can actuator for a head, which was created by the wonderfully talented Scottish artist Chris Alexander who also founded Creology, which is focused on the study of creativity.  This piece is called Graffiti Anatomy, of which Chris created a total of 10; the choice of the color schemes were up to the purchaser, which made this truly a one-of-a-kind item.

The challenge in photographing the amazing Graffiti Anatomy was in picking up the high gloss finish, so that the shiny nature of the finish showed up really well.  As I truly enjoy the challenge of photographing shiny objects, this was a fun shoot and I thought that the product table would provide a nice surface, as I could pick up a cool bit of reflection as well.

When I first looked at setting up this shot, I felt that the Graffiti Anatomy looked a bit ‘naked’ and alone without something to offset it in the image.  As luck would have it, I have this small blue vase in my studio, which was both complementary in color and provide a nice bit of counterpoint to the curvature of the spine (yes, bad pun…).

The rest was all up to figuring out how many lights to use and placing them, which leads to my reader challenge:

  • How many lights did I use and what was their placement (hint: this may be a little tricky).

I look forward to your answers and hope you enjoyed this post!

Cheap Sunglasses

Flying through space…

One of the areas of photography that I enjoy is product photography.  One of the reasons is that there is always the challenge of making the product you’re shooting look even better than it is.

As part of building my portfolio, I set myself some challenges along those lines, one of which I present to you here.

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Beam me up, Scotty!

My goal with this shoot was to make these $4 sunglasses look like an expensive pair.  When you look at advertising of high-end sunglasses with those high-end lens coatings, you always get this warm glow from the lenses; of course, silver mirror-lenses get a completely different treatment.

When shooting reflective surfaces, the photographer’s first worry is to control what is reflected in the surface, as you want to control what is visible in the image.  In this case, I allowed the one softbox to reflect, but managed to keep everything else in my studio out of the reflections.

The second tricky part in capturing image is the black.  One might think that black is pretty straightforward; if you try to create a black background in camera while lighting your subject, any light spillage results in losing that perfect black.  Of course, it can be fixed in post-processing, but it never has that same look that you get from shooting it properly.  Judicious utilization of gobos (go between objects), can ensure that no light spills on your precious background.

Note that I added a little bit of light toward the end of the temples, so that they don’t disappear and to add a bit of visual interest.

How much post-processing was done?  Very little, as I only had to remove the very thin, non-reflective thread that supported the temples and a smidgen of sharpening.

Oh, and of course, you want to know how much did these sunglasses cost:  about $4 at Wal-Mart.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of a product shot.