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Thread: Product photography question

  1. #1
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    Default Product photography question

    I have a little problem photographing certain reflective objects (eg, jewellery) in a soft box. For some shots of these objects, the photo has to be taken from a straight-on angle (request from client) and this results in the reflection of the camera on the object, are there any tricks I can employ to get around this problem, without using a different angle?

    TIA!

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    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    I have a little problem photographing certain reflective objects (eg, jewellery) in a soft box. For some shots of these objects, the photo has to be taken from a straight-on angle (request from client) and this results in the reflection of the camera on the object, are there any tricks I can employ to get around this problem, without using a different angle?

    TIA!
    Use a black cloth to shroud the camera and prevent the reflection.
    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by zac08 View Post
    Use a black cloth to shroud the camera and prevent the reflection.
    Thanks - I did try that, but the lens are reflected, not to mention the entire black cloth resulting in a huge black reflection on the object.

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    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    Thanks - I did try that, but the lens are reflected, not to mention the entire black cloth resulting in a huge black reflection on the object.
    Else... place black cloth all around. Only light the subject with snooted light.
    Michael Lim
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    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by zac08 View Post
    Else... place black cloth all around. Only light the subject with snooted light.
    i second this. since i'm operating from a light tent, my light is already diffused. u may consider black cloth to minimise reflection +diffused light. cant tell u how much it will affect. but u can consider and try.

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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by allenleonhart View Post
    i second this. since i'm operating from a light tent, my light is already diffused. u may consider black cloth to minimise reflection +diffused light. cant tell u how much it will affect. but u can consider and try.
    It makes the problem worse because the object picks up a huge black reflection from the lens AND black cloth. Just to highlight again this doesn't represent a typical product shoot scenario because of the requirement to shoot straight on at the subject.

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    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    It makes the problem worse because the object picks up a huge black reflection from the lens AND black cloth. Just to highlight again this doesn't represent a typical product shoot scenario because of the requirement to shoot straight on at the subject.
    Have you tried it?? If you want to kill the light reflections and any surrounding distractions, this is one of the ONLY ways to do so. Else you can have fun slowly cloning away any distractions slowly post-shoot.
    Michael Lim
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by zac08 View Post
    Have you tried it?? If you want to kill the light reflections and any surrounding distractions, this is one of the ONLY ways to do so. Else you can have fun slowly cloning away any distractions slowly post-shoot.
    Yes I did, this was my initial setup, my entire object's reflection was black with a hint of the lens - this was extremely undesirable since I was shooting jewellery. I switched to white cloth (or rather paper) all over except on lens, then I got a nice whitish-silvery reflection but still with the bit of black right smack in the middle from the lens.

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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    Yes I did, this was my initial setup, my entire object's reflection was black with a hint of the lens - this was extremely undesirable since I was shooting jewellery. I switched to white cloth (or rather paper) all over except on lens, then I got a nice whitish-silvery reflection but still with the bit of black right smack in the middle from the lens.
    Clone or Healing brush the lens out? That is the only way to get it out of the picture. The other way is to place something decorative in front of the jewelry to block the reflection. Ribbons for example.

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    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    Yes I did, this was my initial setup, my entire object's reflection was black with a hint of the lens - this was extremely undesirable since I was shooting jewellery. I switched to white cloth (or rather paper) all over except on lens, then I got a nice whitish-silvery reflection but still with the bit of black right smack in the middle from the lens.
    pls take a photo of ur setup. we cant comment much till we see how u light ur stuff.
    as far as i know, black on black on more black kind of setup + really diffused lighting shld do the trick. but unless i see ur setup, i cant tell u how to light.
    this one is more of lighting problem i suspect.
    Last edited by allenleonhart; 11th May 2010 at 11:22 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Product photography question

    use a tilt-shift lens.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Other than the tilt shift, I think the only way left for you is to clone.
    Michael Lim
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    It makes the problem worse because the object picks up a huge black reflection from the lens AND black cloth. Just to highlight again this doesn't represent a typical product shoot scenario because of the requirement to shoot straight on at the subject.
    I'm not sure if this would help, since the subjects are of similar properties (mirror-like), but I was once speaking with a watch collector and he mentioned that the experienced watch photographer who shot some of his watches shrouded his lens with a very large piece of white paper/cardboard and surrounded the entire area just in front of the watch with white (since the watch picks everything up. The key, I'm guessing, is LARGE paper/cloth/cardboard and placement. And carefully selected spectral reflections. If not, the jewelery looks flat and dead.

    If white is too glaring, try different shades of white/very light cream/grey, then adjust the WB in post.

    Another way is using a light cone.

    There are other ways, but it gets really technical.

    Even then, I suspect a lot of post work is still required to perfect and enhance the shot. It all depends on what degree of quality you want/need.

    A tilt shift lens, while the logical line of thought, would probably not have enough movement. Besides, go more than 9mm and the IQ usually drops like a rock. To avoid the reflection of the lens/camera, you would probably need to shift much more than 9mm. Which is why high-end watch work is usually done with a view camera.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    Yes I did, this was my initial setup, my entire object's reflection was black with a hint of the lens - this was extremely undesirable since I was shooting jewellery. I switched to white cloth (or rather paper) all over except on lens, then I got a nice whitish-silvery reflection but still with the bit of black right smack in the middle from the lens.
    If it's only a bit, have you tried positioning things such that the lens' reflection in only on one face, then clone it out on a separate layer?

    Sample photo?

  15. #15

    Default Re: Product photography question

    Thinking about it a bit more, black ALL around can work.

    It's like working in a studio where all the walls and ceiling are painted jet black to absorb ALL light.

    Whatever light, and where it's needed, is then added. So whatever black you're getting, if it's not desirable, you need to add light there.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Product photography question

    Quote Originally Posted by sabee View Post
    I have a little problem photographing certain reflective objects (eg, jewellery) in a soft box. For some shots of these objects, the photo has to be taken from a straight-on angle (request from client) and this results in the reflection of the camera on the object, are there any tricks I can employ to get around this problem, without using a different angle?

    TIA!
    i am not a product photographer, but i'm not sure if

    a) CPL will help

    or

    b) placing a uniform piece of cloth/paper (which is same color as the surrounding) around everything but the lens will help

    alternatively, as a last resort, you can try

    c) which involves no light, a tripod, and layering in photoshop.

    just a suggestion, sorry if these are not workable.

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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Some samples as requested, you can see the lens reflection catching on the corners everywhere resulting in specks of blacks thats very hard to fix in PP cause there are too many.


    The bottom right of this caught the lens and dragged it into a huge and long reflection.


    For this there's some shadowy gunk around, didn't clean it up properly but that's easily fixed. Black specks everywhere due to the many surfaces.

    Nightmare: I did exactly #b with white all round, unfortunately I could not shield the lens itself which turned out to be black. Could you elaborate on what you mean by #c?

    DM: I'm not sure if I understand your suggestion, if black all around - how do I light the subject? If it makes sense, I'm doing this in a big softbox.

    I did suggest to the client not to shoot straight on, but the client insisted some of the shots be done that way.

    If I use a longer lens like a 180mm macro and stick the lens further away, it would make the lens reflection smaller perhaps?

    Thanks for everyone's help so far.
    Last edited by sabee; 12th May 2010 at 01:10 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Product photography question

    1st photo: Add small and long pieces of cardboard inside your box. Experiment till you minimize that shadow.

    2nd photo ... if the final size is not too big and your sensor/lens can handle it ... offset the entire camera till the reflection is NOT in the central area, then reflect light back into the area where it is, and CROP.

    Looked at it again. Actually, it's not too bad. Can try DI.



    There are more elegant solutions, or 'proper' ways to do it, but I'm suggesting the quick and easier ways.



    Here's the bottom-line: often, you can't get away with zero reflections in jewelery photography, or are super in DI. But if you don't have carefully placed contrast and reflections, you end up with flat looking jewelery.

    The key is controlling the various areas of bright and dark, and that involves a lot of moving lights/mini reflectors around.

    Cardboard, blutac and mini articulated arms are now your best friends.

    Ads selling light tents making it look soooo easy are usually marketing BS.

    And yes, high quality jewelery photography is usually torture.
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 12th May 2010 at 01:33 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Product photography question

    Thanks DM - I will try out your suggestions.

    Fortunately this is a peanut and monkey shoot, the client is happy enough with the shots but it is nice to be armed with this knowledge for the future.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Product photography question

    It would be good experience, and you could learn a lot by really getting into it, and researching more but the bottom line is that it's plain old hard work.

    Give the suggestions by the others a thought as well. Zac has been known to come up with effective DIY ideas that work, but in your case, a little more might be needed.

    Sorry, I forgot - you're welcome Ken.
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 12th May 2010 at 01:56 AM.

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