Tips for solid commercial product lighting

Tips for solid commercial product lighting

Many times, a photographer will think they have a nice photo because they have a beautiful subject. A truly good photograph comes because lighting creates depth, dimension, form and interest. That doesn’t mean it needs to be hard to accomplish, just that it was done well. Here’s an example.

Marriott pen

Take a look at this picture of a pen that was in the room at the Marriott, and probably cost about 50 cents. I believe this image does all of the things I mentioned above. There are lovely specular highlights. Soft shadow edge transitions. An interesting background helps grab attention without taking away from the subject. It’s a very clean set. There’s also a gentle, extra highlight to take your eye to the logo on the pen. All of these work to make this a successful commercial image for a product that probably sells for about 50 cents.

Pen Straight out of camera with no adjustments. Underexposed a little to make sure there was no loss of the highlights ans specular lighting on the sides.
photoshop Camera RAW filter result
Initial clean up and adjustments using Photoshop Clone Stamp Tool and the Camera RAW Filter on a copy of the base layer. Working on a copy also allows for using a Mask if necessary if you got a little carried away and didn’t want to go all the way back to the Camera RAW Filter.
Photoshop layers palette
Base layer with copy followed by a Curves layer to get the tip of the pen bright and more specular. A mask was used to limit the Curves Adjustment layer.

The technique

All of this is accomplished with a single light, scrim, non-glare glass, a reflector and a little Photoshop post-production. Non-glare glass is suspended over a white reflective surface. A white translucent scrim is tilted over the glass making the glass ‘read’ with the light and shadow. Light is created using a single Molus X100 COB light from Zhiyun. Here’s a link to my X-100 review. There is a small reflector on the light and a small modifier to help spread the light just a bit.

The resulting highlight on the glass can be controlled by the distance the LED light is from the scrim. If the light is closer there will be a more intense smaller reflection. Move the light away and the highlight becomes larger. Very simple. What you see is what you get while you work. The additional highlight passing through the printed word MARRIOTT is attained using a four-inch wide reflector made from a piece of white foam core.

Behind the scenes photo by Tara Patty
Set photo made by Tara Patty during all day workshop for the PPGCS.

Clean up with final touches

First stop was Adobe Camera RAW for an overall color and tone correction. That was followed by using the Clone Stamp Tool plus Spot Healing Brush.

screenshot of Photoshop Camera RAW filter
The pen is shown selected with the red mask. Adjustments made only apply to masked area. Using the Create New Mask many different areas can be adjusted individually. Very powerful!

Following I made a copy of the base layer and opened it using Filter> Camera RAW Filter. Once in the filter, I moved to the Masks area. Various selections were made with different changes occurring only within the those selections. For example, there was an adjustment made with the pen only selection shown in the illustration. A Radial selection was also made to add a subtle spotlight over the Marriott logo. I’ve found the Camera RAW Filter extremely powerful when used in this manner.

solid commercial lighting of product
Final image.

As always, questions? Drop them in the comments below.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob