Product Photography: Zen Grips Shoot

Published on February 4th, 2013

I had a few requests come in for a write up on shooting product, so I snapped some behind the scenes photos with the Fuji while working in the garage the other day. Keep in mind there’s plenty of ways to do this and I’m still very much new to the world of still life photography, and this is a pretty ghetto setup.

When shooting this sort of thing I like to shoot tethered if I can. Here’s the Nikon plugged into my girlfriend’s laptop, using lightroom to capture. The larger preview gives you a chance to really check out every aspect of the shot and fine tune it better:

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First step is to setup the product on a sheet of acrylic, sometimes called by the brand name plexiglass. I picked up this sheet over at Home Depot, and have to take care with it as it scratches really easily. The acrylic will cast a reflection under the grips which we’ll accent in photoshop. Here’s a shot of the grips on the plexi just under ambient light:

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Next step is to add our main light which in this case is an alien bee b800. I tend to go straight to a boomed light first as it’s easy to fine tune. The downside to this however is the 30 pounds of weight in sand bag it takes to keep it from falling over makes it harder to move. You can see from the image below the process of adjusting the light. I started out to the left really open, but began slowly working it higher up and back keeping an eye on the highlights of the edges until I found something dynamic with better contrast that I liked.

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While the highlights are looking good, the shadows on the detail of the grip are a bit heavy, so I wedged a reflector in between the plexi and softbox to hopefully throw some more light in there and open up that shadow. I also taped up a piece of white paper to the wall behind the grips now that I’m closer to the final image, and aimed a Paul C Buff Einstein at it to blow it out white

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I really wasn’t happy with how the light was hitting the backdrop, and after some tweaking I realized my best bet was to set a light on the ground without a reflector and let it spill up. Ghetto, but it worked:

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This was the resulting image, but the positioning needed some tweaking. I didn’t want the ODI portion upside down, as it’s important to have the manufacturer of the grip legible.

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Here’s our final product with two lights and reflector:

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Next I needed to shoot the grip with the packaging it came with. Unfortunately the packaging decided that balancing itself upright on it’s own was completely out of the question, so using a backdrop stand I hoisted it up using fishing line. Earthquake putty also is good for this sort of thing.

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It’s not the prettiest looking setup, but it works. Here’s the final result from the packaging:

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