The supreme discipline of lighting & camera settings

Throw a little light on the product, take two or three photos and you’re done. That’s how I imagined it before my first experiments. Logically, nothing came of that. Because the correct illumination of objects is an art and anything but simple at the beginning. Many solutions are suitable as light sources for product photography, from flashlights to construction spotlights. I myself have had the best experiences with daylight lamps and bought two of these here: Alu photo studio studio lampSmall square with arrow up right. They fulfill their purpose and as you can see, you don’t have to go to expense.

Everyone works differently and many (hobby) photographers recommend using natural daylight for product photography. But that doesn’t work well for me personally. On the one hand, I am fixed to certain times of the day, but I particularly enjoy working in the evenings and at night. And secondly, I have never really managed to achieve the same results with daylight. So I personally can only recommend: darken one of your rooms completely, switch on your daylight lamp(s) and work completely self-sufficient from the sun with always very similar results. This way you will easily get the same light colour in all pictures.

In order to avoid hard shadows, the use of diffusers is recommended for product photography. These were already included in my two lamps. So either look for a cheap product in the shops, or make your own solution if you like. Instructions can be found here: Diffuser for soft light built by yourself. And then it says: Try it, try it and try it again. Experiment with the position, distance and quantity of the light sources until you get the desired result. Then it’s best to take a short photograph of the ideal setup. This will save you a lot of work during the next shootings.

Optimal camera settings

Pay particular attention to the following so you can get the best possible product photos and work efficiently:

Fully charge the battery: Sounds trivial, but is very important. Make sure the camera’s batteries are fully charged before starting work. Nothing is worse than a sudden end to a creative session just because the battery suddenly runs out.
Picture format and quality: Set the desired picture format (JPEG, RAW etc.) and check if you have chosen the right quality for your photos. Normally, you should choose the best possible recording quality in order to be as flexible as possible when editing your pictures later on.

Make white balance

Before you start taking pictures, you should briefly carry out a white balance. This tells the camera the color temperature of the light you are shooting with. The goal: White should really be reproduced as white later – without color cast. Almost all modern camera models have automated programs for this. If you already know better, you can also carry out the white balance manually.

Aperture

Used to vary the depth of field. Not only, of course, but also a decisive factor when photographing products. Small value = Large aperture = Fuzzy background. Large value = Small aperture = Sharp background.

Exposure time

Value for the opening time of the aperture (also called exposure time). Most cameras offer very good automatic settings here. If these are not sufficient, try them out: If the exposure time is too short, the result is underexposed, a too long exposure time leads to overexposed images, which are also often blurred (use a tripod or a print run!).

ISO

As already mentioned above, the ISO value should not play a big role for you. Rule of thumb: Keep as low as possible so that the image quality does not suffer from this value.

Flash

If you are a beginner, it is best not to use the flash at all. Professionals use it as a stylistic device and for indirect lighting. I can only say that I still regularly fail to use flashlight.

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