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Marb

Photographing small objects, lighting kit advice

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I have been looking at some portfolios here and surprised that everyday objects as well as money, old stamps, collectables and just about anything is allowed to be submitted with no copyright issues. As I have a macro lens and a lot of collectable stuff I want to sell on Ebay, I may as well take good quality images of them to sell here also.

The other subjects I want to photograph are my wifes artwork for submitting to design sites so it would be good to be able to kill 2 birds with one stone.

 

I do not possess any lighting kit that would give good, even lighting with a white background so am asking for advice on what kind of rig to buy. I don't want to spend too much so the cheapest option with best results would be ideal.

 

At the moment I am looking at this kind of thing and it's cheap enough. Any good ? 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Portable-Photography-Shooting-Foldable-Background/dp/B074M7QHK4/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1509534020&sr=8-7&keywords=photo+lighting+studio

Thanking you in advance for your help.

Edited by Marb

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You'd ideally want the lights outside the box shooting through translucent sides. That appears to have the LEDs inside and rely on bounce but it'll be difficult to control reflections.

If you have flash already you could fire it through this

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ex-Pro-Photography-Centimetres-Backgrounds-Catalogue/dp/B000Y0CNQK/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1509534625&sr=1-3-spons&keywords=light+tent&psc=1

or even use daylight or desk lamps. The exposures will be rather long but you'll use a tripod and a sturdy table.

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Just now, spacecadet said:

You'd ideally want the lights outside the box shooting through translucent sides. That appears to have the LEDs inside and rely on bounce but it'll be difficult to control reflections.

If you have flash already you could fire it through this

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ex-Pro-Photography-Centimetres-Backgrounds-Catalogue/dp/B000Y0CNQK/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1509534625&sr=1-3-spons&keywords=light+tent&psc=1

or even use daylight or desk lamps. The exposures will be rather long but you'll use a tripod and a sturdy table.

Thanks. I do already have one of those exact cubes but no lighting. I have a Nikon D750. 

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Stick with the cube and have a go with desk lamps or window light.

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1 minute ago, funkyworm said:

 

Why limit yourself to design sites? Whilst my illustrations and designs aren;t big sellers here they do move occassionaly... for the price of a right click or two it is additional income. I recall one design I made thinking that it would be suitable for a duvet cover ended up as a background on a BBC comedy programme... and is yet to sell as a duvet cover. 

Thanks, that's encouraging as my wife is talented and has made some nice artwork. We hope to join forces now she has left her job. Can you please tell me the best way of photographing a black and white ink illustration on white paper ?

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5 hours ago, Marb said:

I have been looking at some portfolios here and surprised that everyday objects as well as money, old stamps, collectables and just about anything is allowed to be submitted with no copyright issues. As I have a macro lens and a lot of collectable stuff I want to sell on Ebay, I may as well take good quality images of them to sell here also.

The other subjects I want to photograph are my wifes artwork for submitting to design sites so it would be good to be able to kill 2 birds with one stone.

 

I do not possess any lighting kit that would give good, even lighting with a white background so am asking for advice on what kind of rig to buy. I don't want to spend too much so the cheapest option with best results would be ideal.

 

At the moment I am looking at this kind of thing and it's cheap enough. Any good ? 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Portable-Photography-Shooting-Foldable-Background/dp/B074M7QHK4/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1509534020&sr=8-7&keywords=photo+lighting+studio

Thanking you in advance for your help.

 

I have one of those.. my wife bought it me as a birthday present and I really like it. I have a bigger box with external lights as spacecadet suggest, but putting it up and down every time I want to use it is a hassle (more the lights than the cube.. mine came as a kit with lights).

 

Anyway, these were taken in the light cube like the one in your (Marb) Amazon link:

 

An antique brass copper kettle - Stock Image- Stock ImageA minion toy photographed against a white background. - Stock ImageAn old black whistle bearing the name 'The Acme Thunderer'. - Stock Image

 

There is, in my case at least, a bit of processing to do in Lightroom/Photoshop.. making background as white as I can get it, etc. And someone with better post-processing skills than me could probably do better.

 

 

Edited by Matt Ashmore
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4 hours ago, Marb said:

I have been looking at some portfolios here and surprised that everyday objects as well as money, old stamps, collectables and just about anything is allowed to be submitted with no copyright issues. ..[snip]

 

Is that true that there are no copyright issues? Aren't objects shot in isolation subject to the need for property releases or limited to editorial use, same as any other photographic subject? 

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Just now, Joseph Clemson said:

 

Is that true that there are no copyright issues? Aren't objects shot in isolation subject to the need for property releases or limited to editorial use, same as any other photographic subject? 

 

Yes, I believe there's copyright on anything that's obviously by a certain brand.. which is why I tick the 'Editorial only' box.

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The video of lightbox with LED's looks great I have seen the product and my advice is dont waste your money of its crap

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28 minutes ago, Southpole said:

The video of lightbox with LED's looks great I have seen the product and my advice is dont waste your money of its crap

Have you read Matt's post? He's using it with some success, apparently.

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19 hours ago, spacecadet said:

Have you read Matt's post? He's using it with some success, apparently.

I have now and Matts images look good

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As said above, shooting tabletop isn’t a nice walk in the park. I can PP 30-40 regular images in the time I do 10 tabletop/light tent images. Sometimes my shutter speed is too slow and I should have used a remote. Set white balance. Then anything I do to get the background brighter has an effect on the subject, so using layers, I brush the effect off the subject. 

Fiddly time-consuming work. 

I forget how much I hate that part until I shoot tabletop again and do a face-palm plant. Still worthwhile, though. And something that can be done in bad weather.

Betty

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16 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

As said above, shooting tabletop isn’t a nice walk in the park. I can PP 30-40 regular images in the time I do 10 tabletop/light tent images. Sometimes my shutter speed is too slow and I should have used a remote. Set white balance. Then anything I do to get the background brighter has an effect on the subject, so using layers, I brush the effect off the subject. 

Fiddly time-consuming work. 

I forget how much I hate that part until I shoot tabletop again and do a face-palm plant. Still worthwhile, though. And something that can be done in bad weather.

Betty

 

Totally agree. The post processing is much more involved and slower. Even though you shoot in a lightbox, the background usually still needs a lot of work and like Betty, I find myself using layers. A trick that I have found works well for me (using Lightroom) is to crop out quite a bit of the background (if it's a mess/got the edges of the light tent in it) and then expand the canvas back to the size I want using black as a background colour. I then uses context-sensative fill to fill the newly expanded part of cancas. When in the right mood, I rather enjoy the post processing.. the image out of the camera really is just a starting point and it gives me a sense of satisfaction to get tot he final image.

 

With regards to the point of shutter speed being too slow.. I don't have an issue with this. I have my camera on a tripod, I activate the shutter with a remote and I have my camera in a mode where I have to press the remote twice to take the image.. first press lifts the mirror.. second press activates the shutter.

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On those edges that show, I just sample the background and use a brush to wipe away the bad stuff. Very quick, but often the top and bottom are a bit different in how the light hits it. The bottom is often a bit darker. I make more than one sample, then feather with lower opacity to blend the two.

Using the white dropper in PS levels will brighten it all up, then brush it off the subject.

Betty

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If you have a look at my portfolio, you will see that almost all of my images are studio shots of objects against a white or black background. As others have said, if you want to do this well, it takes time and it is not a skill you learn overnight. Perhaps I can share a few things with you, after shooting 100+ images in this way almost EVERY DAY for the last 10 years.

 

- Make sure you separate your background from your subject by sufficient distance to avoid light spill (flash bouncing off the background onto the rear of your object)

- It helps to put a large sweep in the background, having the back hanging vertical increases light spill

- Always light your white background with a separate light source and make sure it is one stop overexposed compared with your subject, use a flash meter to check, you don't want to overexpose by more than one stop

- Every session, make sure you set custom white balance (use a neutral grey card), this will ensure your colour balance is always correct and will save you a lot of time in processing afterwards. Don't assume it will be the same every session, always start custom white balance from fresh.

- Use the highest shutter speed you can (1/250s on most cameras, unless you have a leaf shutter)

- I personally don't use a tripod, it slows me down too much, but if you use one make sure your IS (Image Stabilisation) is switched off

- Be careful what you wear if your object is reflective or you are shooting a flat object held flat with glass. Wear a black cape if necessary. Avoiding reflections is something I could write a book about!

- If you're not shooting on white, and you don't want to set custom white balance (or can't), put a small piece of white card in the corner somewhere. You can use this to set white balance later in processing if you wish.

- Shoot in RAW if you can, it will make life much easier

- Make sure you have a decent monitor and CALIBRATE it regularly

- I open all images in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) in Photoshop CC. Make sure the chromatic aberration and lens profile adjustment boxes are ticked. If you are shooting on black or white, you will almost certainly have some (or a lot, depending on the quality of your lens) chromatic aberration (CA) to deal with.

- Use the icons above the histogram to show blown highlights and shadows. These will turn part of your image red and/or blue respectively in blown areas.

- To make the remaining areas around the subject white that aren't already blown white, I first use the white slider (not too far), and then the adjustment brush (set at +1 exposure and +5 white) to paint the remaining areas red. Start with a larger brush, then repeat reduce the brush as you get closer to the image. This is a skill that you will perfect with practice. If you have a black background, you basically do the same but using the black slider, and a brush set at -1 or -2 exposure and a negative black brush (painting areas blue).

- Don't destroy your subject shadows, these normally need to stay unless you want a complete cutout

- Correct any perspective in ACR, it is much easier to do it there. I do it by drawing 4 lines when shooting books, maps, etc.

- In extreme cases, you can use the pen tool in Photoshop CC to create cutouts (I try and avoid using the magic wand)

- Go for square cropping when possible, this maximizes visibility in searches among other images, it makes your image thumbnail "larger"

 

I could go on ... but it's late. I hope this is of some help.

 

Marc

 

 

 

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Very informative, Marc. I doubt there’s anyone here shooting more of these than you. Experience counts.

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Another bugbear is DUST and I mean on the product or whatever you are shooting not on the sensor. I find it worst when doing close ups.

 

Allan

 

 

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Repeat post.

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Marc, this is fantastic advice. I appreciate the time and effort you took to write it down and post it.

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20 minutes ago, Brian Yarvin said:

Marc, this is fantastic advice. I appreciate the time and effort you took to write it down and post it.

+1. Absolutely. Big thumbs up! 

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5 hours ago, Allan Bell said:

 

Another bugbear is DUST and I mean on the product or whatever you are shooting not on the sensor. I find it worst when doing close ups.

 

Allan

 

 

 

Yes, I don't know how many cans of air I've used over the years! Hundreds! Ultrasonic cleaning is also very useful sometimes.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrasonic_cleaning

 

Marc

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Thank you, Marc, for all this guidance. It is much appreciated. 

 

I'm thinking of offering my services in freelance product photography, locally. One issue I'd like some advice on is image copyright. Is the norm for the client to buy such product photos with copyright outright, or for the photographer to retain the copyright with an eye to using the same image for other clients or stock use? How much difference should it make to the price charged? 

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You license for the use required for the period required. Then you have the potential for relicensing. But the resale potential for product photography is limited- use by a competitor would be problematic, and the client might not like to see his image on a stock site, at least during the licence period.

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On 11/4/2017 at 02:52, famousbelgian said:

If you have a look at my portfolio, you will see that almost all of my images are studio shots of objects against a white or black background. As others have said, if you want to do this well, it takes time and it is not a skill you learn overnight. Perhaps I can share a few things with you, after shooting 100+ images in this way almost EVERY DAY for the last 10 years.

 

- Make sure you separate your background from your subject by sufficient distance to avoid light spill (flash bouncing off the background onto the rear of your object)

- It helps to put a large sweep in the background, having the back hanging vertical increases light spill

- Always light your white background with a separate light source and make sure it is one stop overexposed compared with your subject, use a flash meter to check, you don't want to overexpose by more than one stop

- Every session, make sure you set custom white balance (use a neutral grey card), this will ensure your colour balance is always correct and will save you a lot of time in processing afterwards. Don't assume it will be the same every session, always start custom white balance from fresh.

- Use the highest shutter speed you can (1/250s on most cameras, unless you have a leaf shutter)

- I personally don't use a tripod, it slows me down too much, but if you use one make sure your IS (Image Stabilisation) is switched off

- Be careful what you wear if your object is reflective or you are shooting a flat object held flat with glass. Wear a black cape if necessary. Avoiding reflections is something I could write a book about!

- If you're not shooting on white, and you don't want to set custom white balance (or can't), put a small piece of white card in the corner somewhere. You can use this to set white balance later in processing if you wish.

- Shoot in RAW if you can, it will make life much easier

- Make sure you have a decent monitor and CALIBRATE it regularly

- I open all images in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) in Photoshop CC. Make sure the chromatic aberration and lens profile adjustment boxes are ticked. If you are shooting on black or white, you will almost certainly have some (or a lot, depending on the quality of your lens) chromatic aberration (CA) to deal with.

- Use the icons above the histogram to show blown highlights and shadows. These will turn part of your image red and/or blue respectively in blown areas.

- To make the remaining areas around the subject white that aren't already blown white, I first use the white slider (not too far), and then the adjustment brush (set at +1 exposure and +5 white) to paint the remaining areas red. Start with a larger brush, then repeat reduce the brush as you get closer to the image. This is a skill that you will perfect with practice. If you have a black background, you basically do the same but using the black slider, and a brush set at -1 or -2 exposure and a negative black brush (painting areas blue).

- Don't destroy your subject shadows, these normally need to stay unless you want a complete cutout

- Correct any perspective in ACR, it is much easier to do it there. I do it by drawing 4 lines when shooting books, maps, etc.

- In extreme cases, you can use the pen tool in Photoshop CC to create cutouts (I try and avoid using the magic wand)

- Go for square cropping when possible, this maximizes visibility in searches among other images, it makes your image thumbnail "larger"

 

I could go on ... but it's late. I hope this is of some help.

 

Marc

 

 

 

Just got back here now and read all the posts. Thank you so much, especially Marc for the advice. A lot of time taken which I appreciate. Wow, quite a bit of work it seems to do this which puts me off a bit. As I only have Lightroom (and no updates since they took that option from us for subscription only) I am limited in my PP. I can't really afford Photoshop at the moment so will have to make do with the tent and a couple of led table lamps. My monitor is a Dell 2209WA which I have never calibrated. It has been a good monitor (except after a few years it has started to develop a dark patch in the bottom left corner on certain colours) The only remote trigger I have for the Nikon D750 is the ipad as the remote shutter cable I purchased is hit and miss, more miss than hit. 

Edited by Marb

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