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In Product Photography for E-Commerce, designer Dane Howard shows how to take professional-looking photographs that showcase products and build buyers' trust. Using a practical approach, Dane covers objects from collectible coins to real estate, and the lessons can be applied to just about anything that can be sold online. When it comes time to capture images in the studio, Dane discusses how to select a camera and other equipment on any budget. He shares his favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of camera angles, backgrounds, and scene lighting. He reviews image editing basics, such as cropping and retouching photographs, and explains how to take a presentation beyond a 360-degree view with the integration of rich media.
Shooting glass and transparent objects is a little less forgiving than some of the other products you may shoot. I mean just look at some of the things that are going on here. I have got light background. I have got dark background. I have got a bottom light. This form can be seen seven different ways. Now sometimes the process of removal is just as important as what you add to a particular set. Now when you handle glass, everything is going to show, so when you actually pick it up and move it, this is going to be really important because every little detail and every little dust will actually show.
Well, let's talk about the process of actually shooting this because I am going to tell you some of the decisions I made. Now a couple of different objects here, from green glass to clear to different shapes. You want to think about a couple of things. First of all, what lenses are in your bag? I had two. I had a fixed lens 50 mm and an 18-200 zoom. Well, we'll illustrate the differences between them. The first thing here is I want to think about removing this transition here. That's a pretty sharp transition between the light and the dark. So I wanted to make sure that when I shot something 1.8, I knew that my focal length is going to be right about here.
Just to illustrate it, I pulled one of the flowers in the foreground, knowing that it was not going to be in focus. Well, with that set up, I started to shoot. This is my very first shot, a little bit on the light side. So, I increased the shutter speed. By letting less light into the camera, you can see that my shot is starting to get darker. Well there is something now going on, context. I don't know how big those flowers are but I want to know if the buyer wants to know, "Well, can I put "flowers in this vase?" Well, look at how they would probably look. This is just a tiny little vase.
So this is the direction I was starting to head with this. Well, next I had a square perfume bottle. And something to think about is that you probably don't want to shoot it straight on and also, by removing some of the transition here, I lifted the camera up and shot it from an angle, and you can start to see that I am starting to get a shot that's more like what I'd see in an advertisement and then what's in focus is right here on the corner. Again, I am shooting my 50 mm right around 1.4. Now, let's tell the story about this little guy.
I started off with the bottom light table on. This is my first, initial set up. This is basically my first shot. Some reflection is going on here and then I quickly moved and removed the light table just to see what that would look like. Now you know the specular highlights are very different in this shot from what you see here. That really has to do with the diffusion, the diffusion that's going on through the light tent itself. I added a flower back in and I am moving in the right direction, but there's one problem. The lights behind me in the studio were actually creating some reflections I didn't like.
So how do you remove those? We turn-off those lights. Don't worry. You've got plenty of light inside the tent and I don't want to think that a buyer thinks that this is a blemish or a flaw in the actual vase itself. Well, next, you know you can see that this is setup that provided the last shot and I'm okay, but don't be satisfied with what you have here. I'd switched out to my 18 x 200 and I am shooting at about F4 so everything inside the photo tent is in focus. This is about the shot that I'm getting now. You know, it's evolving.
It's going pretty well. But there's one more thing I want to try. Always think about the background. You know in this set up right here, you can see that I just quickly tacked it up. It was super quick. It took me about 30 seconds just and already, I knew that I was going to like the shot. So, I did a quick reset and this is my very first shot. Pretty good exposure, I put the flower back in and I have got my final shot. Now this whole process took for about, you know, seven minutes to do and I was really glad that I explored some of those things. Now look at the difference between this shot and what you see here.
The combination of a dark background, the diffused lighting, the contextual piece of the flower in there provide a much better shot than where we started. Use some of these techniques to really evolve and meander your way towards the right glass shot that you're looking for.
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