The Practicing Photographer
Illustration by

Shooting a product shot in open shade


The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

Video: Shooting a product shot in open shade

Product photography is a very specialized form of shooting, and I'll be honest, it's not one I've ever been interested in. But, oddly enough, in this era of the internet and eBay, suddenly I have a need for product photography. And so, I have Konrad Eek. >> Thank you very much. >> Product photographer. Konrad. >> Good to see you, man. >> Konrad, I often have things that I need to put on Craigslist or eBay or something like that. I really don't want to learn to be a product photographer, but I would like to get some better shots of my stuff. What can I do? >> I would suggest hiring me at an exorbitant rate to do the photography for you.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 10m 27s
    1. Understanding how to clean sensor dust NEW
      10m 27s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 10h 19m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 56s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
    74. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
    75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
      3m 56s
    76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
      6m 4s
    77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
      10m 46s
    78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
      5m 30s
    79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
      4m 54s
    80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
      7m 16s
    81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
      2m 16s
    82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
      11m 19s
    83. Working with hair in post
      3m 28s
    84. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject
      5m 50s
    85. Getting inspired through the work of others
      11m 22s
    86. Taking a flattering portrait with flash
      4m 21s
    87. Creating an unaligned HDR image
      3m 3s
    88. Exploring how to use Bokeh
      5m 38s
    89. Shooting stills from a drone
      6m 57s
    90. Using a monitor to get a first person view of the aerial camera
      8m 0s
    91. Understanding lens profile correction
      5m 33s
    92. Working with models
      2m 40s
    93. Understanding the labels on SD cards
      10m 32s
    94. Setting up a macro time lapse of a flower
      6m 18s
    95. Taking a portrait that's tightly cropped or slightly obscured
      3m 24s
    96. Tips for shooting panoramas
      7m 16s
    97. Carrying a point-and-shoot camera
      4m 44s
    98. Adjusting the color of shadows in an image
      5m 35s
    99. Evaluating camera-strap options
      4m 42s
    100. The 100th Practicing Photographer
      3m 31s
    101. Using light-pollution maps for planning night shoots
      3m 26s
    102. Shooting a series of star shots for a stack
      8m 32s
    103. Stitching together stacks of stars
      8m 59s

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now
please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
10h 31m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Apr 23, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Ben Long

Shooting a product shot in open shade

Product photography is a very specialized form of shooting, and I'll be honest, it's not one I've ever been interested in. But, oddly enough, in this era of the internet and eBay, suddenly I have a need for product photography. And so, I have Konrad Eek. >> Thank you very much. >> Product photographer. Konrad. >> Good to see you, man. >> Konrad, I often have things that I need to put on Craigslist or eBay or something like that. I really don't want to learn to be a product photographer, but I would like to get some better shots of my stuff. What can I do? >> I would suggest hiring me at an exorbitant rate to do the photography for you.

How can I do it myself? >> Oh, cheaply. One of the simplest ways to do product photography without investing much money at all is to take advantage of the soft light in open shade. We found an area here where we're shielded from the direct sun and if you'll look, the sunlight is direct, it throws hard shadows, it obscures things as well as illuminating them. Where when we work here in open shade, if you look this, this wonderful, soft light. Ben, you look ten years younger. >> Aw, thank you Konrad! >> I'll put myself on Craigslist.

>> Yeah Well, I don't know if that would work. What I'd like to do is show you a way to set up a simple little lighting system to isolate. What you're trying to light from the surrounding environment and also create sort of a neutral toned zone in the outdoor shade so that you can get pretty clean color reproduction on whatever it is you're trying to post for e bay or you could even use the same method to take photographs of of objects you own for insurance Purposes, documentation like that, it will work just as well for.

>> Now we're in this wonderful amphitheater here, but most people are going to be able to find this exact type of shade on the north side of their house. >> Exactly right. The one thing you do want to look for is things that create a great deal of color pollution, you know, if you have. >> Like a lawn. >> Yeah, like a lawn. Or if you've got a great big green tree that the sun is striking, that may bounce different colored light back into the scene. So the area that I use,at my house it's in the side yard. I typically will set this up actually on one of my trashcans, and I've got a weather grey fence that bounces in pretty neutral light around it, so it works at a good shooting environment for me.

>> And you may, you may need to actually, the, the problem is your eye is correcting color all the time, so you may not. Be able to look at a, at a particular location and see that it's got green light in it unless you have a very practiced eye. So actually look in the surrounding area and see if you see anything that might be leading to a color cast in your image. >> Very good point. For the background what I've done, I've gone down to the local art supply store, and I've bought a sheet of foam core. The standard size sheet is 32 by 40 inches and that's really plenty, space for most anything you'll need to shoot.

This particular sheet I got is white on the front and then it's black on the back. The black may come in handy for other purposes and the price is about the same. If you've not worked with form core before, what it is, is it's two layers of light card stock. On each side, separated by a layer of foam. The advantage of this is it makes it extremely rigid it's not an expensive material at all. You should be able to find a sheet for under $10 at your local art supply place. And what I did is in the back, I took a razor knife and a straight-edge and I put a score A little bit over halfway down, and what I'm going to do is just bend it along that score and it creates a hinge.

By only cutting through the back side I've got a piece, and then I'm just going to lay it on the table out here and clamp it in place with a little A clamp just because if you don't want the wind to catch this and blow your product off if you're working on a windy day. You might want to secure both sides, but now I've got a stable shooting environment. You want this angle to be probably about 45 degrees will work well. The, the softer the angle is the less obvious the seam is going to be here and then just for the demonstration we've picked a, a little speaker set.

And the key in aligning product is you've gotta kind of look and think about what features you want to show off. Obviously, we want this in it's open or operating position so you can see it is a dock for the iPod, we do want to be able to, we want to take an angle where we'll be able to see the little power connection there. It also has a small remote control so we want to feature that as well. Typical angle, and this is where you can help yourself, if you go through the catalogs and look you'll usually see items displayed at a three quarter angle. Gives a sense of dimension and depth, also helps tell more of the story of the product.

So what I'm going to do is put this at about a three quarter angle here. I'm just going to lean the little remote up against the front edge, and the other thing I'm being careful to do is make sure all of the branding items show. In Motion is right there, the Altec Lansing brand is right here. You see that again on the remote. So all of those things are visible to you. And the other thing too, if you look at this you can see just as you observe it on camera there, how soft the light is. You can see the little speakers behind the grill. The even illumination.

And the one thing that helps is this white background actually kicks forward neutral light so you kind of create a, a tone neutral environment to do the photography. >> I know there are reflective surfaces on this glossy black part. Do I care what the nature of the reflection is? >> You can take control of that and part of it is you need to select an angle. Where we are, up high looking down on it, we're seeing the reflection of the white board right here. As you go lower It will start to reflect the environment around you. Exactly.

And that's something you have to make a decision, a simple fix for that is to get another piece of foam core and put a white card in front. And it's just a question of how far you want to take it. >> Is my goal here to eliminate reflection or do I want some in there to show the nature of that surface? That's kind of suggestive, subjective based on the product. In this case, you know, you've got this clean, polished, electronic piece and I think eliminating the reflection is probably the best thing. And so the, the simplest way to do it, if we use the board we already have in front and just move this farther back.

What that does is it leaves more white space in front of it. So I've got more clean area, and you can see how I can get a little bit farther down now without running into seeing the surrounding environment. >> Okay. >> Okay. So what I'll do now is take the camera, and whenever, whenever I'm shooting product, I always like to shoot in a normal to modest telephoto range. You want to avoid using a wide angle. Setting because you may get distortion, and you may not give a true representation of the product. >> Normal being the equivalent of a 50 millimeter lens. >> Exactly. >> So probably like a 50 to 70, or 80.

>> That's the range I like to work in, and if you've, you know, DX or FX chip that'll vary a little bit. >> Right >> But, you know, whatever is, is normal. The slight telephoto for your camera. Think of it almost like your, the same decisions you're making where you're doing portrait photography. It's quite similar. >> You're just trying to prevent geometric distortion of the. >> Exactly and the big thing is sometimes the wide angle will start to curve things. You'll get that your key stoning is really exaggerated and so i'm going to take an angle where I can try to fill in as much of the front with the, With the white re, white reflecting into the glossy black areas, I want to be able to once again see all the controls here we have.

I'm in program mode and I'm just going to trust my camera's light meter. I'm going to fill the frame. Okay, so I've taken one frame at what the recommended exposure is by the light. And I'm going to go ahead and bracket that just so when I get on the computer, if that's not perfect, I've got a couple other choices. And if you've not shot a bracket before. Essentially what you're doing is taking one exposure the way the camera tells you to. One that's overexposed by a stop and one that is underexposed by a stop. >> So this is a black object.

So typically my meter is going to render this a little bit lighter gray. So that's another reason to bracket. It's not just about overall elimination but to get the actual tones of the object Where they need to be. >> Exactly right. And, and the thing about defining black, you know, in, in, you want it to read as black, but it won't necessarily be the blackest black that the screen can reproduce because you want legibility in the product. >> Now, also, aren't you a little worried about depth of field? I want to be sure that everything's in focus and since we're at an angle. There could be some falloff.

>> There could be falloff when I was shooting I double checked in program mode and I was pulling F56 and I just, my bracket was shutter speed rather than aperture and at F56 it should pull sharp all the way through. If you're not sure you can get backup there focus and use your depth to field preview indicator. To double check focus. And sometimes on objects, you won't be able to carry depth of field through all of it, and if that's the case, I always make sure that the sharpest area of focus is on the features that I'm trying to sell.

>> Okay. >> So when I auto focused on this, rather than auto focusing on the center Out of focus on this corner here which brings the remote control into sharp focus as well as all the labeling controls here. That way if we do get a little soft on that back edge, it's not a deal breaker. >> And if you did want fold up the field, you could lock down on a tripod, close your aperture down and take a very long exposure to get that. >> Exactly, exactly. >> Right. Great let's go inside and take a look. I would expect we want to leave this set up in case, it turns out we don't, we don't like our. >> Assuming the neighborhood is safe.

>> Okay, alright I think we're pretty good. I hear nothing but wildlife around. >> Okay. >> Let's go see what we got.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about The Practicing Photographer .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed The Practicing Photographer.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.