Getting even lighting around a small subject can be a real challenge, but a pop-up soft box makes it incredibly easy. And bonus: it makes managing reflections a lot easier, too!
- When photographing something that's particularly shiny or reflective, like this copper mug here, getting a good photo of it without all kinds of really odd reflections can be a bit of a challenge, so one of the solutions to that is something called a pop-up photo tent. Now you can find these online from many manufacturers. The one that I'm working with here is from Westcott and it's called the DigiTent, and here's what it is. As you can see it folds up quite small, but watch what happens here when I open this up, it pops open just like one of those window shades that you put in your car.
Opens out, and now we open this up all the way. As you can see, we now have this big, beautiful tent. The idea here is that we can shine light in from the sides, the top, the back, wherever you like, and have a very nice, soft, even illumination. So let's go and turn some lights on. I have, on either side of this tent, two Fiilex LED lights, and as you can see right away, it has really illuminated the inside of this very nicely.
I put my hand in here, you'll see that there's very little shadows, the shadow through there are very, very soft, so this is a really nice way to shoot, and again, you can put another light through the top and even through the back if you wanted to. Now this tent also comes with a white and a black seamless, something that goes from the back all the way down to the front. We're gonna use the black one here. It has a nice velvety texture, so that's gonna really do a good job of absorbing any stray light. Has these little Velcro tabs on the back, so we'll just go ahead and stick this up here, and drag it out to make a nice, smooth cyc in here that we can shoot on.
Let's go ahead and pop these copper cups in here, and let's see how that looks. So right away, we're looking pretty good. I'm gonna grab the camera and let's see what it looks like through the lens. This is my Lumix GX8 with a macro lens on here. The cable that you see attached is simply so that you can see exactly what I'm seeing through the camera. Already, we can see that this looks pretty awesome. I think I'll tilt it down just a little bit in there. Maybe bring the mugs in a little bit closer, bring the camera a little closer, and boom, looking good.
Now this is off to a great start, but there are some reflections on the front that I may want to knock down as well, especially if I had something really shiny and reflective in here. Well this pop-up tent has a door that comes down over it, with a shooting hole through it, so I can just put the lens through there and get another shot. So let's try this again. However, if I do it right now, one of the problems I'm gonna have is because the shooting hole is right in the middle, and you'll really be tilting down, so I wanna prop up these cups a little bit. These are just styrofoam blocks that came with something that I bought, I don't remember, but this is just packing material that I kept because they seemed like a pretty good idea, pretty good convenient size, and these are gonna work out great to lift my subjects up inside of the tent, so let's go ahead and put these under the surface here.
Now I have a nice, raised surface, again, the black background, I'll put the cups back in, and let's pull this tent door closed, and seal it off. By pulling the Velcro tight, any wrinkles that might be in the door are going to virtually disappear, so you don't get reflections of the wrinkles themselves inside of the object. Now let's go ahead and get our camera back in place, raise it up a little bit here, and with this particular lens, it's gonna be quite a closeup shot, but I think that looks awesome, so I'm gonna go ahead and shoot that as it is.
So there's the shot, it looks pretty awesome. It is very close, but if I wanted to get wider, of course, I just put on a wider lens, or maybe even put the subjects a little bit farther back inside the tent. No matter what kind of thing you're shooting, if it's shiny, this is a great type of a product to shoot it with.
Need a refresher on the basics? Check out Joseph's Photography 101 series.
- Shooting with a smartphone or full-size camera
- Creating a softbox setup for shooting small products
- Shooting against a white seamless background
- Lighting for product photography
- Shooting accurate color
- Retouching product photography in post