I hope you’re well, and you have had super creative weeks and weekends in your workshops. Now. What i thought we would do in this video is take a look at some fairly simple product photography using a light box. Like this one, now this one, i brought from amazon probably two three years ago, something like that. I’Ll put a link to it in the description and also on my website at msabensmith.com. I like photographing with a light box, because it gives me decent control over the lighting on the inside. The images are clean and simple and pretty easy to set up to be fair, and this particular box is two feet by two feet: i’ll set it up for you in a second, it comes with four backgrounds: a black one, a blue one, a white one and A grey one that is already on the inside it also comes with two led light bars like this one, with a very handy, dimmer switch on two, which is very helpful for photographing things that might be very reflective or very bright, very light colored. That sort of thing and the box itself folds up to a really nice two by two feet square and it has a little carry handle on the top too now setting it up is super easy. Once you’ve found some space to uh, to put it a dining table would be good or if you’ve got some space on a workbench in your workshop, then that will be good as well unfold.
The top open it up now. The other really really helpful thing with this is that in the top in the top of the panel it’s got um it’s got a hole in the top, so you can photograph straight down to the bottom of the light box, and it also has three little holes On the side here as well, which means you can drop the front if you’re photographing something highly reflective, such as perhaps a lacquered piece, something like that, but most of the time i generally flip that over the top there’s the grey background already in place, and then We can just fold out the sides and then what we have is a little diffuser diffuser on the top sort of like a softbox effect, and then we can put in our lights. So i generally put one light on the side: just over half way up and one light on the top just forward just forward of center, and then we can just use the dimmer switch to turn them on and then we’ve got a really nice, even even lighting. On the inside, which is helped again by the reflective walls of the box, which is just brilliant and the other thing is the light panels or the light bars rotate up and down. So you can direct the light to increase or decrease shadows for most of my product photography. I just use my phone. The phones on modern cameras are so good now and because so much stuff is on the internet.
Your phone is going to do a good enough job and it’s, not until you want to start getting really creative with lighting and depth of field and stuff, like that. That you need to really start to seriously consider a dslr or or something like that, but for the vast majority of stuff your phone is going to do a perfectly good job and i always use a tripod or most of the time i use a tripod, particularly If i’m photographing things lots of things like product photography for hampshire, sheen and stuff, where everything needs to be the same photograph essentially but with a different product in so a tripod is always a good thing to use. And you can pick up one of these phone mounts very, very inexpensively from from most camera shops and online. Of course, now i’ve got a few things that i need to photograph today. The first bit is going to be this beaded bowl, and that was made by les thorne my business partner, and if i just place that on the inside of the on the inside of the box, we can see that it looks really nice. I do like a nice plain background that immediately just draws the eye to the product being photographed or the product in the picture so i’m going to start just with my normal camera, my normal phone camera. Now you can, you can see it on the screen now and i’m going to adjust various things.
I like a photograph that is slightly above horizontal to the piece just zoom it in a bit, and i need to just change the angles, a touch as well, so that looks good. I can’t see any of the background in there just raise it up. Just a touch and then tilt the camera down, make sure it’s centered. Now you can see that we’ve got quite a deep shadow underneath the piece just down here so i’m going to adjust the height of the horizontal bar, the horizontal light bar and then just tilt. It down a bit, so you can see as i as i tilt it. You can change the amount of shadow that’s underneath the piece, and i want to be able to see the bottom of the piece disappearing into the shadow and, if you happen to use a a white background, what you’ve got to be careful of is keeping a shadow Under there, so the shadow essentially sticks the piece to the background. If there’s, no shadow underneath it, then the item has a habit of looking like it’s floating somewhere and not anchored to a surface. So once i’ve got that nicely in position there i’m going to just double check my level. You know whether or not the piece is level in the viewfinder of the camera of the of the phone and then take the picture it’s as easy, as that it’s nicely framed it’s in the bottom sort of half it’s, mostly in the bottom half of the of The image there i’m happy with it and just to give myself a couple of couple of other options: i’ll turn it round a bit and take another one, make sure it’s nicely centered take another picture, all good, so far, here’s a live edge, piece again by les Thorne, you can see in the in the camera screen that it’s a little bit too high so i’m, going to just raise the camera up a little bit on his tripod.
The bar needs to come up a bit as well, and you might wonder as well. I’M photographing in a square format, square format is incredibly popular at the moment. Most videos, as you know, certainly that i produce, will be in a landscape format, but for photography like this square format, seems to work um best, certainly for me, so when this piece is lined up i’m, going to check the shadows i’m going to check that i Can’T see any of the corners in the background and then just adjust the light bar just until i find the right amount of shadow at the bottom. That looks good and then take a picture turn it around a bit see if we can find another nice angle that looks good we’ll take a picture of that one as well, and then one from this angle, i think move it back into the center. That looks good too, so we’ve done two fairly tall objects now, but what about an object? That’S fairly flat like this colored bowl of mine, and this one also has quite an interesting feature on it, so that’s quite low, as you can see in the viewfinder. So i’m, going to drop the camera. Nice and low just adjust, adjust the position of the camera a little bit as well and the levels – and i can see as well – and you can see that we’ve got a very deep shadow under there. So i want to pull the light bar all the way down or quite a long way down and throw as much light under there as i can, and i might even see if i can drop that light bar right down to the bottom.
Oh, stick it on. There, okay now that’s too much, and i can also see the bar. So if i just raise the camera up a little bit, that’s real that’s really highlighting that under there so i’m, just going to change that a little bit tilt it down there. We go. The bar is now tilted down so it’s just working off reflected light, but it is kicking enough light underneath there to allow me to see the bottom of the bowl so i’m going to do one i’m going to take one picture like that and then tilt it Down a bit to give me a little less light under there and snap that one too we’ve still got a nice exposure in the top of the bowl and a good exposure on the side of the bowl. And we can also see that we’ve got a nice difference in the coloration between the top or the inside of the bowl and the top of the rim and the color there too. That is a good product photograph very nice. Now let’s look at something really reflective. This this little sort of miniature vars as it were, that i felt that i that i made a little while ago has got like 15 coats of lacquer on it. So it’s very, very, very reflective – and you can see in the screen here that we’ve got lots of dots that are the reflections of the uh. The light bar, sometimes that’s, going to be unavoidable, it’s not absolutely ideal.
But if we pull that up to the top pull that pull that up a bit and then tilt it down – and we can also flip over the front like that and then we can. We can open that up. But if you want to get a little bit more of the reflection Music flip that on top of my head a minute, we can just drop those bars down a little bit. And then you can see now we’re just beginning to catch a reflection off the top of the piece drop it down a little bit more, not too much because it’ll start to show in the viewfinder. It can be cropped out again or cropped out a bit at the end of course, which i don’t mind doing, but i’d rather not, and then we can drop the screen down in front and then you can see now in the viewfinder or through the camera, that We’Ve got some reflection in there and then we’ll just take that picture there too and that’s the very basics of using a light box for uh product photography. I very rarely use the the drop down flap on the front like that, but it is very, very handy to have it and, as i said, there is a link in the description. If you are interested in a light box like this one super easy to use, not particularly expensive it’s about 70 80 pounds, i suppose, which i don’t think is too much of an investment.
If you are photographing the thing for websites like etsy or folksy, or one of the other websites, or even your own website, or even facebook or instagram, you know these are a really useful uh thing to have and when the pictures come up on the screen. You’Ll be able to see that the items are you know your eye is drawn to the item automatically. You know so there it’s a super way to really highlight and spotlight your wood turned products. Now, of course, there are other ways that you can photograph your items. You could go for a more lifestyle type of picture. You know where a bowl is on a side board or on a table, but that generally generally requires some external lighting. Maybe some soft boxes over some spotlights that kind of thing and it can be quite tricky to get good lifestyle type photos of woodturned products, because most of them that you see in magazines and stuff are actually photographed in a studio environment and everything is set up. Specifically for that one product photo, but you can of course do it at home if, if, if you’ve got the space, if you’ve got the lights and if of course, you’ve got the time and you don’t mind rearranging furniture because they are very, very, very staged. So, for 99 of the product photography, this soft box of this light box, sorry, is the way forward for me and then, when you’re done with the box, folding it back up is just easy peasy, particularly if, like me, you leave the background in place.
I just unclip the soft box element: lift the lid up fold in the two sides, drop it down and fold it up, it’s as easy as that, and then it can just very quickly and easily drop down into its box, which of course, i keep and just For ease of just for ease of storage and that’s it, i haven’t covered anything to do with white balance or anything like that, because, particularly with my samsung phone, the white balance, the automatic white balance set by the phone for this soft box is just bang on. So there we go a very, very quick and simple look at the use of a light box for product photography. I hope you found it useful.