It’s Monday- and I am ditching the fancy schmancy camera again for my point and shoot to help with some great tips that everyone can afford to use! Today is all about faking it… making your own great light for beautiful product shots! If you read my tutorial last week on how to take better product shots, this can really help take your pics to the next level. And I’m using materials you are likely to have on hand (or can have on hand for $8 from IKEA).
If you saw my post last week about taking product shots, you probably noticed where I take my shots- next to an open window. There’s a very easy reason for that- natural light makes photos look fabulous. But you can’t always count on perfect light, and sometimes you want to avoid harsh shadows you can get on smaller items. Well have no fear- I have a great (cheap!!!) solution.
First, you ask “why does light matter”? Well, I’ll tell you. Here’s three examples of why optimal light can matter, and why my lightbox is an essential, quick and cheap addition to your photo gear. Let’s say we’re rushed for time. The little one was a hassle all day, and now that I finally have a moment to snap a shot, the lighting is way off. The sun is setting, the room has gone dark- but I want to get my post/product up right now. You could try your camera, on its own, with or without flash (you should already know flash is the devil. do not use it. ever.):
So, how to fix our dilemma? A box, white paint, some white paper, and a lamp! Sounds crazy- but I promise it is crazy good!
For $8, I bought a spring mounted lamp at IKEA that actually comes on its own mini vice. You can mount it on desks, shelves- anywhere! Pop in a soft lightbulb (I like the purple-y coated ones, they provide a soft light) and you have a fabulous shadow-buster and product highlighter! You can use this on its own- even for daytime shots. I like to sometimes shine a bit of soft light behind my product, so the light eliminates harsh shadows.
Now, if it’s dark, or if you are showing off something smaller, I have a great trick- make a light box! Simply take a cardboard box, and paint the inside (or tape some nice white paper onto the inside of the box for a really smooth background).
Place your item inside, and move the light closer and further away from the product to find the perfect balance. Depending on the amount of light coming in from your window or room, you might need to have the light really close- but it can give off a slight glare, and harsh shadows (but if you need the shot to put the item up asap, it’s a great way to fudge the lighting). Moving the light a bit further away will soften the glare and shadows.
If it is really dark, or the light is just too harsh, lay a very thin white sheet or a piece of paper over the hole in the box. This will filter the light to give a soft glow.
It looks dark in there, but the results are fabulous!