Knowing how to do product photography is an extremely useful skill to have for a broad range of applications. You may have just started an online store and want to do your own product photos or maybe you want to document the cool playdough sculpture your child has created. Knowing how to create a simple and effective tabletop photo set up will enable you to do so.
First off a quick equipment check list. Like a lot of things in photography you can substitute things to make do or suit your needs. In this example I've used all gear that can be stored away easily.
- A camera with shutter speed, aperture and ISO controls. Depending on if you are using a flash kit or constant light kit you may need a hot shoe or sync port to trigger the lights.
-Lights. In this example I've used 2x Elinchrom flash heads with small square softboxes however you can use speedlites or constant lights. The main aim is to make the light "soft" so you'll need something to diffuse the light. Remember the closer the light source the bigger it will appear to the subject so at 40cm away a small softbox will produce a nice soft light.
-Backdrop support. I've used a 2 stands and a support pole but you can use the back of chairs, anything that is the right height and that you are able to clamp the background on. I've used a couple of plastic clamps I purchased at Bunnings.
-Backdrop. I use a white perspex sheet approx. 1mm thick. You can get these in a range of sizes from plastic stores. You can also use paper drops or cardboard.
-Tripod. This is optional but is pretty useful if you are shooting more than one item and want the photo angle to be consistent.
The set up is pretty straight forward, you clamp your perspex/paper to the backdrop stand and create a curve in the backdrop.
Bring your lights close and on an angle (see image 2).
Set your exposure in camera, this varies but if you are shooting with flash units like the ones pictured set your ISO to the lowest setting (approx 100), shutter speed to 160/s and use your aperture and flash head settings to correct exposure. If you are using constant lights you may need to adjust shutter speed and ISO.
Take a test shot, a grey card can be useful at this stage if you are shooting products that need accurate colour recreation.
I hope this helps.