Simple Still Life Setup

This picture combines two things I am very passionate about: a) photography, and b) disk drives.  One pays for the other;  if only I can get that reversed…  But I digress.  In this post, I am going to show you how to do a still-life product shot quickly.

Typically, still-life product pictures like this may be done easily using a light-tent.   It produces a virtually shadowless (or very soft shadow) picture of the product.  Since I don’t have a light tent, I need a light source large enough to wrap light around the  drives.  I thought about using a soft box; but I was too lazy to set it up since it was way past midnight (yes, I am a night owl).  The closest thing I have next to a soft box which was easy to setup was Orbis ring flash.

1st test picture shooting straight through Orbis was OK.  Shadows may be eliminated if I were to shoot straight down to the drives.  However, shooting straight down causes the PCB (printed-circuit-board) to catch the reflection of Orbis (specular reflection).  Which turns the PCB all white.   To solve this problem, I had to shoot the drive at approximately 45deg + tilt the Orbis further so the light comes almost side ways relative to the drives.  Another advantage of projecting light at a lower angle is that it enhances the texture and details of the subject.  Just check out the ¥1,000 bill!

That got rid of the specular reflection, but created more shadows at the back side of the drives.  Next, I placed the drives against a bat tub; essentially using the bathtub wall as an impromptu reflector for fill light.  Voila!  Instant soft light.

Since I used a color checker as background, I was able to get the correct white balance during  raw-conversion (I use Nikon Capture 2) by clicking on the neutral gray square.   I like this picture so much that I use it as my desktop wallpaper;  the color chart helps me with color reference when I am processing pictures in Photoshop.  Of course, a calibrated monitor is a must.

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