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.