Friday, December 3, 2010

Web Store Product Photography

[Natural light product shoot. I especially like the grocery bag diffuser on the fill light.]

[And here's the result. Not too bad, if I do say so myself!]

The last few days have been ridiculously busy. In between all the meetings, chores, bookkeeping, policy drafting and visitor facilitation, I've also been revamping my web store and preparing for holiday sales.

Mostly, this consists of shooting and editing LOTS of photos. I've got about 30 types of products. Each one needs about 5 different photos to show various features. So, I've had to get very organized about the shoots. I am getting good at remembering which products have been shot in which poses.

I set up a scene and then style the pieces within that scene one at a time, shooting and checking shots for each one. Then, I go into Aperture to straighten, crop, color correct and otherwise tweak each photo. This is also where I name the shots (in a standard way) before exporting them at a web-ready size. Then, I set up the next scene and do it all over again.

It's really tough to do natural-light shots this time of year. It's rainy, limiting the places I can shoot with good light, and a cloudy sky has huge variations in brightness. The clouds are roiling overhead, changing the lighting every few minutes. It's super hard to set the camera's exposure and have it stay good. Auto-exposure is also ridiculously undependable when shooting items of different colors. I just have to do the best I can to adjust manually and fix my mistakes "in post-production."

[My jankety storage box, tissue paper, track light, clip light setup]

[...and the result]

Because of the difficulties with natural light, I created a setup today so I can do color-balanced high-key product shots inside the house, it's a silly rig with a plastic storage box, white cardstock, tissue paper, clip lights, and more. Thanks to the flexibility of modern digital SLR sensors, though, I can get away with it and the results look great! The final shots have even light with warm and cool soft shadows and a seamless white background. Keep checking my web store to see these images in their intended environment.

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