How to turn a white set for a product photograph black in 3 seconds.

I create images for a Miami based company, that creates a variety of high end cosmetic products for men and women. The product photography for their packaging needs to be clean, simple and strong. And shot on a black set and a white set (black for the web, white for print).

Take today for example – a new product line launches and they need all 8 products shot on white – and on black. What I would do in the past is shoot on white paper and plexiglass for the white set and then reset up the shots on black plexi with a black background – 8 products x 2 set ups =  16 styled shots.

But I want to show you a trick, in this mini tutorial, on how to set up the shots one time and shoot the white set and the black set within 3 seconds of each other. First of all here are the two shots we’re talking about:

Packaging product photograph on the white set.

Same product – same set up – 3 sec set change. Find out how on the next page …

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Mark Gilvey - last year Reply

This looks like a really easy solution. That said, the one wild card is the Art Director who asks us to violate physics to get what they want so it looks “more natural” when in reality, it isn’t. Oy! For example, they don’t want the overhead light over head but instead from the side. If I understand correctly, it’s still just a matter of keeping the product light from spilling over to the background, no matter what direction it comes from correct?

rinat halon - 3 years ago Reply

Love it! KISS principle

admin - 7 years ago Reply

Dear Athos,

You actually don’t need to have the wall painted green – you’re main concerns are going to be the reflections in the actual product them itself, so my suggestions would be to have them take the photos in the dessert, where the only thing that reflects in the trailer is the sky and the sand (plus that may be some great photos you can use on the website.

You can send the new images to me, we actually physically draw a path around the trailer, which gives you a much cleaner edge than an alpha channel. Creating this path takes a pretty short time and I am happy to do this for you at no cost, since I believe in the mission of this trailer company.

As per the second items, that’s a little trickier, since if you shoot glass against white, it will look white (a good photographer can light it in a way to get the detail of the surface), but you can’t easily change the color. I would shoot this against the true color that you will be using this on the website, if I understand this correctly.

Thanks for the questions, hope this helps and I need to get one of those trailers – they are awesome!


Athos - 7 years ago Reply

Hi D, wanted to ask you two photography q’s. I’m finishing three websites for clients two of which need some tweeking in terms of the images I got to use from them.

One is a 4×4 monster trailer that someone in church builds – – thats the old site – I asked them to spray one wall of their factory green and have the guy’s wife take pics (she is a photographer like you, though nowhere near as good) of a trailer from various angles backed by this green wall. My idea is then to edit out the green and have a clean image of the trailer I can use with a transparent or alpha background – I have some javascript tricks that I need this for ;) – What I am not sure of is whether this is in fact the best way to do this without spending a fortune. Do you have any tricks to turn normal photographed objects into ones with the background removed?

The second is similar to what you have here though the topic or subject of the images are somewhat difficult to capture. The company produces glass finishes (protection, anti slip, chip resistant, and so on) and I want to use images with the various effects from such products against a clean background that I can then put onto the site, again without the cluttered background. You have any ideas here too?

Otherwise rediscovering web design from 16 years ago has been fun :) It has paid for our rent these past two months so I am quite happy about it.



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