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:
Same product – same set up – 3 sec set change. Find out how on the next page …
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I had shot some test concepts for the client a few weeks ago, while we were waiting for the samples to arrive, so I already have my camera angles, distances, lighting … finished and documented.
This is a page in my note book that lives in my shooting bag to write down (and later on be able to find) my shoot notes. Back to turning white into black. Let me show you the set up from the point of view of the camera:
In the foreground is my Sinar X large format camera (my favorite camera) with a Phase One P45+ digital back that’s gonna produce the 100+MB files this client wants. In the center of the shot you see the product standing on plexiglass (see the reflections?) and the white background paper. So far so good you say – I know how to light a white set I want to know how to make it black! Well here’s the trick: the sheet of plexi that is product is standing on is black. But you say – wait a second (actually if you wait 3 sec it’s gonna turn black) – I see it white in the photo above. Remember your high school physics class: angle of incidence = angle of reflection. What does the black plexi mirror? The brightly lit white background paper, i.E. the camera does not see the surface but the reflection inside the surface, the white paper. So let me show you what this looks like from the top:
Now you see the reflection of the light on the bottom (the half round reflector) the reflection of the product itself, … but how do you get the white paper to be black? That’s the easiest part of the whole set up. The light you see on the shot above is directly overhead of the product and does not light the background. The Two lights that light the background are on a switch, so CLICK one shot on a white set (turn of background lights) CLICK shoot photograph with no light on backgound = black set. Time elapsed: 3 seconds.