The finer details of Product photography
“How perfect is PERFECT?”
I was recently taking a product shot of a bottle of water contained in a well presented glass cylinder. How complicated could it be to take a simple shot of a clear water in a perfect cylinder? More to the question is; at what level of perfectionism do you want that glass bottle of water to look? It all comes down to attention to detail…
Looks pretty good enough but lets analyse the setup:
One flash pointed at a white back drop approximately 1 meter away from the subject. You need to be careful with the proximity of the backdrop to the subject as well as the power of the flash used on the back drop as you tend to get quite a bit of reflected light back onto the subject as well as lens flare. Secondly the back drop needed to be only a certain width with a further larger black background if not have the remainder of the room in darkness. Ideally you need to speed up your shutter speed to remove all ambient light and create some darkness. It is the surrounding black darkness in the room that gets refracted through the glass to show the darker edges or curves of the glass. If the entire room is well lit as white then you are going to have difficulties seeing the defined edges of the glass. Wide white back drop = less defined glass edges. Narrow white back drop = more defined and broader glass edges.
Two strip soft boxes lit the bottle from just off front of the sides evenly to create 2 beautiful white strips running down the bottle.
The bottle was balanced onto a thin pedestal which was later edited out in Photoshop. Further to this editing was the use of a Levels layer to further ensure that the backdrop was in fact corrected to an absolute white back drop. Other minor patching work was done in Photoshop to remove divots in the glass and dust or finger handling marks.
Now lets talk about the product sample provided (The purposeful note of this blog article): The product sample needs to be in perfect condition with no burrs or errors in printing. Lets not make it hard on the photographer please!…For the purpose of capturing this image it may have been best to request a custom printed product from the manufacture. Let me explain: See the uneven grey distractions running down the left and more unnoticeable right sides of the glass. This is not imperfections in the glass but is in fact finer grey printing that is not quite visible from the front or from looking through the glass to the rear. Ideally to get crisp looking sides on the glass we do not want this print to be here. There are 2 options; one is to find an industrial paint solvent and remove it yourself, or two, is to request your client not print it there in the first place, in fact maybe do no printing at all! In fact even the logo can be artificially placed on the bottle in post production!
Further more, I personally do not like the highlight that has been generated running down through the logo. You might want to remove this in post production as it is the most important feature of the product. Or further to the previous point is to be provide a clean skin bottle and place the logo on artificially in post production also.
An additional problem is that we also have a small unsymmetrical bottom of the glass cylinder which I would put down to the manufacturing mould of the glass.
But here comes the argument; What’s the difference between art and craft? Why not computer generate the entire bottle for the client? I leave that argument to you…
The important point of this article is that perfection takes attention to detail, patience and ultimately time which is in turn ultimately money. The above image may be fine for a retailer’s shopping catalogue but is no where near the quality expected for the client who wishes to launch a nation wide campaign.