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Photography Question 

Product Studio Set-Up

Hi, there. I need to shoot small products against white background. I cannot seem to get rid of two shadows directly opposite the light sources. Can anybody help with a basic set-up and advice to get rid of the shadows? All of this is new to me. I shoot with Nikon D70 and two 200w strobes with an umbrella.

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3/20/2005 11:51:37 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Shadows in small product photography has always been a hassle for me as well. The problem was that the background was always too close to the subject and, no matter how I positioned my lights or diffused them, I'd get one or more pesky shadows that just wouldn't go away.

Try moving your background material farther away ... with the light sources hitting the subject at 45-degree angles, at approximately the same height, and illuminating in the same direction that your camera is pointing.
This will allow the shadows to dissipate and/or fall out of frame where they will less noticeable.
(Your background may not be pure white, though, since less light will be hitting it.)
Another solution is to use a copy stand type set-up, with two or more light sources positioned at whatever angle illuminates best, placing your object directly onto your background, and setting up the camera to shoot straight down.
This works well with small products that are relatively flat and will cast minimal shadows.

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3/20/2005 1:58:24 PM

Kim Moyle   There are a couple easy ways...First off, if this is for a publication they may be putting a clipping path around it so they can use the pic in Quark/InDesign or someother layout program. The Background and any shadows will come out with the clipping path. Second, if you back up your background you may have to dump more light on the background so it comes out white, look up "High-Key lighting" you won't be able to do it with only two lights...but it may give you more ideas. Lastly, try to get your hands on a lighting table, you can probably rig up a homemade one cheeper then buying one. These are tables made of Transusent Plastic that you can light from behind, blasting out any shadows.

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3/22/2005 7:37:10 AM

Michael H. Cothran   I can help. From your statement, you indicate that you want to get "rid" of the shadows rather than subdue them. Personally, I would get rid of one, and subdue the other.
But, to get rid of them entirely, you will need to light your subject from beneath. This means you will need to invest in a piece of white plexiglas to use as your base,and possibly your background as well. Place a light directly below the subject and plexilgas aiming up. You'll need to meter so that this light is about 3 stops stronger than your shooting light. This will give you a solid white base with no shadows. Then when you light your subject, only light it from one side, and use a reflector on the other side.
You can also subdue your shadows by getting rid of the umbrellas and replacing them with soft boxes, or other pieces of white plexiglas placed on either side of your subject. I stated above, quit using two opposing lights as you are. Use one light on one side, and a white reflector on the other, or turn down the power of one of your lights by 1 or 2 stops.
Two opposing shadows is not a good thing, but one, as long as it is not really dark in contrast is perfectly ok. For shadowless images, you will need to light from beneath, and also from behind if necessary.
Michael H. Cothran

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3/22/2005 12:29:29 PM

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