Yeshen Venema
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Blog-posts

Blog for Photographer Yeshen Venema. Features tips, links interviews and behind the scenes stories.

Cut it out.

If you are selling your products online it's very likely you will need high quality images on a white background.

Transient

This will enable you to insert your products into a white web page and see them float neatly alongside text and other graphic content. This technique will also allow you to create cut outs of your products which can then be inserted a collage, layered or placed on a different coloured background. Press and designers will often ask for this option, so having such files will increase your chances of exposure.

It's the difference between this:

A poorly lit, badly composed and un-optimised image.

A poorly lit, badly composed and un-optimised image.

and this...

A well lit, and carefully optimised image.

A well lit, and carefully optimised image.

It all starts with good lighting. You can get away with average lighting and a good digital camera for shooting lifestyle or 'in use' product photos, but this is not the case with on-white shots.

Poor lighting will give you a dull image full of grey mid-tones (see the 'white sheet' in the first image above) and you'll need to spend ages in post production cleaning it up to achieve anything usable.

Ideally you want a 'soft box' light. This is basically a set of  bulbs rated at approx '5000 Kelvin' - the colour temperature of normal daylight. An overcast day is more like 6000K. The soft box is so called because the bulbs are contained within a square or rectangular frame with a diffuser on the front.

This will give you bright, even, diffused light across your shooting surface. The larger the light, relative to the object your are photographing, the softer the light quality will be, this means less harsh shadows and results in a natural look.

You can pick up a decent soft box (including stand and bulbs) for under £200, so no need to break the bank. I recommend Lencarta, they are awesome value. Trust me it's worth it. Not everyone has a large, light-filled studio with skylights at their disposal and it's not just in the UK that the weather is unpredictable!

An example of a good value softbox from Lencarta.

An example of a good value softbox from Lencarta.

If you do not have a soft box, choose a spot with the best possible light. A skylight is ideal as you have light from above, rather than a window which may cause unwanted shadows.

Next you'll need to set up an infinity screen. This is not as complex as it sounds.

All you need is a large (A1 or A0) sheet of pure white card. Simple place a table against a wall and curve the card evenly so it creates a smooth curve between the table and the wall. Fix top and bottom with masking tape and you're good to go. You can experiment with the position of your light source and your camera, as this will result in a different shadows and direction of light on your products.

If you are shooting variations on a product (different colours of the same dish for example) it's especially important to use a tripod and shoot at a consistant angle. Imagine your products lined up along a web page - they need to match on the horizontal and vertical, as below.

An example of a well shot series of products.

An example of a well shot series of products.

Once you have your shots, there are some basic adjustments you can do in post production to optimise your images. However, I won't be revealing all my secrets here!

See some examples of my 'on white' work here: http://yeshenvenema.com/on-white/

Get in touch to see how I can help you create perfect product shots for your website.