Noise Issues with interior photography, even with strobes and low ISO...

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Well, you have now . . .
Can you please clarify what the subject is please - the bedding, the beds or something else?
The bed/bedding is the main subject, but we have to style the rooms with what we have in order to have the full image like this. So we need to have everything bright and in focus, as in the photo examples of the outsourced images
 
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Garry Edwards
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The bed/bedding is the main subject, but we have to style the rooms with what we have in order to have the full image like this. So we need to have everything bright and in focus, as in the photo examples of the outsourced images
But are you selling the bed or the bedding, or both?
 

LongLensPhotography

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I posted some images
In your examples you have the lights pretty much behind you and probably quite hard. Watch out for these shadows caused by flash. In the "other examples" the main light is clearly coming from the side (in one right, the other left,) Note the contrast and colour play of the bedding vs the rest, and the absence of full, strong individual competing items. It just needs some planning with designs and lighting schemes.
 
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i don't see any noise at the sizes you posted. try posting a 100% crop.

first suggestion is to make sure that your exposure is right. brightening up a photo in post processing will make your image noisier.
if you are underexposing and can't get anymore light you could try shooting at a wider aperture to get more light and do some focus stacking in post processing to negate the shallower dof.

i wouldn't suggest shooting smaller apertures (like f/22) because diffraction could make your images less sharp than at wider apertures like f/11.

you probably do need more space, also move the camera lower. the first shot you posted is a very awkward angle, a lower pov would have made a better composition. the two photos that you want to emulate were shot at the same level as the mattress. your photos are shot quite a bit above the mattress.
 
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Terry
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The. Main difference between your company shots and the outsourced ones is the use of side and back light to give the images more form and wider brightness range.
They also took extreme pains to prepare the wrinkle free bedding, as even the slightest wrinkle would have been emphasized by the back light.
What are you selling, beds or bedding.
 

LongLensPhotography

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The. Main difference between your company shots and the outsourced ones is the use of side and back light to give the images more form and wider brightness range.
They also took extreme pains to prepare the wrinkle free bedding, as even the slightest wrinkle would have been emphasized by the back light.
What are you selling, beds or bedding.
Wrinkles can be admittedly your no1 enemy. Bedding needs to be ironed very carefully. Out of the packet they look absolutely awful. Of course this is something the studio or the owner needs to organise; you just point the finger. If then nothing happens they at least know who is to blame.
 
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OK, we now have the info we need to provide you with useful tips . . .

Some very valid points have already been made by others, but I’ll repeat them because they’re important.

First things first. Your photos have a lot of room for improvement, but I think that, given your lack of resources, you’ve done a pretty decent job, and no photographer, however skilled, can do an outstanding job without decent resources.

Let’s address the peripheral issues first and leave lighting nearer to the end, because, in any shot, the lighting is always addressed last.

People have said that if your shot is underexposed then you’ll get noise, and this is true. But if it’s overexposed then you’ll lose detail in the highlights, which is obvious in your example shots. The answer is that the exposure must be correct, full stop. You must always start by getting the exposure perfect for the actual subject, and then you bring in lighting as needed for the other items in the shot.

That’s tip 1.

I’m now 75 years old and some people have a tendency to assume that people of my age are nostalgic for the “Good old days” of photography, when everything was shot on film and we didn’t have Photoshop. Well, I’m not. New technology has improved both image quality and creativity enormously and I fully embrace it. But, it tends to make people lazy, and many rely far too heavily on what can be achieved in Photoshop. Photoshop is used by good photographers to turn first-class shots into outstanding ones, it’s only the ignorant and the lazy who believe that it can rescue bad ones. An image that’s over or underexposed, or out of focus, or affected by diffraction limitation, or which exceeds the available dynamic range, is f***ed (to use the technical term) and needs to be binned.

So, although every image will get some level of treatment in Photoshop, you need to get the image as near-perfect in-camera as possible. In short, when you take the shot, forget that Photoshop is even a thing. You’ve clearly over-used Photoshop in an attempt to compensate for technical faults that you should have dealt with at the shooting stage, and it simply doesn’t work.

That’s tip 2.

You need to understand more about photographing products, which is a specialist subject. As it happens, I have an e-book, “Product Photography Magic” which I think will help you. Send me a PM with your email address and I’ll send it to you, free. If you want to reciprocate then you can donate to the charity that the book supports, or leave a review on Amazon, or both, but that’s up to you. I have another one, which goes into more lighting detail, “Lighting Magic” but “Product Photography Magic” specifically addresses the issues that you’re concerned with, so learning more about product photography is tip 3.

Depth of field (not depth of focus, Richard King) is always likely to be an issue with this type of product. You may have tried to address it by having the camera too high or by using too small a lens aperture, but that’s the wrong approach. If you’re using your cropped frame camera then you shouldn’t use an aperture smaller than f/11, and that changes to f/16 with a full-frame camera. If that isn’t enough then think about using focus stacking. At least, with focus stacking, you can get every part of the actual product in sharp focus, which you can’t do properly if you rely on depth of field, which is just a compromise, and you can if you wish to get props and backgrounds out of focus, which helps to draw the eye to the actual product.

That’s tip 4.

Give proper thought to who you’re selling to. I happen to know that most men don’t buy bedding and that the typical customer is a woman aged 40+, so aim the photos so that they appeal to her. This affects the décor, the colour scheme, the props and so on. It’s human nature for people to like products if they’re set in an environment that they like, and to dislike them if they dislike the environment, so it’s important.

So, as photographers, we tend to avoid strong colours, artwork on the walls, weird props – just about everything that could clash with her own taste. Flowers and plants are OK, not sure about an old-fashioned alarm clock – is that really an old Rolliecord camera next to it? That screwed-up throw (or whatever it is) is just wrong. Those black cushions are wrong too, they demand attention. That picture on the wall is a statement of taste that some of your prospective customers won’t like, and it’s also jarring because it’s out of square – easily corrected in Photoshop. “Always kiss me goodnight” looks good at first sight, but how do you know which side of the bed she sleeps on? And how do you know that she’s in a relationship? A bedside lamp is good, but it needs to be switched on, just use a longer shutter speed to create the right amount of light from it, and make sure that the colour temperature of the light is warm. So, we tend to go with a white environment because it doesn’t offend the taste of too many people but don’t over-light it. We don’t want it to look like a hospital bed in intensive care, we need it to look warm and comfortable rather than clinical.

That’s tip 5.

Most shots of this type need to have the camera lower, this will create depth of field challenges, which you can overcome as detailed above, but will concentrate the eye on the actual product. Whenever we look down on a subject, we diminish it. When we look up at it, it becomes more dominant and more important. The jargon term for looking-up shots is heroic because it makes the subject look like a hero (just as heroin got its name because it makes addicts feel like a hero) :)

Don’t go to extremes, but do get the camera at the height that best suits the subject, not at the height that’s easiest.

That’s tip 6.

As others have said, you need to get the product perfect, which means spending time (preferably someone else’s time) arranging it perfectly, getting rid of all creases and getting everything in straight lines.

That’s tip 7.

Your lighting is, frankly, not the best. In fact, it’s crap. You say that your shots are well-lit, my interpretation of this (based on your limited information) is that you think that good lighting is just having everything lit, and with no shadows. In fact, the opposite is true, good lighting is really about the absence of light or, to put it another way, it’s about creating the right shadows in the right places, because the absence of shadows just produces bland results that customers don’t want to look at.

We always start with the key light. That’s the light that does most of the work, and it usually does something like 80-90% of the work. You’re almost bound to introduce other lights too, but always start with just the key light, no photographer ever has enough knowledge or skill to work more than one light at a time.

With this type of shot, the starting point is probably to have the light in a fairly large softbox, suspended above the bed on a boom arm and pointing both downwards and slightly forwards, towards the camera. That will create the emphasis on the actual product, and will also create the shadows that you need. It will also create shadows where you don’t want them, and leave some areas in darkness, but don’t worry about that for now.

Then, you add extra lights where needed, to deal specifically with the areas that need them. You’ll need different light shapers for this, and it will take a few lights and a few light shapers, which can include everything from reflector boards, beauty dishes, honeycombs and maybe even a focussing spotlight. But only use these extra lights to mitigate the effects of the key light, if you overdo it you’ll be taking attention away from the actual product.

And that’s tip 8.

And now we need to move on to colour because the colours need to be as accurate as they possibly can be. I’m assuming that your studio flash(s) are decent quality and that the produce both accurate and consistent colour temperature, regardless of the power setting, and that all of your light shapers are pretty new and haven’t yellowed with age, because that’s what you need to have.

When you’re completely happy with everything so far and ready to take your actual shot, take a shot that includes a colour target (Macbeth or similar) so that you can get the colours perfect in post-processing.

That’s tip 9.

You’ll have worked out by now that you can’t achieve all of this in a tiny, cramped space. You won’t, in fact, be able to achieve much until you have the studio that you’ve been promised. You need height that you haven’t got, you need space for the lights, you need space to allow you to take your shots from further away, and even if this could be achieved in someone’s bedroom it would take so long to do that it would cost a fortune in time. How much space? Well, the ideal is what a physicist would call “free space” which is infinite, and everything less than this is a compromise, to some extent. But, a large corner of a large warehouse, with plenty of height, and a room set corner built into it, will do. What won’t do is a low ceiling, which will bounce unwanted light, strong colours that will contaminate the shots by bouncing the colours into them, and the product crammed up against other reflecting surfaces.

That’s tip 10.

And finally, you need to discuss all this with your boss, to get the help and support that you need, maybe even show him/her what we’ve written. Your boss isn’t asking for much, and if the examples from the pro studio are your employers' benchmark then you can easily exceed that standard with the right help and the right resources. If your boss has any sense then you’ll get what you need as well as a pay rise.:)

Hope this helps a bit.
 
OP
T
Messages
14
Name
A
Edit My Images
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OK, we now have the info we need to provide you with useful tips . . .

Some very valid points have already been made by others, but I’ll repeat them because they’re important.

First things first. Your photos have a lot of room for improvement, but I think that, given your lack of resources, you’ve done a pretty decent job, and no photographer, however skilled, can do an outstanding job without decent resources.

Let’s address the peripheral issues first and leave lighting nearer to the end, because, in any shot, the lighting is always addressed last.

People have said that if your shot is underexposed then you’ll get noise, and this is true. But if it’s overexposed then you’ll lose detail in the highlights, which is obvious in your example shots. The answer is that the exposure must be correct, full stop. You must always start by getting the exposure perfect for the actual subject, and then you bring in lighting as needed for the other items in the shot.

That’s tip 1.

I’m now 75 years old and some people have a tendency to assume that people of my age are nostalgic for the “Good old days” of photography, when everything was shot on film and we didn’t have Photoshop. Well, I’m not. New technology has improved both image quality and creativity enormously and I fully embrace it. But, it tends to make people lazy, and many rely far too heavily on what can be achieved in Photoshop. Photoshop is used by good photographers to turn first-class shots into outstanding ones, it’s only the ignorant and the lazy who believe that it can rescue bad ones. An image that’s over or underexposed, or out of focus, or affected by diffraction limitation, or which exceeds the available dynamic range, is f***ed (to use the technical term) and needs to be binned.

So, although every image will get some level of treatment in Photoshop, you need to get the image as near-perfect in-camera as possible. In short, when you take the shot, forget that Photoshop is even a thing. You’ve clearly over-used Photoshop in an attempt to compensate for technical faults that you should have dealt with at the shooting stage, and it simply doesn’t work.

That’s tip 2.

You need to understand more about photographing products, which is a specialist subject. As it happens, I have an e-book, “Product Photography Magic” which I think will help you. Send me a PM with your email address and I’ll send it to you, free. If you want to reciprocate then you can donate to the charity that the book supports, or leave a review on Amazon, or both, but that’s up to you. I have another one, which goes into more lighting detail, “Lighting Magic” but “Product Photography Magic” specifically addresses the issues that you’re concerned with, so learning more about product photography is tip 3.

Depth of field (not depth of focus, Richard King) is always likely to be an issue with this type of product. You may have tried to address it by having the camera too high or by using too small a lens aperture, but that’s the wrong approach. If you’re using your cropped frame camera then you shouldn’t use an aperture smaller than f/11, and that changes to f/16 with a full-frame camera. If that isn’t enough then think about using focus stacking. At least, with focus stacking, you can get every part of the actual product in sharp focus, which you can’t do properly if you rely on depth of field, which is just a compromise, and you can if you wish to get props and backgrounds out of focus, which helps to draw the eye to the actual product.

That’s tip 4.

Give proper thought to who you’re selling to. I happen to know that most men don’t buy bedding and that the typical customer is a woman aged 40+, so aim the photos so that they appeal to her. This affects the décor, the colour scheme, the props and so on. It’s human nature for people to like products if they’re set in an environment that they like, and to dislike them if they dislike the environment, so it’s important.

So, as photographers, we tend to avoid strong colours, artwork on the walls, weird props – just about everything that could clash with her own taste. Flowers and plants are OK, not sure about an old-fashioned alarm clock – is that really an old Rolliecord camera next to it? That screwed-up throw (or whatever it is) is just wrong. Those black cushions are wrong too, they demand attention. That picture on the wall is a statement of taste that some of your prospective customers won’t like, and it’s also jarring because it’s out of square – easily corrected in Photoshop. “Always kiss me goodnight” looks good at first sight, but how do you know which side of the bed she sleeps on? And how do you know that she’s in a relationship? A bedside lamp is good, but it needs to be switched on, just use a longer shutter speed to create the right amount of light from it, and make sure that the colour temperature of the light is warm. So, we tend to go with a white environment because it doesn’t offend the taste of too many people but don’t over-light it. We don’t want it to look like a hospital bed in intensive care, we need it to look warm and comfortable rather than clinical.

That’s tip 5.

Most shots of this type need to have the camera lower, this will create depth of field challenges, which you can overcome as detailed above, but will concentrate the eye on the actual product. Whenever we look down on a subject, we diminish it. When we look up at it, it becomes more dominant and more important. The jargon term for looking-up shots is heroic because it makes the subject look like a hero (just as heroin got its name because it makes addicts feel like a hero) :)

Don’t go to extremes, but do get the camera at the height that best suits the subject, not at the height that’s easiest.

That’s tip 6.

As others have said, you need to get the product perfect, which means spending time (preferably someone else’s time) arranging it perfectly, getting rid of all creases and getting everything in straight lines.

That’s tip 7.

Your lighting is, frankly, not the best. In fact, it’s crap. You say that your shots are well-lit, my interpretation of this (based on your limited information) is that you think that good lighting is just having everything lit, and with no shadows. In fact, the opposite is true, good lighting is really about the absence of light or, to put it another way, it’s about creating the right shadows in the right places, because the absence of shadows just produces bland results that customers don’t want to look at.

We always start with the key light. That’s the light that does most of the work, and it usually does something like 80-90% of the work. You’re almost bound to introduce other lights too, but always start with just the key light, no photographer ever has enough knowledge or skill to work more than one light at a time.

With this type of shot, the starting point is probably to have the light in a fairly large softbox, suspended above the bed on a boom arm and pointing both downwards and slightly forwards, towards the camera. That will create the emphasis on the actual product, and will also create the shadows that you need. It will also create shadows where you don’t want them, and leave some areas in darkness, but don’t worry about that for now.

Then, you add extra lights where needed, to deal specifically with the areas that need them. You’ll need different light shapers for this, and it will take a few lights and a few light shapers, which can include everything from reflector boards, beauty dishes, honeycombs and maybe even a focussing spotlight. But only use these extra lights to mitigate the effects of the key light, if you overdo it you’ll be taking attention away from the actual product.

And that’s tip 8.

And now we need to move on to colour because the colours need to be as accurate as they possibly can be. I’m assuming that your studio flash(s) are decent quality and that the produce both accurate and consistent colour temperature, regardless of the power setting, and that all of your light shapers are pretty new and haven’t yellowed with age, because that’s what you need to have.

When you’re completely happy with everything so far and ready to take your actual shot, take a shot that includes a colour target (Macbeth or similar) so that you can get the colours perfect in post-processing.

That’s tip 9.

You’ll have worked out by now that you can’t achieve all of this in a tiny, cramped space. You won’t, in fact, be able to achieve much until you have the studio that you’ve been promised. You need height that you haven’t got, you need space for the lights, you need space to allow you to take your shots from further away, and even if this could be achieved in someone’s bedroom it would take so long to do that it would cost a fortune in time. How much space? Well, the ideal is what a physicist would call “free space” which is infinite, and everything less than this is a compromise, to some extent. But, a large corner of a large warehouse, with plenty of height, and a room set corner built into it, will do. What won’t do is a low ceiling, which will bounce unwanted light, strong colours that will contaminate the shots by bouncing the colours into them, and the product crammed up against other reflecting surfaces.

That’s tip 10.

And finally, you need to discuss all this with your boss, to get the help and support that you need, maybe even show him/her what we’ve written. Your boss isn’t asking for much, and if the examples from the pro studio are your employers' benchmark then you can easily exceed that standard with the right help and the right resources. If your boss has any sense then you’ll get what you need as well as a pay rise.:)

Hope this helps a bit.
Thank you very much Garry, that's extremely helpful. I will send you my email through a pm, would love to take a look at the book.
 
OP
T
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Wrinkles can be admittedly your no1 enemy. Bedding needs to be ironed very carefully. Out of the packet they look absolutely awful. Of course this is something the studio or the owner needs to organise; you just point the finger. If then nothing happens they at least know who is to blame.
Oh yeah, we spend a lot of time steaming out wrinkles and often times they still wont come out, or they just appear again. We have to fix it in photoshop most of the time which is unfortunate.
 
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6,820
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Terry
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Oh yeah, we spend a lot of time steaming out wrinkles and often times they still wont come out, or they just appear again. We have to fix it in photoshop most of the time which is unfortunate.
The problem with fixing wrinkles in textiles with photoshop, is that it is very easy to lose the texture of the weave, that gives the "Quality" look.
Just be thankful that you are not having to work with pure white linen.
The manufacturer might cooperate and supply the material unfolded on a roll, or like suiting on a flat roll.
 

LongLensPhotography

Th..th..that's all folks!
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[Censored]
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The answer is that the exposure must be correct, full stop.
In interiors work (or landscape photography) that is simply impossible with current technology (crappy 13bit vs required 16bit) most of the time, except for low DR shots or if relying very heavily on studio lights. In fact, multi-shot blending allows the use of far fewer lights to replicate very complex and expensive setups. Nothing else moves in between frames so its a free for all. The final photo doesn't need to happen in camera, but you may rightly argue is could be simpler or quicker in certain circumstances.
 
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11,333
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Garry Edwards
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In interiors work (or landscape photography) that is simply impossible with current technology (crappy 13bit vs required 16bit) most of the time, except for low DR shots or if relying very heavily on studio lights. In fact, multi-shot blending allows the use of far fewer lights to replicate very complex and expensive setups. Nothing else moves in between frames so its a free for all. The final photo doesn't need to happen in camera, but you may rightly argue is could be simpler or quicker in certain circumstances.
Multi-shot blending is commonplace in product shots too, but my advice to the OP is to learn the basics and get it right in-camera, rather than go off at a tangent and rely on Photoshop.
And, with product photography using artificial light, it's not only possible to get the exposure right, it's also easy.
 
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