1. Alan Clogwyn

    Alan Clogwyn

    Messages:
    7,089
    Name:
    Richard Alan Jones
    Edit My Images:
    Yes
    I have been accepted into the product photography fold at work - which is a scary prospect! At the moment, our photography department is churning out crap like this, which then comes to me to have an hour or two of meticulous turd polishing until it looks presentable enough to be displayed and is on a white background.
    _FWJ0392.jpg

    Lighting there is a mix of ambient energy saver, window light from the right and a truly crappy assemblage of energy savers in a square reflector. Yes that's the leg of the tripod and yes that's the office floor.

    My plan is to use a 3m white bacckdrop lit by my YN560s, balanced with ambient. Not sure what material would be best? It's car parts so needs to be cleanable really since there is a lot of grubby stuff. Portability will be important as I'm most likely going to be stuffed into a new corner each week as there is no space for this sort of thing. There's no budget either, though when I point out how much he's paid me for the last 50 photos I might be able to prise a couple of hundred from him. So where should I be looking?
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  2. Garry Edwards

    Garry Edwards

    Messages:
    10,318
    Name:
    Garry Edwards
    Edit My Images:
    No
    In fact, the background is the least of your problems. My advice is to do without one, and simply cut the products out on computer, which is a very quick and easy job with products that don't have "fluffy edges". If you did have a background, then you would need to have a lot of space, lighting equipment and skill to get good results.

    You say that there's no budget, but there needs to be, otherwise you'll end up turning out the same old crap as your predecessor, even when you're spending unecesary time on the computer. Despite what some others are bound to say, you won't do a good job with your hotshoe flashguns, you need a studio kit, and your starting point for this is something like:
    This 3 head kit https://www.lencarta.com/all-produc.../smartflash-4-3-head-studio-lighting-kit-900w
    One of these boom arms https://www.lencarta.com/all-products/light-stands-boom-arms/studio-boom-arm-with-casters
    One of these 5 in 1 reflectors https://www.lencarta.com/all-products/5-in-1-reflectors/60x90cm-5-in-1-folding-reflector
    One of these low level stands https://www.lencarta.com/all-produc...s/dual-purpose-combined-low-level-floor-stand
    And one of these honeycombs, to put targeted light into small areas https://www.lencarta.com/all-produc...reflector-20-degree-universal -honeycomb-grid
    The only other thing you'll need is something to photograph the products on, some kind of bench or a couple of sawhorses with a sheet of chipboard on top will be perfect..
    My advice, if they aren't willing to spend the small amount of money needed, is to tell them to find someone else to do it because you simply can't do a workmanlike job without the basic equipment.

    And of course, they need to allocate space too, it can be a corner but it will need to be your corner.

    There are plenty of detailed, specific tutorials in the Lencarta learning centre that will show you how to get started.
     
    Graham W likes this.
  3. DynatechFan

    DynatechFan

    Messages:
    9
    Edit My Images:
    No
    I get what Garry is saying, my perspective as someone who runs a business would be to ask something slightly different - and help you get some ammunition for your boss(es)

    How much are good images of this stuff worth to the business? What benefits are there to getting this better - that can be converting new customers, beating the competition, faster sales, more sales etc - this is about benefits a business cares about. Technically well taken pictures are not a benefit a business cares about - but money, customers and supply chain efficiencies usually are

    If you can take those benefits and quantify them in to money even better - for example, my business spends a *lot* of money sponsoring events. On the face of it throwing more than 25% of our profits at something like that might seem daft (or vanity) but we take this seriously and make sure every event brings us in new clients or new talent - it is an excellent investment for us because we are still growing at 50% a year

    You then look at the costs - costs to get better and costs of staying the same (ie so if you change nothing what is it costing?). Costs include your time, space in a building, kit, and might include lost customers/sales - if you have lost sales because of poor photos, or spent ages on the phone clarifiying this for customers that the pictures should do there is a cost - tiny example, I buy bits with Ffordes becuase I like the chap and the stuff is decent - but I always have to ask for higher resolution pictures, it wont be ust me. I assume the cost of hosting lots of hig res pictures exceeds the cost of handling the phone calls and emails or Andrew would change. But maybe he likes the phone calls, so if you were to put a business case to him you would need to understand what he cares about. What does your boss(es) care about? Sometimes it can be things like looking professional (or better than a particular competitor), sometimes its just the money

    I would be amazed if you cant make a case to buy what is needed - and frankly if you cant make a business case to do this then the company should not be doing it. Go spend your time and energy on something more useful

    Happy to talk some more about his in PM if you want
     
    Garry Edwards likes this.
  4. Garry Edwards

    Garry Edwards

    Messages:
    10,318
    Name:
    Garry Edwards
    Edit My Images:
    No
    I completely agree, and obviously you will need to make a case for spendiing even a small amount of money, i.e. you will have to submit a bid for the money, and you either get it or you don't. All that I'm saying is that if the answer is 'No' then your own answer needs to be the same, because without the essential equipment, you will fail.

    The (perceived) problem is that small businesses often don't value the importance of good photography. Their answer is often that sales are "O.K. as it is" - not realising that they could be so much better, or that "our photos are about the same as our major competitors, so we don't need to do anything different" and if they don't appreciate that the businesses that are successful are those that project a more professional image, then you're working for a firm that will never grow, and that will probably not even survive for much longer, and so you'll be wasting your time.

    Depending on the size of the business, and the understanding (or otherwise) of the decision makers, they may or may not understand how much extra staff time is involved in answering queries that good photos would answer for them, and they may or may not understand that the vast majority of potential customers don't even ask the questions, they just go to a competitor instead.

    One powerful argument to include in your bid is the fact that all successful online sellers take their product photography very seriously indeed. They may not go for top or even reasonable quality photos (in the sense that they are mostly nowhere near true professional quality) but they do have multiple photos from multiple angles, that show exactly what is on offer, normally with simple graphics included that show essential dimensions - what this does is to reassure the potential customer that they're buying the right widget, and these photos, together with the graphics, overcome language problems too. Even if excessive (and expensive) post processing work could replace the correct lighting approach, it's so time-consuming that it wouldn't be viable either in terms of the value of your own time or in terms of the amount that one person could achieve - and when this problem is balanced against the solution, which only involves about £1000 and a couple of days of practice, it's a no-brainer.

    Here is your opportunity to help your Company increase market share, sales and profits, and to improve your own position within the Company, at the same time increasing your own photography skills.
     
  5. srichards

    srichards

    Messages:
    9,934
    Name:
    Suz
    Edit My Images:
    Yes
    Is there a really big window anywhere that you could set a large table next to? Put a plain net curtain over the whole of the window and you have a free enormous soft box.

    How much are these piles of metal that you are selling? Are they multiple hundreds of pounds or under £100 or even under £50?
     
  6. Garry Edwards

    Garry Edwards

    Messages:
    10,318
    Name:
    Garry Edwards
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    No
    With respect, wrong approach. The photography needs to be consistent, regardless of the weather conditions, time of day, time of year etc., and it needs to be capable of being carried out quickly. And anyway, a "free enormous soft box" is useless unless it's in the right place.
     
  7. Alan Clogwyn

    Alan Clogwyn

    Messages:
    7,089
    Name:
    Richard Alan Jones
    Edit My Images:
    Yes
    Well he's open to the possibility of spending some money, but the sort of setup Garry is talking about is completely out of the question, though will be worth revisiting in a few years when there may actually be room to set up a studio, though I suspect by the time that comes around there will be a lot less need for one. Till then it's speedlites and kit that can be packed away. All I care about is getting the things on a nice plain background so I can spend as close to zero time in post as possible (both for my own sanity as well as from an economics point of view). So with that i mind... can we get back to the point which is some budget backdrop equipment that isn't total pish? :)
     
  8. DynatechFan

    DynatechFan

    Messages:
    9
    Edit My Images:
    No
    Trying to get back on topic, but having zero knowledge of prod shots - would you always use white for this or would a colour (like grey / black) work?

    OP mentioned mucky items which would lead me to wipeable surfaces like Dunelm vinyls
     
  9. Garry Edwards

    Garry Edwards

    Messages:
    10,318
    Name:
    Garry Edwards
    Edit My Images:
    No
    Well, the OP isn't prepared to take the lighting and background advice that I've given him, or the business advice that we've both given him and is still asking about a background that won't help him and which isn't even needed, so my answer is for you, not for him.
    White is the general colour of choice for web shots, simply because it produces consistent results. People tend to use some kind of background for portrait and fashion shots because it makes life easier (quite difficult and time-consuming to cut our around hair and other fine detail) but for product shots, a background is only rarely used by experienced product photographers simply because the results are so much better without one and because it's so easy to cut them out.
    The reason for this is, again, consistency, coupled with ease of use.
    1. Even a white background ends up grey unless there is more light falling on the background than on the subject.
    2. It's easy to get the right amount of light on the background, given enough space and enough lighting to allow the background to be lit separately (it needs to be lit separately because it's a separate subject) but the product floor (the part of the background that the subject is sitting on) is much more difficult, this requires a translucent surface through which extra light is passed.
    3. Even when this can be achieved (requires much more lighting, much more space, much more skill, much more care) light either reflected from or transmitted onto the main subject from the lighting on the background will adversely affect the lighting on the main subject, reduce contrast and create flare.
    4. Effects such as full or partial reflections of the product, shadows etc, which are dependent on camera height, reflectivity and lighting position, mean that these will vary shot to shot, destroying consistency.

    So, we don't bother with a background, although it might sometimes help to have some kind of a background, just to avoid having to cut out clutter.
    Post production, we simply cut out the background, a very simple job with products that have hard edges. We can then make the background any colour or shade required, without any risk of either colour or light being spilled onto the subject. We can very easily add gradients too, plus semi or full reflections, shadow etc, and all with total consistency.
    Being able to change the colour (instantly) in post production is even more important when the same shot is to be used for more than one purpose, for example we may need a pure white background for the web, but a black, coloured or gradient background for a brochure or a printed advert.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Graham W likes this.
  10. Alan Clogwyn

    Alan Clogwyn

    Messages:
    7,089
    Name:
    Richard Alan Jones
    Edit My Images:
    Yes
    Ok then, I'll be sure to ignore all of that :rolleyes: I didn't ask you for lighting advice and definitely not business advice on behalf of my employer, I asked about background stands and backgrounds which everyone has been deathly silent about, so at the risk of sounding like a broken record ... a semi decent background stand suggestion, anyone?
     
    Ed Sutton likes this.
  11. DynatechFan

    DynatechFan

    Messages:
    9
    Edit My Images:
    No
    sorry that sharing some thoughts "definitely" didnt help - helping was the intent - hey ho
     
    Garry Edwards likes this.
  12. mike weeks

    mike weeks

    Messages:
    4,500
    Name:
    mike
    Edit My Images:
    No
    You were given good advice because your idea was crap, a background stand will not cure the issues here, and a YN560s have not got a snow ball in hells chance of lighting such a setup, even if you add ambient, and if you are going to use the only surface that is cleanable i.e. vinyl it is heavy so cheap stands are no use

    Mike
     
    paul williams and Garry Edwards like this.
  13. mike weeks

    mike weeks

    Messages:
    4,500
    Name:
    mike
    Edit My Images:
    No
    sorry but that is not work from a photography department but if it is then the boss should sack them all because at present you are adding hours to the process to resolve and all that together with just a few images will pay for the gear, unless you work for free
     
  14. Garry Edwards

    Garry Edwards

    Messages:
    10,318
    Name:
    Garry Edwards
    Edit My Images:
    No
    You're right, you didn't ask for business advice, and you didn't specifically ask for lighting advice either (although you did detail the 'lighting' that you plan to use) so we kind of assumed, base on your obvious lack of understanding of the real issues, that you were asking for real, useful information.
    Unfortunately, your response to our attempts to help you do tend to discourage future help.

    Turning now to your specific questions, get any background and any background support system you like, neither are needed and neither will help, so your choice will make no difference.
     
    Graham W and mike weeks like this.
  15. GreenNinja67

    GreenNinja67

    Messages:
    3,142
    Name:
    Terry
    Edit My Images:
    Yes
    The phrase "f*** you very much" comes to mind.
     

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