Advanced Technique & Process 2B: Introduction to pack shot photography & Capture 1 software

6th February 2015

Equipment used:

Studio – Small and large white back drops
Studio lights
Reflectors e.g white card, black card, flags
Canon 5D mk ii
Industrial tripod
Link cable

The aim of this session was to work as a group using trial and error to learn how to light and photograph pack shots in the studio, and practice the art of pea-pushing to get the aesthetic we needed to compliment the object and the background. We also used Capture 1 software and had the camera linked up to the software via a link cable to the computer.

The first item we photographed was a brown cardboard box with writing on each of it’s sides. We positioned it slightly at an angle so that the text on each side was readable for the viewer/client. We lit the box from above with a soft box, and got the exposure sorted so that we had a definite black with the text and so that it didn’t look grey. The top of the box was nicely lit and exposed with the soft box above however the 2 visible sides of the box looked quite dark in comparison so we used a piece of white card on each side of the box to reflect the light back. This worked well and they looked to be lit the same as the top of the box – all because we used pieces of white card as reflectors! Then we needed to sort the white back drop out. We wanted to have a graduated background going from white where the box was, steeply graduating to black behind the box. So we positioned and secured a large black flag at the same level as the light, and it took quite a few tries at turning it ever so slightly at different angles to get the black background without a ‘gap’ of light getting through and creating a grey/white reflection onto the background.

pack shots 200034 1blogsized

The second item we photographed was a polystyrene rectangle cube. Seen as it was a white cube on a white back ground we had to be mindful of keeping the detail and not letting the exposure up too high and letting the highlights bleach out. We lit the cube from the top with a softbox and had the flag in place to create a grey background to contrast with the cube. Once we had the exposure correct on top of the cube to see the detail, we noticed that the 2 sides of the cube facing the camera looked grey, and if someone with a colourful top stood next to it, there was the reflected colour of the clothing on the cube, so we had to make sure it appeared it’s genuine colour: white. In order to achieve this we added 2 white pieces of card on each side, slightly angled towards the light, to bounce the light back onto the shady parts of the cube. We had achieved both the cube lit correctly and keeping the detail and colour.

pack shots 200070blogsized

The third item we photographed was a clear plastic box containing floppy discs. Now this was a tricky one to photograph because of it’s shiny surfaces, and the actual product (the discs) were inside this, so we needed to be able to see into the box as well as showing it in a great light itself. We had to make small adjustments like rearranging the discs inside the box and using a small piece of card behind them, to prop them up so they were properly visible.

It was important to photograph the box in the same position as the previous items, because we needed to be able to see the text/info on the front and sides of the outside of the box as well as the floppy discs inside.

In order to avoid the shiny box to reflect back light, we positioned a black flag to one side of the box so that it absorbed the light and didn’t over expose the highlights of where the box was lit. To control this further, when needing to pick the box up to make adjustments to the discs, we put two pieces of card in line with where the box had been so we weren’t having to re-meter the light when putting it back.

pack shots 200058blogszied

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the second half of the session because I was shooting a wedding in the afternoon. However I want to apply what I have learnt on the small set up to be able to produce large scale pack shots in the future. I feel this session very much added to my knowledge of all the tiny adjustments to be made to a set up, to add to the image as a whole in the end. I learnt how important positioning is and how reflectors can be used effectively to create a desirable aesthetic. I also had the opportunity to use Capture 1 software and this session enhanced my knowledge of it and how it works.

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