lifehack on item photography - reflection of the object • blue background • vignette

Objective photo of the COOLPIX P530 camera on a blue background

In the last article, I told you what simple methods can be used to significantly improve the quality of the photo content of the online store; what background for item photos should be used and under what conditions.

Today I'll continue my story about item photography, in particular, it will be how to do at home, selling, unusual photos of goods with reflection, as well as share a lighthouse with a background lighting technique.

So we reserve ourselves with patience, we sit down comfortably, we are preparing to open a new level in the item photography.

How to make unusual photos of objects with reflection

item photo of the video head KINGJOY VT-3510 on a blue background

Furrow the vastness of the Internet, you probably have not once met spectacular item photos on the pages of online stores.
And each time they asked themselves: "Well, how do they do it?" Most likely you thought that for such photos you need expensive professional studio equipment and no less expensive camera.

I hasten to make you happy, friends! To shoot this level of photos, items do not need to have the above photo equipment. It is enough to have a cheap pseudo-DSLR, such as the one pictured above, an ordinary photo stand, 2 small (not too powerful) LED flashlights for one AA battery, a piece of cloth, for example, blue, and a piece of glass covered with cheap black stickers. Done, my friends, you have a photo studio in your pocket!

Looking at the photo above, someone will say: "Well, and where is the black sticker?" "It's blue!"
Yes, in the photo above it can really seem that the video head KINGJOY VT-3510 is on the glass which is covered with a blue sticker, however, it is not. But let's not rush things and look at everything in order, we'll put it on the shelves.

Preparing a home photo studio for shooting objects

What we need for shooting

Below detail consider each of the above items.

Room in pitch darkness

Use the technique of the light brush in the item photography

I hope, we do not need to explain for a long time why we need a room in pitch darkness. Photography of the object will be carried out using the so-called Light brush technique. This shooting technique has quite a wide scope of application, it is used not only in item photography in a dark room, but also for shooting huge structures, buildings, ships, cars, etc. But as a light source, they certainly use not the LED flashlight on a small battery, and a powerful searchlight. On the Internet there are a lot of wonderful examples on this topic, I advise you to look.

Working table for photography

The table for shooting should be of sufficient size so that you can place the item on it and leave a little space around it so that you can choose convenient camera angles. My desktop has the size of a meter per meter, which is quite enough for shooting small objects.

Fabric for the background

As a background, I usually use blue fabric or black velvet (depending on the item). So historically, the blue color on the background I liked the most. Therefore, most of the photos in our online store have a blue background with varying degrees of saturation, as well as shades close to blue.

Of course you can experiment with other colors, sometimes it's even useful. Maybe you like something a little beige or pink. There are no restrictions, everything is entirely in your hands.

Glass coated with a self-adhesive black color

Making of a black mirror

You can remove the glass door from the old sideboard and paste a self-adhesive black film on it. Apply the film very carefully, to minimize the appearance of air bullets. Of course, they can then be pierced with a needle from the syringe, but it's better to follow it immediately so that there are no marks left on the glass (spots, dots). You can shoot on either side of the glass. I usually shot from the film side, because the film slightly softens the contours of the reflected object, giving the image some artistry.

However, removing from the back side of the glued glass (where there is no film), we can do without the retouching of scratches that will necessarily be present in the photo when taking small pictures of small objects. But in this case, the reflection of the item will be, as for me, excessively harsh. Depending on the size of the items to be photographed, you need to choose the size of the glass so that you can leave a bit of free space around the item.

Why black is needed

Only black color is able to acquire and broadcast any shade that you will need to shoot an object. If you choose as the substrate, for example, a blue or green color, in this case you will have to retouch in each photo these same colors in the penumbra of objects. And this is not a trivial task, I'll tell you. Therefore, we use exclusively black color of a substrate.

Why you can not shot objects on the glass without film

If you do not glue a film on the glass, the reflection of the item will be doubled, because The glass has two reflecting surfaces: the one on top and the bottom one. Even if you put a black velvet fabric under the glass or a skin turn, the double reflection will not disappear, see the photo below.

green LED flashlight doubling the reflection of the item on the glass

In the example above, the usual black adhesive tape is glued to the underside of the glass. Reflection of the object is 2 times lower in brightness, but the clarity remained too high. Against the backdrop of the black cloth, you can see how the item has received a double reflection.

What can replace the self-adhesive?

If you have a black glossy acrylic sheet at your disposal, you can use it. this is better than self-adhesive, because there are not the slightest scratches on the new acrylic sheet, which is very good to reflect on the quality of macro photos and the speed of their processing. In addition, in terms of transportation/storage, it is much more convenient in comparison with the same glass.

You can also use a metal sheet painted with automotive black paint. But again, how much will it cost? You can even paint one side of the glass evenly with a black paint (preferably with a spray or a can), or pour molten resin, but after that you must immediately attach a sheet of paper to the liquid resin, but without excessive pressure, so that white paper is not visible through the resin. The glass should be preheated beforehand so that it does not crack from the sudden temperature drop.
I recommend this film in this article because of its accessibility and ease of installation, just. But if you want to use alternative methods of making a black substrate (black mirror), - please!


Without a photo-tripod, even the cheapest, you can not do without it. The main thing is that it can securely hold your camera in a locked position. You can of course attach the camera to the clamp, but this method gives a lot of trouble when changing the angle of shooting.

LED flashlight (one or two)

As a light source, you can use any flashlights or even special lighters, the main thing is that you can slowly draw with light for about 10-15 seconds. If the light source is too bright, and the object is also snow-white, then you will need a lot of effort and patience to take a picture without over-exposure. Therefore, you should choose a lighter in which there is a power adjustment, or use a non-powerful flashlight.

Chinese aluminum LED flashlights for a light brush in a small item are just perfect. Especially if this flashlight is equipped with a zoom that can be easily adjusted. In the photo below is an example of a LED flashlight that can be used in a light brush. The photo is slightly pinched and because of this, radial moirés are seen on the gradient section of the image. By clicking the original will open.

LED flashlight for light brush in the object

Why do need a second LED flashlight

The second flashlight is not always needed, but sometimes it is necessary for constant background lighting. Therefore, it is better to have two LED flashlights with different power: one draw on the item, and the second at this time highlights the background (here we use the flashlight more), creating a soft dark blue flare with a gradient on the surface of the self-adhesive, see the photo above.

With a long enough exposure, you can get by with one flashlight. First create a light spot on the background (1-2 sec.), then calmly outline the item, imitating to the best of scattered light from one source located on the upper right (at the same angle as the light spot on the background), see the photo below.

Multiple exposure in the shooting objects

Some photographers in the shooting objects are using multiple exposure techniques. That is, they shoot a series of pictures of one object with the same composition. On one frame the background is highlighted, the second one is added by the supervisor (top/bottom/side), on the third one - drawing and filling. Then all these shots in Photoshop are reduced to one, wiping this or that section of the frame, showing the necessary fragments of the picture and adjusting their brightness. But, in my opinion, this technique of shooting objects takes too much time to postprocess (fuss with layers, overlays and other tedious manipulations with retouches).

Camera for shooting items with a light brush

The ideal option for this method of shooting is a digital SLR. But if you are not a happy owner of it, you can safely use any digital compact if it has a manual mode of shutter speed and aperture control, as well as if it is able to "hold your breath" with an open mouth shutter for at least 5 seconds. That is, the longest exposure should be at least 5 seconds, otherwise nothing will come out.

camera for shooting nikon d80 items on a blue background

Digital SLRs of the middle and top levels in this regard are unrivaled, they can be set shutter speeds are very long. But for us to shoot enough 5-15 seconds, so you can qualitatively illuminate the item from all sides, without leaving deep sharp shadows.

What camera do I use when shooting the item

The first photo of this article has a photograph of the camera that I use when shooting items - NIKON COOLPIX P530. For me, this camera is missing above the roof. Very rarely I use my digital cameras for the item. I shoot them only when I lack 16 seconds to complete the exposure. But this happens very rarely, 1 per 1000 frames. Almost all of the item photos in our OS were shot on the COOLPIX P530. Video product reviews are also filmed by this wonderful camera.

Photo-pear, brush, tweezers

Photo-pear, brush and tweezers must be kept at hand throughout the entire process of item photography. Because it is very convenient. To shot dust particles from an item or background, you need to use a photo-gun or a small brush. To change the position of very small items is better with tweezers, so as not to accidentally touch the neighboring items with your fingers.

photo pear for shooting objects

The process of photographing an item photograph with a light brush

Shooting black items on a black background

If you previously thought that you can not shot a black object on a black background, then now you see that this is possible. Black items look more advantageous on a black background thanks to a properly selected setup.

neck strap on a black background

In the photo above, one light source was used - a flashlight. Background - black fabric. The substrate is glass with a black self-adhesive. Everything is simple and simple.

Exposure parameters and modes

  • White balance - «PRE»;
  • Quality ISO - 100;
  • Exposure - 5 sec.;
  • Diaphragm - 7;
  • The focal length is 18 mm.;
  • The camera position is about 35-40º on the substrate;
  • Manual mode of control - «M».

Setting the white balance «PRE»

I advise you to select a preset WB before shooting - «PRE» manual setting so that post processing does not take a lot of time. This is done very simply: in the camera menu, find the WB parameters, select the WB manual setting item, point the camera at a white sheet of paper, turn off the light, turn on the flashlight, light the paper with a flashlight, select the "measure" item, confirm the measurement, wait a couple of seconds. - it's ready! This procedure applies to the NIKON COOLPIX P530, but on other cameras it looks almost the same.

Change background color from black to blue

How to change the background color without changing the substrate and moving items

To replace the black background of the glass substrate with blue, it is enough to direct the beam of light of the second flashlight onto the blue fabric located behind the object table and fix it in this position. To do this, you can use a stick of coiled tape to a plastic water bottle, several stools standing on each other, or attach a flashlight to the studio stand, if you have one.

items on different backgrounds

The blue fabric should be close to the work table, and its height should be at least one meter above the level of the table. This is necessary in order to be able to catch on the glass a reflection from the blue background - a wide color flare.

In the photos above, the objects did not move, and the substrate did not change, just highlighted the blue background in the bottom photo, that's the whole trick. Moreover, with the backlighting of the background, numerous scratches of the self-adhesive have disappeared on the bottom photo, which gave this picture some airiness and lightness. On artifacts in the lower photo, do not pay attention, it's the same result of file compression during optimization.

Vignetting background

How to make a light vignette on the background

With the help of a flashlight zoom, you can control the size of the reflected light from the blue background. It will look like this, as shown in the photo below.

light vignette in the items photo

To create a light spot in the center of the frame, you need to narrow the light beam of the flashlight. After that, looking at the camera monitor or viewfinder, moving the flashlight, set this highlight in the right place: center or side, as shown in the photo below.

Color glare on the item

The reflection of light from a colored background has both the advantages described above and the disadvantages. The disadvantages can safely be attributed color glare on objects. These highlights, by and large, do not spoil the picture, on the contrary, they impart artistry. However, if there is a need to show the natural color of the object in these places, you can use the "Color" tool in Photoshop, and just shot this color shade.

colored glare on the item

Advantages of item photography with reflection

Unusual representation of items

Items with a reflection on the surface of the substrate have their own unique charm, and these photos look spectacular and unusual, attracting the attention of the viewer, in our case - a potential buyer. And it does not matter what kind of product is represented in this technique of shooting, because and holders for flares, and wristwatches will look equally good on such pictures.

Reflection of invisible item surfaces

Shooting items on a reflective surface has not only an aesthetic appeal but is endowed with practical properties. For example, take the photo below. Here on the reflection an inaccessible plane is shown that shows the item from a different angle. Looking at this screw in the full face, we can immediately see his profile. Thus, the buyer receives more information about the product presented in the picture.

reflection of the invisible surfaces of the fixing screw for unloading

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the bottom of the connector of this VGA-DVI converter. Thus, we have an idea of ​​what the elements of the item look like from the other side. Sometimes this can be the most important information for the buyer.

On the shortcomings of the items with reflection, I could not write a word, maybe because they are not, how do you think? I'll be happy with your comments with comments or questions on the topic of this article. That's all. Thanks for attention. Evereone wish the more beautiful photos and successful sales!

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© Andrey Ko 2018***
Features of the light brush technique
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  • Author: Andrey Ko

  • 11.06.2018

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