The presence of light while doing product photography is of the utmost importance. Photographers deploy different types of lights to lighten the product photography location. But the use of light depends highly on the time and place of your photography.
If you shoot during the daytime, obviously there will be natural light. Depending on the condition, you may require to make use of artificial lights. In contrast, at nighttime, you have to take advantage of artificial or external lights.
One of the complementary lights that you can use for product photography during no light or low light conditions is speedlight. Must be wondering to know ins and outs of speedlight right? No worries, this write-up will exclusively deal with speedlight for product photography.
Speedlight is nothing but an on-camera flash that is used by photographers in photography to brighten or illuminate dark or low-light areas. Usually, photographers mount speedlights on top of their cameras to make their photoshoots.
Speedlight brings out a powerful burst of light to illuminate your photography subjects. Canon’s camera flash is often spelled as speedlite while Nikon calls its camera flash a speedlight. But both these terms refer to the same type of gadget.
Apart from brightening a spot, speedlight can also freeze motion with its high-speed sync feature. If you don’t know what high-speed sync is, it’s actually a technical term that lets flash work with a fast shutter speed. Hence, it can freeze motion.
You may also read– Product Photography Lighting.
Speedlights serve a whole lot of benefits. They’re super useful when it comes to product photography. We wouldn’t recommend using speedlights as your main light because they’ve not got the power. But they are very small and can be exceedingly handy.
Another hidden benefit of speedlights is their astounding short flash durations. That means if you shoot your product photography with a speedlight, there is hardly any chance of overexposing your shots.
That doesn’t mean that speedlights are better for freezing action only. When using lights with a faster flash duration, you need to lower the power output. This means reducing the already meager 50 Watts of power. As a result, you must increase the ISO and ensure that all ambient light is blocked out.
Now, we have landed on the core segment of this write-up. Yeah, we will now provide you with some useful product photography tips while using speedlights. They will guide you on how to go about snapping product photography with speedlights.
Let’s cut to the chase right away-
Even though we already that we don’t recommend speedlights as the main light source, take advantage of a diffuser if you wish to leverage it as your main source. You can put your Speedlight behind a large diffuser to get a big soft light source, which operates like a window.
In case you don’t have a diffuser, soften your light with a piece of white translucent fabric (like a thin sheet) or a big sheet of tracing paper. Alternatively, you can also bounce the light from the white wall. Don’t forget that the larger the light source, the softer the light.
Definitely, speedlights do not radiate as much light as studio lighting strobes. But the perk they have is that you can easily carry them to a variety of locations.
Your Speedlight can be a lifesaver if there’s a trace of light or no available ambient light. You can leverage your flash to lift the shadows and disclose details on your subject if they are backlit. It’s especially handy if your main point of focus has its back against a sunset sky.
On top of that, if you want to create a silhouette, speedlighting can help with that as well. To bring out a glowing outline of your subject, all you have to do is put your camera flash behind it.
You already got the idea that Speedlights are small. They bring out a hard light with dark and prominent shadows. You can make use of this harshness and high contrast.
Not every subject looks cool with very dark shadows and overly bright highlights. But crystals and flowers in glass jars no doubt do!
Speedlights are robust enough to create a stunning white background, which is superexcellent for a variety of shots. And this is something you can easily do with a backlight experiment.
For your information, it’s perfect for glass and other transparent products. All you need to do is just place your speedlight behind any kind of diffusing material, maybe, white cloth or layout paper. Once you trigger the light, you’ll notice how your glassy products become luminous.
The best part of speedlight is that you can create magical effects with this kit effortlessly. What you have to do is just put your products into something like a box and make them glow from the inside.
Then what? Start promoting your products through a number of platforms to entice your potential clients. Compared to normal time, they are likely to react more positively to the magical effects produced by speedlight.
As we already mentioned above that with speedlights, you can freeze motion. If you undertake any ecommerce product photography project, your primary is to shoot in such a way that the shots appeal to prospects.
360° rotating product display is an innovative way to intrigue clients. Tapping into speedlights, you can freeze the motion of 360° product photography and highlight different aspects of products. This will automatically enhance the chances of product sales.
Another interesting aspect of speedlight is that you can set compact speedlights on a very low power, which is excellent when you want to light up one product, but don’t want much light bouncing around.
In this way, you can save ample power and energy. Overall, it’s a nice and good tool for product photography, isn’t it?
To start off, we would suggest shooting the products distinctly to avoid them reflecting onto each other, making it easier to get a super clean look for each piece. Although you may find some AI tools or software to help make automatic clipping paths upon importing the images into Photoshop. But the manual system through professionals can deliver the best outcome in this regard.
Then, go for a long strip of diffusion paper that extends from the lens to the product where you can place a single speedlight in a strip box. Make sure to place the light source on a slight angle behind the product letting quick and minor adjustments for the shot to get things just right.
Ideally, if the light source is positioned appropriately, the spread will fall on just nearly half of the product. Then, it is just a matter of correctly placing a reflector or bounce card across the product to fill in the shadows and recycle the light from the strip box.
The depth of the bounce card placement will impact the padding position. So don’t forget to make adjustments accordingly to notch up a flattering and consistent light pattern to be used across all identical products.
Once a clean setup is attained, we suggest starting rotating the products through the setup. Make sure the light and padding fall in similar locations for consistency. Then, all that is left is to import the files into Photoshop to kick off retouching.
Once imported into Adobe Photoshop, add a reflection by duplicating the products. Then, flip them vertically, positioning the “reflection” directly below the originals. Don’t forget to reduce the opacity significantly. And finally apply a linear gradient so that there is a smooth fall-off providing a nice, catalog ecommerce looking image.
Finally, fix any inconsistent shadows on the reflective parts of the product by copying and pasting stretched portions of the product over the existing setup. Mask them in accordingly to notch up a very consistent appearance across the whole image. However, the amount of retouching and photoshop fix is simply up to the user or client.
You may also read– Best Action Camera Flashlight.
Along with the tips mentioned above, there are additional dos and don’ts you can follow while using speedlights. Let’s take a glimpse of them-
Do you have familiarity with that white haze and weird shadows in photography? Well, using flash directly on the subjects produces them. You should make sure that you bounce the light instead of flashing it on your product.
This will ensure that the light which falls on your subject is not extremely harsh. Furthermore, your choice of the surface where the flash bounces off also matters. You should not choose a surface that is too brightly colored for this purpose.
This also lets you control the light your product interacts with. Modifying light means you can improve it further, either by flattering it or controlling its harshness of it. Thus, it creates more even lighting. Consequently, it also makes the light that falls on your product a whole lot softer.
Therefore, if you pull off using a light modifier, it has the potential to make your product look more appealing. There are several types of light modifiers available in the market.
Definitely, speedlights can help you do a wide variety of things. However, this does not mean that you brush aside the lights in the surroundings.
This is because using speedlight flash would mean that the focus is on your product. While it sounds like a good thing, it can quickly turn the tables. Excessive focus on your product is also not a good thing.
It can make your background vanish entirely. Thus, it will make your products look odd and devoid of any context. Therefore, you should strive to find the right balance between focusing on your product and giving the background a chance to tell the right story.
Every light used for photography or product photography has both pros and cons, and so does speedlight. But proper and apt use of the flashlight can bring its true potential of it.
Speedlight flash packs a punch when it comes to product photography for the simple reason that it is consistent and replicable. While using the flash, you can be sure that each time you click the shutter you’ll be getting the same result as the last time, giving the photography that ‘professional’ quality.
The flash can be fiddly to get going, but once things are set up you can work super fast. Even photos take a fraction of a second to take, as compared to 5-10 seconds in natural light conditions. When you are shooting tons of products, this means you get the scope to save loads of time over the span of a shoot.
With consistency and fastness, speedlight flash lets you batch edit in post processing, saving you time on the computer.
Flash can be Intimidating:
People are often scared of things they are unfamiliar with and if you haven’t used speedlight flash before, it can often seem complex. This complexity is largely a misnomer and you can achieve striking results in most situations with simple setups.
No Idea of the Output Until it’s Captured:
As the speedlight flash doesn’t go off until you take the photo, it can sometimes be staggering to see how different the photo looks from what you see in front of you. The impact of the flash can be mimicked using the unit’s modeling light. However, you need a dark room to leverage this.
Speedlight is a super useful gadget when it comes to any type of product photography. This is because products, regardless of online or offline products contain minute details that require focus while shooting. With this sophisticated tool, product photographers can do it effortlessly.
However, Speedlight is a flashlight. So professionals don’t recommend using it alone without the presence of surrounding light. Amidst natural light or artificial light, it can yield smashing results if handled nicely and aptly.
So, if you are a pro product photographer, never be reluctant to keep this handy piece of photography equipment in your arsenal. Leverage this amazing tool creatively, bring out product photography masterpieces, and wow your clients!