Shooting for Walmart: do you think it is cool?
I was cleaning our photobank on Drobo FS (8TB total and only 20% left empty), and found few images of the studio lighting setups from 2 years old photo-sessions we did for Walmart. That time we shot a lot of kitchenware for the product packaging. It was interesting time, as we learned a lot, often working with quite complicated subjects such as chrome glossy kettles and irons. (Take a look how my articles looked in 2009: Kitchenware Photosession: shooting highly reflective objects)
Photography for product packaging, especially for brand like Walmart is relatively well paid, but could become boring really quick. The same set of view angles, repeatedly plain shot again and again…
Truly speaking, this is not what I was dreaming about when purchased my first strobe:-) In any case, it will be useful to show technical part of such shots now, as I have a lighting setups and never published them.
Below BTS from few shots from many we have done for Walmart
GE Panini grill
This is almost as-is image from the RAW converter, only some work on a background (to make it pure white) was done. The lighting is below:
The lighting setup
The lights #1 and #2 were the main light sources, with the power ratio close to 2:1 respectively. A semi-glossy metal of the grill looked good when lit by large softboxes, as they provided nice even light spread and produced smooth reflection on the grill surface.
Light #3 was a 10º spot ( PCB honeycomb) to make that top (cover) plate of the grill look nice. If you take closer look to a grill, you’ll see what I mean. That sharp distinctive look of the groves on a grill’s cover plate appeared because of this spot light.
#4 was for the background to make it white. I could possible use a stripbox to fill the rear part of the table, but beauty dish with white socks on it worked well too.
Below is the top view of the same setup, one more light become visible:
The light #5 was dedicated to a bowl with macaroni. As usual, food look the best when lit from behind (in addition to a main light of course). White screens from both sides were needed to eliminate parasitic reflections from the studio surroundings and to help with more even light spread around the subject. The handles of the grill has a chrome finish, and without these screens and large softboxes they would reflect the whole studio.
There is one little cool thing to note: on that spot light from the front (#3 on our schema) I have covered bottom half of the honeycomb grid with foil. That was necessary to cut the beam so it won’t hit the panini bread, otherwise a bread crumbs would be overexposed.
This is it for the grill. When everything completed, the end product will look like this:
This is how this box looked on a Walmart shells:
Nothing fancy, and it is hard to be proud from having personal photo-gallery on Walmart shells:-)
The second shot I found is a lighting setup from GE black kettle shoot:
This is as-is, unprocessed image (besides a slightly whitened background in ACR ). Kettle has glossy black finish, and I decided to use softboxes without diffuser panels to preserve that glossy feel. The cap is chrome covered plastic, which required additional attention on what to be reflected there (more about cup is here).
The lighting setup:
I did not use a shooting table for this shot, and it was a reason for this. When we shoot highly reflective subject like our kettle, the wide table surface inevitably will be reflected from the subject (usually bottom). This is why I’ve made a simple screw-in base (actually, I have different sizes of such bases), they have a standard 3/8” thread and can be mounted on any light stand or a tripod.
Here is one of them, bottom view: Nut inside is secured by glue and that triangle plate.
By using such small footprint table I was able to positioned my softboxes the way that reflection from them covered whole subject, from top to the bottom. Want to see how it would look on a shooting table? Here it is, exclusively for you, my reader (lucky that I found this shot):
Bad example of a subject on a shooting table:
So, back to out lightning setup.
Everything should be self-explainable, the only one thing I want to note: When we build a lighting to shoot reflective stuff like this, the only thing important is a shape of the light, not the direction of it. We do not highlight the subject, we put “bright things” (i.e softboxes) around it to build desired reflections on a subject’s surface. This is why we can’t have any snoots or bare reflectors in front/sides of the subject, as they will be visible as you shoot in front of the mirror. Not the light from them but the light by itself. Therefore large good quality softboxes (mine was not good ones, if you were wondering) is the best helper in such shots.
One more thing, almost forgot (that bad example remained me). The cup of our kettle. If I’d have a bare beauty dish(BD) like it was on a setup photo, it would be reflected on a chrome cup as you see on that “bad” example above. On the “good” photo, cap has nice, almost white gradient filling. It tells me that it was a diffuser on top of the kettle. So… just in case you’ve missed it: a diffuser was placed between kettle and top light (AB800 on BD) to form a smooth reflection on a kettle’s cup.
Another shot (part of “exploded” view) is below. As you see, the lighting was good even for such dramatic angle change.
There are few more recent article about the product lighting you may want to take a look are on my other blog at pixiq.com:
- Studio product photography tips&tricks: Shooting glassware on black background.
- Lighting for small product photography: shooting cosmetic brushes.
Lighting, light modifiers and accessories:
Exposure specification: shutter speed 1/250 sec, F18, ISO 100