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Product Photography:

How To Photograph a textured subject

Quick demonstration of how to photograph textured subjects in product photography.

This is recorded answer to one of our Photography Forum submissions (Nike shoes), and I think it is good to highlight it here as an example which will work on many other areas of product photography.

I have seen cases where photographers use soft light on textured subjects and end up getting a plain and flat look on the final image.

Here are some suggestions you need to follow to avoid that plain look:

If the subject does not have a considerable amount of glossy surfaces, start with 1-3 spot lights illuminating it from different directions. Do not start with softboxes!
  Aim lights on a sharp angle to the subject: 20-30 degrees would be a good point to start.
  Add reflectors, diffusers or use softboxes only if the photo result is too contrasted and has too many unwanted dark areas. To soften the look, I would suggest starting by placing white reflectors around your subject while still using spot lights.


Below are results I’ve got on this demo (no post-production of any sort)

How To Photograph a textured subject
How To Photograph a textured subject


This is how it looks like when lit by Broncolor optical spot attachment with “spotty” screen on it. Note the “alive” and dramatic look of the shoe created by micro-gradients of spots projected on it:

How To Photograph a textured subject

Note: these are just demo shots, not intended to show the whole workflow of a good shoe product shot. Instead, it is aimed to demonstrate the approach

In the Gearbox

Camera: Hasselblad H1 + Leaf Aptus 75 Digital Back
Broncolor Grafit A4 pack
Broncolor Pulso flash heads
Software: Capture One Pro



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