Last time, I briefly touched on the kinds of lighting and light modifiers that are an absolute necessity to product photographers. However, there are many different types of light modifiers that product photographers find useful. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of these modifiers and how they can enhance the products that you’re shooting.
Reflectors come in numerous shapes, sizes, and colors. These devices let you take advantage of available light by bouncing it into shadowed areas. Reflectors are particularly useful when there are too many shadows in the shot, but you don’t necessarily want to add another light. For instance, if you’re taking product images outside, strategically placed reflectors will let you highlight shadowed areas using only sunlight.
Colored gels or filters are colorful sheets of plastic that you mount to the front of your strobes or studio lights to alter the color of the lighting. There are many creative ways to use gels, but for product photography, the primary purpose is to alter the color temperature of your light source. If you’re shooting in your studio, but you want to mimic the look of evening sunlight, you can use gels to warm up your lighting.
Because gels come in so many colors, you can also use them to create a variety of special effects. If you’re taking photos of gadgets, for example, you can give the images a high-tech look by using gels to shine colored light along the edges of the product or on the backdrop.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with diffuser umbrellas, it’s likely that you’ll want to step up to softboxes (sometimes called light banks). A softbox is a square, rectangular or hexagonal device that attaches to your light. Unlike an umbrella, softboxes have closed sides so that the light is only diffused through the front of the device.
Softboxes are useful because they give you more precise control over the direction of your light sources. Umbrellas diffuse lighting over a broad arc while softboxes let you focus the light on one area. When you use softboxes, you can deliberately arrange areas of light and shadow to create more appealing images.
Snoots work in much the same way as softboxes, but they take the concept of narrowing your lighting a step further. A snoot is a tube that mounts on a studio light or strobe to create a spotlight effect. While they’re most popular for creating moody portraits, product photographers will snoots useful to highlight product logos or other key selling points.
The creative use of light makes the difference between bland and bold product photos. These tools will help you master the lighting, whether you’re in your studio or outdoors. Next time, we’ll explore the types of camera gear that will help you perfect your product images!