Product shots with one light
Learn how to capture a professional image with minimal kit
Product photography can often seem unattainable if you don’t have access to a high-end studio with multiple lights, but with a simple one-light setup it is still possible to create professional-looking captures.
Your precise decisions will, of course, depend on the subject matter, as different objects will require a slightly different approach. A delicate piece of jewellery will perhaps be better suited to a soft, bright and warm composition, whereas a chunky watch, as shown here, will often look best with a dark background and slightly cooler finish.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn the skills you need to light and shoot a product shot of a watch using just one light and a reflector, achieving a high-end, polished result.
1 Position your product Ensure that your chosen product is as clean as possible, especially if it is made of metal and glass like this watch. Use a black perspex base to create a reflection under the product.
2 Feather the flash Now it’s time to position the flash. Angle it so that its light gently feathers onto the watch, but remember that you may need to refine its position slightly once the reflector is added.
3 Adjust the power Set the power on your studio light – this may require experimentation to get it right. Take a test shot at this point, adjusting the power until the scene looks close to how you want it.
4 Arrange the reflector Place your camera on a tripod and adjust its height. Angle a silver reflector on the opposite side to the light. This will help to fill in some shadow on the other side of the product.
5 Set up the camera Set the camera to Manual mode and dial in a low ISO. Set the shutter speed to approximately 1/125sec, using a relatively wide aperture of f4.5. Don’t go beyond the flash sync speed.
6 Take the shot Shoot a test image. You may need to adjust your settings and the positioning of the reflector in order to get the shot exactly right. Your final image may need some editing to remove dust and scratches.