How To Make A Extra Large Light Reflector For Photography

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Natural lighting tin either be your best friend or worst enemy in a production photography shoot. Nail it, and the results will speak for themselves. Get information technology wrong, and no amount of editing tin salvage a photo from poor lighting.

Lighting and photographic camera settings determine the upshot of the unabridged shoot before it’s even started, so a solid understanding of the nuts of lighting will assist you achieve amazing product photos that you can employ throughout your website and marketing efforts.

For near merchants, it’southward unlikely you’ll have admission to a photography studio and all of the equipment needed to shoot professional production photos. So in this post, we’re going to look at how you lot tin can master DIY natural lighting, and create beautiful photos using either a smartphone or professional-grade camera.

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i. Discover the right lighting conditions

DIY lighting setup.

The most crucial part of every photography setup is the lighting, and it’southward as well the hardest to get right.

There really is no quick fix, or one size fits all solution. Unlike products volition require different lighting, and information technology’s up to you to figure out what works best for your products. In one case you get a handle on the basics, it’ll exist a case of trial and mistake until you notice the perfect formula. We’re going to focus specifically on natural lighting.

Natural lighting through a window is the ideal solution for a few reasons. First and foremost, everyone has admission to a window. Second, natural lighting coming through a window has a unmarried direction. This generates natural shadows, creating a 3D effect past adding texture to your product, bringing information technology to life.

When shooting side by side to a window, y’all desire to shoot when the mean solar day is brightest. Accept a expect at the atmospheric condition. Is information technology a full sunny twenty-four hour period or is it an overcast day? To reach the look you’re going for, full sunlight might not exist what you need. This is where practice, and figuring out what look you adopt comes into play. Every bit yous can see below, shooting with natural lighting tin can make quite a difference in the highlights and shadows of your photo.

DIY lighting example.

two. Harness natural lighting

Smashing natural lighting is essential to achieving perfectly defined images. By controlling the shadows created from natural light, you can add an element of interest to your production photos.

Merely 1 of the about anticipated things about mother nature is that it’southward unpredictable, and so natural lighting is too, often changing from one minute to the next. Y’all need to be prepared for every eventuality.

Natural lighting

As the sunday changes and moves throughout the mean solar day, it affects the manner the natural lite shines through the window. Finding the best light to shoot your production photos tin can be a challenge at the all-time of times. Go along an centre on how the light changes throughout the day to effigy out when the sweetness spot is for that particular location.

There are three terms yous should know when illuminating your subject with natural lighting:

  • Front-lit
    is when indirect natural light hits a product caput-on.
  • Backlit
    is when it hits your subject field from backside.
  • Side-lit
    is when the light comes from either side of the production.

Whatever angle of lighting you lot prefer, it’due south important to note that each one casts a shadow on the reverse side.

Natural light.

To go started using natural light, place a table or chair next to a large window and prop a
(a large white sheet) confronting the wall. This will provide merely the right combination of good lighting and soft shadows. The trick is to avoid straight sunlight every bit it will result in dark, cruddy shadows.

Product in sunlight.

If the sunday is also strong, you lot don’t need to completely scrap a photo shoot. Instead, concur a sparse white sheet, known equally a diffuser, against the window to lengthened and soften the light to create a less harsh outcome. Avoid hard light at all costs equally information technology oftentimes makes colors look more saturated, and will highlight even the almost minuscule flaw not visible to the naked eye.

How to use a reflector to fill up in shadows

If the sun suddenly decides to hibernate behind the clouds, causing the level of natural light to drop, make sure you lot take a reflector on paw to bounciness and intensify light to fill shadows. A reflector can be a white foam board or any white screen. You can pick up white foam boards from just about whatsoever craft shop or pick up a reflector on Amazon.

Without reflector.

Without plenty natural light, the shadows from the creases on this jacket stand up out.

If you’re using a reflector for the start time, you lot can control the amount of natural lite that bounces dorsum past moving your reflector either further away or closer to your production. Using a white surface helps reflect natural light from the sunday dorsum onto the product.

With reflector.

With a reflector, the creases go less prominent equally the shadows are filled in by natural light.

Watch where the light is coming from, and bounciness the lite in the contrary direction. Y’all should shoot directly adjacent to your light source at a 90-degree angle, so reflect that light back onto the subject. This will give your image as much lite as possible while also eliminating equally much shadow equally possible.

For my style photography model shots, I ever keep the window to the right and my reflector to the left. This helps bounce the light to places where there was fiddling to no light, giving a much softer stop to the photo.

Don’t be afraid to play with the angle of the reflector to find the right rest between shadows and lighting. When shooting a backlit product, try placing the reflector in forepart of the product and so the natural low-cal can bounce dorsum onto it.

Side-lit products can produce specially harsh shadows, so brand sure y’all have your trusty reflector on manus, allowing the calorie-free to bounce back on the shadows and soften them.

3. Set up your product background

DIY camera setup.

When shooting product photography, you lot’re going to demand an open infinite for setting up your backdrop: another essential element to achieve great photos using natural lighting.

Your properties should e’er exist white, as white reflects natural light onto the product resulting in an evenly lit photo. A white backdrop is especially helpful in the editing procedure, as it makes information technology much easier to remove the background.

When shooting smaller products, you can either shoot on a table with a big sheet of white newspaper taped to the wall behind the product. Or you can push a chair upwards against the wall under a large window. Record or clamp a large sheet of white paper either to the top of the chair or the wall, depending on what angle you want to shoot from.

If you’re shooting bigger objects, buy a roll of white wallpaper and tape a few long strips to the wall. You could fifty-fifty use a large white sheet and permit gravity take intendance of the rest.

DIY camera setup.

As you can see, I’g shooting against a white wall, leaving plenty of room for a reflector and camera. I used a sturdy piece of white newspaper and bent information technology into a slightly curved shape. This helps make the background await seamless and allows the light to bounce back onto the product.

To secure the paper, I clamped information technology down with some spring clamps from a local hardware store. If you don’t have whatsoever clamps, you could always but record the paper to the wall and tape the bottom to the ground, creating a slight curve in the paper.

Information technology’southward essential to secure your backdrop to ensure nix moves during the photography process. This helps achieve consistent results; even the smallest change will touch the reflections and shadows.

4. Explore different camera angles

Camera angles

Through your product photos, you demand to visually reply whatever questions that your product descriptions don’t fully explain. That’s why having a diversity of camera angles is and so of import.

Give customers as many different perspectives to help showcase the key features of your product. The ultimate goal is to shoot your product from every angle, giving customers a 360 caste view of the product. Providing an all-around view is significantly more engaging as yous’re visually providing extra product data, helping customers picture themselves using or wearing your product.

Product angles.

By taking product shots from different angles, you’ll as well inject some character and creativity into your photos. As a rule of thumb, your primary hero image should be an heart-level head-on view of your product. It’s recommended to have anywhere up to 12 additional supporting images highlighting the most important features.

If you’re not sure what features yous should capture, focus on features that showcase the quality of your product. Take close-ups of the textile, print particular, texture, or fifty-fifty your products being put to use. Be sure to highlight the more than detailed elements of your product that customers might want to audit.

Product highlight

For anyone getting started with product photography, information technology’s highly advisable to move the product around rather than moving your photographic camera.
Keep your camera and tripod in the aforementioned spot, and change the angle of your production instead of having to move your camera. Keep the product in roughly the same identify each time, but rotating its position. This ways your final shots volition all be framed the same. And you’ll maintain consistency, reducing postal service-photography editing.

For anyone with a bit more experience or even those with a very steady hand, y’all could play effectually with a multifariousness of tripod-free photographic camera angles. Attempt shooting the product from in a higher place instead of straight in front. Shooting from above allows you to include more items in your photo. This is especially useful when you want to showcase a production line or in-context photo. Or why non have a go at shooting from a low angle, making the product wait bigger?

Various product angles.

These are the main camera angles y’all should be enlightened of and experiment with in your photo shoot:

  • Eye-Level: Shows the product exactly the way we see it in reality. This is recommended for your hero paradigm.
  • High Angle: Shows the production from above, as if y’all’re looking downward at it from an angle.
  • Depression Bending: Shows the production from below, as if you’re looking up at the production.
  • Bird’s Center: Shows the product direct from above, as if you’re standing over the product.
  • Slanted: Shows the production from i side, as if you’re looking side-on at the product.

five. Utilize your camera’s transmission settings

The dazzler of using a professional photographic camera to shoot is that you can control every single attribute of the photograph through various settings. Just before you even get started with settings, you lot need to get your tripod gear up upwards. Using a tripod is essential to getting the most out of your photographic camera settings. For those who don’t have a tripod, a stack of books will do.

A tripod is necessary because it provides stability, minimizing tiny movements that can ruin a neat photo. I’d recommend you lot make sure your tripod is in line with the product you’re shooting, as this makes it easier when tweaking the settings as you accept photos.

Camera settings.

To reach the best results, I’d recommend always shooting in manual mode. Mastering manual mode lets you adapt to your environment, whether it’s outdoors or an indoor studio, and shoot meridian-notch photos in a variety of lighting conditions.

Shooting in manual mode gives you the ability to control all settings, without worrying most the wrong automatic setting beingness used, similar the flash. The main settings you lot should master to make the most of natural lighting are:

  • Discontinuity
  • ISO
  • White remainder
  • Shutter speed


Aperture example.

First, we’ll look at aperture. I’d recommend you employ a college f-cease because it helps keep every detail in focus. I adopt to shoot between f/8 and f/xiv as this keeps the entire product in focus without losing too much lite.

If you want to make sure the entire product is in focus, use a setting higher up f/12. Some cameras may not go that high, so just use the highest setting available. Ultimately, the college the aperture the clearer the terminal photograph will exist.


ISO example.

Next, let’s become to grips with ISO. The ISO setting manages the camera’s reaction to low-cal. The lower your ISO, the less sensitive the camera is to light and the higher the image quality. But when the ISO setting is also high, images starting time to look grainy or pixelated. When shooting in a dark surround, a higher ISO is needed, but the goal is to find a good rest betwixt improving the lighting and the paradigm quality.

Once you lot get the right ISO setting according to your surroundings, you’ll achieve beautifully crisp product photos. My studio has excellent natural lighting, and then I usually stick to an ISO between 300-500 depending on the weather condition outside. On a specially cloudy solar day, I turn my ISO up high to warm the sensors up and so adjust it until the epitome is nice and clean.

White remainder

White balance example.

Choosing the right white balance will mean your camera accurately adjusts according to the color of your product in conjunction with the lite. For beginners, you probably want to use the automatic white balance setting, so the camera automatically chooses the right setting according to the lighting.

Once yous start getting a bit more than confident with your camera settings, I’d suggest you manually select the white residue setting that most accurately reflects what you lot see. The goal is to get as close a lucifer between what you see in your camera viewfinder and your eyes. Despite beingness a huge amplifier of natural lighting, information technology does take some getting used to and adjustments.

A sudden increase in sunlight or even particularly harsh sunlight can go out your images being overexposed. An overexposed prototype is tough to correct in post-photography editing—especially if you lot’re using a costless photograph editing software—equally the item is not crisp enough due to the harsh lighting. Follow the advice above nigh harnessing natural light , and you’ll have no problem working around it.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed example.

When you lot’ve set up the aperture, ISO and white balance, you tin finally set your shutter speed. The shutter speed will decide how long the shutter is open when taking photos. Longer shutter speeds help the camera pick upwards more than calorie-free, which makes for a beautifully crisp photograph.

My summit tip for getting the most of your shutter speed, and all the camera settings, is to use a tripod. Keeping the camera stable allows all the settings to piece of work together cohesively, leaving the camera’s internal light meter to do its work, resulting in flick perfect production photos.

Manual settings for a smartphone camera

There’south no denying that using a professional camera is the platonic solution when taking production photos. But, don’t allow that hold you back. Smartphone technology is advancing twelvemonth over year, and nearly of them have excellent built-in cameras. At the very to the lowest degree you can take some practiced-quality photos, and leave the residual upwardly to editing.

Smartphone camera settings.

A few central tips when shooting production photos with your smartphone:

  • Avoid the zoom characteristic as this significantly reduces the quality of the image
  • Avoid blurry photos by investing in a tripod for your smartphone
  • Avert the selfie photographic camera as the front camera is non as good at the back camera
  • Avoid using the wink as this will overexpose your photograph and distort the colors
  • Avoid distracting or nighttime background, always shoot against a plain white background
  • Avoid over editing every bit this reduces the quality of the photo, minor adjustments merely

How to take amazing product photos at home

In this video, you volition larn how to take product photography at home with a cellphone and on a budget.

Numerous apps can assistance you get results similar to a DSLR camera. The one I oftentimes recommend is Lightroom CC. Within this app, you can control settings such every bit file format, choosing between JPEG and DNG. DNG provides more information about the image and produce a better quality photograph. The downside of using DNG is that it takes up more storage space on your device.

Other factors you can adapt are aspect ratio, timer, grids, and levels, every bit well as highlight clipping, which shows y’all precisely what is overexposed in the image. In one case you’ve taken your images, y’all can arrange color, exposure, tone, and contrast inside Lightroom CC.

Product photography with a smartphone.

I recommend that you downloaded Lightroom CC on your desktop so that you lot can sync your photos between your desktop and mobile app. I adopt editing photos on the desktop version as I have a bigger screen and can get a closer wait at what needs to be fixed.

6. Shoot your product photos

Shooting product photos.

Now that y’all’ve got everything ready, it’s time to showtime taking photos. Undoubtedly you lot’ll have to adjust things throughout the shoot, but exercise makes perfect. Have fun and embrace your creativity. Shoot lots of photos in a multifariousness of different angles, making a note of the settings you used and what they produced.

Take time betwixt different angles to review the images to see if you need to adjust whatever settings. If yous have time, I’d suggest y’all upload them to your laptop or computer throughout the shoot then you tin can get up shut and personal. Once you’ve called the best photos, it’s time to edit.

To learn more about the basics of photo editing, check out this section of Shopify’s DIY Product Photography Guide.

About the author:

Rachel Jacobs is Head of Content and Partnerships at Pixc, a leading eCommerce production optimization service. Pixc transforms average product photos into professional images designed to increase conversions.


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