Shooting transparent and translucent objects on a white background can often be very tricky. You want to be able to show off the product itself without it being overpowered by the background behind it. It can be difficult to light in a way that makes it stand out, but it is definitely possible – as proven by thousands of listings on sites like Amazon, eBay or Etsy.
Well, in this video, Dustin Dolby at workphlo takes the mystery out of shooting translucent and transparent items on a white background so that you can photograph your products in a way that helps to make your or your client’s product listings stand out.
For this project, Dustin is photographing a water bottle. He places it on a very small shooting table – only just big enough for the bottle to sit on – which helps to prevent it from interfering with the product itself. For the white background, he uses Savage Translum, which is a translucent white plastic background. This allows him to light it from behind without lights getting in the way in front of the background or creating unwanted spill onto the product itself. It’s a similar principle to the Manfrotto (formerly Lastolite) Hilite, except you’ve got more room and freedom to set up your lights behind it.
Getting the background light level set right this the first step. Dustin adjusts the light and his exposure until he gets a nice white edge around the product. You don’t need to have the entire background be solid white, just the edge around the product. If your entire background is too bright, it’ll essentially become a light source, causing flare and blasting light onto your product, too, which you don’t want.
A second speedlight is added pointing at the product itself. Beginning with a bare speedlight, he experiments by bouncing the light off the white ceiling above, as well as shooting it through a diffuser from various angles in order to highlight different parts of the bottle and its components.
From here, Dustin walks us through his usual process of compositing the images together in Photoshop. He explains exactly what he’s looking for in each of the images he chooses and why he chooses them and takes us step by step through bringing it all together for a fantastic final result.
It’s a pretty simple process that can be done with very minimal and inexpensive equipment. At the end of Dustin’s video, he mentions that he’s using a Nikon D5100 with a Nikon 18-105mm lens and a couple of Yongnuo YN560-III & YN560-IV speedlights (although, personally, I’d recommend the Godox TT600 – especially if you hope to expand your flash gear in the future to something more powerful and compatible). Even the Savage Translum background is only $90.
So, it’s not an expensive set of kit by any stretch of the imagination. But if you sell products or shoot product photos for clients, it’s a setup that can help to sell a lot more items!