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I'm having real trouble taking professional looking photos of a product. I purchased a light-box and I am using my Nikon D40 but the results are just don't seem good enough.

I've also attempted to resolve the issue in Photoshop CS6 by cutting the background out but the magic wand tool just isn't working well and keeps selecting some parts of the bottle..

Image here:

enter image description here

This is what my setup looks like: (there is a light at the top too which has been cut out in the photo)

enter image description here

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3  
you need to define what is "not good enough" and how you want it to be. For one I think it is too blurry, which is not addressed in the current answers. To troubleshoot that we need your camera settings. secondly, the light is not nice, which is addressed below. –  Michael Nielsen Jul 9 '13 at 23:12
    
possible duplicate of How do I properly do shadowless product photos? –  mattdm Jul 9 '13 at 23:34
    
There is a reason why they call it the "tragic wand", you know. Unless you're trying to select things with very clean edges and high contrast, it's best to pretend it's not there. –  user2719 Jul 10 '13 at 0:14
3  
@mattdm - Not sure I agree on the dupe. He has the tools, which that question answers, now he needs to put them together to get the result. Not much help telling a guy that the way to get good product shots is to get a light tent when he has one... –  John Cavan Jul 10 '13 at 0:17
    
Thanks for the replies. I'm very new to photography so my camera settings are as follows: I set the white balance by taking a photo of the inside of the tent without a product. The ISO is set to 100, and I increased the shutter speed so it takes about 1.5 seconds and makes the background look very white (on the camera's display at least!). On the camera it says 3". Not quite sure about the exposure!! –  JamesBriggs Jul 10 '13 at 6:19

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think you really need more light. Don't be afraid to pump up the wattage there, you can use shutter speed and aperture to effect the exposure. My setup is fairly similar:

enter image description here

But the lights on the side are very bright and the softbox on top is even more so (it's a Westcott cheapie continuous light). That light is bright enough to really take the shadows down from the side lighting. You have to experiment though, move things around a bit to get the shadows where you want them and try to avoid hot sides. Notice that the sides of my panels don't have a circle from the light? Your light is harsh and harsh creates hard shadows and specular highlights.

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you definitely do not need more power for product photography when working with continuous lights, all you need is more control (over the ambient light, and the relative brightness of each light) and then you can simply expose for longer! –  Matt Grum Sep 16 '13 at 13:13

I'm not sure if there is actually enough light coming from those lights to really get things across. Aside from possibly needing brighter lights, you are also getting highlights on the plastic off of the spots where the light isn't diffused enough and it is reflecting in to the camera. Try playing with the angle of the lights and possibly moving them such that the highlights are displayed higher up the sides of the light box, possibly angled towards the top. It will send less light to the product, but should diffuse the light more and possibly help with the shadows you are getting on the bottom.

The light right now is way too directional and not nearly diffused enough.

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You've got a couple of problems here. The highlights on the product are already blown out in places, yet the background isn't white at all, but more of a light grey color. If you want a lighter (whiter) background your going to have to put more light on the background and less directly on the product. Then when you take the picture expose for the product, so the background blows out. You could do this by placing another light in the back shining through the background (I'm assuming the back of your light box is somewhat translucent like the sides and top).

Simply doing a tone curve adjustment this case isn't going to work since that will further blow out the whites on the product.

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Benjamin, thanks for the prompt response. Yes, I've noticed the background is looking grey and have tried everything I can to make it whiter! If the background is good enough, will I not need to remove it in Photoshop? (From googling a number of professional product photos, the backgrounds look too white to be natural!) –  JamesBriggs Jul 9 '13 at 22:53
    
As Benjamin's answer stated, you need to light the background brighter than the product so the background blows out before the product does. That is the key. –  Michael Clark Jul 10 '13 at 9:57
    
Thanks for this response Michael. Once I've lit my background enough (by pointing all the lights at it), do you have any suggestions as to what to set my camera to, to begin with at least? e.g ISO and shutter speed etc. Many thanks. –  JamesBriggs Jul 10 '13 at 10:02

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