I try to make a picture of my desk with some objects like this : http://essentials.mijlo.com

I have troubles to set the lights in studio. It's difficult to avoid shadows. I have an Ipad (on) on the desk and there is a lot of reflections.

What kind of studio lighting setup can I use to get the best results ?


  • 1
    Could you show us what have you done so far, what you have tried, what you have achieved?
    – TFuto
    Jun 12 '14 at 13:29
  • 1
    Can you tell us what equipment/budget you have? the answer for a system camera with $1000+ worth of flashes will be quite different than the answer for a point and shoot with only natural light
    – Nir
    Jun 12 '14 at 13:34
  • I have a studio with : combi boom stand, two external flash with soft box or beauty bowl, one cobra flash, one tripod and Nikon D800
    – hotips
    Jun 12 '14 at 14:04
  • Not experienced enough to submit as an answer, but I'm thinking a big softbox from almost directly overhead. It's a similar set up to how they photograph cars in studio conditions Jun 12 '14 at 14:09
  • @TFuto Here is our "best" picture. The white balance will be corrected with the RAW : imgur.com/lEsJuBt. I used a single studio flash with steady light to avoid reflections with flashes
    – hotips
    Jun 12 '14 at 14:55

I can tell you how the shot you indicated should be realized looking at picture.

  1. First of all there is low contrast that means that there is not any kind of barrier between the main light source and the camera.
  2. If you look at the shadows of the top raw they are more sharp than the bottom raw.
  3. and the left vertical raw has "vertical" shadow while the rightest raw has diagonal shadows.

the point 2 and 3 suggested that should be a close hard light (little emsitting surface) inline with the left raw probably and some sort of semitrasparent panel attached to it, so that the farest object (the bottom raw) are illuminated mostly by the bigger diffuser (smooth shadows) while the closest objects "feel" essentially the presence of the lamp.


Move the camera around, keep it parallel to table and look at the reflections, find a camera position where the reflection is of an empty part of the ceiling.

It's ok if the area you are photographing covers only part of the photom the D800 has a lot of pixels and you can crop the picture to show only the interesting parts.

After you find the camera position (and preferably put the camera on the tripod so you can take a lot of test photos without moving the camera) put your most powerful flash in your biggest softbox right behind the camera (or simulate one big softbox by putting two softboxes near each other).

Take a test image to see the softbox is not reflected in the iPad, if it does move things around just a bit to compensate.

An external flash pointed at the ceiling will also do the work but it will be less controllable.

Putting the softbox right above the desk will give you the best light but you will need to move the camera farther away (while keeping it parallel to the desk) to eliminate the reflection, this is nice if you can get the camera high enough to move the camera far away to the side while keeping the desk in the image, you don't want to use a wide angle lens because those have a lot of distortion near the edges.

Adjust the camera settings until the iPad screen looks nice (a little bit on the bright side so it looks a little brighter than the desk), then adjust the flash(s) so the brightness of the other objects on the desk match the brightness of the iPad screen.

If you can't get the brightness right take two pictures, one where the screen is exposed correctly and one when everything else is exposed correctly and combine them in post.


From your photo, the light source is still too close to the objects, that is why you have a quickly decaying falloff. Your softbox setup is insufficient, either because your softbox itself is small or your flash power is small. Note that a close diffused light still shows properties of a point light, just the shadows are softer.

To entirely avoid shadows, you need a light shed, similar to the one on this link. Note that you can buy the shed itself separately, in different sizes, the largest is ~64 USD. And you set up your flashes the way it is shown, and you are all set.

To avoid shadows, the general theory is to have as many light sources as possible. With continuous light, you can do this with LED lamps, with flash, you can do it with many flashes, or by diffusing the flash. Note that you have to flash away from your objects, on a large diffusor area, e.g. a white umbrella, or just a large white paper, and not the way you seem to do it, flashing through the softbox, directly to the objects. (You could do this with a huge flashbox and a studio strobe, but it seems you do not have the proper equipment for direct flashing.) I was able to do completely shadowless product images with only one flash and a large bent white paper, just reflecting the light from the paper.

So use indirect lighting, with possibly as much diffuse reflection of the light as possible before light reaches the objects, and you will have no shadows.

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