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At-home product photography: The Photography News Podcast #2

Posted on Apr 22, 2020

While episode two of The Photography News Podcast may have descended into a flurry of double entendres and euphemisms, the technique I was discussing – using your bath as a mini home studio for at-home product photography – is a really good one. And here are the pictures to prove it. I was framing the idea around getting better shots of things you’re selling online, but there’s no reason why it can’t simply be used to shoot still life.

Let me start with the reason why the bath is a good place to turn. I wanted to sell this hard drive, so I  started by photographing it in the normal way you tend to see shots online. A semi-cluttered background and the product shot with direct flash. It’s OK, but we can do better!

Making sure that my bath was clean and – crucially – empty, I put the hard drive at one end and my camera at the other. As an added precaution, I put the camera on a towel. I flipped out the screen, set my camera’s self-timer to two seconds and took a picture without flash to start with. Here’s the result.

Not bad. It’s a little underexposed, because the predominance of white has fooled the meter, so we could just set +1 or +2, reshoot and be done, but I wanted to use flash. Initially, I put the hot shoe flash on the camera, set it to TTL and fired the light straight at the hard drive to get this.

It’s worse. Now we still have the underexposure, we’ve lost detail on the front of the hard drive and there are some nasty highlights appearing on either side of the hard drive caused by the direct flash. To remedy this, I pointed the flash up to the ceiling and placed a diffuser over the top of the bath to soften the light. I also overexposed the flash by +1 stop to get this.

Now we’re talking! I readjusted composition as well to get the reflection in the frame and I think we’ve got a winning picture. Have a go at some at-home product photography in the bath yourself! Here is an aerial view of my set-up, minus the diffuser.

For more techniques like this one, particularly ones that can be done at home, be sure to listen to the first two episodes of The Photography News Podcast, out now! Listen on the website, on YouTube or find us on Spotify. If you want to get in touch with questions, suggestions or anything else, email [email protected] or use the handle @photonewspn to find us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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