5 Different Setups To Nail A 2 Lights Product Shot

There are a lot of things you can do with just 2 lights, actually, you can do some kicking products shots. Here are a few quick and easy product photography setups that you can add to your toolkit. (+ the occasional use of a DIY modifier)

Feature Image 5 different ways

For the whole shoot I was using a Nikon D7000 and a 18-55 kit lens. (kit lenses are awesome!)  I was using a mix of speedlights and studio strobes for the lighting. I also had a dust blower used for sensors to get dust off my subjects.

The DIY LightBox

Still one of the best things for a clean product shot is simlpy shooting it on a white background. If don’t have a lightbox or light tent you can always create one. This is my third lightbox to date, it’s made out of a packaging box and and some tracing paper.

Place both lights on the right and left of the lightbox and point them just a little bit towards the back. To add a little extra effect on my lightbox, I got the glass from a picture frame and placed it at the base of the lightbox, this adds a reflection of the subject.

LightBox (2)

Setup Shot

LightBox (1)

Gradient Effect

When shooting transparent objects like perfume botttles,  there is a neat trick you can apply. The trick is creating a gradient effect on the background. For this shot I also used my beloved granite tile as ‘floor’ (or you can use a piece of glass placed on top of black cardboard).

Start of by placing a light below the table pointing upwards at the background. I am using a sb-600 with a stofen omnibounce for the background light.

Gradient BG  (2)

To get some light on the cap and on the logo of the perfume, I placed another flash with a small softbox above the subject.

Gradient BG  (3)

Setup Shot

Setup Shot

Lastly, you can play around by gelling the background light.

Gradient BG  (4)

Final Image

Final Image

Use your Surrounding

Always be aware of your surrounding when shooting because you might just have the perfect background for your shot. Some of my light stands where at the side of my studio, so I placed a watch on a boom stand and started off by placing a softbox at the back as the main light.

Boom (1)

Sometimes all you need to add is a little bit of fill flash to make the shot perfect. I got another speedlight with a CTB gel and placed it at the opposite direction of the main light to open up the blacks.

Setup Shot

Setup Shot

Final Image

Final Image

Lighting From Below

If shooting bottles you can always light them from below. Place a piece of glass, plexiglass or plastic sheet in between two objects as the base for a makeshift table. I still had the piece of glass from the picture frame I used above, so I placed it in between two chairs.

Start by placing your light below the glass pointing upwards at your subject. Play around with the zoom or try placing a snoot to get the lighting that you want.

light below (2)

To get some light on the logo, place another light on top of the subject. I used a speedlight with a small softbox. At the end, your subject will be trapped between two lights.

Setup Shot

Setup Shot

light below (3)

For more effect I got pieces of Ice and placed them on the glass. The under light really does them well.

light below (1)

Rim Lighting

The easiest way to rim-light is by placing two lights at the back-left and back-right of the subject. But if you are only working with two lights, you’ll be left with nothing for your front light. to go around this,  you can place a softbox directly at the back of your subject and flag it with a black piece of paper or cloth in the middle of the softbox. The two lit sides of the softbox will be your two rim lights.

Setup Shot

Setup Shot

Your shot will look something like this with only the background light turned on.

rim light (2)

To get some light on the logo, place another light on top or on the side of the subject. I used a speedlight with a small softbox.

rim light (3)

To get some more effect, I got a spray bottle and sprayed water on the subject.

Final Shot

Final Shot

There you have it, who said two lights are not enough?

  • James Lake

    A “shit” background in your soft box?

  • Frank

    Thanks! I’m going to try the gradient shot for my next image. One of the lazier options that I often use is the computer-screen-as-a-background trick: it provides some nice subtle backlight and an easy way to set up a background (I often use self-made bokeh and textures, not sure how well it would work for solid colors). Dangle some light above your product and you’ll end up with a pretty great shot.

    Also, I had trouble finding a good piece of tile at the hardware store, but I eventually stumbled upon these 12″x12″ acrylic plastic pieces on amazon that work really well:


  • Ricardo

    Good job!!!! :) Check some portrait photos in http://www.pistachophotography.com

  • Miguel A. Almanza

    The very last picture isn’t the REAL angle. The liquid should be also angled and leveled with the viewer.

  • Dan

    Not the greatest cutting out job on the last image of the aftershave bottle!!