Here’s how to light a product with only one or two lights
Light is one of the key elements of photography, and product photography is no exception. If you’re just starting out, it’s certainly good to learn how to work with light and get the look you want. In this video, Jay P Morgan shows you how to create simple lighting setups with just one or two lights and how to control the light so that you achieve different results.
In his previous videos, Jay showed us how a cube, a sphere, and a cylinder react to the laws of light. Before you watch the video above, I strongly suggest you watch the previous ones. In real life, you’ll often have these shapes combined, and the products you’re photographing will take these shapes (or at least similar). So, in the video above Jay shows you a step-by-step guide on how to tackle situations when you shoot product photography and have several of these objects combined.
First of all, you can achieve different looks with just one light. Place a soft, diffused light at around 45 degrees of your subject for the highlights. To control how much of the shadows you want, add a bounce card on the opposite side and move it closer or further away from the subject to control the shadows. By rotating the main light to or from the background, you also control how light or dark the background is going to be.
You can add the second light to the setup, too. Keep the large, diffused source of light that wraps around your subject and add a harder light source to on the opposite side, at around 45 degrees from the back. It will create specular highlights on shiny items and add an interesting highlight on the back of the products. You can control it with barn doors to achieve exactly the look you want. Again, you can add a little bit of fill to add more “dimension” to the shot.
Alternatively, you can use the second light to light the background instead of lighting the product. You can play with the angles and the position of the light, depending on the look you want to achieve on the background.
Instead of putting the main light to the side, you can place it above and behind the subject to create the “top backlight.” It adds a nice separation on the top of the subject, and the shadows are deeper, falling towards the ground. You can, once again, control the shadows on the sides by adding white fill cards.
Make sure to watch the entire video, because you’ll see plenty of examples and understand better how shapes react to hard and soft light, and how you can control it. And of course, feel free to experiment and try things out yourself, it’s as fun as it is useful to do it.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.