Lighting Tutorial: How To Photograph Shoes
I recently bought a new pair of shoes and before I use them and get them all dirty (as I always do in two seconds), I wanted to play around with them for a bit. Here is a step by step tutorial on how I made the shoes looks so fine. I tried to shoot them as straight out of the camera as possible, there is just some very minor editing to be done at the end.
What you will need
The first thing is getting the correct placement for the shoes with as little distractions as possible. What I did with mine is I got some nylon strings and a ladder and hung the shoes on two steps of the ladder. You can also mount your shoes upside down and stick a light stand thru the feet hole to keep `em stable, but you’ll have to flip your photograph in photoshop after.
Start of with the background light. Place a gelled strobe on the floor pointing at background. I used one of the black walls at my home studio as background. The speedlight was around 1/4 power. My camera settings were ISO 200, 1/160 shutter, f8.
Add highlights on both sides of the shoes. Place one light with a softbox for kickers and rimlights (or a bare strobe) this strobe should be pointing at the back of subject left or right. I started by placing a light below the subject pointing up to get some highlights on the bottom of the shoe. The studio strobe was at 1/4 power.
Place another highlight on the top part of the shoe. I got another studio strobe and positioned it on the back left of the subject with the same power, 1/4.
Optional: You can place another light on the back right of the subject to also get some rim light on the right of the shoe.
Add your main light or your key light. Place a Bare light in front of the shoe on the left side and point directly at the subject. To control your light from spilling place a snoot in front of it. I placed a speedlight with a DIY snoot made out of an illustration board on the right of the camera pointing at the top right of the shoe. It’s important to use a bare light so you can get more texture out of the subject.
I got a big illustration board and cut a hole in the middle for my lens and placed it in front of my camera to fill some light on the shoe.
Place another light on the left side of the subject. Same setup with Step 4, a speedlight with a DIY snoot.
Open your image in photoshop and create a new layer
Select the Spot Healing tool and brush the sides of your image. I got the ladder and the speedlight on the sides of the image so I started with brushing that first. Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 does a great job in healing.
The next step is healing the nylon cords out of the photo. This is very simple, select a very small brush (just a little bit bigger than the nylon) and click on one side of the cord. Hold Shift and click on the opposite side of the cord to create a straight line. Repeat on the other cords.
The last part is just adding levels to your liking.
I wanted to add a bit more spunk to the image so I tried dragging my shutter and light painting the subject, you can check this tutorial on how to mix flash and lightpainting, and how to lightpaint using an iPad and iPhone.
I lowered my shutter speed to 15-30 seconds and turned off all the ambient light. After clicking the shutter I light-painted using an iPhone and played around with different colors and shapes to get different results.
Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years. You can follow his work on his web page, follow him on Flickr and if you happen to come by Cubao, Quezon City (To Manila, Philippines) he gives a great workshop!