How To Shoot Cosmetic Products Using DIY Scrims

Feb 1, 2015

Laya Gerlock

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!

How To Shoot Cosmetic Products Using DIY Scrims

Feb 1, 2015

Laya Gerlock

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!

Join the Discussion

Share on:

feature

Cosmetic products are some of the hardest things to photograph. The combination of reflective, translucent, opaque and shiny surfaces makes it an absolute nightmare. Below you will find my quick and dirty method for dealing with those hard to shoot subjects.

What you will need:

  • A Camera and triggers
  • Tripod (optional)
  • Scrim (DIY or store bought)
  • Softbox or stripbox
  • 3 lights
  • A reflective surface – Tile board or Formica
  • Black cloth or black illustration board for flagging
  • White background – Seamless paper of another illustration board

The DIY Scrims

For this setup I used two different types of DI Scrims, the first one is the DIY scrim that I made out of Portable clothes hanger, you can check out the tutorial here.

DIY Scrim edtd(8)

The second scrim I used is a quick simple DIY scrim made out of tracing paper: The basic idea is to use a regular sheet of tracing paper and to make it a little better. This is something you can do if you ever need a quick and dirty scrim. I placed 2 strips of illustration board on the sides of the tracing paper to make it easier to handle. To keep it standing up, I hooked two clamps on the sides.

DSCF6670

How to:

1. Start by placing your subject on a reflective white surface and in front of a white background. For this Setup I used a piece of Formica on top of a table. I placed the table about 2-3 feet away from the background so you can have space in between the two and this is where you will set your lights.

step 1

setup (2)

2. Start by using one light and adding more lights until you get the all the three lights properly lighting the subject. You can start by either using the left or right main light first. I started by placing a scrim in front of the camera and diagonal to the subject, then placed a strobe with a softbox behind the scrim.

step 01

step 2

 

3. Play around with the angle of your flash to get the gradient effect on the subject that you want. I placed my light almost at the side of the scrim and angled it diagonally.

shade

4. Get a proper exposure with your first light. For the photo above, I was shooting with a Fuji Xe-2 at ISO 200 | 1/180 | f14, but mileage may vary.

5. After getting the gradient that you want and nailing the correct exposure with the first light. Place your second light with a scrim on the opposite side of the subject. Here is the trick, all you have to do is mirror the setup for your first light. You should get the same gradient reflection or play around with the light and angle to get a different effect on the object.

step 3

Scrim in between the subject and the softbox
Scrim in between the subject and the softbox

The Scrim between the softbox and subject is very important in this technique because it’s the one that gives the gradient effect.

With softbox only without the scrim in between
With softbox only without the scrim in between
With softbox and with the Scrim in between
With softbox and with the Scrim in between

6. The silver reflective surface of the subject was reflecting me so I placed a black cloth in front of the camera to get a black reflection on the surface of the subject. You can also use an illustration board for this.

step 4

setup (6)
7. After correctly setting the two main, add a third light on the bottom of the table pointing at the background. The background light was about 2 stops higher than my 2 main lights. This will give you that white look. Make sure you don’t over expose and burn the back.

bare fllash

setup (7)
8.(Optional) I had some problems on the right side of the subject – I wasn’t getting the same black outline on the left side. So I got a piece of illustration board and placed it on the back right side of the subject to get the same black outline.

The Final Setup
The Final Setup

9. A quick editing before the final image.

For the final touches I just cleaned the white parts of Formica using the Dodge tool and selecting Highlights for the cleaning. I also made another layer with brightness and pumped up the brightness and only brushed on the reflection part to make the reflections lighter. For the contrast I just used dodge and burn tool to for more details on the subject.

before and after

 

Final Images:

I used the same lighting and editing technique for the 3 products.

brush final

clinique final 2

zara final

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

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!

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 responses to “How To Shoot Cosmetic Products Using DIY Scrims”

  1. Andrew Mikhaylov Avatar
    Andrew Mikhaylov

    Nice article, but soft boxes don’t work here. There are no actually gradients on shiny surfaces.

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      There is some gradient but not too much. :) But yeah, using stripboxes would be better to get a more gradient surface for this kind of technique. cheers and thanks for the comment

  2. Lyle Avatar
    Lyle

    I use this type of technique often for product shots. The part I have trouble with now is exposing the background properly so it blends with the white page when I post it.

    You say not to burn out the highlights. So how do you get your BG to be so perfectly white? Mine is always a bit grey.

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      Actually, you have to make it as white as possible. If you see in this before shot it’s white but not as white as the after image. I don’t overexpose too much because tendency is that it will bounce back the light to your lens and create a foggy effect on the photo.

      https://www.diyphotography.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/before-and-after.jpg

      So, make it as white as possible, then in photoshop, select Dodge tool(highlights) and just dodge the white parts to make it really white. hope it helps

    2. Me, Myself and I Avatar
      Me, Myself and I

      Start with your background … meter it so that it hits +2 exposure (or more) so your highlights clip out. Then all you need to do is set your lights for your subject to get a proper exposure.

      It’s in cases like these I wish I had a hand held light meter.

      Just did a shoot for a small local apron designer, no post processing other than minimal adjustments going from RAW to JPEG.

      The background is actually a ridiculously wrinkled cloth background held tight-ishly with some A clamps on the background stand.

      I have 2 flashes on either side of the frame blasting the background. I flagged the flashes to prevent light spill on my subject and used two flashes mounted inside a medium sized soft box off to the right hand side of the frame to illuminate my subject and give it a bit of directional light.

      Keep your subject as far from your background a possible to prevent light from bouncing back from your background to your subject and pay close attention to light spilling from the sides.

      I was shooting this in a very cramped location.

      Did 35 of these in that session and will be doing another 40 at the end of the month.

      Quick and dimple setup.

      EDIT: Humh … where did my included photo go to?

      1. Me, Myself and I Avatar
        Me, Myself and I

        Ok so here is another attempt at including an image with my reply … my last one disappeared for some reason.