Try out these easy 1 light setups for product photography
Studio photography can sometimes feel a bit daunting, with YouTubers showing off their multiple light setups. However, lighting doesn’t have to be complicated to produce great images.
In this excellent video, Scott from Tin House Studio shares five one-light setups that you can try for striking product and tabletop photography.
In this first setup, Scott puts the camera at a 45° angle to the can and positions the light behind it. He starts with a base exposure of f/16 at 1/125th of a second to make sure he has pitch black. He then introduces the strobe. This shot is all about getting a nice crisp dark shadow. To enhance details on the can’s label, you can use a mirror or reflector.
If you shift the light to the front, you can create the reverse effect. By bringing the light around to illuminate the can directly, you control the length of the shadow, and you can change its position for greater impact. This technique makes the shadow a major part of the composition.
Classic Portrait Lighting
Rembrandt lighting is not just for people. Ignoring the triangle created on the face, you can still take inspiration from the classic 45° angle of the light to the background. By adjusting the distance between the light source, the can, and the background, you can create a well-balanced image with heavy shadows on one side. This setup adds depth to the composition, creating a timeless and visually pleasing result and looks great with the can shot from a low angle.
Fashion-Forward On-Camera Flash
This style has been made synonymous with fashion photographers such as Terry Richardson. It’s definitely a bold look, but it can also be quite impactful. By using a boom arm or handholding the light slightly above the camera, you can capture evenly lit subjects with a darker background. If the can had a nose, this would be the equivalent of butterfly lighting in portraiture.
This look has become quite popular recently. Scott uses a bare bulb so that the light falls on the background as well as the subject. You can adjust the height and power of the light to achieve a perfectly balanced exposure. This will highlight the top of the can and, at the same time, keep the background well-lit.
These five simple one-light setups will take no time at all to create and could help get you out of a creative rut. It’s very easy to always use the same lighting set-up over and over again just because it works or we are stuck in a small space. But it’s often good to shake things up, especially when they don’t take hours of set building.
Which one is your favourite?
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe