With this little tutorial we’re starting a series of educational articles. We’re not professionals. We can’t afford expensive gear. But from time to time we manage to take a decent pic.

So for this first tutorial we’ll take something really simple. A product photo. But not just an ordinary packshot. Today, we’ll try to achieve a dramatic look. Or should I rather say a luxury feeling? A Rolex watch. Porsche car keys. You know the type.

What you’ll need

We’ll try to keep the bill under $10 in all the future tutorials. For this particular case you’ll have to spend $0 to $2. That’s how cheap we are. So here’s the gear:

  • Piece of black cloth – under $1.00
  • The cheapest LED flashlight you can find – $1.00
  • Tripod, or anything you can place your camera on steady – $0.00

A small table is always a good idea. Lack from Ikea does a great job for me. If you don’t have a table, you can just place it all on the floor.

But even if you bought the Ikea table, we’d still keep the bill under the $10 limit :)

Not very impressive, I know. You can also use back side of the light reflector instead of sticking the black cloth to the wall. Can you spot the little flashlight? That’s exactly what I’m using to light up the subject.

Camera settings

This is a long exposure gig for sure. So any shutter speed between 5 and 15 seconds should do the trick. For the result photo you see above I used 10s. As for the aperture, this just depends on what depth of field you want. I think for the luxury feel the more details are in focus the better. In my case, I used f/7.1 aperture.

If you don’t have a remote or a wire for your camera, put it in self-timer mode, so you won’t move it while pressing the shutter button.

Shooting

Put the black cloth on the table / floor and pull it against the wall so you’ll have a seamless black background. You can also use two separate pieces of cloth. One on the table / floor, and one hanging on the wall. Up to you.

Turn off the lights in the room. It has to be completely dark in there. Turn on your damn cheap flashlight and point it at the object so you can focus your camera on the product. Press the shutter button and…

… move your flashlight above the product.

Experiment with the light placement. Put it in front of the object. Behind the object. To the side. Directly above. See which scene you like the most. And then experiment some more with it.

Light placed directly above the object.
Light placed above the object and moved to the front during the exposure.
Light moved to the side during the exposure.
Light moved along the object and placed in front of it at the end of the exposure time. Note to self: Clean your freaking lens before shooting pics for turorials.

And that’s pretty much it. I always encourage people to experiment. Even if you have a decent pic, even if you think “that’s the one”, take a couple more. Who knows.

Post processing

The LED flashlight should give a very nice light with a temperature around 5000-5500K, so you won’t have to play around with the white balance at all.

Turn the contrast up a lot. You don’t want to see the background. It should be pitch black. If you use Lightroom for retouching your photos, turn the Clarity up to about +30. This should really bring up the details.

Here’s an example of a raw, unretouched pic and the one after I did some adjustments. Turning up the contrast does a lot to this pic, don’t you think?

It also brings up all the freaking dust on the lens.

Now you know everything I know. Go shoot some awesome product photos and share those on your tookapic profile. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Few more shots I took using this technique. It’s addictive.

Not a Rolex, but in that light it looks pretty damn good.
Finally used these for something.
One of my favourites. I love how the metal lens shell shines.

I hope you liked what you read. Since this is our first tutorial, any suggestions are more than welcome. Also, sharing this on social media might give us a huge motivation boost. Just saying.

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