MacAddict’s lowtech product shot setup

Product Shot Setup 1
Product Shot Setup 1, originally uploaded by silverkeys.

Last month, I ran across a gorgeous whiteground product shot from Dave McNally and decided to duplicate his setup when I had an opportunity.

Caitlin has decided to sell her JVC JY-HD10U videocamera. The JY-HD10U was the first camera in what is now called the HDV video standard.1 The cool thing about this camera is that it records high definition video2 with standard DV tapes. At the time, it was very difficult to work with HDV, but now iMovie, Final Cut Pro and others support it natively. She used it for filming dance instructional tapes and weddings, but has recently purchased a Sony 3CCD HDV video camera and no longer needs it.

Caitlin selling off her camera would qualify as an opportunity.

The hard part was getting a lamp shade since I threw away the one I had two years ago. This meant going back to IKEA and buying the same “Erbium” fixture I got four years ago.3

I borrowed Caitlin’s LED floodlight and her Manfrotto tripod and head to compliment my equipment.

Product Shot Setup 3
Product Shot Setup 3, originally uploaded by silverkeys.

The glass light fixture was put between two chairs from the dining room and the light panel was put underneath it with a towel propping it up so that the bottom would be lit without the light not going directly into the lens. My D70 and tripod was put facing this setup at 6 o’clock. I used Caitlin’s tripod an my SB-800 with a diffuser in remote mode (the popup flash on the D70 acting as a commander) at 2 o’clock. Manual everything and a small aperture to get as much stuff in focus as possible.

This turned out to be pretty great. You can control the contribution of the light below simply by lowering the shutter speed. I then took about 30 shots and processed a couple in Photoshop to add a reflection reflection. There was still some flare issues, but they were easy to fix simply by desaturating the color in the flare. 4

Product Shot Setup 3
JVC JY-HD10U with handle, originally uploaded by tychay.

Getting a head-on shot turned out to be painful because there was no whiteground. My solution turned out to be to have Caitlin hold up some paper I taped together and then mask it out with Photoshop. I had to artificially add the background:

Thanks MacAddict for the technique. It rocks.

1 The JVC JY-HD10U isn’t the first HDV videocamera because it came out before HDV was standardized. Also the definition has some tweaks in it that make the JY-HD10U not technically HDV. Given that it is supported everywhere HDV is supported and that this camera was the basis for the HDV standard, the camera is effectively the first HDV camera.
2 Caitlin has a six-part article on high definition video and what advantages and pitfalls it has vs. standard definition.
3 This set me back $40 and next time I’m just going to blow $100 on a lightbox that I saw at Keeble and Schuchat. Note for $14 I could have gotten a 12″ glass shade from Orchard Hardware Supply, but it wasn’t big enough for Caitlin’s video camera.
4 To create a reflection. Simply mask out the image, duplicate and flip vertically. Place it in the correct place and then make a layer mask. Apply a gradient to the layer mask. Finally drop the opacity of the reflection layer to something pleasing.

2 thoughts on “MacAddict’s lowtech product shot setup”

  1. I wonder if you can post how exactly one can use the JY-HD10U with iMovie HD? I have been unable to get it to import any HD content and have found nothing on the web that is helpful.

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