Lighting is a topic that we come back to very often in our blogs because it is one of the most important aspects that a product photographer must get right. If you fail to get the lighting right, then you won’t produce quality, professional images and your customers won’t be happy with the results.
Here are three facts about flash that are important to remember.
The Inverse Square Law
I am sure the majority of people reading this article will be aware of what we mean when we talk about the inverse square law for flash. Put simply, the further away from the subject your flash is, then a smaller amount of light will reach them. Seems pretty obvious but the important issue here is that you will end up losing more than you think!
The light leaves your source and spreads out from the flash and as you move it further away, more of the light gets spread out away from the subject of your photograph. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re into clothing photography or any other type of product photography, it’s important to remember that the closer you are, the more light will end up reaching your subject.
Soft Light and Diffused Light
Understanding the difference between these types of light is so important for a product photographer because, without it, you won’t get the right kind of lighting for the different scenarios.
Soft light is all about the light source you use and its size. If you have a larger source, then the light graduation will be softer. Diffused light relates to light having to travel through some kind of fabric, reducing the light reflecting back.
It is important to note that this gets a bit confusing when you have small lights that are diffused as well. In this scenario, think about the image you are trying to achieve, the best set up of lighting and then see whether the equipment is right. You may need to alter your equipment settings in some way or purchase new equipment.
This fact is an interesting one to write about because, for many inexperienced product photographers and amateur photographers, it may be new information. It would be reasonable to think that when the flash goes off, it is instant but actually, this isn’t the case. The process of a flash powering up, releasing its power, then fading back is called the flash duration.
This can be important if you are working with action shots and you need to know the performance of the flash or light source that you are using. In general, if a flash is set to full power, it will be the slowest duration and might struggle to get a perfect motion shot. However, reducing the power and increasing the ISO is a nice trick to help get a completely frozen motion image.
Take a moment to check out your equipment and look for the T1 number – this rating is the time taken for 90% flash power to dissipate. Make a note that a faster T1 rating, the better it will be at getting those perfect freeze frames of an action shot.