Shaping Light

Reading the Istock’s forum today I noticed a post from a Photographer that had an image rejected for lighting. The rejected image was a table top setting of white plates, water pitcher, and cup.  The  lighting setup had two main problems a small light source causing hard shadows to form. The other problem was white tableware being lit with a  frontal light source and a fill light that over powered the shadows on the tableware, but was too weak to fill the shadow cause by the main light.                 

In this post I’ll show you a setup that works very nicely for many tabletop setups.  The key is to place the main light to the rear of the set.  My set will consist of  Germany Raspberry Cake Roll, white tableware and a small glass bowl.  I’ll first place my background light and set the exposure to one and half stops more than the main light,  than I’ll set the main light behind the subject.  In the two images below you can see the effect of the background light and the main light.  The biggest problems at this point is the light falling on the bowl being too bright and the front of the cake being to dark.  To correct these problems I’ll shape the light so that I get a more pleasing image.   


 First I’ll place a flag between the main light and glass bowl, that’s helps to tame some of those specular highlights.  The next thing is to push light back into the front of the cake by placing a white reflector card two inches in front of the cake.

I’ll continue shaping the light by placing a sliver reflector card to the left of the set.  This throws light into the left side of the cake and gives more fullness to the image.  The last step in this setup is to add some fill.  The fill light was place over the set and diffuser panel was place between it and the tabletop setup.  The fill light helps to light the back of the image.  This is what the lighting setup looked like by the end of the session.  All that is needed is a re-metering of  the image and some post processing.

Stock Photo of Germany Cake

Here is the final image after post- processing in Lightroom and Photoshop.

3 Responses to “Shaping Light”
  1. Silvia Jansen says:

    Thank you Thomas, that is very helpful.

  2. venderevideosulweb says:

    great tutorial

  3. Mari says:

    Very nice tutorial. Thanks for sharing the knowledge, T.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: