Shared Vision (a returning client) contacted me for an interesting and challenging product photography shoot at their downtown St. Petersburg, Florida location. It was to make photographs of a DNA kit, including close up shots of the individual products which included a pen. From the shotlist they sent I knew it would require the most gear I have ever used at once to make a single photograph. As is too often the case, I totally forgot to take photos of the setups I used!
Due to the complexity of this shoot I brought in an assistant to help out, friend and colleague Pedro, whom I have done shoots with before. Having an assistant greatly freed me up to concentrate on just making the shots, not having to also setup all the speedlights and do all the product position arrangements and adjustments. The above shot was actually the first of the afternoon, containing all the items included in the DNA kit, along with a few props (drum, basket, etc). Not surprisingly, being the first shot and the shot with the most items in it, this shot took by far the longest to get a desired final result. The background was a black sheet, but I still replaced it with a fully digital black background.
We were working from a shotlist that included a shot of the case seemingly illuminated from within. To achieve a similar look, I used a speedlight with a 6" snoot attached to it that really concentrated the beam of light. Only a single speedlight to frame right was used to make the shot.
The pen on notebook image above used yet another strobist setup, this one with two speedlights basically pointed at each other on either ends of the table the notebook was on. One speedlight had the same snoot on it, the other a grid to concentrate the light to show just the pen and notebook. The black background occurred naturally from that process & using a fast shutterspeed and black sheet backdrop.
One big challenge was how to photograph a black envelope on a black background and have it standout in some way so the edges do not look invisible. I started out having one key light in front and a speedlight directly behind the envelope, but that produced too much spill light, but looked kind of cool, like the envelope was in a starburst. Moving the speedlight to the side and turning its power way down provided enough rim light so the edges showed up.
Photigy.com was very helpful in demonstrating how to photograph pens and a site I checked out before this shoot.