Another important point when taking close-up product shots is to make sure the item is spotlessly clean and free from dust, fingerprints etc before you take the shot.
Every particle of dust will always show up, and that means a long and boring time cleaning up the image in an image editor to get the best result. Better to avoid this problem in the first place, with a dry paintbrush or a damp cloth, or whatever.
It sounds kind of obvious, but it's surprising how dusty things turn out to be when the image is filling your screen!
Alright digadesign. I took your picture and did a quick 2 minute enhancement in Photoshop.
o Enhance > Adjust Lighting > only Contrast +15
o Select all > Image > Transform > Distort to get the image of the candle not quite so tapered looking. Pulled on the points on the lower edge sideways.
o Marquee tool with a feather set to 1 pixel.
o Selected the right side of the candle with one edge going straight up in the middle and a bit larger than the side of the candle.
o Lasso set to 1 pixel feather. Take off extra selection to have only the right side selected.
o Enhance > Adjust Lighting > only Brightness - 15
o Filter > Sharpen > Unscharp Mask > 70% - Radius 1.7 pixels - Threshold 66
You can play more with this and get it stronger, but be careful, too much of this manipulation will create blotches and speckles.
If your photos are not perfect to start with, and very few are, you can do a lot using Photoshop.
I take product pictures of my silk scarves. They are translucent in many cases and very difficult to capture. I use a Cannon Rebel with a wide angle lens, raw image. The silk is pinned to a white board, I try to get some daylight onto them and have also 2 500W Halogen photo lamps. All my pictures need touchup because of the color corrections I often need to make. It is important for my colors to be as close as possible. The background is erased.
1 - four breeze blocks
2 - a medium size glass sheet
3 - a roll of white paper
4 - a medium/large spot light
5 - a large spot light with a diffuser attached
6 - a very good quality camera on a tripod
7 - Make sure the room is fairly dark, no fluorescent lighting
Make a table out of the breeze blocks and the glass sheet. Clean the glass, then place the white paper roll underneath and have it going up at the back, say about 3ft (one metre).
Hey. A quick question...
What area platform do you recommend ??
I was first thinking 3 foot square glass area, but then that might be heavy and cumbersome.
From your experience, do you think 2 foot square is too small ??
What size works best for you in most situations (for most subjects) ??
Trying to fill the unforgiving minute
with sixty seconds' worth of distance run.
It depends on what items your going to place on to the glass, but make sure it's re-enforced, just incase. Don't forget once you have built the table, thats it, you should never really have to move it.
I have some colour negatives I did while at the studio of a large tool box. If I get a moment I'll try and dig them out (if I still have them).
What I've learnt is all you need for that clean, white-background look is white plexyglass and a light under. That's it.
Depending on your shooting angle, you don't even need a sweep; Just bring the product closer to the front edge of the plexyglass and you won't see a horizon.
You'll need a second (or third) light coming in from the sides (or wherever you want them) to light the actual product itself. The underlight is only for the background.
Whatever you do, be sure that ALL of your lights are of the same type; If you're using hardware lights, use only hardware lights. If you're using clamp lights use only clamp lights with the same type of bulb (and preferably the same wattage too).
That makes matters infinitely easier when you're correcting your colours in Photoshop, as different kinds of lights have slightly different hues/colour-casts, and the last thing you want (in most cases) is one side of your product with a blue cast while the other side slightly yellow.
For me, I use two chairs. Side by side with a little space between.
Across that space I lay the white plexyglass, mine is about 1' square.
Indeed lighting is one most important part about product photography. The problem is that your setup will be different from product to product (metal objects, glass, white, miniature, etc). For the theory behind photo lighting for different types of surfaces, shapes and objects, there's a great book called "Light Science & Magic", Third Edition.
Another advice is to photograph or record in some way your actual studio setup that worked for a given product. If a year later you'll be photographing the same product, you'd not need to spend hours configuring the lights again.
You need a macro lens camera, and you can either use a light box which you can pick up cheaply or just take a picture of white card and cut out in photoshop. If you use a light bow, you can get the background white so you don't have to cut the products out.