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Lighting is an essential element to photography in general and especially important in any high volume 360 product photography workstation or studio. While much of the 360-degree process is automated with spin photography, the human eye and some interaction is still required to capture the perfect product images. Read on to learn about all the moving parts of 360 degree lighting kits, the different approaches we take to capture photos, and the importance of improving your product photography.
To obtain the best results with 360 product photography for e-commerce, the lighting is essential. Unlike traditional or portrait photography, in which light is used to highlight specific details to create the illusion of shape, 360 product photography requires the perfect combination of soft light to remove backgrounds and unwanted shadows along with sharp lighting to accent fine product details.
With this lighting setup, you can not only capture all the intricate details of a product but also create a more natural product experience by eliminating distracting, hard shadows when viewing the product from all sides. The soft lighting also allows for automated post-processing, while the hard lighting provides brilliant textures for presentation.
At PhotoRobot, we adhere to tried-and-trusted photography principles that have been practised for over 100 years. The only difference is that we have highly automated the process, from the product photo shoot to the post-processing.
At PhotoRobot, we use strobe lighting and LED panel lights to attain the perfect lighting from all angles for 360 product photography. Strobe lighting is extremely bright and its high output provides a deep depth of field that maintains a sharp focus on products and also appears to freeze them in motion. The high intensity of the strobe lights makes it possible to use higher aperture and reach this depth of field, while also playing a crucial role in shooting larger products. With smaller objects, like a mobile phone, the LED lighting is often sufficient.
Another benefit of the strobe lighting is that when you freeze the movement by the strobes, you do not need to stop the motion of the object. This means the shooting process can be extremely sped up, saving up to 70% of the shooting time compared to other methods. This can also be achieved with the LED lights, but only for very small items where the depth of field can be reached with low aperture values and the freezing of movement is obtained through short shutter time.
The right diffuser will make the lighting virtually wrap around a product, painting it in a soft light perfect for interactive 360 product photographs. The most common solution for this is the softbox, which combines a black structure with a white fabric front that can either soften the harder strobe lighting or compliment simple softboxes and diffusers.
This is where the human eye and an artistic touch comes into play. Photographers can utilize and adapt standard lighting approaches to improve their 360 product photos. There are various props and tools for this, from light-cutting black flags to white foam for bouncing light and larger diffuser panels to paint products in light from every angle of the spin.
Before any product shoot, there are two crucial requirements for any photography studio: you must ensure that all photos will have a clean white background, and you also need to determine if you will be shooting reflective or non-reflective objects.
With a robotic table and rotating glass plate, a white fabric background and two rear lights, it’s possible to shield products from spill light and create perfect product imagery. The challenge is in ensuring that images are perfectly outlined and ready to distribute. To do this and achieve that clean white background isn’t always easy however, and this is especially true with more reflective or difficult products. With items like this, more focus needs to be on the product, which leads to greyer background and the need for post-production efforts to attain the white background.
When you have highly reflective products to shoot, there’s always a lot of extra attention to the product and detail required. Non-reflective items aren’t often difficult to capture in a spin sequence. It’s the reflective products that tend to be more of a challenge, often possessing intense highlights that can harm overall image quality as well as the product experience for the customer. This is why it is important to learn how to work with reflective products, ultimately aiming to utilize white panels and the strobe lighting to compliment and illuminate the item.
In this regard, PhotoRobot has different, built-in strategies to handle reflective products. These solutions allow photographers to easily capture images with non-stop shooting and to quickly manage background removal. Additionally, all of this can be done at the press of button, as can control of the workstation to stop at precise given angles, take a variety of shots under various lighting conditions, and then combine everything into the final high quality result -- all in record time.
In the online shopping reality of E-commerce, your product images are very much your product. Higher quality images and the perfect product photography helps brands and retailers establish trust, provide product transparency, and, perhaps most importantly, to develop customer and community satisfaction. This is why product photos should always be presented in the right light, providing customers with every intricate detail of the product at a glance. When your customers have confidence in the purchases, not only do sales increase but there are also less returns overall, as shoppers receive exactly what they expect from their online purchase.