Product Photography at Night [Tips & Tricks]

If you’re a mom like me and/or wear multiple hats, you most likely craft after bedtimes or after work. Whenever I finish a project, I am so excited about it that I immediately want to post it online. Except taking photos at night usually makes them look like crap. Here’s some tips and tricks to avoid common nocturnal photography problems. *Please note that the example photos are shown to give lighting examples, and are not examples on how to shoot your products!* 1. NOT ENOUGH LIGHT Obviously, if you’re shooting at night you don’t have ample, beautiful light coming through your windows. It may not be a big deal if you have great artificial lighting in your house, but if yours is like mine and has lighting that could rival a dungeon-or you like really moody lighting-photographing your products may not be easy.

Taking-Photos-in-Low-Light

Solutions: (a) Find the smallest room (usually a bathroom). There is oftentimes enough light that is bouncing off the walls of a small room that you may not need additional lighting (just keep in mind that whatever colors you walls are painted may be reflected onto your product). (b) If you need more light, add a lamp to add extra light. However, if it has a tungsten bulb, it will make your picture more yellow and if it has an LED bulb, the light may be too harsh and you might have to pull the lamp further away from your subject. (c) Attach your DSLR to a tripod and put your settings on manual. I recommend setting your aperture at 7.0 or higher and then bumping your shutter speed down until you get your subject lit the way you want it.   2. THE PHOTO IS HELLA YELLOW When you shoot indoors, there is usually at least one source of tungsten lighting. Tungsten gives off that yellow glow in your photos. This can be alright depending on what you’re shooting, but doesn’t look great for portraits and products.

Taking-Photos-in-Low-Light

Solutions: (a) Find another source of light. (b) If you know how, set your white balance to “indoor light”. It’s usually the icon with a light bulb. (c) If you have proficient knowledge about Photoshop, use an action to fix the yellow cast (such as “Tungsten Fix” in the Momento Action Set by The Shoppe Designs).  You can also play around with any actions that you know have a blue cast to them, or you can bring up the blue channel in the Curves panel as seen below.

Photoshop-Curves-Layer

(d) If taking photos with your phone, use an app such as VSCOcam and edit the tone of the photo.

3. THE PHOTO IS GRAINY

Grain, or digital noise, in a photo is caused by a high ISO setting, taking a photo in a low light setting or having  slow shutter speed.

Solution:

(a) Bring down your ISO and expose for longer, adding additional lighting to the setting or you can “cheat” and change the photo to black and white as black and white photos tend to look good with a little bit of grain.

4. THE PHOTO IS BLURRY

If your photos are coming out blurry it’s probably because you have a slow shutter speed, or you have shaky hands, in which case, go eat something!

Taking-Photos-in-Low-Light

Solution:

(a) If you’re using a DSLR, attach it to a tripod. If you are using a phone, you can get a tabletop tripod like this multi-functional tripod from Photo Jojo.

5.  TOO MUCH FLASH

As a natural light photographer, I try to avoid using a flash like the plague. However, it sometimes becomes necessary. If you feel you must use it, make sure there isn’t too much flash or it will distort your product’s colors and/or make your photos/products look amateur/cheap.

Taking-Photos-in-Low-Light

Solutions:

(a) Attach a white, semi-opaque object like a small piece of printer paper in front of the flash to help diffuse the light.

(b) If you have an off-camera or mounted flash, bounce the light off the ceiling to help disperse the harsh light and reflect off the walls.

Taking-Photos-in-Low-Light

What other tips would you like to learn? Email khakiandchrome@gmail.com or comment below!

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