02 Sep 2011

The Author

Andy Lim got started in photography after leaving design college, and has given several public talks on the subject of photography. SimpleSLR Workshops Photography workshops from beginners to advanced levels. SimpleSLR Guides Author of best-selling e-book series. Photography Tips Author of useful and practical tips on GoodPhotography.info website. Emotion in Pictures Accomplished professional wedding photographer. His brand attracts clients worldwide with his unique flavor of wedding and portrait photography.


Blogshop product photography

If you are a blogshop owner, you would have encountered sooner or later the need to take photographs of the products you are selling. This could be daunting if you do not know where to start.

I will show you the easiest way to get started, without investing in expensive studio equipment. The most important item in your gear, next to your camera and lens, is a speedlight (external flashgun) with a tilt and swivel head. Forget the built-in flash, it will give you a very amateurish result.

In fact, you don’t even need a DSLR (digital SLR). A compact point-and-shoot with a hotshoe mount will be good enough! As long as the camera has a hotshoe mount for the speedlight, it will do just fine.

In the workshops that I have conducted, a growing number of participants are showing up with Nissin speedlights, which are surprisingly good value for money, and they deliver a performance similar to Nikon’s own speedlights. The Nissin Di866 Flashlight is even more powerful than Nikon’s flagship speedlight, the Nikon SB-910 Speedlight, for less money! The Nissin speedlight also has a PC sync port that is so useful for combining on-camera TTL flash with other off-camera wireless remote speedlights, a technique I teach in my customized 1-on-1 classes.

Have your speedlight mounted on your camera, set the speedlight to TTL mode, and the camera on Manual exposure mode. Here are the recommended settings to start with: ISO 200, Aperture F5.6, Shutter Speed 1/90, White Balance: Flash.
Aim the speedlight to fire at the ceiling or a nearby wall, but NOT directly at the product you are shooting. And…click away!

The result will be similar to this photo which is sold in my Shutterstock gallery, which was taken with the same technique, using an entry-level 6-megapixel DSLR, kit lens and a discontinued SB-600 speedlight:

Blogshop product photography

TTL mode on your speedlight measures the amount of light coming through the lens and outputs just the right amount of flash power so that your object is properly lit.

If you find that the object is not entirely sharp (you may have larger objects that require more depth-of-field) then use a smaller aperture like F8 (smaller apertures have bigger F numbers, larger apertures have smaller F numbers). You may also need to increase your ISO setting to 400 so that you don’t overwork your speedlight. Also be careful not to exceed your flash sync shutter speed, usually 1/200. Otherwise you will be going into high-speed sync territory, and your camera may not be properly set to handle this technique.

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portrait lighting with speedlights