Skip to main content

BTS - Medicine bottle shoot

I have been slowly building up a collection of medicine bottles for a series of medical stock photo shoots. Looking for props is both challenging and fun. Specially props that have to look like prescription pills but without a brand look. Fortunately there are plenty of supplements and generic brands out there to keep me supplied.

I also wanted to play around with a new DIY shooting table I built a couple of weeks ago, my shooting table 2.0. My first attempt is rather shaky and flimsy but I was working with what I could readily find. Sometimes you have to spend some coin to make a good product, even if it's a do-it-yourself project. But that's for another post.

Lastly, I wanted to play around with some LED continuous lights. I had picked up a few different sizes and strengths to play around with some of my jewelry shots (LED's have a way of making gems sparkle) so I figured since I had them... Well, here is the result of my efforts.

This photo is straight out of the camera. No retouching at all. It needs a little tweaking but otherwise not bad for a two light setup. First let me explain the table. My previous table 1.0 uses 1/4 inch tempered glass for a surface but the back edge is often visible unless I shoot from up high. I wanted something clear but without the rear edge. Pro photographer Alex Koloskov discussed a DIY table he made that uses plexiglass with a curved edge, similar to the white product tables commercially available. Brilliant!

You can see the reflection in the plastic but if you look, there's no back edge. However, as I mentioned above, my first attempt is rather shaky and the table is unsteady. I'm now working on shooting table 2.1 using a discarded pack-n-play frame. Wish me luck. Again, that's for another time. Also if you look, the  background is white even though the table is see through.

The white background is achieved by placing a piece of white card behind the subject. You can see my setup in this photo here. The table is difficult to see as I buffed the heck out of it with my DIY buffer. The white card background is on the left with a second one blocking the reflection from the ceiling lights.

I have a large LED flood light under the table shining on the background (This shot was taken just before I diffused the light) and a second, smaller LED up high on a light stand to the right of the table. Camera is at image right. The camera is on a tripod with a shutter release. These lights require a longer exposure.

The camera is mounted with my favorite portrait lens, a 100mm prime with macro capabilities. This image here is toward the shooting table from the camera's point of view. You can see the pill bottle and pills, which are really red mini M&M's. I also have two small mirrors acting as my secondary light source. They are throwing ling onto the dark side of the bottle, illuminating the label and back side of cap.

I tried diffusing the main light but it was so small that anything in front of it cut the light too much. I opted for an open light which made things a bit too hard. Although not the best solution, it does prove that you can get decent results from being creative with what you can find. Specially non-photo lighting like these LEDs from Lowes. Hope it gives you some ideas.


Most Popular Posts

Large DIY Diffusion Scrim

One of the most commonly used tools in my photographic arsenal is the all purpose diffusion screen . I use it to soften light, create gradients and light fields or as a background. One of my current favorites is a metal framed 4' x 4' foot scrim with thick white artificial silk made by Matthews. I didn't think I would use it so much, being so large, but having borrowed it from a friend I really came to love it. The downside for me is the price. At just over $100 I couldn't really justify the cost, considering I want at least two of them. Time for a DIY alternative.

DIY Softbox Storage Hanger

If you own a softbox, or two, you understand how bulky and unwieldy they can be. Imagine owning several in different sizes. Storage becomes an issue. One solution is to break them down and store them flat, but that becomes a pain after the first few times struggling to put one of these things together. It is more convenient to just grab one "off the shelf" and go to work. Allocating shelf space seems like such a waste of valuable storage space. In my case I have two square softboxes, three striplights and soon two more rectangular ones. That's a lot of real estate. Time to come up with a storage solution that doesn't require floor space or shelf space. The solution I came up with is a compromise of an idea I originally had of hanging them from the ceiling on pulleys so they would be out of the way until needed. I still like that idea, but for now I will be suspending them from a wire rack shelf system in my studio. Here is what the system looks like.

Don Julio - Hero Shot

For starters, a hero shot is one in which the product is showcased in all its splendor. Careful attention is placed on making the product look its very best. For this shot of Don Julio I knew I wanted to give the bottle some majesty by photographing it from a low angle. That low angle makes the bottle look tall, towering over the viewer and creating a position of dominance. Can't you hear the choir of angels singing in the background? I also knew that I wanted a rich, moody image with lots of darks. I am partial to darker images, which is surprising to most people because the majority of the work I do are images on white backgrounds. But that's another story. I also tried a lifestyle type shot with glasses and lime slices but I wasn't feeling it and ended up scrapping it. Again, that's another story.

What is the new normal after COVID?

A very large oak was uprooted by the wind and thrown across a stream. It fell among some Reeds, which it thus addressed: “I wonder how you, who are so light and weak, are not entirely crushed by these strong winds.” They replied, “You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently you are destroyed; while we on the contrary bend before the least breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and escape.” - Aesop's Fable