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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.

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