I shoot lots of products, a fair amount of electrical products. Sometimes I can be challenged to make products look great, this shoot wan not one of them. The pink toaster with chrome trim is just a good looking product. I wouldn’t have one in my own kitchen but the images look so cool. I did some of my normal techniques like shooting multiple lighting set-ups and combining the shots in post-production using Photoshop. These photography techniques is the main reason the product shots look so good.
If you are from the UK and you are wondering what the piece of kit on top of the toaster is, this is a bun warmer. Sold in Europe only to warm up buns and croissants on top of the toaster, I know what your thinking, I want one. Well in the UK you can’t have one. Europe only…. doh.
For these type of product shots which get used on the packaging cover I will do a range of shots, this main image is the ‘hero’ shot, this is the image that the brand will use the most. It has to match other product shots in look, camera angle, product angle, etc. Colour consistency is also important because there is likely to be a range of products which all match in colour, here is the toaster and the is also a matching kettle, maybe they will have a coffee maker to match also?
If there is any more details about product photography you would like to know please let me know and I will be happy to answer your questions and maybe even do a write up on the photography blog?
I am going to talk about photography that I have worked on for Restaurants and the way I work for best photographs that show the food in their best light. Get ready for the best tips to help you shoot better images for restaurants.
- Start with the natural. One of the issues with photographing food in restaurants is the lighting. The lighting normally is set up to create a ambience for the customers who want a romantic meal. Most restaurants are dark with some window light, some side lights. Other restaurants don’t have any window light. I really like to include natural light when shooting food.
- Balance the light. When I can I will use long exposure settings on the camera for food photography. This lets the daylight show on the food shots but being careful to balance the light with the flash. If the exposure is too long the daylight will appear too bright, the shot might look OK but some details of the food might disappear and become white areas with no detail. Best keep camera exposure to around 1/2 second and try using different power settings of the flash to get the correct exposure you are looking for.
- Use a tripod. Nobody can hold a camera still enough for 1/2 sec, the image will appear to be slightly blurry. If you are doing long exposure shots the photographer will need to use a tripod.
- Use a long lens. When I say long lens I am referring to the focal length, I would recommend using in-between 70-200 mm. It just so happens most lens manufacturers make this very type of Lens. I use a Nikkor 70-200 mm lens, an even better option would be using prime lenses. Prime lenses are the ones that don’t zoom, they have a fixed focal range, they usually produce a better image quality. The more noticeable difference is the quality of out-of-focus areas of the image, a good lens to use would be a 85 mm or 100 mm lens.
- How shallow. Most food photography is taken at fairly close range as this helps the viewers to see the detail of the food. As a result, the background of the image will be blurred although this is not a bag thing it helps the look of the image. How much to blur the background or even the food is up to the photographer. It helps to add style to the image but if you blur the image too much the food itself may hardly be in focus and the clients can’t see the food clearly. The way the depth of field (blur) is controlled is by the F stops. I don’t recommend using an F stop as low as F/2.8 as I think a good balance is around F/8 to F/11. It does depend on how close you are to the food as the closer you are the more blur will appear. If you go too high with the F stop control, say F/16 or above, I think you are seeing too much of the background coming into focus.
- ISO. Most photographers will know this but for better quality images the ISO should be as low as possible. My camera’s lowest ISO is ISO 100, some cameras can go lower than this. By using ISO 100 the image created will have little or no digital grain which usually looks bad. You can shoot on ISO 400 but I don’t recommend going higher than this.
- Go Ultra wide. When shooting for restaurants, in my experience, the photographer is not only there to create images of the food but of the kitchen and dining area too. To make the interior look its best, I would use a ultra wide angle lens for this. It makes the room look bigger and it helps the look of the interior by adding a dynamic element.
- Look for the unique. If there is anything unique about the restaurant make sure you get images of it. The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive industries there is aside from the photography industry…. Restaurants normally have something about them to help them stand out from the crowd. It could be features of the building, cocktail drinks that only they serve etc. I once captured a staff member because he got his accordion out and started playing for the customers.
If you follow these tips you will have some great results from photo-shoots at restaurants If these tips have helped please let me know and even share images with me so I can put them on my blog to show others.
Whatever floats your boat.
This weeks blog I show some examples of a studio photoshoot I did in Bolton where I make the products float, or just a part of the product. With the right tools and the right know-how it isn’t too difficult to do, but to make it look good is some only a skilled professional Photographer/Retoucher can pull off.
The main example I have here is a shot of a Remington Mens shaver, to create this image I would set up all equipment, camera, lighting in the Bolton Studio. I would then take a photograph of the complete product as normal, the shaver head is still attached at this point, I would then take another shot of the product but this time the head has been removed. I would then bring all images into Photoshop to start the Retouching work, I start by cutting out the product with the pen tool. I do the same for both images, I then use these two images on the same page where they will appear on different layers. I can now cut out the shaver head off the complete shaver image and use it on the other image where the product head has been removed. It is that simple, we are done, finished….
It can become more complex depending on the product.
The image below is slightly different. I used fishing wire to suspend the coffee hopper out of the coffee machine, I then took the same image without the suspended hopper and masked out the fishing wire. Using this technique there are lots of options to do special effects photography without too much difficulty.
The shoot in Bolton went well with some great product photography to show for it, if there are other studio photography techniques you would like to hear about please get in touch and I can work on my next blog post with your ideas in mind.
Tell me what floats your boat….
Thank you for visiting my photography blog. I am going to show you a photography service I have been working on for over a year now. That is 360 spin photography, most of my work is product photography and this is very useful for that area of imagery too. Firstly let me tell you how it is done.
I set -up lights and camera in the studio, I use a white spinning turntable which helps to create an even spin, if you don’t use a proper turntable then the spin won’t be a smooth spin. With the turntable I shoot one full spin with 72 still images, I then bring all images into Photoshop and retouch any issues with the product, I then use Photoshop timeline to create either a video or a gif with the still images. Once the video has been render I then use Adobe After Effects to make the spin look even smoother.
To create one full spin does take a lot of work, the process including set-up, the shoot and the post-production is 1 full day for 1 product. The benefits are a very nice 360 product video, and a high res still of the product from any angle from the cameras single view point. This is a great asset for any business to show off high quality products. If you require a 360 photography service please get in touch and we can chat about your image needs.
This weeks photography blog post is showing a product shoot I did not too long ago in bury. It is a cover image for Russell Hobbs packaging of their red textures kettle, it is a nice looking kettle and the highlight is it mixes smooth and textured plastic surface. I think it is a nice touch to help the look of the product.
It was a bit of a challenge to show off the different textures when photographing the product in the studio, When you use softboxes and diffusion sheets for the correct lighting techniques the textured surface starts to look too soft, the lighting technique for textured materials is to use a harsh lights without any diffusion. I do usually use multiple different lighting setups for a packaging type product shoot but this one was just harder to work on. I then need to blend multiple shots together in Photoshop which is a high level skill all on it’s own. I did find the right set-up to showoff the different textures and the end result is pleasing to the eye. If you are looking for a specialist product photographer then lets talk and I will be able to show off your products in the same way.
One of my recent shoots was a food photography shoot in Bolton and I thought I would share some images on my photography blog.
I shot a variety of images on the day but the ones I am showing now are salad images with props to help the look for a Russell Hobbs brand shoot for their website and social media channels. The main image I am showing is the birds eye view look which is very popular over the recent years in food photography. This image works very well with that type of angle, I have said it before on my blog but the high end look from a shoot like this is helped by using a food stylist.
I have used daylight from the windows by shooting at a longish shutter speed, 1 second exposure. I also used flash as a fill in light from the lower side of the frame. I shot at an aperture of F/11, this is because it one of the sharpest settings from my lens, I normally will try to use a lower ISO number to increase quality, higher ISO numbers light ISO 800 would introduce some digital grain. Especially on the camera I used which is the Canon 5DS R. The camera does work well for food shoots like this, it is almost a studio camera but can be used elsewhere but really needs either a lot of light or a tripod. I used a Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 lens, I shot at 70mm to reduce any distortion. The flash lighting I used is Elinchrom, this is because they are Professional level lighting equipment and the costs are reasonable.
My other image which is a close up image of the salad shows the closest point at which this Tamron 24-70mm lens can focus. It really isn’t a macro lens but it is a good lens with some versatility like what I have shown here. Again I used the lens at 70mm but this time the aperture is F/5.6, a common setting for food photography, it creates depth to the images and makes the viewer pay more attention to the areas in focus, the subject weare shooting is salad and that is where I want the viewers attention to be focused on.
Bokeh is the quality of out of focus areas, this lens has some nice bokeh considering it isn’t a prime lens, which area the best lenses to have nice bokeh.
I hope you like results from this food photography shoot in Bolton, if there is a photography topic you would like to hear about in my blog please let me know. Thanks for reading, Phill.
I am showing a shot I did last month, in the brief it mentions that this coffee machine has a unique way of infusing the water into the coffee beans, one aspect which was required to capture was being able to see the underside of the water feed and the coffee beans from a single image. To capture the way the water comes from the water feed we needed to cut open the coffee machine, and to get the angle required in the brief I used a super wide angle lens and photographed the product at very close range. A super wide angle lens has a large range of what it can see concerning viewing angle from left to right, but also a wide viewing angle up and down, or vertical axis. This was the perfect lens for the job.
This final image image is a composite of 8 or 9 images each capturing different aspects, one image is of the water feed and coffee, one image is of the steam, and the other 6 or 7 images are different water steams, this is because water doesn’t always behave and go where you might want it to. All the images are put together using photoshop retouching. The final image looks great and the client was very impressed by what I had manged to capture for them.
This other example of technical photography is a good shot of a men’s foil shaver, it is a close-up shot showing the detail and the features clearly. The reason why this is a technical photograph is because even if you shot this close up on a camera setting set for maximum focus (F22) it would still not all be in focus, normally shots this close would lead to out of focus areas at the furthest part of the subject. To fix this issue and keep the whole product in focus I used a camera setting F11 which is even worse for the current issue of keep the shot in focus, I then took several shots all at different focus points, from the front the back. Lets say I took 4 photographs to get the whole product in focus, and I used 2 different light set-ups, that 8 shots in total all which need to be combined using photoshop retouching. The reason why I used F11 and not F22 is to get an overall sharper image, lets not mix up sharpness and focus….I hope I explain why a shot like this can be a technical problem for some photographers, but not for me, it just takes a bit of time, skill and experience.
I hope you liked my example of technical photography, if there is any other topics you wish me to show on my blog or a photography assignment you need a high end product photographer for please get in touch.
I have worked on many food photography shoots and I don’t get to do as many drinks photography shoots when comparing it to the other types of photography I work on. But I have some drinks images here to show you. The first image is of what is wonderfully named ‘Mocktail’, it is a healthy alternative to the cocktails which normally are alcohol based. This drink is much like a normal strawberry fruit smoothie with added nuts which have been blended using a food blender, Russell Hobbs blender as this is reason for this shoot.
Often when doing photoshoots for clients they have to be planned in advance, which is why here we have a summer themed shoot shot in winter, and the opposite also happens regularly too. It can be a challenge depending on the type of photoshoot but when shooting in a studio there is a lot of control for the photographer to create the ideal image. This image is simple but effective, the main aspect to think about the the styling which is taken care of by the stylist James for this shoot.
The other image of of a more traditional cocktail drink, bars are always looking to do something different with there cocktails to grab peoples attention. Using a watermelon as the cup is a novel approach to cocktail making, this also has the summer theme but with more of a beach vibe. In each the colours from the natural fruits are what stand out. One thing I also look for is the textures which can really be seen with some studio lighting skills.
I have used some post-production techniques in Photoshop to help achieve this look, a small boost in colour saturation, cutting out each item and checking the histogram levels. plus lots more little secret bits and bobs to get a finished professional look.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, if there is a subject matter you wish to have featured please let me know.
Happy new year,
I have been working on some food photography in Manchester for an editorial feature for George Foreman, it is to be featured in the Tesco food magazine. It shows a variety of dishes that can be made with the George Foreman grill.
The main image shown in the blog is a shot of tofu stir fry, I shot this using my Nikon camera set-up, also using studio flash as a fill in light but the main light was window light directly from behind. The other photographs show a table spread, different types of food all which can be made using the George Foreman grill, the location we used is a big empty factory which was a cotton mill a long time ago located in Failsworth, Manchester. On this shoot I worked with the clients, along with a Chef and an Art Director to create images that can cover all bases, for different peoples image needs within the business.
If you are interested in using my services for a food photography shoot please get in contact and I will be happy to talk about how we can work together.
If you have any topics you would like to heat about I would like to know and I may make a new blog post about your subject of interest.
Recently I worked on some social media product photography for Remington, the theme is simple but effective. The product is black and orange, using the colours choosing a background colour to match has an aesthetic appeal. The birds eye view is on trend for social media platforms, mainly Instagram. Along with the straight on arrangement of the props and products, the branding is on point for Remington and the images I have created for them in the past have been successful for the brand.
Thank you for reading my photography blog. If you have any suggestions on the content you want to hear please let me know.
Recently I did a photo-shoot for a new brand called ‘Jackpine Socks’. The aim was to get some studio type shots with models legs in the image, the other images would be lifestyle shots where the models are lounging in comfortable clothes and socks, again focusing on the legs and socks. Lastly I used a foot mannequin to do product photography on a white background. We managed to get all the photography done within a day of photography.
The images I have to show you are when we went onto the roof terrace in the center on Liverpool where they had artificial grass, this gave an opportunity to have a sporty look as we used a tennis skirt and tennis balls as props. The look of the final images has worked well, the Jackpine website has been lunched recently so please go to their website and see more of the photography work I have done for them.
If you require photography for your business branding please get in touch and we can chat about your image needs.
Occasionally I will do food shoots that have a theme, the theme of my latest photography shoot is the Mediterranean style food photography in Bury. Using a wooden pallet and painting it blue has done most of the work. To help the look of the photography I did use a food stylist who prepared and brought props. It really does make a difference to the photography using a stylist, it is an extra expense but it is worth it.
I used a mostly window light to create a natural look and feel to the images, this image was also made into a gif which shows the step by step process to make this dish. If you are looking for food photography please get in touch and we can talk about your image needs.
I have worked on these still life images recently in Manchester and I want to show them on my photography blog. There’s not many specialist still life photographers in Manchester which is good for me. It is a specialism that not many photographers have mastered, these images are of the electronics company Russell Hobbs. It’s one of their toasters which is obviously red. The material is glossy which makes for an appealing look with the right studio lighting. This toaster has an accessory which can be seen in the photography below, it’s called a ‘bun warmer’, it comes with nearly all toasters that are sold in Europe but not in the UK. It is used to warm buns and croissants, most people who see these want them in the UK too.
Glossy and shiny products are a technical challenge but when your a photographer with lots of experience then it isn’t much of an issue. I used a photography technique called ‘focus stacking’, this is where the photographer focuses on the front part of the subject, then takes several shots focusing in different areas of the product to build up a very sharp still life image.
This image is being used for the front of the packaging which means it needs to be a high quality product image. Once I have worked on the post-production side of this still life shoot the final results speak for themselves.
The camera used was a Canon 5DS R, Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 lens, Elinchrom flash studio lighting.
I am showing some images that I created this week. These product images are from a shoot for Remington electrical company, these products are part of a series of hair care products called ‘Silk’. The black material has a unique silky effect which has it’s appeal and differs from other hair care products. The idea was to show these two products together as they are being offered as a double package. The main image is a normal product image with some quality studio lighting skills to make the products look premium and glossy.
When photographing these I shot them upside down to hang them from a fishing wire. All images I create are cut out using Photoshop and other editing to polish the products are also done using Photoshop. The other image with these two products shows them in a location setting using a table dresser as the main prop, this was also shot in a photography studio. Often is is a good idea to shoot studio images and location images on the same day if you have the ability to, these images will be used in e-commerce websites and for other online marketing needs. With Remington using these images they will also be used around Europe and other countries could also use them like USA and Australia, the brand has a lot of impact worldwide and they also share their assets.
I hope you enjoyed this weeks photography blog update.
I am showing some photography work that I completed recently, it is a location product shoot in Bury for Black & Decker. The set is a large kitchen setting, ideal for the products which are a new set of toasters and kettles. The difficult part is controlling reflections of the highly reflective materials of the products. The other difficult part on a shoot like this is balancing the flash lighting with the ambient light from the light bulbs on the walls and the daylight coming in through the window.
Something that makes these images look appealing in the clean look, it’s simple and the depth is created by the background falling into out of focus leaving the products are perfectly in focus. If your business is in need of a location product photographer feel free to contact me and we can chat about your image needs.
I hope you enjoy my photography blog update, if there is a topic you would like to hear about please let me know.
I have been working on some studio jewellery photography this week and I wanted to talk about this on my blog. I was sent the ring by a new business, the ring and the box are both high quality products which is very helpful when it comes to close up marco photography. There can be all kinds of issues with jewellery photography, the first problem being the ring or item itself. Often the product can be poorly made which means fixing the product in post-production, or the quality of the product can be fine but it has marks or scratches which also need to be removed.
Other issues with photographing rings is there size, they are small and shiny products which does mean there is going to be some technical issues. Photographing some items is an issue because as the photographer brings the camera close to the subject and takes a shot, the product has a lot of DOF (depth of Field), which means there is a small amount of the image is in focus, most of the image is out of focus. There are ways to get around this and the best option is focus stacking. Take multiple images at the same angle, changing the focus point on each shot, then in Photoshop or some other software combine all the images together to create a high quality image.
The issue when photographing shiny objects is it acts like a mirror, everything near the ring can be seen in the reflection on the surface of the ring. It is an area of photography that only experienced photographers should attempt to get the best results.
Once all the technical difficult aspects of photography are out of the way then there is just as much difficulties to work on the image in post-production. Almost every aspect of the ring is changed and improved, highlights are added, dark edges help to separate the product from the background. Hours of work goes into creating one image.
The result I aim for not to over used Photoshop, keep details from the original shots taken which helps with a realistic look.
I hope you liked reading about my Jewellery Photography, if you want to know more or want me to blog about a different area of commercial photography then please let me know.
Last week we completed two commercial photography shoots for our new client ‘HRS’, they make security systems for airports and for construction sites, building sites etc. They have software products and also a hand scanner, finger print scanner amongst another products to help security at sites where numerous staff are coming in and out of the sites.
I was asked to take studio photography images of there products for our first shoot, I took the staff to the photography studio that I use which is in a great area of Manchester. It is the center for most of Manchester’s creative community and is a great place to work from. There is only 3 products to shoot but HRS asked for several angles of each product, there was some challenging aspects to taking photographs of the hand scanner, the surface area where the hand is placed has a reflective surface which has a rainbow shine which at some angles is overwhelming. To solve this issue I used different lighting techniques and picked the best image to use. The final image was a combination of 3 photographs to make up one final image. It does require advanced post-production skills but this is something that we do on a daily basis as commercial photographers.
I hope you liked reading about our commercial photography work, please make requests if you want me to blog about any type of commercial photography and I will get back to you.
Today I want to show some of my new photographs. I was contacted by the client called ‘Exigere’ based in London. They have a new office and are currently expending, they needed corporate headshot photography of all the staff (30 in total) and images of the team working in the new office. I started the day by setting up the studio equipment, lights, camera, tripod in a office room which is where all the headshot were to take place. It wasn’t easy because the room was small, and it took a little bit of time to find the best angle for the corporate headshots.
The walls in the office were white which is a big help to any photographer, I could bounce the flash heads off the walls which creates a soft light which has alot of coverage, spreading light over the subject and across the room. My camera setting for this are F11, 1/125th sec, 100 ISO. Once all the photography equipment was setup I asked the staff to come in the office room a few at a time, this is so they can have a laugh with each other and take away some of the tension that people can have when they are asked to pose for a photographer. This process did take a long time because the staff do have a job to do and couldn’t be there the minute I was free.
Once all the staff had successfully had there corporate headshots taken care of I would use a telephoto lens to sit back and what the staff working at there desks, taking photographs of them from time to time. Again I was able to bounce lights off the walls, this photography commission was a long day, 8am until 6pm. The clients appreciate the hard work and are very happy with the results. The new website that has been built for them combined with the photography has really improved the look of there business. Exigere are happy which makes me happy.
Thanks for reading,
Phillip Pilkington – Bury Photographer. I wanted to do a show and tell of one of my images. It is of a puddle which I have made into the shape of the UK using Photoshop and my retouching skills, it takes a lot of work to create an image like this and I am going to reveal how it was made.
The first and most important part of this image was to have the concept before starting to take images, having a vision of what you want to create and that if all goes to plan it will be a successful image is so very important, when making this I almost gave up as I became concerned it would not work. It took around 7 hours to retouch in Photoshop and I used 5 different images to create it. I used my Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II medium format film camera, I shot it using slide film and scanned in the slides to my computer.
I took shots of different puddles which had different shapes, I did this so I could cut out small pieces and drop them onto one chosen puddle image from which to build on, using layer masks I could blend the pieces into the main image, the final result is a subtle shape which was my intention, I wanted to include Northern Ireland but I knew that another puddle next to this one wouldn’t look the best. One of my images of puddles had a wet leaf in it and I thought that it would work well.
When I showed the image to others, even to other photographers, they would ask me “how did you find a puddle in that shape” well I didn’t but I shows that the image works so well, deceiving even other professionals is a great accomplishment.
The image won a photography flair competition held by Creativematch website. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
I am going to chat about the image that is on all of my photography marketing material. It’s an image of to wooden hands touching, it is made to be recognized for referencing a famous painting by Michelangelo ‘The Creation of Adam’. Its a post-modern technique which is to use concepts that are already well known and to re-use them, sometimes it looks like a straight copy and other times it looks like a clever reference which makes the viewer feel intelligent when they get the reference.
I took the image on a large format digital camera, I took several shots of the hands in different positions which were later imported into Photoshop. I cut out the wooden hands and dropped them into a graduated grey background. It was a simple image to produce but very effective, this image is more about the concept and aesthetics than anything else.
I wanted to show off my Photography skills but also to show that I can do more than just technical product photography but conceptual photography too. I have chosen to use the image in my marketing material as it symbolizes beings connecting to each other which is the reason why people want to use photography for business, it connects to the viewer, photography can reach out to an audience in a way other mediums can not. I hope you like to image and Phillip Pilkington’s commercial photography. If you do then please leave a comment.
Thanks for reading.
I am starting a blog for my photography website which is a premium commercial photography in Bury, Manchester and other areas in the Northwest. I hope you enjoy looking at great photographs or learning what Phillip Pilkington Photographer does as a business.
I will start with an image which is what my business does best, premium product photography. Its a white background still life image of a gaming headset, one thing which makes the image premium is the lighting control used to enhance the look of the product. This is created by using carefully positioned reflectors and studio flash heads very close to the product itself. Other studio flashes are used to light the background.
Once the lighting has been perfected and the correct exposure has been worked out, then its just a matter of pressing the shutter and the shot is finished, well the first step is finished, next the image is processed and uploaded into Photoshop where the magic happens, the post-production of the images improves the look of the image greatly. The image is cut out so the background is an even white, the levels are checked and any blemishes are removed. This image has had a lot to tweaks to the top of what is the head band, it has provided with a smooth and consistent look which helps make the product look slick and stylish.
I hope you like reading about product photography as I have a lot more images to show and to talk about. Until next time.