If you noticed in our sample 360 product views on WebRotate360.com, they are all produced on pure white background. This is also a common practice with most popular e-commerce websites where clean white spaces are generally favored over heavier colored ones. Majority of still product photography produced for e-commerce these days also follows the same pattern.
If you are just starting with the 360 product photography, these simple tips below can help achieving almost pure white background in your raw images, and then some minor image post-production can eliminate the rest of the shadows or unnecessary gradients.
If a product is not white or light grey, the common approach with our 360 product photography is to overexpose the product background as much as possible. So the background behind and below our product have to be much brighter than the actual product on the set. The more contrast we can achieve between our background and the product the better. A simplest solution is to put a couple of light sources just behind our product, shooting at our backdrop as per this diagram (diagrams were created with the help of Lighting Setup PSD by Kevin Kertz):
On other occasions we can put our background light source directly behind the backdrop, shooting at the backdrop towards our product as you can see on the next diagram. And then we always have a lightbox on a boom arm sitting above the product and pointing towards our turntable with some angle to light up the top of the product and the turntable itself. Sometimes it makes sense putting a white semi-translucent sheet under the product as the reflection it produces helps with the shades in various ways. And then, of course, we have our main lights that actually illuminate the product at the front which are shown here via the two larger lightboxes next to the camera (we never use strobes in our 360 product photography!).
Also, depending on your 360 photography turntable manufacturer, the rotating platform itself can be translucent, allowing you to put a light source under the table and shooting straight up, eliminating most of the product shade (can also make the product look weird with a lot of odd shine at the bottom of the product).
So if you have sufficient contrast in your final 360 product images, you can often just use a standard photographic filter effect called Levels (that we also have in the new version of WebRotate 360 software) to overexpose your image highlights even further to make the background pure white (if it’s not there yet straight out of the camera). And you can still leave some very light shade under the product if it gets too bright as you move the Whites slider – this minor shading will still look good in most cases.
You can see the whole process of making the background pure white in our tennis rocket example in this video using the WebRotate 360 software.
Here’s another interesting example, showing how a floating effected was achieved in the 360 product photography of this handmade wooden tennis paddle. Luckily, we were allowed to damage this product to get our desired presentation!
So there were two holes drilled: a tiny one at the top of the paddle for a small screw hook and the other one was made trough the back of the handle. The last one was then used to simply attach the handle to the turntable via a matching bolt (which was cut halfway through). At the top we had a small decorative screw hook wired to a horizontal poll at the top (not visible on the images) via a translucent fishing line. Without the fishing line suspension, the paddle would bounce too far left and right which obviously wouldn’t look good on the final 360-degree images.
Our basic Ortery PhotoCapture 360 turntable was good enough to handle the automatic rotation of this very light product. Other than that, we added a small light source behind the backdrop to bring some contrast to the paddle which was quite important for this light colored wooden product.
Head out to our recent WebRotate 360 blog post to see a few screenshots featuring this paddle and showing how our new 360 product photography software was used to easily remove the turntable, the hook, and the rest of the setup from the images to achieve a pure white background in a few mouse clicks: click HERE.
Just wanted to give our readers a little inspiration by showing a few old images of our test 360 photography setups that we put together almost 5 years ago. Back then we were just starting with the concept of 360 product photography using our then brand-new Ortery equipment that we still use now and even some automated “cake-stand equipment” that has been long forgotten!
A lot has happened since then.. We recently estimated that we produced almost 300,000 images during these years and at least three of our Canon DSLRs went dead in between which is easy when you shoot 360-degree images non-stop for weeks in a row!
We had a lot of fun shooting 360 photography for Canon, Glock, Manfrotto and many others in the US and abroad – five years ago we probably had just a couple of serious competitors in the area so winning these projects was much easier. These days a lot of photographers are starting to offer 360 product photography as the demand increased dramatically (as probably everything else that has to do with e-commerce) and the pricing finally started to make sense for a lot of folks.
We will keep posting here some of our most unique setups that we often had to invent on these assignment but please don’t hesitate to ask any questions or tips and tricks and stay tuned for our upcoming release of WebRotate 360 Product Viewer 3.5 which is a very big deal for all of us here at WebRotate 360.
Here’s one of our more interesting 360 product photography setups that we have long wanted to share with our friends. The task here was to photograph a set of cool Scubapro diving fins (among many other scuba items!) that presented a certain challenge due to their peculiar shape. Obviously just throwing a fin onto the turntable wouldn’t be such a good idea..
So we brainstormed this a bit and came up with this simple setup:
As you can see in the images, the main twist here is suspending the product from the top with a fishing line and having it touch the surface of the 360 turntable such that there’s just enough friction to control the product rotation.
We also had to ruin all of the fins we photographed as the only reliable / sturdy way to suspend a fin was to drill two tiny holes in the back of the fin to fix our fishing line which was then attached at the top to a metal pole that sits between the two shiny C-stands that you can see in the pictures.
The final stretch of the fishing line was also painted with a black marker so that it’s not very visible on the product images.
The rest of the lighting setup is pretty straightforward – there’re two lights just behind the product to overexpose the background and there’re two more powerful light-boxes at the front and the third one above the fin to bring the main light onto the product.
This is one of the situations where having a robotic 360 photography turntable or a Photobench studio like the ones we sell here would usually not work due to the subtle nature of the suspension that is safer and more flexible to control manually.
Here’s our newer post about another interesting suspension photography sample which actually uses a robotic turntable – click here.
You can see how we built this manual platform on our page dedicated solely to our famous DIY 360 Product Photography Turntable.
This is the first time we saw a DIY 360 photography turntable that has a simple design and is not just automatic but also features a unique opening in the center. This surely opens a lot of possibilities with the bottom lighting that can really help with a shadow free 360 product photography. Patrick says the development is still in progress but we can clearly see how his concept can be very useful.
We’re looking forward to seeing how Patrick’s design will evolve. Of course, if you own a commercial studio or an e-commerce shop that needs to handle a large number of products, our new industry leading robotic Ortery PhotoBench series share a similar concept with built-in lighting and full computer controlled automation.