Real HDR for Product Photography 

HDR isn’t just for landscape photographs, it can also be used for product photography as well. Full disclosure, I don’t use this technique anymore. I have designed a new shooting table that allows me to get one nearly perfect shot in camera. But with limited lighting and a paper background this will help you get the RIGHT SHOT.

Now that you have the unit in hand you can really take a close look. What are the main key features; what are the potential complications that you are going to run into. This is the time where you take a min and make sure that your initial plan on how to shoot the product will still work. In this case it won’t be that different because it was a clear plastic blister pack but sometimes you can’t see the unit inside before you open the package.

Photography By: Douglas Lee Coon

Once you have decided on how you want to pose the product you have a few things to consider. You need to look very close to see if there are any spots smudges or fingerprints.


Photography By: Douglas Lee Coon

Another thing to think about is what exposure you want to set your camera to. Now I don’t want to get into the technical aspects of product shooting today I want to explain the process. I will go into great detail later on how that works. I will just say that you need to know your camera’s sweet spot. These are the things I want you to consider.

Which ISO is the best sharpest ISO for your camera

Have you white balanced to your background and lights

Have you set your camera to (A, Av Nikon and Canon) Aperture priority/value

What f-stop do you need to be shooting on

These questions will undoubtedly get you a very nice useable image to work with. The better you get at answering these questions the more time you will save in post production. If you are really off you will need to use the pen tool a lot, if you have it down you will just need to use the curves adjustment layer to make sure that your white background is set at 255 (Pure White). This is harder than it may seem you have to get the exposure just right on the unit itself.


Photography By: Douglas Lee Coon

For the main unit image (the first image the customer always see’s and the single image that we use to market the product and get you to go to the description page) I often make use of the dreaded HDR. You have to get all of the other variables above worked out first before you do this. The beauty of product HDR hits many fronts;

The subject doesn’t move at all (don’t bump the camera or table)

The light is constant (no clouds moving to change the light)

This allows you to shoot as many different exposures that you want (Some SLR’s only allow for a 3 shot bracket)

You can lock out your focus

You will reduce the amount of time spent in post production (curves doesn’t change much if anything, it’s ready right out of the HDR pro converter)


Photography By: Douglas Lee Coon

Above is the result I got right out of the HDR Pro automation in Photoshop. It took about 2 min to get this image from bridge to the finished product here. Now I do need to crop and format the image for the website specs. The white background was pure 255 white and I still maintained the natural shadow around the edge of the car. For the purpose of advertising the product we need to show how the mouse connects to the computer. Also I need to keep in mind that the customer will only have a tiny thumbnail to initially get their attention. In order to get them to click on the thumbnail and follow the embedded link to the main advertisement page I need to indicate that it’s not a toy car but a mouse that is in the shape of a car.

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