Getting in the Extra Stuff
Sometimes you need to shoot extra images so that you can combine them later in post. The cleanest most efficient way to do this is to shoot all of the images separately and use the pen tool all the way down on the pixel level to get the cleanest cut. Once the images are all without background on their own layers they can be posed in Photoshop later. This as I said is the cleanest best way, but also the most time consuming. The way I suggest for the normal photographer that doesn’t spend 8 hours a day working a pen tool is making use of masks. You just scale the images with the white background and paint black on the mask to reveal the images behind. Because the white background has been adjusted to 255 pure white they will all blend properly. A very simple example is displayed with this product. I need to show in the unit image the USB connector that plugs into the computer. You can set up and pose this in camera when you shoot the main image but then you have the busy element of the cable and you could go bald (think hair pulling) trying to get the little twisted buggers to stay posed for more than a few seconds. So pose it separate and mask it in later.
You want the spot meter to be on the diffused value of the image (and for all of the images for that matter). We are only making one shot of this and want to get it as close to correct in camera as possible. You will find that even posing the cables by themselves after they have been twisted and tied up can be troublesome. I try and create a bundle and lean them on a heavy object, like a tape roll or even the car itself.
You will have a really clean image of a cable to drop in. The final result after masking the USB and cropping the image for our website should look like this.
We are nearly done there was only one shot left to make. I need to show my hand on the mouse. This shows the products scale and in function. With these three images done we will have a great representation that compliments the ad write-up. I could make this seem complicated but I will keep with the spirit of the rest of this post and keep it simple. Re-pose the car at more of a profile, and then place your hand over the top of the product (like it’s a mouse because it is). Again you want to be metering for the diffused value the value between the shadow and the specular highlights.
Posed correctly and exposed correctly you will only have to crop the image down and add a curves adjustment layer (again to be certain that the background is at 255). You want to be mindful that the hand will cast a dramatic shadow, you might want to brush a bit of the shadow out but that is a personal preference. Once you do this and have formatted it for the website you are shooting for (special batch process, hyper linking, HTML, etc…) you will have a great image that gives the product function and scale.
Now there are a few issues when it comes to scale and using your hand to show scale. I am 6 feet 4 inches tall, I am a big guy my hands and feet are huge. So my hand might dwarf your hands or you might be some kind of giant freak and dwarf my hand. But you work with what you’ve got.
Take a moment to review the product images and then feel free to ask me questions in the comment field or start a discussion below. Thank you for reading and I will have additional parts of this process written on this website.
Douglas Lee Coon