Dialed in Lighting for Perfectly Exposed Product Photography with Kersten Luts

Words and Photos by Kersten Luts - A Platypod Pro
Edited by Eryka Bagwell



Do you want to create game changing, jaw dropping product photography? Next time you're at your local café and feel inspired, pick up a unique beverage and give the below tips and tricks from our very own Kersten Luts a try. Below he was captivated by a blue lemonade bottle and wanted to portray it as the absolute thirst quenching treat it was. 

"When it comes to photographing drinks (and more specifically bottles), I have some secrets up my sleeve to ensure each feature and shape, along with the labels, stand out and pop/glow from within to create 'Wow-worthy' images for your client."

"Before I start shooting, I staged two stools and laid a flat glass plate across. Then I added a glass tray (large enough to fit the bottle) on top of that glass plate. This will house our subject when shooting. I mounted my camera on C stand along with my ever trusty Platyball Elite for a direct overhead top down view. Once my camera and make shift table have been staged, I adjust the aperture for the desired depth of field. You may want to play around with this to see what will work best for your subject." 

"For lighting, I used three Godox strobes lights. But you can also use regular speed lights if that is the lighting that is available to you. For this setup, I set my lights to flash rather than continuous. The reason I chose to shoot with flash was because of power and also when you work with continuous light (especially in this situation) you’d need to be able to eliminate all natural light (or as much natural lighting as possible). My studio space has windows so for me it’s much easier to do that by using flash. Also, in order to illuminate the bottle from below and shoot light through the ice from underneath, you need quite a bit of power. For the key light, I needed to illuminate a fairly sizeable Octa box (soft box in the shape of an octagon), not something a small LED panel light would have been capable of doing for this shoot. So after reviewing my options, I determined that flash was the logical option here. Then, I mounted my first light on a Platypod eXtreme with a spigot adapter (providing the glow and up lighting) below my subject and table. For the light modifier, I'm using a beauty dish and diffusion sock for even lighting."

"As I mentioned earlier, my key light (main light) is placed in front of the setup with a medium sized Octa box. Initially, you'll notice a strong reflection on the top of the bottle. To counter that shadow, I'm using a second diffuser held in place by a second Platypod eXtreme with two goosenecks and two super mini clamps. This diffuser is staged in between the key light (octa box) and the subject, helping create an additional layer of diffusion on top of the Octa box itself."

"On the opposite side, (positioned behind the subject, facing the key light) I use a white reflector held up by a couple of Platypod Ultras, Elbows and Clamps."

"Lastly, I positioned my third light and aimed that directly overhead pointing at the front label of the bottle. I really want to make sure that the label will POP in the final capture. To do this, I'm using a honeycomb grid. Which for those of you that are not familiar, is a metal insert that goes in front of your reflector to help control the quality of light and the area of coverage on a set. Barn doors would also be a great option here too!"

"Take your time to stage and balance all of the lighting in the studio. Make sure that they're all dialed in and ready to start shooting."

"My tips for getting a crisp and professional capture would be to first, peel off the back label to ensure that your up lighting will pass through. Next, add equal parts glycerin and water to a spray bottle for a natural 'condensation' look. The best part of combining these two mediums is that they will stay put during your shoot. Last be sure to prep your bottle and to steady it's position in the tray, I suggest using a small amount of tack on the back of the bottle to stick it directly into the tray." 

"Now that you've set your stage, lights are dialed in, and the camera is primed, its finally time to add the ice. Of course adding the ice would be your last step to avoid it melting while you're still setting up."

"Finally, I like to shoot tethered to my computer. This allows me to confirm that my image is exposed correctly and that everything is in focus in real time."

You can learn about this shoot and So much more by visiting (and if you feel compelled, subscribing) to our YouTube channel so we can keep providing you with this invaluable content!


To view more of Kersten's content you can visit his podcast, The Camera Shake Podcast on YouTubehis websitehis Instagram and his Camera Shake Podcast on Instagram


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