Tabletop Photography - part 1 of 1 2 3 4

by Dave Montizambert Published 01/11/2006


A few weeks back I was in touchwith Mike McNamee about writing another article and asked what were the themes or topics. Of the topics Mike mentioned I chose miniatures.

There was, however, some confusion on my part; I took miniatures to mean photographing small things not small prints. So here is my Canadian version of 'miniatures' in the form of a tabletop assignment I shot for an advertisement for a service bureau:


Doing tabletop photography of small products can be a lucrative addition to any photography business and it need not cost an arm and a leg to get into. Chances are you have everything you need already, however, you may need to get a little creative. Most photographers own lighting equipment that is meant for lighting larger things such as people. But what if you needed to shoot a miniature subject like this nursery rhyme character, Humpty Dumpty? Humpty is an egg-man, therefore he is relatively small, he is no bigger than an egg. To light small things you need small things to light them with. For dramatic selective lighting, as in my Humpty Dumpty shot, you'll soon find your regular size soft-box or umbrella is not going to cut it - it is too broad a wash of light.

Using reflector cards as main light sources is a really simple way to highlight key areas of your subject and set. My favourite setup for this type of lighting is place the light origin (a strobe head with 7-12 inch reflector and a white diffusion gel over it) behind and to one side of the subjects. Point this light up so that only the edge of its beam backlights the subjects. The light spilling over top is then reflected back on to the fronts of the subjects with small reflectors. In this set-up the strobe head is considered the separation or hair light and the reflector card(s) are considered to be the main-light(s). Not only is this reflector card method an elegant solution it also happens to be a really cheap way of doing professional quality lighting on small things. How often does that work out in photography?

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1st Published 01/11/2006
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