View Full Version : Photographic Lighting

23rd March 2005, 02:15 PM
I would like to get some lighting for taking some product shots as sometimes I have problems taking pictures of items that have lots of glare (particularly glass items)

I enquired about the item below BUT it is around $900 and before making such a large purchase I wondered if anyone else has used such a thing and if the results are worth the outlay?

Or if anyone has any other suggestions.


Bowens Trilite & Cocoon digital lighting kit

The digital revolution has made image capture it easier than ever before. Many digi-cam users are now capturing their own images for products catalogues etc.

So often however, the results are disappointing - why? Lighting!! Now the Bowens Trilite and Cocoon kit opens up a new world for those customers seeking excellent product shots for catalogues, web publishing or leaflets.

The kit contains :
2 x Trilites complete with stands, lamps and power leads
1 x Cocoon Medium 70
1 x Instruction guide to Table-top lighting

edit: I thought I posted this to the hardware general section, if it's in the wrong spot please move if you want.

23rd March 2005, 02:56 PM
What settings are you normally using when you are taking pictures? Perhaps some camera tweaking is what you require, instead of this product (?)

Mark T
23rd March 2005, 02:58 PM
I remember recently coming across instructions on the web for a DIY light box. (of course can't remember the link!)

If I recall correctly, it was constructed from 5 sheets of white corrugated plastic board (4 walls and floor) with a diffuser (whatever that is made of) on the roof through which you shine your light. Cut a hole in the front big enough for your lens.

And don't use too large an aperture on your lens, or you may not get all of your item in sharp focus.

23rd March 2005, 03:04 PM
If you want to do small items a cocoon is the best solution. It's also a must for shiny objects.

However, your kit contains "Cool lights" which i recommend is not the way to go. This is because cool lights produce a weak amount of light and requires the camera to leave the shutter open for longer. As a result your image can easily become blury. It is almost impossible to do close up shots with cool lights.

You should really go for flash lights. When you use them with a cocoon you wont get any glare as the light is reflected around the wall greating a "encloser" of light. Even if you don't use a cocoon the reflection of the flash lights gives a very nice metalic shiny effects.

In addition having flash lights will allow you to photograph small and big items.

In my opinions cool lights are not a good solution and if you want to do real professional shots flash lights are the way to go.

If you go with the cool lights you will most lightly throw it away in a few weeks.

I use flash lights for shiny products and I get excellent results.

If you are in Sydney, Dragon Image in Chatswood is a excellent shop. The owner is very nice and provides good prices. If you find it cheaper you can get some of your money back even after you buy it! He is also a professional photographer which can give you a few tips and pointers.

Then again if you only want to do small items then the cool lights should be fine. But whatever happens you shouldn't go past 400iso and the shuttle speed should be faster than 30th of a second, if not you will get blury and grainy images.

A flash light set costed me around $1200 for 2 plus the light box. Amazing value and they are excellent. Great for any environment.

23rd March 2005, 04:35 PM
When we've been pressed for deadlines here at work we've made up a lightbox out of white foamcore and stickytape :huh:

23rd March 2005, 06:13 PM
A lateral thought: Whilst I'm sure some of these packaged solutions would be much easier than doing it from scratch, artificial lighting is surprisingly difficult to do well. A room with large south facing window(s) provides excellent diffuse light - it's like a huge lightbox. A simple paper or cloth background works well and foamcore can be used for fill if required. Slow shutter speeds aren't a problem with a good tripod.

If you need to be able to shoot stuff at a moment's notice, regardless of the time and/or weather, this wouldn't suit but if you can fit in with the elements a bit you'll get beautiful lighting for next to nothing.

23rd March 2005, 06:32 PM
$1000 seems like a lot of money to spend on a couple of photofloods on stands and a frame covered in translucent material. Bowens was/is a good brand speciallising in studio flash equipment. I just seems like a bit of a rip off to me.

The set up pictured will give you a shadowless lighting set up. It could be replicated with a couple umbrellas close to the subject. Its give you a very bland result- think overcast sky. It would be shit for glassware.

The trick I have found with lighting is to keep it simple. The classic lighting set up is a Key light ( a point source - like the sun or a plain photoflood) to the side and above, a diffuse fill (an umbrella or whatever ) in line with the camera and maybe a point source backlight with barn doors to keep the light out of the lens. The differing strength (lighting ratio) of each light determines the result. A single umbrella with occaisonal backlighting to the side is a good compromise.

Maybe you could consider buying a couple of photofloods (daylight balanced or otherwise) and making a couple of stands for tranlucent perspex.

If you want to to photograph glassware you should backlight it with a diffuse source. Have you got a large light box lying around. Try standing it vertically behind the glassware. Of course you have colour temperature issues but I guessing you can correct that with a RAW image and Photoshop.

Maybe you could consider a S/H Metz CT-45 series flash with a TTL (Through the lens)sensor, if your camera has TTL metering. Maybe a Nikon SB-24 with a remote TTL cable. Otherwise forget flash. You could bounce the light off a white wall either behind (for glassware) or to the side of the subject (around 45 degrees). Of course you won't be able see directly the lighting effects but you will soon pick it up. Avoid having your flash on the camera at all costs.

This is probably the wrong forum to ask about this. Why not try a photography one. I sorry I cannot be more help. I have not taken a serious photo for over ten years and never a serious digital. I have no idea what is in use professionally at the moment.


23rd March 2005, 11:28 PM
WOW! Thanks everyone for those responses, it sounds like you've all had a lot more experience than me and are more professional.
I just need to take a few product shots for our catalogues when we get new items in.

Generally I don't have much of a hassle as items are in packaging that lends itself to be taken with the item and there is little or no glare.
I usually sit these on a table with bright matt white cardboard behind and under and 2 fluorescent tubes above, I don't have high end digital camera it's a 'Cannon A75 3.2mp'-I set it for fluorescent light and sometimes bump up the exposure compensation-always on a tripod and I never use a flash-as I mostly always crop out the background the results are usually pretty good.
We had some new items recently that had "plain" boxing which I needed to photograph out of the packaging, these were vases/storm lanterns and the like, I used the same method as above but messed around with the light on/off etc and used just about every setting on the camera, they turned out looking TERRIBLE, this is why I was considering (only considering because of the price) something like the Cocoon digital lighting kit.
After what has been put forward I might try a 'make shift' version, I sort of thought about this a while ago but thinking was as far as I got, I saw some painting canvases at the local 'cheap shop' and wondered if I made up a box with 5 of these and put lights from behind and both sides would this work? The only thing I'm not sure of is what lights do you get, I once tried to light products with a "workshop" type light but the colour was too "yellow" and didn't look right, would the halogen type desk lamps be any good does anyone know?

Once again thanks for your help everyone and sorry if I have rambled on a bit too much.

Regards, Vid

24th March 2005, 09:47 AM
I received this (attached) from the Australian Distributor.

They said the RRP is $1299 but I got a price from a retailer for $891

Do you think something like this could be made up with a few bits odd items?


24th March 2005, 11:11 AM
Get some plastic reticulation piping and make up a frame. Than buy some white cotton material and stretch it over the frame. Get some desk lamps, or work lights from Bunnings and shine them through the material.

Do a manual white balance with your camera and the yellow light will become white.



24th March 2005, 04:45 PM
Originally posted by chris@Mar 24 2005, 11:41 AM
Get some plastic reticulation piping and make up a frame. Than buy some white cotton material and stretch it over the frame. Get some desk lamps, or work lights from Bunnings and shine them through the material.

Do a manual white balance with your camera and the yellow light will become white.


Thanks for that I'll give it a try, should get out of it about $850 cheaper than the off the shelf pro model.

Thanks Again.