Monday , 27 March 2017
How to use daylight and light from a flash together to take pictures that make your product look truly special. It’s also truly easy to learn.

How to Use Daylight and Flash to Make Your Products Stand Out

How to use daylight and light from a flash together to take pictures that make your product look truly special. It’s also truly easy to learn.

Light is the most meaningful control that you have when photographing your product. Here is how combining the light from the sun with a flash lets you create pictures with brilliant, richly saturated colors.

Many cameras don’t have a PC socket. If yours is like mine and it doesn’t have one you can use a “Hot Shoe Adapter” to provide the terminal needed to connect it with a flash.

Normally PC cords that come with a flash are only a few inches long. You can get a “Flash Sync Extension Cable” to be able to put the light anywhere you want. The extension cord I use is 8 feet long and it costs $12.

To diffuse the light more I used a piece of translucent acrylic (plexiglas). I like the one that is less dense, it lets more light go through. I also used a spring clamp to hold it.

To find a place where to take the picture I put my equipment in a backpack and went hiking.

To carry a lighter backpack I planned to use whatever I could find to help put the picture together.

The closer the piece of acrylic is to what you are photographing the softer the light becomes – further away and the light will have more contrast.

I used a plastic container as a light stand and a wooden stick to hold it in place.

Connect the PC cord and the extension cable to the flash.

I find it easier using a tripod when taking pictures with flash. I put the camera where I want it and that frees me to work with the light. However, holding the camera in your hands gives the freedom to explore different angles.

Connect the PC extension cord to the to socket of the “Hot Shoe”…

… and we are ready to boogie.

Because a flash gives a lot of light in a very short burst you can then use high shutter speeds to take the picture and make the background darker. A flash lets you change day into night!

When using one light, the sun, the only way of controlling it is to make the whole picture darker, or lighter.

Mixing daylight with the light from a flash makes, for an instant, the product to be lighter than the background. A background that is slightly dark will show richly saturated colors, if you make the background even darker it will help to make the product more prominent.

Where should I put the flash?
Well… it could be anywhere. The right place is whatever direction of the light you feel makes things look best. Controlling light is a fantastic creative tool. Try anything you think it might work, don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

To control the amount of light on your product move the flash closer or further way. The acrylic sheet is an option, I used it in this picture but most often I don’t.

I am an advertising photographer living in NYC. My pictures help large companies sell more and to keep their brands looking fresh. I am also the founder of Via U! , an online studio dedicated to assisting artists selling in Etsy increase their sales too.

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20 comments

  1. Great idea! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Excellent!! finally I see a post where flash is not the monster that will destroy your product photography.. it has always helped me a lot :).. thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Thank you, but I would like to know why i can’t just use the flash on my camera?

    • Hello Mary.

      The flash in your camera, when convenient, doesn’t let you move it away from the lens. Then the light makes things look flat but that is only because you are taking the picture from the same place where the light is coming from.
      Being able to move the light around will let you find a spot where the light will make the materials of your product look fantastic. It’s easier than it seems. m.

  4. I recall one particular photo shoot of mine, under a sunny window, where I’d accidentally left a bulb lamp turned on in the room. My camera captured a beautiful soft “glow” on my props, from the bulb… almost like candlelight.

    I’ve been practicing to replicate the “mistake” ever since, after realizing that mixing sunlight and incandescent light together isn’t the faux pas I thought it was. Sometimes it works great!

  5. Awesome lesson here. thank you for sharing and dispelling the rumor or “mixing lighting types. Gives me some ideas!

  6. Ditto to what Angela said. I was scared to mix flash and daylight!!

  7. Fantastic tips and the results are amazing! Did not know it took quite that much effort in daylight but it is worth it…

  8. this is SO helpful! thank you for making this so simple.

  9. well you are the professional :) I hope I can keep practicing till I can have shots like yours! thank you for the article, I appreciate any and all help.

  10. I am so in LOVE with this technique!!! You have inspired me. I really need help with my product photography, and i think i’ll give this a shot, so dreamy and surreal.
    Now i just have to get a flash!
    Thank you so much!

  11. Wow – I have some new tricks to try! Thanks!

  12. That’s really groovy. Want to come to my house and take my pix for me?!

  13. Intriguing! I generally just use a white piece of paper and no flash, with bright sunlight, and then edit the photos afterward. That seems to work some of the time for me, but the lighting has to be just right. :(

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