Fast and Furious Tabletop Photography

Two Light Setup

This is a little different take on my last post about Photographing Paintings.

Today I needed a quick tabletop shot of three sets of note cards I have for sale at my Etsy store, Source Light Images.

I wanted a single picture showing the card box and one of each note card.

This setup is about as simple as it gets.

1)    I arranged my cards and card box on a posing table covered with a black cloth, and dropped a roll of black seamless about three feet behind for a backdrop. Note: if you want a grayish background bring the seamless closer; to keep it black, move it back.

2)    Next I positioned my two lights, one each at 45-degrees to camera left and right. I am photographing reflective surfaces (glossy card stock and a plastic box cover) so the lights must be placed at a 30 to 45-degree angle to the camera. If you place the lights closer to the camera position you’ll create reflections.

3)    Once the lights were in position I held a gray card in front of my note cards. (Talk about putting your cards on the table…) I set the camera to manual at f/11 for aperture. I pointed the camera at the gray card and selected a shutter speed that zeroed the camera’s exposure level mark. This is the same mark you move for exposure compensation in any mode but manual. By positioning it at zero with the lens filled with gray card you are setting an accurate exposure.

Exposure Level Mark Zeroed

4)    Finally, I set a custom white balance using the gray card.

5)    All that was left to do was remove the gray card form the set and take the picture.

This is about as simple as tabletop photography can get, but hey, why make it any more complicated than you have to? Give it a try next time you need a quick product shot.

All the best,


WaterWorks Note Card Set


2 Responses to “Fast and Furious Tabletop Photography”

  1. David Says:

    Love the tips Randy. Thanks!

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