Apple’s deep black close-ups that portray their MacBooks and iPhones like solar eclipses are as iconic as their commercials with white iPods and earphones on dancing silhouettes.
We associate the feelings that these iconic commercials create with Apple’s brand: a silent materialistic euphoria and a sense of trust about quality. It feels good to open a new Apple product. Their products, to the touch, feel like high-class pieces of engineering.
This is all to say that the way Apple shoot’s their products determines how customers perceive its brand. This is true for any company with a product that they are selling. How they shoot their products impacts how customers perceive the product.
I have not created product videography for any clients (yet). But, since I have the equipment to do it, I decided to practice. The following photos are raw frame-stills taken from the camera. The footage was later corrected to enhance the blacks and overall sharpness. This product setup uses 1 light, a bounce card, and a black background.
I began by setting up a black background behind a gray wood desk and positioning the camera 2 feet in front and at the height of the desk. There was a 1-foot gap between the back of the desk and the black background. This gap prevented a shadow at the meeting of the background and back of the desk, which resulted in a smooth transition from the table to the background.
I then placed a 1k Dracast light 2 feet above and 1 foot to the left of the product’s placement on the desk. I attached an egg crate to the Dracast light to direct light straight at the product, not the background. I also added a bounce to the right side of the desk to fill out the product using the single light.
The product for the test shots was a junky Nikon 70-300mm. I ended up using a Godox TT350 speedlight as the product in the video.
Attempt 1: Too much light and too soft
In this first try, I had used a 50mm prime at f/1.4. The light was somewhere around 60%, and at that percent, it had blown out my skin and created harsh shadows. Also, the focus was too soft. To fix the lighting, I raised the light by 1 foot. This softened the shadows. I then changed to f/4 on the lens. This lessened the light coming into the camera while also boosting the sharpness of the overall shot. The product was far enough from the black background that the change in f-stop did not noticeably alter the bokeh.
Attempt 2: Still too blown out
The second try was much sharper. My skin was not blown out. But, I was not a fan of the blown-out ring of light on the lens. This, again, was caused by the light’s intensity. Rather than decrease the intensity, I raised the light by another foot. At this point, the light was almost touching the ceiling.
Attempt 3: Just about right
I reached a nice balance of softness and brightness by the third try. This is the setup that I used when creating the video with the Godox TT350 speedlight.
I noticed that in some of the close-ups, the focus was not completely sharp. The next time that I do this, I will raise the f-stop to f/5.6 and increase the intensity of the light.
If you have any comments or advice, please let me know! I am always open to learning.