As a prelude to an upcoming announcement, I have a simple setup post to share. Drawing on experiences while I was at Hearst Publications, using a light underneath a layer of plexiglass with an elevated piece of regular glass as a shooting surface gives you a beautifully controllable way to shoot certain products on white.

While a white sweep and plexi (also a part of this setup) is great for shooting free-standing products, some things just need to be shot top down for various reasons. It can effectively be used on many other items as well, for a different perspective. I've used this setup for bottles to put the air bubble in front of the glass for a 'hey, wait a minute' reaction from people who expect the bottle to be standing upright.

These insects are laid out to be displayed flat in frames, and none of them will stand upright on their own. Shooting flat was the only option. And while I've shot lots of products that gain depth and dimension from a shadow underneath them, these needed a pure white background for web. Nuking an item with a large softbox overhead is a possibility, but can also necessitate some cleanup and tweaking.

While first trying this out, you may be tempted to put your item right onto the backlight plexiglass and fire away. However, that extra layer of glass, with spacers underneath, makes a huge difference. The black cards are on the plexiglass and they control the flare that would otherwise wash out the sides and edges.

You want to constrain the item with cards all around, and as close as possible. If all the light is coming from directly underneath, it isn't hitting the sides. Then your main light, or lights, do the heavy lifting and let you sculpt and shape however you like.

In essence, we've taken a typical product sweep and flipped it 90 degrees back. Just make sure you set your exposure 1/3 to 1/2 stop brighter than the reading on the glass alone. This ensures a 100% white background, without overexposing the image from backlight alone.

This should be your final result (creepiness and number of legs may vary). 


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