So, last week I got contacted to shoot product photographs of a networking equipment on a white product for datasheets. And I wanted to run you through my process for taking them. Let's go.
Firstly, I set up a white background using some foamboards. Then, I added some white "walls" in order to reflector the light and eliminate reflections from the rest of the room.
I always use magic putty in order to secure the foamboard so they don't fall in the middle of a shoot, making you obligated to restart again.
I put the device on top some more magic putty so the shadow in lower, making it way easier to cut it from the background and put it on a 100% white background in photoshop.
Now, I started to construct the shot with light. I added a piece of white acrylic on the top of the construction. I like white acrylic as as it diffuses the light a great deal, making the photograph prettier. Also, it doesn't change the white balance of the light which is always a plus. I used a Yongnuo YN560-III flash on 1/4 + 0.5 power at about a foot from the acrylic.
Then came the time to edit the product photographs.
I always send my photographs into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom first to sort them out and make global adjustements to the tones, constrat, sharpness, etc...
Quick tip: For this shot, I bracketed the exposure by changing the aperture in my lens and did so for every shot with a different focus point, so, the keep being organized, I take 5 completely black image in between each bracketed so I can find the photo I'm looking for in a breeze.
Next, I open all the image for the focus composite in Adobe Photoshop by pressing Command + E while in Lightroom. Here is a screenshot of what it looks like.
Even though I was on a tripod, I always make sure each photo is properly align with each other by selecting all of them and running them through the Auto-Align Layers command on Auto.
After choosing the shots I need for the composite, I use a layer mask to hide or reveal part of the image in order to get the part in most focus of each of them. After, I use the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer clipped to the layer below in order to correct the slight exposure changes.
Then comes the tedious part; retouching. I begin by making of copy of everything that is visible by pressing Command+Option+Shift+E on my keyboard. Then I use the Clone Stamp tool (press S) in accordance with the Healing Brush tool (press J) and the Spot Healing Brush tool (press also J). I often create multiple copies.
To continue, I use the Pen tool (press P) to cut the device out of the background in order to superpose it on pure white. Doing this eliminate any shadow so, to add some realism, I make a copy of the layer, select the object (by Command+clicking on the layer thumbnail), and fill it with pure black. After that, I run a Gaussian blur filter on it to taste and drop the opacity so it's more believable. Finally, I mask out everywhere except at the bottom of the module because shadows on top aren't real.
Now I make any local adjustments to the white balance or brightness, for example. Finally, I straighten everything and save a JPEG as well as a PSD.
That's pretty much my process for commercial product shoots. It may differ here and there depending on the job.