I've never been one for artificial light in my photography, and it's an issue that many photographers come across when leaving that oh, so beautiful natural light. The struggle of having a budget to put towards lighting equipment can be daunting but shouldn't limit you in finding the best way to create the shot. In this behind the scenes look, I will go into how I created a high-end product shot using light trails, all while on a budget. Remember, this can be recreated with any camera, including an iPhone, that allows for long exposures.
Yes, the secret is out. I do indeed shoot with more than just an iPhone and for purposes well outside of Instagram. Though this specific shot was used for a campaign on Instagram with a local distillery in Indianapolis, the original shot and concept were simply an experiment in seeing what I could create on a budget.
Originally, I had no idea what I would use for the light, but I found whatever I could in my junk drawer at home, including a pocket-sized flash light. I even thought of using my iPhone's, light but those were both a bit strong for this use. I then found a novelty bottle opener flashlight I got in a gift bag from the Indianapolis 500. This brought quite the happy accident, as the build of this light had two holes that gave both a small and heavy light source. Now, when I did this shot, I experimented with all sorts of paths and pressure in holding the light, as you can see below. Using my thumb against the on/off button and my index finger over the larger hole, I was able to create two streams of light.
A few tips to keep in mind when recreating a similar shot:
- When creating trails, work fast to make smooth lines.
- Play with shutter speed mainly ,as that will dictate how long and intricate you can make the trail.
Though gear doesn't quite matter, here is what I used when crafting this shot
- Canon 6D (Any camera will work, even an iPhone.)
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Again, many lenses will work for a shot like this.)
- Manfrotto Tripod
- Novelty Bottle Opener Flashlight
Below are a few closer looks at trail variations.
UPDATED: After a few comments and messages this week on how exactly I held the light here are a couple pics to show that a little better. When it came to how or where I placed the light when spinning around the bottle, I honestly wasnt too particular but rather testing to see which spot hit the bottle just right to light the lable up best.
Finally, here are the last shot and final edit.
Overall, I was incredibly pleased with the final shots, and so was the client, especially for something I had cooked up quickly using things around my home, including a liquor cart and a novelty flashlight. Settings for these shots were f/8 at ISO 400 in a completely dark room at night. The shutter speed was the experiment and hovered between three and six seconds.
What do you think? Was this quick behind the scenes tutorial helpful for something you might be thinking for your next product shoot? I really appreciate the feedback and love to see what you all can come up with on your own. One thing I truly appreciated when first starting out were all the tutorials and BTS articles on Fstoppers simply to learn the gear and all that came with it to capture the perfect image. Also, if you are interested in knowing why I filled a bottle of gin up with gold, hit me up on Instagram, and I'll tell you all about it.