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This chapter is from the book

Camera Body

I take a lot of photos of cameras, flashes, and other gear, which are a lot more challenging to photograph than you might think. Because the gear is usually a combination of plastic, rubber, metal, and glass, you must deal with several different reflective surfaces. You also want certain features, such as the model name, to be properly lit and basically look as good as possible. To succeed, you need to add little splashes of light in just the right places. Doing so requires a combination of multiple Speedlights, flags, and bounce cards. Plus, to light the background, you need another Speedlight, grid, and gel.


This image takes more lights than you would think: Four Speedlights are needed to light up everything just right. Here is a complete gear list:

  • Camera body: The model for the example photo is the Nikon D750 with the MB-D16 Battery Pack. This camera makes a difficult product to photograph, especially because the name plate is at a different angle than the Nikon logo and both need to be lit properly.
  • Speedlights: The image is lit by a four Speedlights. The main light is in a softbox over the camera, then two different Speedlights highlight different parts of the camera, and a fourth Speedlight lights the background.
  • Softbox: The main Speedlight needs to be diffused so that you don’t get hard shadows. I use the Westcott Rapid Box strip because it is the perfect size to light up the camera body.
  • Snoots: The two accent flashes need snoots so that the light from them doesn’t just spill everywhere. Two small Rogue FlashBenders rolled into snoots, one on each Speedlight, work perfectly to control the light.
  • Rogue Grid and gels: One of the easiest and coolest-looking backgrounds can be created by using a Rogue Grid and a colored gel.
  • Flags: A couple of pieces of black poster board help to control the spill of light.
  • Bounce cards: A couple of pieces of white poster board help to open up some of the shadow areas and add a little light, especially to the sides of the camera.
  • Boom or century stand: The light needs to be placed above the camera and aimed down so that it illuminates the top of the camera. To do this, you need a way to hold that light in place. Either a boom or a century stand can do this with ease.
  • Justin clamps: Clamps hold and position the two Speedlights that illuminate the details on the camera. Because they allow the flash to be precisely positioned, I use Justin clamps either attached to the work surface or mounted on light stands.
  • Light stand: You will need a couple of light stands for the two Speedlights that add the detail light, as well as one for the back light. Depending on your setup, if you use the Justin clamps, the two detail lights can be mounted on just about anything from a chair to the actual work table.
  • Commander unit: You will need a way to trigger the lights from the camera. I used the SU-800, but you can use another Speedlight. I used all three groups for this photo, so I recommend an SB-900, SB-910, SB-800, or SU-800.
  • Camera and lens: For the example photo I used the Nikon D4 and a 70–200mm lens, but you can use any camera and any lens you want. The key to consider is how much of the surrounding area you want in your image.
  • Tripod: For this shot to work, the camera needs to be set in a tripod that can hold it in the same spot while you adjust the lights.
  • Black board: The background is a piece of black board.

Taking the Photo

The first step is to set up the work area and clean the model camera and lens. Wipe off the camera and use compressed air to blow the dust off the rubber grips. Polish the logo and the camera name with a lint-free cloth and clean the lens. Once you set the model camera on the work surface, try hard not to touch it at all to avoid fingerprints. If you do have to move the model camera, use a cloth or cotton gloves to help reduce any fingerprints or smudges.

The next step is to set up the camera that you’re using to take the photo. Place it on a tripod and aim it at the model camera. Because I took the example photo specifically for this book, I wanted to take a portrait-orientated photo, so I set the camera in the tripod vertically and aimed straight at the model camera.

With both cameras in position, set up your lights. I set the background light, an SB-800, to Remote mode, channel 1, and group C. I placed it on a short light stand positioned between the work surface and the background, which was a plain piece of black cardboard. The SB-800 was fitted with a Rogue Grid and a red gel, as well (Figure 19.19). I picked red because the Nikon colors on the camera are black and red, but you can use any color you wanted.

Figure 19.19

Figure 19.19 The D750 and the background light are in position, and the SB-800 is fitted with the Rogue Grid and red gel.

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