Product Shot Tutorial with Studio Strobes and an SB-800

I’m a guy of my  word so, as promised at the end of my Exploring Small Strobes – Why Should I Use a Speedlight? I’ll go through both the lighting setup and the post processing to get the final intro image you see here.

You can see my other lighting setup tutorials HERE.

Studio & Lighting Setup

Let’s start with the studio setup. For the background, I used black cotton fabric. I would have preferred seamless paper but… I don’t have any because I never saw the use since I never shot light directly on a black background before. But when lighting a black background, you get to see all the folds in the fabric. Yuk. So… note to self: time to get a black seamless paper background…   😉 I then set my SB-800 on a small table. The table was covered with a black piece of cardboard and glass on top.

Next up is the lighting. I used a combination of studio strobes and an SB-800 to get the final result. The reason I used an SB-800 was to get a snoot on to get the rounded blue halo gradient. Since I don’t have snoots for my strobes, it was easier to make one for my SB-800.

The first shots I did was to get my blue background properly exposed and centered around my model (a sexy SB-800 ;)).My SB-800 (the one lighting) was on the ground with a blue gel and a homemade snoot made out of cardboard.

Once that was done, I added one of my studio strobes on camera right roughly 30 degrees behind the SB-800. I had a 2’X2′ softbox on but I found the light to be too diffused so I went with direct lighting and clamped the white  softbox diffuser to both strobes.

Once that was well exposed, I added my main light to camera left and after some exposure tweaking, came up with the final shot.

Here’s the complete studio setup.

Technical Setup

OK, you must be wondering how my SB-800 communicates with my studio strobes so let me get technical for a minute or two. Since this was my first time combining strobes with SB-800s, it was trial and error. The first thing I did was set my SB-800 to REMOTE. Then I hoped that my studio flashes would trigger it. That didn’t work.  Deduction, the SB-800 sensor doesn’t work on light trigger. (Update: Thanks to Jim, he informed me that you can set your SB-800 to SU-4 mode so that the light from the studio flashes can trigger it.) So I flipped it around. I used my D300‘s built-in flash in COMMANDER mode to trigger the SB-800. The light from the SB-800 then triggered the studio strobes. Cool! IMPORTANT: Make sure you put your SB-800 in MANUAL mode not TTL. The TTL preflashes will trigger the strobes before the shutter is released. You do this in camera in your commander mode menu.

OK. We got our shot! Yipee! Now let bring it into Photoshop and make it look purdier.

** If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to DIGG it or STUMBLE it using the “bookmark” icon below! :) **

[vimeo 1998959]
[youtube 1apHIxuHTQ4]
PS: As mentioned in the video, you can check out the “Portrait Makeover Part 2 – Removing Pimples & Wrinkles” on how to use the Healing Brush.

7 responses on "Product Shot Tutorial with Studio Strobes and an SB-800"

  1. Thanks Yanik .. You can of course also use the Nikon SU800 wireless speedlight commander (infrared) to trigger the other SB800. Advantage is that you can control the flash output of multiple remote flashes from your SU800 on camera .. So no need to go change output on individual flashes. I often use an SB800 as a rimlight or hair light. So light, that there is no need for a sophisticated, expensive boom arm. I use monopods with flash brackets on them (plastic stands come with SB800)

  2. Hey. Great site, understanable for regular people. Just one question for you, could you put up some more pics of how the lighting setup is not just the drawings. And a littlebit more info on shutter, apperture etc etc on the different shoots. 🙂

    I’ve learned quite alot from this site, so thank you very much 🙂

    Mats from Norway.

  3. Yanik,
    thanks for sharing this tutorial. I love the halo effect, and you have to admit, SB snoots and grids are sooooo much cheaper then studio modifiers.
    For shooting small things I don’t use big seamless paper, I simply use an A0 sized paper, it is much easier to set up and cost very little.

  4. @ Jim

    I love it when I can learn something from my readers! Thanks for that! I never thought about the SU-4 option. That’s great to know and I’ll test it out.

    @ Debbi

    I just took the white lining from the softbox, folded it and clamped it directly on the round flash dome. Hope this explains it better for you.

  5. Cool stuff.

    The SB-800 also has an SU-4 mode that will allow it to be triggered by visible flash rather than IR.

  6. Thanks Yanik! I did get a little confused on the “I found the light to be too diffused so I went with direct lighting and clamped the white softbox diffuser to both strobes.” I can’t visualize what you actually did with that softbox or how you clamped them to both strobes?

    I enjoyed the Photoshop tutorial and learned some tips.

Leave a Message

© Yanik's Photo School           Terms of Use         F.A.Q.