This “Feature Friday” will focus on something that I don’t share that often, product photography. I’ve been shooting product images almost as long as I’ve been capturing images of people, though not as frequently. However, I really enjoy the challenges that can come along with photographing products and when Robby Cox asked if I would be interested in photographing the drums he makes, I was all in!

Snare drums, like the ones seen here, offer up several challenges to photographer starting with a lot of chrome hardware in a variety of shapes. Add to this the need to capture the color and details of the polished wood surface and you have quite a lot of details to keep in balance in the photo.

It can be very easy to go overboard and make the lighting setup over-complicated in a situation like this and if you know me, you know I’m good at over-thinking things. I deliberately chose to work with only two lights to help keep the setup from getting out of control and in the end it worked out quite well if I do say so myself.

The three drums shown in the photos were shot on two separate occasions. Only one drum was ready at the time Robby needed to get some photos done for a promotion so the other two were shot later. The BTS (behind the scenes) photos shown here are from the second session which we did earlier this week. In both shoots I used strip style softboxes on my Flashpoint (Godox) AD600 strobes for my lights as well as some white foam core board and/or a silver reflector when needed.

The background and rear surface is the black side of a black and white HurleyPro ProBoard. It is referred to as a “white” ProBoard but the rear side is a shiny black with a bit of texture to it. These boards are large, four by eight foot sheets of flexible material that make for a a nice curved backdrop when set up as seen in the photos. Be aware that they aren’t that easy to deal with but having a number of sturdy clamps does help to wrangle it into this configuration.

In case you click the link to look at this on the Westcott you’ll see that only the Matte black board shows as available now so if you are interested in creating this look you might have to look at other options.

Once the background was set and the lights set up test shooting was in order to make sure we were getting the right look. Since this studio has a lot of daylight and the modeling lights on the AD600’s are so dim, we really needed to shoot with the strobes to confirm. To make this easier, I set up my live tethering monitor so that Robby and I could easily view the results and make adjustments as needed.

The biggest challenge we ran into was getting the lugs that are located around the circumference of the main wooden body of the drum to “catch” some light. Initially the lugs remained pretty dark which made the overall image look dull. I ended up changing the configuration of the stripboxes from a horizontal orientation (as shown in the BTS pictures) and set them to a more vertical position.┬áThis created the reflections in the lugs that I wanted and really help make the images “pop”. Changing the orientation in this way is a bit counter intuitive to how I thought it should work but you can’t argue with success I suppose.

One detail that Robby wanted to make sure was clear and viewable is the label inside the drum. This was actually one of the easier things to achieve. Thanks to the translucent nature of the drum head, directing a tight beam of light at the head created some very nice light inside the drum. The lower head is clear, but not perfectly so which required a bit of editing in the raw conversion. Some “dehaze” and “clarity” via an adjustment brush in Camera Raw cleared this up nicely.

So that wraps this Feature Friday. I hope you found it interesting!

-Brandon