Here’s how you can light product photography using small LED light sources

Tips & Techniques

Lighting products is a lot of fun, but it can be quite tricky. Most lights we use in the studio for shooting products are huge. They’re often big strobes or LED panels, but sometimes you just need something small. Something you can fit into a small space and light up just a small section of a product, or indeed the whole of a small product.

In this video, photographer Mark Duffy shows us how he uses Spiffy Gear’s new KYU-6 LED lights to light up an Xbox controller for a little bit of small product photography.

Mark’s video begins with showing us the overall setup, a rundown of the gear he’s using and exactly what each light is contributing to the scene. That means the Fujifilm X-T3 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens with three bicolour KYU-6 lights set to daylight and three more RGB KYU-6 lights for playing around a bit with colour.

Simultaneously both the biggest advantage and disadvantage of small lights is… well, it’s that they’re small. It’s an advantage because it lets you work them into small spaces. The disadvantage, though, is only a disadvantage if you don’t know how to work around it. Mark uses two of the bicolour KYU-6 lights above the controller, pointed up towards a white foam board reflector.

This helps to diffuse the light and create a larger light source, ultimately resulting in a softer light falling on the subject. This also has the added bonus of creating a larger reflection on those shiny Xbox controller buttons. The third daylight-balanced bicolour KYU-6 sits in front and below the controller to provide some fill and a bit of a highlight around the bottom edge.

Two of the three RGB KYU-6 LEDs are either side of the controller, flanking it with colour. These lights are easy to adjust, allowing Mark to set them to provide whatever colour edge lighting he wants on the controller. As you can see here, showing off both red and teal.

The third RGB light is green, the same colour as the background being used, and placed behind the background to create a nice glowy hotspot directly behind the controller. It creates a nice contrast between the two and offers a nice vignette to the image overall without affecting the main foreground subject. Mark also shot one image of just the background light turned on without anything else in the way to give him a clean plate background to composite in and remove the holder keeping the controller in the air.

One of the things you have to keep in mind when using continuous lights like LEDs is that your exposure is generally longer than it is when working with flash. And when you bounce them off a big sheet of foam board as Mark does here, you gain size at the expense of power. But for product shots like these, you’re typically mounted on a tripod and the product is static. So, it doesn’t really matter how long of a shutter speed you need to get the shot. Nothing’s moving anyway.

And although I’m sure you’re not all rushing to Amazon to buy Xbox controllers to give this a go now, it does show just how effective small LED light sources can be. KYU-6 is the new version of Spiffy Gear’s popular Lumiee LED lights and I love using mine for shooting small products, too. This is a clip from a video I recently posted where I used them purely because of their small size.

I’ve got maybe 20 continuous lights of various sizes and power here and most of them discounted themselves form this shot purely because of how big they are. I wouldn’t have been able to get them as close, their light would’ve been softer, and they’d have just gotten in the way. Sometimes, all you need is just a couple of little splashes of colour in a small space.

If you want to find out more about KYU-6, head on over to the Spiffy Gear website.

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