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Photography 103: The 3 Basic Terminologies for Product Photography

By on June 24, 2015 in Business Tips with 0 Comments

We’ve all seen those unrealistically beautiful photographs; the kind that blend the ‘what is’ with magical colours and techniques, making the photograph look as though it is a work of art in itself. We often associate beautiful photographs with expensive cameras. While owning an expensive and advanced camera is definitely a major factor, one can actually take beautiful and ‘artsy’ photographs with basic DSLR’s.

Today, for our Photography 103 module, we will cover the three techniques which will show you instant success as a product photographer and even help you achieve similar results as compared to the elusive pictures you so admire.

The most important factor in photography to consider is light. Exposure is the amount of light that is allowed to filter in through the lense. One can compare it to their eyes. The more light there is, the more you can see, however, if there is too much, you can feel blinded by it. It is important to ensure that the photograph is not overexposed (too much light which leads to an overly bright images) or underexposed (too little light which leads to dark, dull images).

In order to achieve a beautifully defined image with just the right colours, one must perfectly combine the three basic elements of photography; Aperture, shutter and ISO. Apart from helping accomplish the optimal photograph exposure, these elements also help reduce visual noise, increase focus on the subject, and help in achieving blur-free, high definition images.




  • Aperture controls the size of the the lense which allows the light to filter in

  • Aperture is measured in f-stops.( Eg: f 1.4, f 2, f 2.8, f 4, f 5.6, f 8)

  • The smaller the f-stop, the larger the lense opening and the faster the lens. (Eg: a lense with an aperture of f 1.2 or f 1.4 would be a faster, and more advanced lense than one with f 8). This is because a lense with a smaller f-stop has a larger opening and can thus, can pass through more light.

  • The aperture settings can be changed based on the range allowed by the lense

  • Sharper lense with lower f-stops (f 1.2/ f 1.4/ f 2, etc) are more expensive since they are well suited to shoot in dim light situations due to larger lense openings

  • For product photography indoors in a poor lit area, use a small f-stop, whereas if you are shooting outdoors in bright light, use a large f-stop.

Aperture is also responsible for the depth of field of a photograph. A large depth of field is necessary when one wishes for all aspects of the composition to be in equal focus, for example in landscape photography. However, a narrow depth of field is necessary to focus on the subject, while blurring the background. A large depth of field requires a large f-stop with a small lense(example: landscapes), whereas a small depth of field, one requires a shallow f-stop with a large lense(example: jewellery photography).

In conclusion, for product photography, it is best to use a small f-stop( f 1.2/ f 1.4/ f 2). By doing so, you can shoot well in badly lit areas, such as the indoors, and you can also achieve a shallow depth of field, which will result in a beautiful product photograph where the focus is on the product, while the background will be beautifully blended and blurred.

An image comparison of wide depth of field (1) and shallow depth of fields (2 & 3)

An image comparison of wide depth of field (1) and shallow depth of fields (2 & 3)




  • Shutter speed refers to the amount of time the lense allows for light to filter in, stay exposed and get recorded.

  • It is measured in fractions (Eg: 1/60, 1/120)

  • A shutter speed of 1/60 means that the shutter is left open for one-sixtieth of a second.

  • A lower shutter speed is better to capture moving subjects, whereas a higher shutter speed is preferable for still photography.


For example, shutter speeds of 1/4000 are perfect to capture wildlife and sports photography, whereas longer exposure shutter speeds such as 1/60 are better for still photography, such as product photography.



  • ISO is measured in ranks of 100,200,400 and so on

  • The lower the ISO, the better

  • Higher ISO’s tend to produce more noise, thereby rendering an image which may not be as sharp as one would like

  • The standard ISO which people use to create clean, noise-free and accurate images is 100 ISO.

  • ISO stands for International Organisation of Standardization, a European governing organization which provides the standard for a large number of practices.

Individually, we learn about these three basic elements when we discuss exposure, however, all three need to be in sync in order to take the perfect picture. Play around with the three settings in different lighting and with varying subjects, and with a little practice, you will be able to perfect your product photography!


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