Part of my role at ESS was to work with professional photographers to create a product image library. The most challenging part of this process was trying to get ESS products to look good and ‘pop’. This was no easy task since the majority of ESS products were made to for military use and specifically designed to be drab and blend in with their surroundings. Making camouflage-colored products specifically designed for covert military operations ‘pop’ is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Through trial and error and working with many talented photographers we finally dialed-in the process for shooting eye wear. The primary ESS photographer, Dave Wheelock was invaluable to work with and without his skill at exposures and composition we probably wouldn’t have moved this process so far along. It was truly a team effort in creating print-ready amazing product photography.

In order to get the most out of bland-colored products a photographer has to use the most powerful element in his arsenal. – Light

There were 5 key things that I aimed for when shooting the ESS product line.

  1. Contrast
  2. Lens reflection
  3. Shadows
  4. Product Angle
  5. Consistency

Here’s a walk-though of a typical product photo session.

TIP: Shoot in Camera RAW – Do Not Shoot Professional photography in Jpeg mode. Unless you’re a wedding photographer and batching/sharing hundreds of images. All your images should maximize your camera’s highest settings.
TIP: When shooting lenses. Do no use fluorescent lighting. This rainbow banding is nearly impossible to color correct and get a clean looking lens. There is so much work involved it’s not worth even trying to do post on it.

Typically the photoshoot will start with set-up. Since we had a small photo studio on site, we could leave the lights set up. Shoot- Move Lights – Shoot – Move product – Shoot – Through trial and error and meticulously try to optimize the camera angle and lighting for product. On every product it is easy to wind up shooting close to 50 or in extreme cases 100 images. – Digital images are free! Shoot away!

Once you have what you think will be a set  of usable images, bring your photos into Bridge and search through for the most ideal and consistent images. If you are batching images, its a good time to correct your white balance and make an initial set of color corrections in Camera RAW.

Once the product has been color corrected and desaturated, the next step is to trim out the background and then create the shadow layer.  Creating masks around the lenses and individual elements. Go in and use a clone or healing brush to remove dust. Duplicate or trim out the logo. Merge the image down to create a working file and smaller final document.


ESS – Product Photography
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