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Product Photography Questions

For my job, on a normal week I probably take about 50-100 photos per day of various motorcycle parts against a white background like this. The nature of the job means I need to do this quickly. The more time I have to spend shooting and editing photos, the slower our inventory intake is. I was just curious if anyone here had some suggestions.

As it stands right now, we have a table with a piece of white hardboard attached 3' above at the top and at the bottom front, so it forms a curve as it goes up. We have four fluorescent light fixtures (though one is broken) directly overhead, but no lighting from the sides or the front. What I’ve been doing is shooting so the part itself is well-exposed, then lowering the white cutoff (no idea what it’s actually called) in editing so that the background washes out white.

The issues I’ve run into are:

  1. I shoot from a tripod so I can use slower shutter speeds. The issue with this is that parts that don’t stand up on their own, like a flat body panel, have to be propped up in some way, usually using something that is obviously -there- and messes with the white background effect. My current solution is a white-painted microphone stand, but that doesn’t do a great job, and it’s still often apparent without removing it in post. My best idea otherwise is to put two white screws in the back wall of our table, sticking out, so that light things can be set against the back wall. I worry that these won’t wash out either, though.
  2. Shiny parts, especially chrome, like to reflect the overhead lights creating a strong glare. This both looks bad and makes it harder to wash out the background without catching bits of the part as well. Is there some way to prevent this?
  3. As mentioned, we don’t have any lighting from the sides or front. I’ve seen people use things to bounce light in those directions, but our experiments with more white hardboard haven’t yielded much of a result. Any suggestions?
  4. This is something I haven’t really exhausted my ideas on yet, but a huge time sink is the cropping and levels adjustment. Is it possible to write a photoshop script that can INTELLIGENTLY crop and adjust in this manner? It’s not a stylistic choice; the idea ratio displays the entire part with a decent border of background on the sides, and the ideal cutoff is one where near-white things are white-white. Obviously special cases, like parts with superfluous hoses hanging off the side or the aforementioned shiny parts will require individual attention, but automating the majority of the other shots would save a lot of time. I’ve looked into doing it with Paintshop (what we’ve been using) and... no. The scripting library is basically just there to call the program’s existing functions. I’d need to be able to actually get data about the image for my idea to work. I think.

Apart from that, any general suggestions or critiques would be appreciated. I apologize about the watermarks- I don’t like to feel like I’m advertising on here, but I don’t have versions without them available to demonstrate.


I admit I don’t spend much time on here, so I apologize if I’ve violated some taboo.

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