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Tabletop Photography: Using Compact Flashes and Low-Cost Tricks to Create Professional-Looking Studio Shots [Hardcover]

Cyrill Harnischmacher
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

July 20 2012

Imagine capturing stunning, professional-looking product shots without needing a studio filled with expensive equipment and large flash units. This book teaches all the steps for creating your own tabletop photography studio.

Affordable compact flashes offer a number of creative lighting options within your tabletop studio; and the appropriate lighting and backdrop, and the creative use of your camera's features are key to a perfect image.

Author Cyrill Harnischmacher guides you through a variety of exposure and lighting techniques, and covers how to achieve excellent results using compact flash units. Whether you wish to capture product images for use in print or on the web, or you want to improve your photos for personal use, this book will provide you with everything you need to know to get great results.

Topics include:

Lighting Setups; Reflectors, Diffusors, and Accessories; Soft Boxes and Umbrellas; Strobe Flashes; Combining Long Exposures with Flashlights; Multi-Flash Exposures; Composition and Arrangements; Creating Backdrops; Product Photography; Smoke, Fog, and Special Effects; Food Photography and much more...


Frequently Bought Together

Tabletop Photography: Using Compact Flashes and Low-Cost Tricks to Create Professional-Looking Studio Shots + Lighting for Product Photography: The Digital Photographer's Step-By-Step Guide to Sculpting with Light + Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Price For All Three: CDN$ 61.44


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Product Details


Product Description

About the Author

Cyrill Harnischmacher is a photographer and designer who lives and works in southern Germany. His first book lowbudgetshooting won him the prestigious Fotobuch-award of the German Booksellers Association in 2005. Cyrill is a studio photographer by profession and a nature and infrared photographer by passion.

Cyrill has authored four beautiful, accessible, and successful books published by Rocky Nook. Earlier titles include Low Budget Shooting, Closeup Shooting, Digital Infrared Photography and The Wild Side of Photography.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice book. June 20 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Useful tips and instructions, attractively laid out and quite a reasonable price. I would highly recommend this book. The end.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in every way. Not just for amateurs. Aug. 2 2012
By M. Erb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was very impressed with the overall quality of the book Tabletop Photography. From the narrative to the photography it was top notch. The author has previously published several other photography related books, one of them award-winning.

In the Preface, the author states that the intended audience for this book is "amateurs who are making their first foray into tabletop photography and who don't already own studio lighting systems." I'd say that while that may be the author's idea of intended audience the reality is that photographers of all levels of experience will find value in this book. It is particularly well-suited for amateurs because of it's succinct discussion of photography basics but further on, more depth is given to topics specific to tabletop photography and its associated topics.

The book is square in size, has very nice quality glossy paper and is beautifully illustrated with subject appropriate photographs and graphic embellishment.

The book is divided into the following main sections:

-The Basics
-Technology
-Light
-Studio
-In Practice
-Assembly Instructions

I'll briefly describe the content for each main section.

The Basics: this very brief section is what it says. It's either a nice refresher or a good introduction to the essential elements of photography... focal length of the lens, depth of field, exposure, light and composition.

Technology: In this section the author walks the reader through the essentials of choosing suitable compact and system flash units. Most helpful is that he cites specific brands and models rather than talking generically. The various ways of triggering flash units is covered as well as various ways to control your camera whether it be by a cable release, computer or remote control.

Light: This important section discusses ways and methods to "shape" the light produced by your shoe-mounted flash unit(s). Umbrellas, reflectors, soft boxes and diffusers are covered in concise fashion. It is very constructive that the author has accompanied the text with excellent photographic examples illustrating the results of using different tools to shape the light reaching the subject.

Studio: In this section you learn how to set up your tabletop studio depending on what you intend to photograph. You learn that "tabletop" photography may actually require an entire room if what you are shooting is large. Many tips on the use of paper backdrops, clamps, tripods, pan heads and filters are given. Accessories that can be helpful to your photographic efforts are discussed such as adhesives, anchorages, supports & shims, backdrops and props. For instance, would you know how to precisely position water droplets on a subject? You'll learn how to do that in this section.

In Practice: This is the meat of the book. Concrete examples with detailed explanation covering a myriad of scenarios demonstrating setup, shooting technique, how to freeze motion, multiple exposure and much more. Once again, the text is accompanied by wonderful photographic examples so you have a very clear understanding of the result you'll achieve.

Assembly Instructions: The final section delves into the nuts and bolts of building your own do-it-yourself accessories such as making a bracket to hold multiple flash units, making a bubble level for your camera, how to make holders to facilitate the photography of small objects and so much more. You may never make many of these accessories, but it's great that the resource to do so is available in case you ever need to build some of these things. Plus you'll save a ton of money if you make your own as opposed to buying a commercially available accessory.

This slim book covers a lot of ground in a laser-focused manner. It's very approachable and amply illustrated.

I was provided a copy of this book by O'Reilly for review.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief and insightful July 26 2012
By Federico Lucifredi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Cyrill Harnischmacher's tabletop photography is a concise treatment of a subject too often neglected. It is possible to take great photography of everyday objects and products without a very expensive setup, and the author comprehensively shows how in less than 140 pages.

I take quite a bit of macro photography for my personal projects, and I do have quite a bit of purpose-lighting. Cyrill shows how to achieve good results not only with studio lighting, but also and primarily with banks of flash lights, a much more portable, and possibly cheaper, arrangement.

The author covers the basic variables one can play with (depth of field, lens perspective, etc), and the technologies involved, but the undisputed star of the book is light. Lighting equipment is covered extensively, but it is the comparative study of the results of using different lights on the same scene (pages 32 to 37) that in my view is worth the entire book on its own: it is very hard to describe lighting, but here we are shown what different light shaping devices achieve in reflection and shadow...without having to try ourselves.

Experience is irreplaceable, but the review of surface types under different light conditions, and the collection of tips and tricks sprinkled throughout the book is really inspiring... maybe you do not need to build some of these contraptions, but it is nice to know that you could, if you needed to. The tips on handling unwanted reflections were quite handy to me personally.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tabletop Photography by Cyrillic Harnischmacher Aug. 9 2013
By unclemikey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a professional photographer I read a lot of different types of books on photography, mostly to recommend reading material to the members of my local camera club. Tabletop Photography gets an A+ recommendation from me. The author (his name is just too long to keep typing) writes in a simple, easy to follow style. Not only does he offer suggestions on what to do but how to do it and make some of the equipment yourself. The act of making your own equipment and then utilizing it to create new and exciting images will for many open a new adventure in photography. Read it, employ the projects, succeed...
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Photographing Small Things Aug. 13 2012
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a slender volume that aims at a specific genre of photography and limits itself way beyond what one might expect. The author says it is intended for amateurs making the first try at tabletop photography who don't already own studio lighting systems. But you'd better understand exposure, focusing, depth of field, close-up photography and how to use your electronic flash, because the book doesn't cover any of these subjects in any kind of depth, except to the extent that there are special considerations in tabletop photography.

In fact, at first reading I didn't think the book covered some essential considerations, like the relationship of lens focal length to angle of view. (You don't want to accidently include a wall to the side of a subject in an image by using too wide an angle lens.) However upon reading the book more slowly, I discovered that most of the essential subjects were covered somewhere, even though it might not have been in the expected location. I advise you read the book carefully so that you don't miss any points.

The author covered all of the relevant equipment. He emphasized using flash units rather than larger studio lights, not only because of cost but also because, in many ways, they provide more flexibility. The equipment discussions were quite comprehensive, emphasizing lighting equipment and its use (although he did fail to mention the use of booms, which I have often found helpful for placing a light). Most of the book was devoted to the practice of tabletop lighting, including methods for getting pure white or black backgrounds, photographing glass objects, and combining continuous lighting and flash. The book concluded with instructions on making some of your own tools for tabletop photography.

There were areas that I wished the author had explored more extensively, like the use of depth of field and perspective to achieve the photographer's goals. In fact I generally would have liked more examples and more discussion throughout the book, particularly since it was obvious from the illustrative photographs that the author understands all the ins and outs of tabletop photography. Even so, the book will probably prove useful to the novice in this area, provided that he or she is willing to use imagination to consider what is possible.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JUst what I was looking for June 14 2013
By Wayne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm a professional photographer of long standing and have always enjoyed building my own tools and creating my own solutions. I was familiar with much of what was discussed here, but the couple of new ideas I picked up were worth FAR more than the cost of the book.

Well presented and well illustrated!
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