I’m currently teaching a lighting class and a recent assignment focused on texture and the ability to minimize or exaggerate it as the situation required. Since sandpaper is all about that texture, it served as the perfect model.

First thing first: get the placing right. It’s a balance of the main subject and the supporting props. We don’t want to overpower the star, but we also want to avoid a lot of dead space.


A bit of saw dust brings in the feeling of being in a woodshop, while the haphazard placement of wooden shims and used sandpaper helps to draw attention, by comparison, to the clean and shiny packaging of the product.

Next we need to get the lighting right. The first principle to understand is that the relative size and position of the light are essential in showing shadow (which is how we define texture).


Once we understand the basic rules of light, we can begin identifying where we want the light to come from (which will also show us where the shadows will fall).

After we get our primary light source placed, we can begin bringing in additional lights and reflectors to create separation along dark edges, accentuate texture on supporting props, and fill in shadows. It’s also a good opportunity to add additional props and details where need-be.

Now that we’re happy with the lighting, and our composition is set, we identify the small touches that we’ll fix in post-production.

It’s a product shot, so the packaging has to look perfect. We’ll fix the distortion from the lens and remove any blemishes and stray sawdust that has happened to fall on the package.

The finished shot (sharpened and fine-tune tone adjusted for digital display).

Shot specs:

Nikon D300S

TAMRON SP AF 28-75mm F2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical IF Macro A09NII

F9  –  1/6th sec  –  100 ISO

28mm (42mm equivalent)

Lights: 3x Yongnuo YN568EX Speedlights, 1x Yongnuo 300 III LED Light Panel, Window light for ambient fill.


Thanks for checkin’ it out! Feel free to leave comments or setup questions below. Watch for the next behind-the-scenes write-up coming soon!


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