Book Review: Tabletop Photography by Cyrill Harnischmacher

Tabletop PhotographyTabletop photography, by Cyrill Harnischmacher, gives the reader a clear introduction on how to take product shots in a studio environment. But above this, the book provides extensive details to help readers create their own tabletop photography studio without spending much in gear and materials.

The book starts off by providing a brief summary of the gear required for this type of photography, including desirable features for lenses (focal length, macro), flashes, triggers, etc. The most common light shaping tools, from softboxes to reflectors, are also reviewed. Lots of fantastic tips are provided, including how to build budget reflectors from polystyrene, or the annoyances of umbrellas shafts in the cluttered space of a studio. Additional pre-production advice is given regarding setting up a permanent or mobile studio, materials required for a photo table, sweeps and backgrounds, clamps, and cleaning tools. Plenty of illustrations are used to show how each of these elements influence the final look of the photograph.

The book then moves onto a more practical section, describing the effect of different light modes and directions, and how to setup lights for low and high key phtography. Through all this section the book emphasizes how the reflectiveness of different materials needs to be properly handled by the use of the right type of lighting. The book is well illustrated by¬† example pictures and schemas of light positioning. Many topics are covered, long exposures, multiple exposures, freezing motion, etc. There’s even a section for food photography! For each, the reader will find useful advice normally condensed in 1-2 pages.

Overall, I found the book to be an interesting manual to be read from start to end. But it also serves as a reference book to go back to when you need to take a specific type of photograph. I would definitely recommend this book to any reader new to (tabletop) photography.

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