Technical Tools Tilt-Shift Product Shoot

Thursday 8th July 2021 - 15:00 BST / 10:00 EDT
This live show focuses on the technique of tilt-shift photography as Karl demonstrates how to shoot an arrangement of products using this technique. 
Building up light by light, in this live show Karl demonstrates how to use a combination of gradient light, point light sources and global fill to create a beautiful final shot of these shiny objects and shows you why using tilt-shift is the best option to get the ideal results. 
The material of these tools adds an extra level of challenge. But with clever problem solving and some carefully placed lights Karl reveals how you can add some beautiful specular highlights. This show contains a setup and concepts that can be easily adjusted to suit a variety of products from cosmetics to technical tools. 
Karl touches on the concept of angles of incidence and reflectance and how to calculate where you need to place a light in your setup to illuminate your products - an important principle that will help make your photoshoots run smoother. He also shows you where to focus and how to adjust your tilt shift adapter or lens to get the correct results. 
Additionally, learn the benefits of live view for styling this sort of image through tethering your camera - if you want to learn more about tethering you can check this course. 


  1. Brian R.

    For a full frame mirrorless camera like the Canon R5, is a tilt-shift lens generally enough for product photography or is a view camera needed since it has more movements and you can pair a lens with a larger image circle?

    1. Hi it really depends on the type of product and your requirement for unusual angles. I very rarely use tilt and shift because I use focus stacking techniques for DOF instead. If it’s to correct product or architectural converging angles then it can be useful but again you can also correct this in post if you’ve shot wide enough to have some area of the image to play with. Ultimately though I do believe a proper tilt and shift camera like a Linhoff Techno with a digital back and the highest quality Rodenstock or Schnieder lenses will give you the best overall quality.

      1. Brian R.

        Thanks so much for your insight, Karl! I’m with you on focus stacking and post-production techniques. What I’ve had in mind lately is a relatively close shot of a product at an angle with water ripples below while having a shallow DOF, I like the idea of changing the focal plane to get it all in one shot. Arca-Swiss has the M-monolith and F-Metric that have all of the movements, Cambo has ACTUS, and I’ll check out Linhoff Techno as you mentioned.

        1. Hi Brian, All of the cameras you mentioned would be good options. I used to enjoy the slower process of shooting on my Sinar P2 back in the days of 5×4 and of course macro work was another bonus as well as the ability to either increase DOF or run unusual DOF oblique angles. So yes there are lots of benefits and if I was shooting more architecture/interiors then I’d certainly consider one. Check out our live talk show with Sean Conboy for more info on technical cameras.

          1. Brian R.

            Hi Karl, wow that’s great! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to respond, I’ll find that live talk.

  2. Hi Karl,
    I’m struggling to make some rich and eye catching images of dental burs, which are very small, round and metallic. The tips you gave have helped me a lot. I’m very curious to figure out how you used the black flag mentioned at the end of this class. Could you please explain and if possible recomend some more videos that could help me out with this work of dental burs photography?
    Thank you very much in advance. You are a star!

  3. Superb explanation of how and why to use various types of light sources. very enjoyable to watch and as usual clear and simple to follow.

  4. filippo-72990

    Hi Karl, a question regarding the Hasselblad TS adapter: is it yaw free and is it possibile to do asymmetric tilt ? For yaw-free I mean: If you focus along the tilt axis (in the middle if you do not apply any shift) the tilt axis stays still in focus without any refocusing adjustment ?
    Does the adapter have a tripod mount to be able to keep the lens fixed and moving only the digital back ?

    1. Hi Filippo, no I don’t think it is yaw free. Also by asymettric tilt I think you mean can you turn the adaptor to have some diagonal tilt and yes you can. It’s not as versatile as a proper technical view camera as it’s movements don’t go as far. For full details though you should really speak to a Hasselblad dealer or Hasselblad customer support.

  5. DavidMorgan

    Helpful discussion on pros and cons of tilt/shift, but also another masterclass on lighting control. These sessions are always an inspiration.

  6. Hi Karl, another great tutorial – I use a tilt-shift lens and thought I’d share my focussing technique for you and your readers, hopefully of some use, to save the frustration of not getting the focus right :

    1. 1. Compose scene in Live-View at 0 deg tilt
      2. Using Live-View magnification and focus foreground
      3. Move magnification point to the background of the image and tilt lens until background is in focus

      Keep tweaking fine adjustments between focus (foreground) and tilt (background) until it’s all sharp. Essentially, you focus the lens for the foreground, and tilt it for the background.

      1. Hello John
        This is a Large Format technique
        Clever stuff.
        You must repeat it 3 times and it will work every time.

  7. Hai karl this has been an wonderful class experience. Thank you so much for such valubale informations. I always tought of softboxes when i thinks of such objects in front of me to shoot now i have a different ideology all together. Such a valuable peice of information and class. Looking forward for more.

    1. Thank you Rameez, if you found this useful please check out our new ‘Getting started in product photography’ section.

  8. That gradient problem I thought you would solve by adding two soft boxes to each end of the diffuser paper. I knew that the solution would be achieved with lights behind the paper, at least I was not that far, it means that I have learned a lot Haha !! Excellent class, it has been one of my favorites.

    1. Thank you Peter and it’s worth noting that the idea of putting two vertical strip boxes at each end of the paper would have provided a very pleasing gradient lighting look to shaping the tools but would have also unfortunately put the brightest acrylic reflections at each end of the picture but you are thinking along the right lines and if that look was needed for the tools then a composite image could have been used of the two lighting styles.

  9. This was such a great session, and helped me immensely with shots I’ve been struggling with. Can’t wait to try this tomorrow in the studio. Once again, thank you so much Karl and gang!

  10. Hi, there was a couple of references to a photographer who uses technical cameras and it sounded like there was an interview, was it Jonathan Bear? Beare? Have I got the name wrong? Cheers.

    1. Hi Peter, Jonathan Beer (product photographer) and the interview in our live show replays is with Sean Conboy (architectural photographer).

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