Add a clinical edge to your product photography with petri dishes

Post by
Arlene Hildago
Add a clinical edge to your product photography with petri dishes

Have you ever wondered how to take everyday items and use them to create exquisite photography effects? We are always on the hunt for new ways to use unusual items and in this tutorial we will show you you how to get an incredible high-end beauty effect from glass petri dishes.

Yes, the same ones you used in science class a long time ago!

But don't let memories of lab gowns and bacteria fool you; these dishes make for excellent beauty product imagery. We've got something more creative for you today than just microorganisms and microscopes thanks to our clever contributor Katya Ozler.

By taking this basic piece of lab glass, Katya has been able to recreate a piece of advertising and turn it into high fashion product photography. Let's take a closer look and see how art and science intersect.

Planning the Petri Glass Concept

Katya wanted to take a break from food photography to shoot something unique so she searched for some inspiration online and was instantly mesmerised by this image.

It reminded her of high school and playing with oil, glycerin, and water so she challenged herself to create a variation of this concept with her own creative spin on it.

The inspiration image found by Katya and her idea sketched out

Sourcing of Props and Materials

Katya ordered some Petri Dishes and Plexiglass online to use as props in her shoot.

To create the oil effect she used Hazelnut oil as it is pale in colour. To give her oil a unique hue she added food colouring to give it a pink effect.

For adding texture and bubbles she had glycerin and water on hand along with an eye dropper to create the droplet effect.

All the props sourced by Katya to create her composition

Setting up the Scene

Katya used a glass platform so that she could light her scene from underneath. It was important that the glass panel was high enough from the ground so that her key light could face upwards. This helps light up the contours of the Petri dishes and bring out the colors and textures from the glass.

A diffuser from one of the softboxes was used as as a surface of the photography table (adds this added a canvas texture to the image) with plexiglass placed on top.

For the main light fill a softbox was angled from the corner for the main product

The set up in Katya's home studio

Equipment and Camera Settings


Composing the Image

Katya first started by composing the elements of her image and moving the Petri dishes around until they created interesting frame to the product.

She then experimented around a bit with the food color and other ingredients and decided to go for a mixture of colored water and drops of oil with water.

To keep everything in focus Katya used an aperture of f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/80 and IS0 100.

Experimenting with different compositions and coloured oil effects

Post-production and Editing

Lightroom was used to brighten up the photos and give it a slightly fresher look representing the perfume brand better.

Katya adjusted the white balance and reduced the yellow tones further for a clean white look. She also reduced the magenta to soften the colour of the oil further.

In addition to this she enhanced the texture but removed some Clarity for a more airy look.

Finished Image

Have you ever thought about combining product photography with Petri dishes? Using lab equipment might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it's a creative way to take your product photos in an unexpected direction.

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