A Portable Product Studio Using an iMac Box

I have a location assignment on Monday where I have to shoot wine bottles at the winery, both with scenery backdrops and on seamless paper. Fortunately, I've designed a semi-portable product shot studio using an iMac box, a table, seamless paper, and lots of clips.

If this has piqued your curiosity, read on. Let's start with a finished product using this setup.

Whiskey Bottle Black Backdrop Whiskey bottle photographed using the "iMac Box" semi-portable studio. One LED light in a softbox. RAW file file processed in Capture One Pro 11.

I always bring my own table because I've learned not to depend on clients for suitable working surfaces. This puts me in complete control of my shooting environment. At this point, I'm sure you're wondering about the iMac box. It is a critical element for this rig.


Why? Because it is the right height for my backdrop stand, it is very stable, and the way the box opens allows for an adjustable connector for the seamless paper. That way I can get just the right slope so I can create a gentle curve for a studio effect.

For the white backdrop images, I use a small softbox for the front lighting and a second light on the background to keep it nice and bright. The second light can also provide a bit of rim lighting on the product if necessary. These are both LED units that run off batteries.


I cut the seamless paper so it fits semi-perfectly with this set up. Wooden yardsticks help me expand the width slightly beyond the iMac box, and they provide nice helpful anchors on both ends of the seamless.

The camera, (in this case a Pentax KP DSLR with the wonderful HD DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 ED Limited now on sale for $596, $200 off and a steal) is positioned on a tripod with the flip LCD angled upward for easy viewing. I also bring my own stool that's just the right height for this working environment.

From here, it's just basic photography. Adjust the lighting, set the exposure, check the color, then take the picture. Once the first product is successfully recorded, the process is fast for additional shots.

Whiskey Bottle White Backdrop Test subject with portable studio on white seamless. Two lights, one on the background

When this part of the shoot is complete, everything breaks down quickly and can be carried for transport in the back of the Audi A3. Yes, I have to drop the back seats to accommodate the table.


Some folks may wonder why I don't use a popup cube product studio for this assignment. I do have one, and I love it. That's what I use for the product shots for the TheFilmCameraShop that I run. The problem is that the popups are not quite big enough for group shots of wine bottles and other larger subjects. If I knew all the items were going to be small, then I would indeed go that route.

So there it is... a versatile portable studio that's relatively nimble and very efficient. Wish me luck on the shoot.


Want to learn more about Capture One Pro? Take a look at my course titled, Capture One Pro 11 Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning. You can also tune in on lynda.com if you prefer your training there. Either way, I have four hours of entertaining education that will help you master this excellent photo management and editing application.

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