Saturday, May 24, 2014

DIY tabletop foam core bounce card holders

Working with tabletop photography presents its own set of challenges. It seems that the smaller the product the smaller the light modifiers seem to get. Specially when you are looking to highlight just a small, specific area of the product. Then there are the multitude of reflective and refractive surfaces that can cause any sane person to pull their hair out. When you start crowding all this onto a small table you have to be careful not to cause a domino effect of destruction.

When dealing with bounce cards (a favorite solution for a great many issues) the problem becomes how to support the cards without taking up a lot of valuable table real estate. One solution I found is the use of a simple DIY holder made from discarded 2x4 pine studs. You can see them in use in this photo (circled red) holding up some black and white foam core bounce cards.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Watch with flame background

For a while I have been wanting to do some studio setups that play with elements; water, fire, earth, air. An opportunity to play with fire came up and this is the results of that photo shoot. As you can see it is pretty impressive but when I describe the behind the scene setup you will be amazed at how simple this setup really is.

It is so simple, in fact, that the image at right was all done in-camera. While the watch looks like it is on fire, the flames actually sit a few inches behind the watch. No watches were injured in the making of this tutorial.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Small Critter Photo Hunt - a MPG meet up

Sometimes I hate Murphy and his law, you know, the one that says, "if something can go wrong it will go wrong."

That's how I felt with this past meetup event. "So what went wrong?" you ask. For starters, the nice field of tall grass had very recently been mowed by the city. All those wonderful insects I had photographed on my previous visit no longer had a home to play in. Instead, our group faced a vast open space that any remaining small critter could spot us coming from a mile away.

And don't get me started on the weather. Rain that was supposed to stop early the previous day ended up going on into the night. While rain isn't that big an issue, since it tends to bring the insects out in the morning for some sunbathing and drying out, it did make for some sloshy walking around. Not much fun. The only thing we found were the various species of birds.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Assigning exposure values to your DIY diffusers

As a product photographer I am always tweaking or building light modifiers. Since lighting products is different than lighting people, I find that making my own modifiers is easier than trying to find commercially bought equipment. Plus, it's cheaper and, since I'm fairly handy, appeals to my artistic creativity.

With my collection of modifiers growing I thought I'd take inventory and also take stock in the various exposure factors of the modifiers. Specifically with in-line diffusers like diffuser screens and soft boxes.

Because the source materials for many diffusers come from a wide range of readily available products, knowing how much light a particular piece of material blocks can be a handy bit of information. So with no particular scientific procedure in mind I set out to determine light loss from the various types of materials I was using in my modifiers.

For a quick rundown of what I had to deal with here is a short sample of some of the materials I have in my collection; bed sheets, window sheers, shower curtains, wedding dress material, metal and nylon screens and a few other miscellaneous resources. You can see my use of window sheers and a piece of a hacked up shower curtain in the photo above.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring cleaning time

Winter is quickly leaving us and taking the winter blahs with it. Soon we will all be actively shooting everything in sight with our cameras. Some of us with new gear purchased or gifted over the holiday season. As is nature, warm weather stirs up all kinds of activities.

Since the days are not nearly warm enough to be spring, it is time to begin that yearly chore of cleaning and preparing ourselves for the warm weather. Spring cleaning is one of those traditions that we all must do. "Out with the old, in with the new," as the saying goes. That also pertains to our camera gear.

This is the time to go through all your camera equipment and do some spring cleaning. Find yourself a day in which you can work undisturbed and lay out all your gear. In particular, you should do three things, clean, maintain and unclutter.