Sunday, September 2, 2012

BTS - Glass Buffer shoot

In the last article we talked about using an existing product used for one purpose and modifying it for another. In this case, a skin cleaning machine is repurposed as a glass and metal cleaning buffer.

In that post I introduced the product with the image shown at right. In this post we will go behind the scenes in how I created it.

This is a nice, simple product shot that uses three simple techniques anyone can replicate with a little ingenuity. A single light for our main light, a white reflector for fill and a mirror to show an additional side of the product. In this example we have the bottom side of the product showing the drive shaft, where an accessory brush attaches, and the top side showing the operating buttons. I removed the accessory brush and placed it adjacent to the product.

The first step is to set up the product. I used a small block of floral foam as a base and covered it with a cloth. The brush is removed from the buffer as I wanted to show the modification. The floral block is used to raise the product off the table in order to hide the bottom edge of the mirror. If I hadn't rushed it I would have used the shadow on the back side for more separation and edge definition on the top edge.

A broad view of the shot, messy basement and all
Next I place my main light, a small watt LED lamp with umbrella diffuser, at camera right. I aim it so that it creates a nice sculpting shadow on the rounded handle. Because it is a low watt bulb I pull it in close to the subject. This increases the effectiveness of the light and also causes the light to wrap the curves. The LED bulb is a typical hardware store purchase and is not color balanced. The light is rather yellow so you will need to do a custom white balance.

Since we are using a single light for this shoot it leaves the opposite side in shadow. To minimize the shadow I use a large white card reflector to help bounce some of the light back onto the product. The card is place directly opposite the light.

Finally we have the mirror behind the product. Originally I placed my small fish tank in back as I wanted something glass to tie in with the glass buffer article. The fish tank failed miserably and I opted to replace it with the mirror. It proved to be much more effective in displaying the product even if it doesn't quite tie in as a glass buffer.

View from the product side of the set up
The problem with mirrors is that they are highly reflective. They can prove a challenge in blocking unwanted views. In this shot the mirror was facing me and I was being clearly reflected in it, or rather my crotch. Not something you want to see in a product shot. The simple solution was to use a black card (called a flag) to block the view. This image shows how the flag is used to hide me in the shot.

The whole setup is compact and doesn't require any expensive equipment. The light can be any diffused light, not necessarily an umbrella. The reflector can be a piece of white foam core and the flag a piece of black foam core. As for the mirror, I'm sure you have one hanging around somewhere.

For a setting, any neutral cloth can be used. As platforms I have used everything from small cardboard boxes to books, plastic food storage containers and anything that happened to be on hand (including a roll of toilet paper).

Hope this gives you a little inspiration for your own shoot.

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