I’ve just done another product shoot for a friend – this time for Shannon of Forgotten Feline.
I must have a lot of creative and entrepreneurial friends
Shannon/Forgotten Feline is a taxidermist and creates fun and quirky taxidermy – usually mice with fun props in somewhat alternative poses – not your usual stuff. But she’s also doing a line of hats, fascinators, head-pieces and such. It was these that she asked me to photograph.
Setup is similar to my other product shoots:
- White background - over a table.
- Reflector/barn doors light, on a boom, pointing down and back at the background
- White Umbrella camera right pointing down at item
- Silver to subject left bouncing some light at subject and some at background
I could use a third light instead of the reflector but I prefer to keep it simple – also I’ve found that the white umbrella gives a very good spread of light – more than a softbox would.
Here’s a quick diagram:
Before shooting I take a whitebalance setting using a grey card. A colour checker would be better but I don’t have one yet – I’m keeping an eye on eBay etc for cheap ones.
Editing is fairly basic:
- Double checking the white balance
- General exposure adjusting for the whole picture (usually Exposure, Blacks and Shadow sliders)
- Additional exposure for the background in Camera Raw using Quick Mask
- General other tweaks – Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation.
I shoot RAW, edit in AdobeRGB then convert to sRGB for web.
Here are links to her shop and Facebook pages:
Etsy Shop : http://www.etsy.com/shop/forgottenfeline
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/ForgottenFelineCouture
And a selection of the pictures:
Just finished a quick informal product shoot for Mr Wax a friend, fellow Peckham resident and one of my Jive tutors
Mr Wax is a purveyor of fine male grooming products, noteably the Bounder Moustache wax (Made from British Bees Wax and Caribbean Rum). All hand made and packaged by himself and fellow Wax industry aficionados. My impulse with any product shoot is to photograph the product on white but Mr Wax made me realise that the colour background that he’d brought would be much more in keeping with the image of said products – bravo choice Mr Wax.
Although I have my studio lights with medium sized softbox we used Mr Wax’s product shot tent. These are spring up tents with white sides designed to diffuse light as much as possible. (Should have taken a photo to show but didn’t unfortunately) Initial setup was:
- Setup tent
- Setup lights
- Take light reading individually and adjust to acquired ratio (roughly similar)
- Take light reading with both on and set camera to this value. (ISO100, f8, 1/200 in this case)
- Take a custom white balance using a Grey card.
- Set up coloured/background paper, curved as desired – proped up against something (CD cases this time)
- Set up first products + take test shots.
- Adjust as desired (No patter how much you measure things initially – this always seems to happen – plan for it).
- Even though the camera was now set up to use a custom White Balance it’s also worth taking a picture of the scene in general with the grey card in it for future tweaking if need be.
Some (very quickly edited) samples
To enquire and purchase their fine products please visit:
Their Website: http://www.mr-wax.com/.
Or e-bay shop : http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Wax-Industries-Emporium.
And Mr Wax himself at last years Chap Olympics.
A note on which (Chap Olympics) – if you’d like a jolly fun day out in an open space in London and would like to come along – please visit the site of The Chap Olympiad : http://www.thechapolympiad.com/
Tickets are already on sale. It is organised by the damn fine publication – The Chap.
My gallery from 2008 : 2008 Gallery I’ve just realised that my set from 2010 is only on Facebook so I should copy elsewhere.
Eh what ?
Ha – ok some will know what this is about and so you can skip this but thought I’d post for those that don’t.
What I’m talking about is traditionally known as a Grey (or is it Gray…?) card, althought they now come in several different formats. Yes – this is a piece of grey card – but it’s a very specific luminescence/lightness of grey – 18% grey. (PS I’m using “Luminescence” or “lightness” rather than “shade” as that suggests colour and grey has none – it’s just part way between white or black – which are not colours…. penadtry over for now) Allegedly this is what all cameras from early-ish light meters were built to consider a middle and average tone. [I say allegedly as Thom Hogan a well know photographer/blogger says otherwise]
The story goes that someone (possibly Kodak ?) went through thousands of correctly exposed pictures and took an average, overal light value and found this to be 18% grey – and so built cameras/meters to try to achieve this. This is why sometimes taking picture of light things in snow will under expose (pushing it darker towards grey) and dark things on a dark background will over expose…… although modern cameras have got a lot better … anyway I digress..
So the main/original purpose of grey cards was to assist in obtaining the correct meter/exposure value in tricky scenarios. You can hold the card infront/next to your subject and take a meter reading from it which should be correct.
BUT another use for them (and the point which I have been getting to in a very round-about way) is that they can be helpful when trying to get the correct White Balance. (If you don’t know what White Balance is – err – it’s the measure of how warm or cool the light is – our eyes automatically adjust for it but cameras sometimes need to be told - especially with different kind of light bulbs)
Usually modern cameras can do a fairly good job of getting the right white balance – but sometimes they need some help. This weekend I was helping a friend out by taking pictures of her bags which she’s producing and will be selling. As part of this shoot I was taking product shots – the bags on a plain white background – over exposed so that it would be white, using studio lights at a friends studio. I realised that I’d forgotten my grey card – so although I have a rough idea what temperature/tone the studio lights are I didn’t have a proper value to go by. What I’ve done instead is to find a patch of shade that isn’t influenced by other areas and taken a value from that. (You can’t take values from pure white – most of my background – as it has no colour) But one of the bags is proving tricky – the purple one. It just won’t look as it should. Not sure if this is due to my White Balance measurement (in Camera Raw) not being correct or the camera having an issue with that colour. Either way – a grey card would have been handy – I think I’ll cut off part of the card I have and keep a bit in each of my camera bags.
As well as standard cards there are some newer formats as I mentioned.
small and portable:
BUT grey cards are not the final word on full/correct colour management. Although they are a quick and easy method – they only correct the picture based on one sample shading. Theoretically it’s possible that either the light source or your camera’s colour characteristics will vary according to shade i.e. the light might be a little orange in the darker shades, but it is less so when it gets lighter. Other colours might come out more there – in essence – the colour variation of the light or the sensitivity of your sensor may not be linear. So for a comprehensive calibration you’ll need something with more sample points. Something like the X-Rite ColorChecker passport:
As well as a grey card it has a section with many different colours to sample from. There are various others on the market but this seems to be the main market leader at the moment as it comes with software that you can install that will help you create a calibrated colour profile for your camera/lens/light setup and then you can apply it to all images in a batch.
Here’s a video from X-rite on its use:
I do not have one of these – I would like to have one of these