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Thread: HELP! Flash/Strobe setup

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    HELP! Flash/Strobe setup

    My Dad the other day(Wednesday night) "volunteered" me into taking product shots, for a catalog. So having no strobes, no flash, and no experience relating to this genre, I started reading 101's and tutorials.

    The story behind this volunteer, is my dad had someone who did good business with him, the guy sold off his company, and started a new company, which he relies now on building certain gear, that my dad's company will buy, to sell to BHP billiton, Alcoa, Worsley, and to the rest of the world.

    So now they want catalog shots of their products done tomorrow... Now these equipment... they are high-pressure hydraulics, and weigh between 80kg - 500kg. So they're not going on any desks... the thing thin i thought would be to buy some A2 sheets for a white background.

    From this short notice I contacted Colourised and meet up with him today to try each other lenses, and borrow his flash... (thanks so much!) Tomorrow I was thinking popping by camerahouse and picking up an umbrella to try and diffuse the lighting more...

    after seeing this thread. I was thinking shooting at F/8.

    I have hours for the shoot on hand... I have no idea where I'll shoot probably somewhere in the workshop... or maybe by the roller shutter door, where there's sunlight... the roller shutter door faces east, so I'll have the sun facing the product in the morning... I could probably do it in the sheltered car park... where theres shade, though 99% they'll be cars there...

    Dazzler please be mon savior sil vous plait...

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser DAdeGroot's Avatar
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    Hmmm, you are in a quite difficult position then. Typically you need more than one light for product shots as you don't want any nasty shadows obscuring the product or detracting from it.

    You can make your lights work harder by building a lightbox lined with white paper, that way spilled light will reflect back on your subject and help cut down shadows. A cheap way to light it would be to grab a couple of those 300W work lights from the hardware. They're usually around $20-$30 each. You'll need to colour correct afterwards, and if you go this route, don't mix flash and worklights unless you can gel your flash to match.

    If you haven't got enough light to effectively light your white background, don't bother, just get the lighting on the subject right and cut them out in photoshop. It's not ideal, but given what you're working with, possibly the easiest solution.

    If you had more time, I'd highly recommend getting hold of a copy of Light, Science and Magic (3rd Ed), as it details how to light different types of objects effectively.
    Dave

    http://www.degrootphotography.com.au/
    Canon EOS 1D MkIV | Canon EOS 5D MkII | Canon EOS 30D | Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM | Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM | Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM | Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM | Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L & some non-L lenses.

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    As Dave says, difficult. Do you have a tripod? You mention that you have sun in the morning through the roller door. Maybe use the sun as your main light by covering the whole opening with a translucent material akin to tracing paper, thereby creating a huge light box. You could then use a couple of reflectors for fill, just to open the shadows. You might be able to buy a suitable material from a fabric shop. Something white, thin, with a tight weave. Good luck.

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    Fly me over and I'll shoot it :P

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    I got a white/silver reflector today, and a broken white umbrella for free...

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    I'd be off to http://www.cameraelectronic.com.au/index.html and hire the right lighting to do the job properly.

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    OKay so How ave I gone on today? Well about 72 hours ago, I knew little to nothing about strobist, In that time I have managed to borrow colourised's Speedlight, trigger, and receiver.

    This morning I went to Camerahouse the minute they opened to do this, I wanted a white umbrella. They had one in and it was broken... So I ended up paying for a Silver/White Reflector, and the sales guy gave me the white broken umbrella for free as a bonus. The white umbrella was in a nasty shape when I got it, I managed luckily to get in back into its shape it was suppose to be in, by bending the metal frame. and then tapining the sliding catch thing to the rod permanently so it would stay opened.

    So the umbrella was in bad shape to begin with. When I got their the client hadn't got the products ready, and they were still polishing the products. Of course they were aware that I had little to no experience in this field. I also found out later on I was a last resort to saving their butts.

    I set up my flash gear, and got 3 of their old company posters that they did use(I was going to get A2 paper, but they gave me this) and used them as my backdrop effect. I took some f the photos using the flash, the umbrella and the silver side of the reflector. I still think the shots are very noobish and amateurish.

    Lots of things kept pausing, and stopping and starting my work. For a start the client didn't know what he wanted photographing, then when he did, I was allowed(not that I would) to move the gear to and fro the backdrop created on a shelf in the inventory area...

    In the end I spent about 3 hours. The good news is they wanted it sending Immediately to their Marketing, and advertising director in The Netherlands. They didn't want me to Post-processor the photos, they were going to get him to do it instead. I went with the flow, and the guy in the Netherlands emailed back after receiving the first shots, and said something along the lines, they're the best photos he's been given to work with. So the client is very happy.

    I will attach a few of the photos, I warn you theres some shadows in some of the photos. Like I said they didn't want me to do this, though I was planning too. All in the all I was going to get paid nothing for this, but the company is willing to pay for my expenses it took to take the photographs($70). The gear they're selling costs $200,000.

    I have other photo like this, they're all abit like this,I have some nice photos of the other subjects...
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    have a look at the histogram Gregg, this is over-exposed. Give it a good levels adjustment and see if you can recover some of the lost detail
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    have a look at the histogram Gregg, this is over-exposed. Give it a good levels adjustment and see if you can recover some of the lost detail

    You're right they are overexposed, however the client made it clear to me he wanted as little fingerprints, and dirt on the hydraulics show...and make them look brand new... It was for a catalog not for an advert...

    Again i wasn't in change of the PP, I've been playing with one this morning and brought the contrast down, and had a play...

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    Gregg you have done a good job for a first attempt. Items this big and shiny are always hard to shoot.

    Keep up the good work and experiment with different angles and reflectors of light. You don't need a heap of lighting gear to get the job done.

    So glad to see you have linked off to my spirit bottles product shoot. I have just shot a hat and will be doing more product shots over then next few weeks. All details are on my blog.

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    Its these high pressure assignments that you are forced to do that give you the best learning experience. Even if it does turn out to be a complete failure.

    Well done Gregg, as long as the client is happy.
    Brodie Butler (Perth, WA)
    Photographer / Filmmaker / Retoucher
    Canon & Elinchrom user

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