Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background
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Old 11-16-2007   #1
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Default Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

I have a photo shoot coming up in a few weeks and it's a redo of something I did several years ago. The shot I took before, and what the new pictures will look like is this:
http://www.torcoinc.com/images/title_welcome2.jpg

I took that with a Sony f727 and two strobes bounced off a white ceiling in my basement. However, all variables have changed since then.

They want me to take the photos in their offices. One room has big, floor-to-ceiling windows that may provide a lot of natural light and 'texture' in the way of the patterns that will be outside. Other rooms are completely closed off from light and I could use my modeling lamps only if that'd be better.

For lighting I have 2 Alien Bees 800s with a brolly box and a softbox and 3 camera flashes.

Camera is a Canon 30D and I have a 17-55/2.8, 12-24/4, 50/1.8, 105/2.8 and 70-200/4

They want no (or very little shadows) and they want as much of the shot to be in crisp focus as possible. I was assuming the 17-55 at f16 would probably be good. At 35mm and 3' away, it'd give me almost 1.5' of focal distance. Any thoughts about this?

As for the light setup, since this is metal, I'm not sure about how to position these. I was thinking that one or two of the flash units could bounce off the ceiling to help cut shadows off the floor, and then maybe have the two difused lights (or would it be better to take the diffusers off) of the AB800s either pointing at the parts from front left and front right, or maybe have them behind the parts and have white reflectors at camera left and right. Ideas?

Finally, the floor/background. The footprint for these pieces when laid out will be about 18-24" from left to right and 12-18" front to back. I was thinking of getting a piece of white laminate and having it curve upward at the back. It's a hard, scratch-proof and easy to clean surface with some flexibility. However, it's semi reflective which may or may not be good. Any ideas about other potential surfaces?
I appreciate any help or thoughts on this.

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Old 11-16-2007   #2
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Default Re: Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

By the way, if this should be moved to the Commercial forum, please feel free to move it there. I didn't think of that when I posted it.
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Old 11-16-2007   #3
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Default Re: Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

I'm not sure what you're knowledge is regarding reflective metal is, so I won't assume anything. Reflective metal gets treated as mirror. What you see at camera position is the reflection off of the metal pieces. That being said, start with large soft box above the pieces and aiming towards the front. Then use lots of white fill cards around the outside to get the look that you want. For the background white seameless works well, possibly the laminate will also. The nice thing about the white is that it helps make the reflective metal look good. Sometimes you'll have to cut a hole in a large white fill reflector to place your lens through to get the white fill in the front. Sometimes you end up building a tent all around your product.

Lens wise, I would use whatever lens gives you the perspective that you want. You'll get the same depth of field at a given F stop whether you are shooting closer with a wide angle lens or further away with a longer lens.
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Old 11-25-2007   #4
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Default Re: Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

Is there any way I can make the pieces look sharper than the photo below? I just threw together some parts I had in the garage. I put them in a light tent on a piece of white posterboard that curved upward in the back. I have two AB800s lighting the tent from above directly to the left and right. Basically, if the parts here are the bas of a V, the lights would be at the top points of the V pointing toward the items. I also had a piece of white plastic over the lens so some white was bouncing in from the front.



The guy that hired me keeps saying he wants to show "precision" parts and wants these shots to be far superior than photos from other companies.

I used a Canon 30D with 50/1.8 and the lights mentioned above. Shot was at 1/125 at f16 and 100iso. I increased contrast to make the base white with levels.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 11-25-2007   #5
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Default Re: Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

Have you sharpened your image in photoshop? Other than that, if he wants sharper more detailed images, they would have to be shot on a larger format. 2-1/4 or 4X5.
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Old 11-25-2007   #6
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Originally Posted by One on one View Post
Have you sharpened your image in photoshop? Other than that, if he wants sharper more detailed images, they would have to be shot on a larger format. 2-1/4 or 4X5.
I did a USM of 218/.03 and wasn't sure if I should take it higher. Do you think that this does look adequetely sharp?

When you say a larger format, do you mean a larger sensor, like a medium format camera?
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Old 11-25-2007   #7
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Default Re: Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

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I did a USM of 218/.03 and wasn't sure if I should take it higher. Do you think that this does look adequetely sharp?

When you say a larger format, do you mean a larger sensor, like a medium format camera?
The sharpness is hard to tell where it's probably around 75 dpi in this thread. I'm not able to see the full 6, 8, or 10 mp image. Larger format would be a medium format camera either digital or film. Obviously the film camera is much cheaper. The other even sharper alternative would be to shoot it on a 4X5 camera which would give you a 4" X 5" transparency or negative.
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Old 11-30-2007   #8
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Default Re: Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

Suggest you get a copy of Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Fil Hunter and Paul Fuqua (Paperback - Feb 26, 1997)
from Amazon. It'll pay for itself on this shoot alone.

As for larger format making things sharper, that's a strange one to me - it certainly reduces depth of field and increases detail, but sharpness?

Smaller apertures increase diffraction, which reduces sharpness - as does soft lighting which reduces the shadows/contrast and thus perceived sharpness. You can probably sharpen the image more before the haloes start to encroach.
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Old 11-30-2007   #9
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Default Re: Shooting metalic items-- Need lighting advice and a background

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As for larger format making things sharper, that's a strange one to me - it certainly reduces depth of field and increases detail, but sharpness?
Of course you need to have a sharp lens to go along with the larger image size. A larger negative allows for more information recorded of your subject. Compare some of the test images from the new D3. The sharpness and detail is obvious. Now record the image on a 2-1/4 negative or larger and the image is even more impressive. Do you remember the image quality of a disc camera or 110 camera compared to 35mm? It's the same thing. Larger negative or sensor will give you a better, sharper more detailed final product

You can't get the same image quality from a digital SLR as what you would get from a larger format negative. Photoshop isn't going to make up for detail that just isn't there.
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Old 11-30-2007   #10
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Smaller apertures increase diffraction, which reduces sharpness - as does soft lighting which reduces the shadows/contrast and thus perceived sharpness. You can probably sharpen the image more before the haloes start to encroach.
The only reason I'm using a smaller apperture is so I have that 1.5' of front to back in focus that I need. If there's nother way I can get that depth at f8, please let me know.

I could shoot at 30mm with my Canon 17-55/2.8 lens at f8 from 4 feet, but I'm affraid I may get distortion and the objects toward the outside may start tilting outward. I'm not sure how to correct for that.

As for the soft lighting, perhaps I'll try taking the softbox off one light and have that one be a direct light to increase a contrast, and then I can use the other light with the brolly box to soften the shadows from the other side.

I'll check out that book too. Thanks for the recomendation.


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