Recently we did a shoot for a long term client of ours, Anisa International. You already know what its for, right? Yep, chrome cosmetic brushes. This time the client wanted the brushes to be photographed directly from the top (top-down shot), which brought up an interesting challenge for me.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you’ve seen that we’ve done many other shots of very similar glossy reflective cosmetic brushes (see them here), but none of them were from a top-down perspective of mirror-like brushes.
It’s obvious that flat diffuser panels, which I use in many situations won’t work here. It will be impossible to get a smooth transition between the flat panels and the camera. A cone-like sphere won’t work either, as it won’t create a uniform gradient across the brush, even if highlighted with stripbox (because of its spherical shape). The brush is a cylinder, therefore the light modifier should be cylindrical as well.
It took me 10 minutes to build this lighting setup:
As you can see, I’ve used a translucent sheet of plastic (this one) mounted on plastic PVC pipes (any construction store like Home Depot has them) with scotch tape. I then bent it to form a half-cylinder shape and fixed everything with the wires. Then I cut an opening for a lens in the middle of my DIY light tent and mounted the whole setup using diffuser holder arms.
I won’t say much about the lighting. It should be pretty self explanatory: two strip boxes, one on either side, to form the desired gradient, one spot light for the bristles. The brush’s bristles absorb much more light than the handle, therefore it should be lit with a more intense light.
This is the view from inside:
A few notes here:
- The camera I was using (my technical camera, best for focus and perspective tricks) was not necessary here, but I had to use it because my Canon 5DMKII USB controller stopped working and I couldn’t shoot tethered with it.
- The piece of scotch tape inside was a fix for a crack in the plastic. It did not affect the picture, as the tape is transparent:-)
The resulting images looked like this:
The image came out as perfect as can be in this situation. A nice and smooth gradient (where needed) over the brush handle and the only thing left for post production was a tiny reflection from the lens (it is the line on top of the brush).
I had strip boxes close to my DIY light tent, so that the bottom edge of the box was almost touching it. This formed a bright line followed by darker line at the bottom of the brush. This was needed to show the reflective nature of the brush’s surface.
Another brush done with the same setup:
If you look closely, you’ll find that I forgot to turn off the hair light (which wasn’t necessary here) and it added that bright highlight on top edge of the brush. I had 6 “normal” brushes and only one brush-less. I simply did not think about that hair light.
Therefore, a tip for all of us: always re-evaluate the lighting setup, even when switching to a very similar product:-)
Hope it was helpful. As usual, I wish the best for you and your photography:-)