This is my fourth post about photography we are doing for Anisa International. All the brushes we shot has highly reflective surface, and I was always using diffuser panels to build the lighting. However, each time lighting setup was a little bit different: I was experimenting and learning at some degree, every time trying to improve the lighting.
Let me summarize my previous shots posted here:
- First shot, two diffuser panels were used on each side of black glossy brush, creating smooth gradient: Softbox v.s diffuser panels in small product photography.
- Second one. High gloss chrome finish brush set, a combination of diffuser, reflector and spot light were used: Shooting cosmetic brushes: simple tips to help dealing with chrome finis.
- Third shot, metal brush set similar to a second one. Diffuser panel with black screens were used to improve the “glossy” feel: Working with reflective objects: cosmetic brush set photographed.
On the current shot I’ve used a combination of a diffuser panel and strip box to create desired effect: Sharp reflection on one side and smooth gradient light on the opposite side of the brush. This is the most common, “classic” way to shoot reflective stuff. Sharp reflection shows the true gloss of the product’s surface while soft gradient preserves the shape of the product, emphasize its roundness.
Let me show you how we did it this time.
The lighting setup:
Same thing from top:
I hope the setup will be self-explainable enough, so I’ll be relatively (:-) brief in its description:
Number 1 and 2 is a foam and plastic reflector screen. Instead of putting the light on both sides of the set I’ve used these screens and light number 5 (10º honeycomb grid on the Einstein 640) to get areas in front and behind the set highlighted. Notice that foam screen (number 1) is also blocking direct light from the hi-intense spot light source (number 5), protecting the brush set from unwanted harsh reflection. Aimed slightly above, spot light hits curved reflector (number 2), spreading the reflected soft light back to the subject.
There is a diffuser panel on the right (Westcott Illuminator Reflector Kit 6-in-1 – 52″), highlighted from behind by WL X1600 (number 6) through 20º honeycomb grid. It was very easy to modulate the shape of the reflection it produced on the brushes by moving the number 6 from the diffuser panel: gradient gets sharper when we have light closer to a diffuser, and the opposite, softer gradient when spot is moved away from the panel.
Notice that our spot hits diffuser at the sharp angle, creating strip-box like shape of the highlighted area.
Strip box on the left (number 4, on the Einstein 640) was there to produce that hard line on the left side of the brushes. This line is what helps to produce that glossy look I was trying to achieve.
I’ve utilized the same lighting setup (changed the power and ratio of the lights) to shoot the pouch for the set, combining them together during PP. I’ve added gray reflector on the left to cover the area between strip box (number 4) and the camera. It was necessary to get even spread of light on the center of our pouch.
The final look:
Camera was directly on top, I’ve used Manfrotto Hot Shoe Double Bubble Level to make sure camera is horizontal. One more interesting tool I’ve utilized (first time) in this shot is canon precise focus, as a feature of the live view functionality.
Because the camera was about 6 feet high from the ground, it was hard to reach it and look through the viewfinder to set the focus. This is where EOS Utility with its live view and remote focus become very handy. Check out the video:
Lighting, light modifiers and accessories:
- Paul C. Buff Lighting: 1×1600WS, 2xEinstein 640
- AlienBees/White Lighting reflector
- Paul C. Buff Cyber Commander 16 channels remote control with CSR+ receivers
- Adobe Lightroom 3 and Canon EOS Utility as a remote capture solution for tethered shooting
- Westcott Illuminator Reflector Kit 6-in-1 – 52″ silver reflector
Exposure specification: shutter speed 1/250 sec, F18, ISO 100