But what do I know? I'm just a twice clicken brown shirt teabaggin tjroll. Right? --PatP

Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that. --Thor

If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Friday, November 19, 2010

First Trip to the Product Studio

So today was my first time in the college’s product studio. That’s the smallest of the three studios, used mainly for product shots. The assignment was to shoot two different pieces of glassware and get both white-line and black-line shots. I had a lot of fun using the Canon EOS Utility to shoot from the computer so I didn’t have to touch the camera for those long exposures (took one at three seconds).

During the demo, when he was showing us all how to shoot glass and offering suggestions as to how to setup the lighting, the professor told us that expensive glassware makes for better photos, and that very expensive crystal would yield the very best results. He said that when he had to shoot glassware at RIT 40 years ago, what he did was went to Macy’s and bought some. He brought it to the studio, took it out of the box, shot it, put it back in the box still in perfect condition, and returned it to the store.

I thought that was a fantastic idea. I’ve done similar things in the past, and planned to do just that. Kerry thought it was a good idea too. She just didn’t want to front the money. So I grabbed a Reidel stemless white wine glass and a Disaronno funny-shaped shot glass out of my liquor cabinet and shot those. I also brought a plain ol’ rocks glass, a rocks glass shaped like the shot glass (which you will see in a moment), and a bulb-shaped, cork-sealed bottle (like you would expect a mana potion to be in) I bought at Michael’s two weeks ago for this express purpose.

I was only scheduled for an hour in the studio, and figured for fifteen minutes to clean up (I didn’t plan to make a mess, but everything had to be put away before I left). And since I wanted to get both white lines and black lines (you’ll see what that means in a minute), I only had time to shoot the two pieces.

Those being the facts, I did show up about fifteen minutes early, and there was no one signed up for the slot before mine. So I got in a little early and had a few minutes to get acquainted with my new friend, the Canon EOS 30D, and his friend, the EF 24-85 mm lens.

I noticed a few differences between this setup and my Rebel. The most infuriating was the viewfinder. I don’t know if it’s the lens or the camera, but when I looked through it, everything was grainy, which made it something of a chore to focus properly. When I have problems focusing my Rebel, I use the autofocus to help me by holding the trigger halfway done and waiting for the red light to light up. That didn’t work here because of the lower lighting conditions I was working with in the studio. The other big difference is the power switch. I do not like the power switch on the D models. They have “off,” “on,” and “-.” I don’t know what “-” is for, but every time I wanted to turn the switch to “on,” I flipped it all the way past “on” to “-.” So that was mildly annoying. Also, the D series have an LCD display on top, whereas the Rebel uses the preview screen to display all the same data. I like that a lot, since it uses a lot less power to run that little LCD than it does to light up the whole preview screen.

First, let me explain the setup. I had two hospital tables (just like the ones they serve your lunch on) at the same height, about three feet apart, with a heavy slab of plate glass laying across them. Behind that was a big drape of white paper. behind the paper was a big triple-bulb light. with a reflector on the back and a diffuser on the front. The line you see in the background of these photos is the back edge of the plate glass. In a couple of them I hadn’t zoomed in quite far enough, so I had to crop out a little bit of the tables.


This is the first shot I took, and I think it turned out to be one of the best. The way I have the glass turned, it gives that pleasing curve to the reflection. The later shots either have a straight line across the glass, or the curve is pretty wonky. For this first shot, I had the light pretty far back from the paper barrier, so the lighting is pretty even.


For this shot, I moved the light much closer. Maybe four or five inches away from the paper, so there’s a pretty distinct halo. I should have also lowered the light, so that the center of the halo is right on the “horizon,” but this shot still came out pretty well.


For this shot, there was a big piece of black construction paper taped to a light stand. So I put it between the white paper backdrop and the subject to get this nice “white” line effect. The blue tint here is the way every single shot turned out today. I have no idea why that is. The room didn’t look blue, there was no filter on either the lens or the light. For most shots, I just fixed the white balance… Shit. That’s what it was. I didn’t check the white balance on the camera before I started shooting. Somebody was probably playing with the white balance, or was shooting under fluorescent lighting, or some other such thing, and just didn’t reset the white balance to auto. Damn. Oh well. Mystery solved. Now I know to check that in the future.

Anywho… For this shot, I left it blue because it gives the nifty impression that the shot glass is carved out of ice.


Like I said, I wanted to get white and black line shots of each glass. So here’s my white line (or “dark field”) shot of the wine glass. Clearly visible in this shot are the reflections of every damn thing in the studio.On the left is the computer screen, and on the right… a roll of brown paper towel standing next to a red and white bottle of glass cleaner. I really should have paid closer attention to this early on. I did eventually discover that this was happening, but I had apparently already used up my quota of good shots for the day. This is the only shot that photoshop has never touched. In the other shots, the glassware was dirty, or the plate glass “tabletop” was dusty (the first thing I did once I got the tables setup was wipe down the plate glass), and that had to be fixed (using the spot heal brush and the patch tool). I tried taking the computer screen off the glass in this shot, but it just made the reflections in the right side look more pronounced.


I started cleaning up, got all my gear packed up (the glassware, my memory card, etc: all MY stuff), then decided to get one last shot. So I plopped my Kindle (gently) down on the glass, turned the camera back on, focused on the leading edge, and snapped it. Just for fun. I might go back and take out the “horizon” line in this one.

So that’s my first venture into the product studio. If I can manage to get in there again before this assignment is due (highly unlikely), I’ll reshoot the dark-field wine glass, but I’ll remember to clear the tables and turn off the monitor when I click the shutter. Next week, it’ll be portraits in the mixed-use studio. I probably won’t get those up here until after Thanksgiving. But I might. We’ll see. Seacrest out.

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