Highly reflective products will reflect almost everything in the studio. Jewels, watches, industrial products, automobiles are some of the reflective products which need a very special treatment. The reflections are something that need not be removed completely but handled in such a way it looks natural and does not distract the sheen, shape, colour and contours. There is a great challenge in getting them right in our shots.
As a ground rule, we can try using a soft, indirect lighting so that the reflections are looking natural and reveals the contours and texture perfectly.
Use of a commercially available light tent can be a good choice for shooting large numbers of small products for catalogues and on line sales. For artistic shots, the light tent must be avoided because the light tent makes the whole product look flat without the feel of 3D.
The lights should not be aimed directly at the subject, but bounced from a matt white reflecting surface or diffused through gateway translucent sheets or white acrylic boards. The reflected/diffused light from these gadgets will prevent hot spots or specular high lights on the subject.
Black cards may be used on the sides of the product to define the shape with clear dark outlines.
Use of black cards will add the feel of darkness in certain areas of the subject to make it look more three dimensional. We need to experiment with lighting, reflectors, black cards and the composition.
A white background will make the job relatively easier to show the details of the reflective surface of the subject.
A dark/textured background can give a dramatic feel of the product with a variable light on it.
The product needs to be cleaned thoroughly without visible scratches & spots otherwise it will show off the dirt and scratches most perfectly. The finger prints are apparently seen (better use a soft cotton hand gloves while handling the product) when the surface is not clean.
A continuous light is sometimes preferred to the studio flashes. This is because the light fall from highlights to shadows is gradual. We can even use the tungsten light (modelling lamp) of the studio flash.
A tungsten white balance or 2500 Kelvin will be suitable. Let the camera be on a steady tripod and use mirror up and remote shooting options while trying long exposures.
More than everything the arrangement of the product in front of the camera and an aesthetic composition is very important to get the shots attractive.
In the process of getting rid of the reflections, the charm of shine and glitter of the highly reflective products should not be sacrificed. Remember these products stand and sell for its reflective nature!
Basic DSLR Photography Weekend batch 59 started on the 9th of August 2014. Here are some of the pictures taken by the participants. The images stand as an testimony of their Photography learning at Ambitions 4 Photography Academy. Many of the participants bought their first Digital SLR only after joining the course. Well structured curriculum, friendly and approachable mentor who can make the participants understand the concepts easily, guided field-trips, review and feedback all delivered with at-most professionalism makes the programme a big hit among the participants. Ambitions 4 Photography Academy is very proud to have been a part of each participants Photographic journey.
Fireworks is one of the ways of celebrations. It is exciting to shoot the fireworks, for it involves a lot of challenges.
The ground rule is to use long exposure to get the feel of movement and streaks of light. The exposure time depends on the brightness of the fireworks. You need to try possible variations of exposure by trial and error method. The cameras exposure meter may not be of any use while shooting long exposures.
A solid tripod or other good camera support is mandatory while trying long exposures. If you do not have a tripod, try keeping the camera on a solid base. A sand bag (a cloth bag filled with sand) is an ideal choice to hold the camera in position for a good composition.
Use manual exposure and small aperture (f/11 or f/16) selections. Choice of low ISO (ISO 100) would be ideal for getting a slow shutter speed.
Long exposure up to 30 full seconds can be set in the camera. If you need to shoot longer than 30 seconds, choice of ‘Bulb’ shutter is fine. A very long exposure (up to five minutes or more) can also be tried to get multiple fireworks in the same shot. You can use the stop watch of your mobile phone for checking the exposure time.
Use ‘mirror-up’ option to hold the reflex mirror of the DSLR camera up before the start of the exposure. Otherwise the mirror vibration will produce undesirable blur in the photo.
A remote shutter release comes as a handy tool to start the exposure without touching the camera. You can also try ‘self-timer 2secs’ if you do not have a remote shutter release.
Identify the zone in the sky where maximum number of fireworks is happening and compose a fairly wide frame. You can even include some buildings or landscape to make the shot interesting.
Manual focus set at ‘infinity, will be better. Remember, Auto Focus is difficult because of low light and less contrast. You can also keep the flash light of your mobile phone ready for handling the camera in darkness.
If you are shooting in JPEG format, choice of ‘landscape’ picture style and ‘shade’ white balance will give vibrant yellows in the fireworks.
Fireworks scenes during the twilight time is ideal for recording colorful sky details.
Try a lot of shots to get few good and interesting.
Note: The same tips can be followed for shooting ‘lightning’
Author: KL Raja Ponsing – founder, Ambitions 4 Photography Academy, Chennai