Monthly Assignment #1: Bottles

NikolaiNikolai Darth SLRPosts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
edited August 20, 2010 in Assignments
A common household item made of transparent or colored glass (or plastic) and carrying a transparent or colored (or even totally opaque) liquid, bottles provide surprisingly difficult photography target.

This time we'll try to take a good shot at them. To help us with our noble quest is Master Ken, aka LiquidAir *). You all know him from his numerous challenge wins, exquisite lighting skills and meticulous attention to every detail.

Now, your task is to bring your own version of a bottle shot.

Suggested scenarios are:
  • Empty clear bottle(s)
  • Empty colored bottle(s)
  • Clear bottle(s) with clear liquid (e.g. vodka)
  • Clear bottle(s) with colored liquid (e.g. whiskey)
  • Colored bottle(s) with clear liquid (e.g. vermuth)
  • Colored bottle(s) with colored liquid (e.g. red wine)
You can follow Ken's instructions (next post), or come out with your own ideas. In any case be prepared to be examined and critiqued.
While we gonna struggle for quality, it's understandable that you may not get it right the first (or second, or third, or tenth) time. That's totally OK. You are encouraged to post, assume the critique, reshoot, post, listen, etc. Since we have a whole month, we should have enough time to work things out.

EDITS:
  • This is the entry thread
  • Please also post the pictures of your setup (maybe as a separate entry)

Now, without further ado, I give you Master Ken and The Bottles :clap

*) About Ken:

Name: Ken Oetzel
Home: San Rafael, California
Occupation: Software Engineer

Says Ken:
I was introduced to photography at a very young age. My family had a black and white enlarger and around once a month we would convert a bathroom into an impromptu darkroom to print the family photographs. In college I worked in a photo lab which rolled and developed E6 so I started shooting color. It was only in July of 2006 that I replaced my EOS-3 film body with a 5D DSLR. This last year has been an enormous learning experience as I have largely relearned the craft of photograhy to shoot digital.
"May the f/stop be with you!"
Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
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Comments

  • LiquidAirLiquidAir Major grins Posts: 1,751Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2007
    Part 1
    Preliminaries
    First things first: this is an essay about studio lighting. If you are not used to studio work, be prepared for a change in mindset. You are not capturing a scene, you are creating it. Studio photography means taking full control of everything the camera sees and particularly in the case of glass photography this will require 360 degree control of the space you are shooting in. Minimally to get though this assignment you will need one off camera light source, a translucent white diffuser cloth, and a black background cloth. However, if you want to get more sophtisticated you'll need at least two off camera lights and a plethora of little bits and pieces from the local craft store. While you can use hot lights, you should be careful with them because, well, they are hot and can start fires if they are enclosed or held too close to something flammable (like a diffuser cloth). Personlly I use shoe mount strobes for most of my still life work.

    Introduction
    To kick off this assignment, I am going to cover two basic strategies for lighting glass. Note that much of the material I am discussing here starts from the book Light, Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua. I am not going to assume you have read this book, but if you are interested in this topic, you should read it. Over the weeks, I intend to expand these basics in a few directions toward some more sophisticated lighting strategies.

    The Basics of Still Life Shooting
    Generally the way I work is this: the camera goes on a tripod with a cable release and then I set up the camera to frame my working space. Next I set up my background. Then build my scene by placing my subjects in the scene. After that I try to determine the proper aperture and focus point to get my entire scene sharp. Almost always this means using manual focus to pick the focus distance which allows the widest possible aperture; the shutter speed is set to the fastest sync speed the camera allows and the ISO is set to 100. At this point, the camera work is done; the remaining work is done entirely with the lights. In particular, I usually adjust for proper exposure by changing the flash power rather than with settings on the camera; this is always done by chimping the histogram with the flash set in manual mode. I never use any form of auto exposure for studio work and flash meters work extremely poorly for glass and other reflective objects; it is possible to get the exposure right with a spot meter but in this day and age its not worth the effort. In the circumstances where the flash is not powerful enough, to get the exposure I want I will set the flash on full power and bump the ISO for proper exposure.
  • LiquidAirLiquidAir Major grins Posts: 1,751Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2007
    Part 2
    Light and Glass
    Diffuse reflection is the most common form of light we photograph. It is an idealization, but for many materials a good one; incident light meters are calibrated to it, much of lighting theory is based on it, and we often use circular polarizers eliminate other forms of light. In a nutshell what makes glass challenging it the complete lack of diffuse reflections. Because of that we have to completely rethink our instincts both for exposure and lighting. If your goal is to show the three dimensional form of the glass there are really to major approaches: refraction and reflection. In a nutshell, glass usually behaves both as a mirror and as a lens. Of course flat glass is a rather boring lens and the lenses in your camera are coated to make them poor mirrors. None-the-less, most pieces of glass you are likely to be interested in photographing are like to exhibit both properties to some degree. The true key to lighting glass is to really look at the lens-like and mirror-like properties of your subject and decide how to exploit them to create the image you want.

    Refractive Lighting
    182333539-M.jpg
    What I mean by Refractive Lighting is lighting the subject in a way that reveals its form because of how the light passing through it is refracted. Curved glass is refractive which means it bends light and distorts any image which passes through it. As the glass gets thicker and more curved this effect gets stronger. The general strategy for using refraction to show the form of glass is to light the glass from behind with a high contrast pattern. The most common approaches for mildly refractive subjects are either to use a white backdrop with a black border or a black backdrop with a white border. In either case the border is placed just outside the camera's direct view so that is only visible via refraction in the glass subject. With some highly refractive objects (like dewdrops and full wine glasses) it possible to actually use the subject as a lens to reveal a secondary subject in the background.

    Here is the simple setup I used for the refractive lighting sample:
    182333592-M.jpg
    Here I have placed my diffuser directly behind the bottle and the flash zoomed to a narrow beam behind it. Exposure is set for the surface of the diffuser which is very bright, so the flash set to 1/128 power to allow an f/8 aperture. The cross in the light pattern is created by the fresnel lens in the flash at close range. Personally I'd rather have a more even back light, but that would require double diffusing the flash which I deemed out of the scope of this introduction. Double diffusion is coming, just not yet. As a side note, the reason you pay good money for good quality soft boxes is that they have an internal baffle specifically designed to smooth out any unevenness in the light source.

    Reflective Lighting
    182407857-M.jpg
    By Reflective Lighting I mean revealing the form of the subject through specular reflection off of its surface. Glass usually has a polished surface which makes it reflective. It is possible then to show the form of the glass in how it reflects its environment. If the glass is clear, it is best to make sure that the background is black so that the transmitted light doesn't compete with the reflections. Specular reflections from point light sources are very bright and will blow out so you should use large diffuse light sources. If you don't have a soft box use either a bounce card or a white diffuser sheet. Umbrellas aren't a good choice for reflective subjects because the ribs will show.

    Here is the setup I used for the reflective lighting sample:
    182407865-M.jpg
    To create a visible reflection on the bottle I have used a black back drop and placed my white diffuser to right of the bottle and slightly behind it. The flash, triggered by a Canon ST-E2 infrared trigger and set to 1/8 power is on a stand behind the diffuser. I have adjusted the bottle and flash position so the reflection of the light is visible in the flat surface on the side of this triangular bottle.

    There are many other ways to light specific glass subjects. For instance tinted subjects can reveal form through density and dirty, impure or frosted glass can reveal form through scattered light. However, for this article we are going to stick to just two, reflection and refraction, because they are quite commonly useful for solving some difficult lighting problems.

    I have put these setup shots in a tutorial style gallery here: http://gallery.liquidairphoto.com/gallery/3286902/1/182407865. I'll keep adding to this gallery as I do more shots.
  • LiquidAirLiquidAir Major grins Posts: 1,751Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2007
    Part 3
    Planning the Shot
    Before you start lighting your subject, it is best to decide up front whether you are going to use reflection or refraction for your lighting strategy. Generally, if the subject highly refractive (i.e. behaving like a fish eye lens it is best to use a white field refractive approach (with white directly behind the subject and black outside the camera's field of view) because otherwise you will have a hard time controlling reflections off the subject. If the subject is not refractive enough you may have to put your border too close to your subject to get the framing you would like which would indicate using a reflective strategy. If your subject is darkly tinted or translucent in a way that will obscure light transmission you should again choose reflection. While many subjects will force your hand to pick one strategy or the other, there are also some subjects where either will work and the choice is personal taste.

    Lighting Bottles
    Now for a few samples just to get you thinking about it.

    Empty Clear Bottle: Empty bottles typically bend the light passing through their edges enough that you can create an outline around the bottle using refractive light. The effect gives you a two dimensional look as the center of the bottle is not curved enough to pick up the contrasting border. Reflective lighting is possible on a clear empty bottle but it takes extremely careful background control to provide a sufficiently dark background for good contrast.

    Empty Tinted Bottle: If you want to show the color of the glass, you must shine light through it. With light colored glass it is probably best to use refractive lighting. With dark colored glass it is possible to show the color with a back light and still have sufficient contrast to use reflections to show form.

    Clear (or lightly colored) Full Bottle: The strong refractions of a full bottle make refractive lighting a better choice here and controlling reflections will put the emphasis on the contents of the bottle.

    Dark Full Bottle: A dark full bottle is similar to a darkly tinted bottle. To show form it is usually best to use reflections. Again a back light can sometimes be used to show the color of the bottle contents.

    Photos of bottles are everywhere. When you see one, take a moment to examine the choices the photographer made.
  • dlscott56dlscott56 Major grins Posts: 1,320Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 12, 2007
    Awesome!!!!!

    Is this the posting thread?
  • dlscott56dlscott56 Major grins Posts: 1,320Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 12, 2007
    f 8.0, ISO100, 1/200. On camera flash set not to fire. Commander mode to fire remote. Remote on a box behind a sheet of gel paper hung from string (don't have a diffuser but am so excited about this new monthly assignment thing I may finally buy one!) Shot several times, adjusting remote flash output. Ended up with -2.0 compensation on the flash. I had a hard time deciding which was better, more detail in thicker parts of the glass while blowing out some of the thinner areas, or the other way a round, or if there's just a better way I could set it up to get both.
    183065344-L.jpg
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 12, 2007
    Dave,
    dlscott56 wrote:
    f 8.0, ISO100, 1/200. On camera flash set not to fire. Commander mode to fire remote. Remote on a box behind a sheet of gel paper hung from string (don't have a diffuser but am so excited about this new monthly assignment thing I may finally buy one!) Shot several times, adjusting remote flash output. Ended up with -2.0 compensation on the flash. I had a hard time deciding which was better, more detail in thicker parts of the glass while blowing out some of the thinner areas, or the other way a round, or if there's just a better way I could set it up to get both.

    This is great, thank you! clap.gif
    Would you mind shooting and posting your setup (like Ken did)? I understand it's totally DIY, but that's one of the reason we started the whole thing, to show that the great shots can be pulled without selling your limbs and internal organs. thumb.gif

    On the C&C side: I asked for Bottles, not vases or just any other glass. mwink.gif This vase can be your "extra credit" shot, but we need to do the primary homework, too:-) deal.gif Otherwise it would be like going out for a meal and having being offered only a dessert (though I'm sure my wife and daughters would not mind that:-)
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
    Comprehending life, universe and everything - one pixel at a time
  • dlscott56dlscott56 Major grins Posts: 1,320Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 12, 2007
    Nikolai wrote:
    This is great, thank you! clap.gif
    Would you mind shooting and posting your setup (like Ken did)? I understand it's totally DIY, but that's one of the reason we started the whole thing, to show that the great shots can be pulled without selling your limbs and internal organs. thumb.gif
    Here's the setup. The flash is setting on top of the cat litter box. And then from the angle the shot was taken.

    183083063-S.jpg

    183083365-S-1.jpg

    Nikolai wrote:
    On the C&C side: I asked for Bottles, not vases or just any other glass. mwink.gif This vase can be your "extra credit" shot, but we need to do the primary homework, too:-) deal.gif Otherwise it would be like going out for a meal and having being offered only a dessert (though I'm sure my wife and daughters would not mind that:-)

    Bottles headscratch.gif, right! I'll be back!
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 12, 2007
    dlscott56 wrote:
    Here's the setup.
    Thank you very much! Exactly what I was hoping to see! thumb.gif
    dlscott56 wrote:
    Bottles headscratch.gif, right! I'll be back!
    I bet you will:-) mwink.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
    Comprehending life, universe and everything - one pixel at a time
  • LlywellynLlywellyn Temperamental Irishwoman Posts: 3,186Moderators Major grins
    edited August 12, 2007
    I collect glass bottles, so I guess I shouldn't even try to avoid this one. :D

    My first attempts below. (I get closer daily to just going out to buy that SB600...)

    ISO 100
    f/9.0
    Exposure 1/60s
    80mm
    183149694-M.jpg

    Same settings as above
    183154106-M.jpg

    ISO 100
    f/11.0
    Exposure 1/5s
    80mm
    183147225-M.jpg
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 12, 2007
    Llywellyn wrote:
    I collect glass bottles, so I guess I shouldn't even try to avoid this one. :D

    My first attempts below.

    Thank you! Totally not bad, esp. for a first time! thumb.gif
    I would try to avoid such a large portion of the desk surface by using a smaller support or lowering the camera.

    Please don't forget to share your setup pictures! deal.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
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  • LlywellynLlywellyn Temperamental Irishwoman Posts: 3,186Moderators Major grins
    edited August 13, 2007
    Nikolai wrote:
    Thank you! Totally not bad, esp. for a first time! thumb.gif

    rolleyes1.gif Ha! That made me laugh aloud. I totally interpreted that as "completely not good."

    I realized I had too much desk in the shot during PP, but I had already broken down the set-up (because, well, it blocked my access to my computer). So other than that, what can I do to take this from "totally not bad" to "moderately acceptable"? :D

    My set-up was in my office. Small table stacked with books and a black t-shirt thrown over it. Spot set up on the desk behind the table. Shoji screen moved between the desk and table. When I needed to switch the background from white to black, well, I "creatively" hung another black t-shirt behind the bottle.

    183422689-M.jpg

    Is there an award at the end for most jerryrigged set-up? mwink.gif
  • dlscott56dlscott56 Major grins Posts: 1,320Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 13, 2007
    Here's a bottle shot using both methods described. Set up for the first is exactly as shown in my last post. f\8.0, iso 100, 1/200. Any exposure adjustments made using flash comp settings.
    183453801-L.jpg

    In the second one it looks like I'm getting some color reflected off the cabinets to the left. I'll try to find some more black material to cover them up and shoot it again later.
    183453696-L.jpg

    Same exif info but new set up shown below.
    183454083-S.jpg
    Sorry for the bad set up shot. The gel sheet is hanging from string on the right side. I hand held the off camera flash behind the gel.
  • LiquidAirLiquidAir Major grins Posts: 1,751Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 13, 2007
    Sorry, its been a busy weekend. Just getting caught up.

    Dave, here's some thoughts on your pitcher: First of all, nice work. I like it. I do have a few simple suggestions. If you can, lower the camera a bit you you get less of the table. As for the back light, it looks like your flash is giving you a pretty round spot. I think you'll probably be happier with a spot that is taller to more closely match the shape of the frame. I am getting a little ahead of myself here (I'll be covering this idea in more detail later in the month), but one thing you can do is back the flash off a bit and use a mask to control the shape of the spot on your diffuser. A simple thing to do is take a piece of black cardboard and cut a 2:3 aspect ratio hole in it (to match the shape of the camera frame). You can then adjust the size of the spot by moving the flash and the mask. Finally, I don't bother with using the camera flash meter for these shots; I find it to be more work than it's worth. I put the flash in manual exposure mode and chimp shots while adjusting the power.

    As for trying to get light through the thicker parts of the pitcher, I think this particular pitcher is a great candidate for combining refractive and reflective lighting. If you have a second flash, try setting up a second diffuser to the right of the pitcher. You'll also want a mask for this one but it doens't have to be 2:3. Just make sure that the lit area on the diffuser is at least as high as the pitcher itself and preferrably a bit higher. As for flash power, I'll keep the reflection fairly dark so it doesn't compete with your main light.
  • LiquidAirLiquidAir Major grins Posts: 1,751Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 13, 2007
    Llywellyn wrote:
    I collect glass bottles, so I guess I shouldn't even try to avoid this one. :D

    My first attempts below. (I get closer daily to just going out to buy that SB600...)

    Wow, those are some great bottles and some nice shots.

    A few thoughts:

    Like Dave, I think you need to get the camera lower because the bottle gets lost against the dark background of the table. I'll often hold the camera even with the edge of the table. A lens with tilts can be really handy for this shots, but those are esoteric and expensive. There are some other options: you can try a white table or even a mirror as a surface to set the bottle on.

    Your final bottle with the reflective light looks to me like a great candidate for a second light as a backlight. I am guessing that this bottle is quite darkly colored so even if you turn the back light up bright enough to appear white the color you'll get through the glass will still be fairly dark so the reflection will still appear as a highlight on the glass.

    If you don't have a second flash, here is one thing to try. Set up an incandescent bulb as your back light and put some CTO (color temperature orange) gel on your flash to match the flash color to the light. This set is a handy collection of gels for color matching your flash, but there are others; you can get single sheets of a wide variety of colors. Cut them to fit; I use velcro to attach gels to my flash, but a rubber band works. Using a contiuous light for the background works nicely because you can control the relative power of the back light and the flash by adjusting the shutter speed.
  • wxwaxwxwax Immoderator Posts: 15,471Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 13, 2007
    LiquidAir, great stuff! thumb.gif
    Sid.
    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam
    http://www.mcneel.com/users/jb/foghorn/ill_shut_up.au
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 13, 2007
    Llywellyn wrote:
    rolleyes1.gif Ha! That made me laugh aloud. I totally interpreted that as "completely not good."
    You were wrong! deal.gif
    You should've interpreted it as "very nice", which, in fact, was exactly my own interpretation :D
    Llywellyn wrote:
    I realized I had too much desk in the shot during PP, but I had already broken down the set-up (because, well, it blocked my access to my computer). So other than that, what can I do to take this from "totally not bad" to "moderately acceptable"? :D
    I take bribes in full bottles, please consult with Ann, David and Sid about the proper content...mwink.gif
    Llywellyn wrote:
    Is there an award at the end for most jerryrigged set-up? mwink.gif
    That's up to Master Ken this time deal.gif
    iloveyou.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
    Comprehending life, universe and everything - one pixel at a time
  • dlscott56dlscott56 Major grins Posts: 1,320Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 13, 2007
    LiquidAir wrote:
    Sorry, its been a busy weekend. Just getting caught up.

    Dave, here's some thoughts on your pitcher: First of all, nice work. I like it. I do have a few simple suggestions. If you can, lower the camera a bit you you get less of the table. As for the back light, it looks like your flash is giving you a pretty round spot. I think you'll probably be happier with a spot that is taller to more closely match the shape of the frame. I am getting a little ahead of myself here (I'll be covering this idea in more detail later in the month), but one thing you can do is back the flash off a bit and use a mask to control the shape of the spot on your diffuser. A simple thing to do is take a piece of black cardboard and cut a 2:3 aspect ratio hole in it (to match the shape of the camera frame). You can then adjust the size of the spot by moving the flash and the mask. Finally, I don't bother with using the camera flash meter for these shots; I find it to be more work than it's worth. I put the flash in manual exposure mode and chimp shots while adjusting the power.

    As for trying to get light through the thicker parts of the pitcher, I think this particular pitcher is a great candidate for combining refractive and reflective lighting. If you have a second flash, try setting up a second diffuser to the right of the pitcher. You'll also want a mask for this one but it doens't have to be 2:3. Just make sure that the lit area on the diffuser is at least as high as the pitcher itself and preferrably a bit higher. As for flash power, I'll keep the reflection fairly dark so it doesn't compete with your main light.

    Thanks for the feedback Ken. Here's another attempt using a mask for the flash. Playing around with this I can see where you could get some interesting effects in the background lighting.
    183677352-L.jpg
    I'm going to try and rig a little better set up since it was kind of hard to control the flash position and the mask the way it is. I'll jury rig something up to give me better control over the position and try it again later in the week.
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 14, 2007
    Dave,
    dlscott56 wrote:
    Thanks for the feedback Ken. Here's another attempt using a mask for the flash. Playing around with this I can see where you could get some interesting effects in the background lighting.

    I'm going to try and rig a little better set up since it was kind of hard to control the flash position and the mask the way it is. I'll jury rig something up to give me better control over the position and try it again later in the week.

    In this version I like the more defined contrast between glass and the b/g. thumb.gif
    However, the really tight light patch on the b/g is ditracting, IMHO, I think it should be either better shaped or PS-ed into the rest. deal.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
    Comprehending life, universe and everything - one pixel at a time
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 14,043Super Moderators moderator
    edited August 14, 2007
    My technique was pretty basic - studio softbox directly behind the bottles about 12 inches, triggered by a flash of light from the flash on my camera that illuminated the front of the bottle labels. Along either side of the shooting axis, I draped black vinyl sheets to prevent stray light from reflecting off the bottles. I spent about an hour or so shooting several shots. Here are a few of them. 20 D 85mm ISO 100 f9 - 11 1/160th

    Wine is nice -

    [imgl]http://Pathfinder.smugmug.com/photos/184068219-L.jpg[/imgl][imgr]http://Pathfinder.smugmug.com/photos/184068421-L.jpg[/imgr]





























    Liquor is quicker

    184069227-L.jpg


    A cold one is always welcome...

    184068078-L.jpg

    Three's a crowd

    184068843-L.jpg

    I welcome comments or criticisms.thumb.gif
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 14, 2007
    Jim,
    pathfinder wrote:
    My technique was pretty basic -
    ...
    I welcome comments or criticisms.thumb.gif
    Great shots! thumb.gif Thank you for playing with us!
    Corona bottle looks a bit tilted, but you probably already had some by then mwink.gif
    Care to post some shots of your setup?
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
    Comprehending life, universe and everything - one pixel at a time
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 14,043Super Moderators moderator
    edited August 14, 2007
    Nikolai wrote:
    Great shots! thumb.gif Thank you for playing with us!
    Corona bottle looks a bit tilted, but you probably already had some by then mwink.gif
    Care to post some shots of your setup?

    Nik - I didn't shoot any set up shots as it was as simple as I described - Studio softbox 6-12 inches behind the bottles. Studio strobe ( FLashpoint 620) at 1/8th power into a 16 x 30 inch softbox. Two pieces of black vinyl hanging parallel to the lens axis, to prevent any light from either side of the bottles, and a flash on my camera to illuminate the labels facing the camera. The studio strobe was triggered by the flash light on the camera. Bottle was sitting on a black speaker cabinet about 1 foot square in size. Simple as can be Camera lens optic
    >bottle -> studio strobe
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 14, 2007
    Jim,
    pathfinder wrote:
    Nik - I didn't shoot any set up shots as it was as simple as I described - Studio softbox 6-12 inches behind the bottles. Studio strobe ( FLashpoint 620) at 1/8th power into a 16 x 30 inch softbox. Two pieces of black vinyl hanging parallel to the lens axis, to prevent any light from either side of the bottles, and a flash on my camera to illuminate the labels facing the camera. The studio strobe was triggered by the flash light on the camera. Bottle was sitting on a black speaker cabinet about 1 foot square in size. Simple as can be Camera lens optic
    >bottle -> studio strobe
    Thank you! thumb.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
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  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter Posts: 14,043Super Moderators moderator
    edited August 14, 2007
    Nikolai wrote:
    Great shots! thumb.gif Thank you for playing with us!
    Corona bottle looks a bit tilted, but you probably already had some by then mwink.gif
    Care to post some shots of your setup?

    If you look carefully all the bottles are not exactly square - that is a result of my shooting handheld ( I was using flash so shutter speed did not matter really ) and did not hold the sensor plane vertical and parallel to the subject plane.

    If I was being paid for this work, I would have mounted my camera on a tripod and use a bubble level to verify that the sensor plane was vertical and square to the subject plane. Just a quick and dirty effort on my part.

    I might use a 50mm lens next time in lieu of the 85mm on my 20D. But then I would have to be even more careful about squaring up the camera properly.

    I should mention the flash I used on the camera was an MT-24ex, which has two flash lamps, that I used on either side of my lens to help eliminate reflections in the center of the bottles. I had been using this flash for macro on my 20D so I just grabbed it and swapped the macro lens for the 85mm lens.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

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  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2007
    pathfinder wrote:
    If you look carefully all the bottles are not exactly square - that is a result of my shooting handheld ( I was using flash so shutter speed did not matter really ) and did not hold the sensor plane vertical and parallel to the subject plane.

    If I was being paid for this work, I would have mounted my camera on a tripod and use a bubble level to verify that the sensor plane was vertical and square to the subject plane. Just a quick and dirty effort on my part.

    I might use a 50mm lens next time in lieu of the 85mm on my 20D. But then I would have to be even more careful about squaring up the camera properly.

    I should mention the flash I used on the camera was an MT-24ex, which has two flash lamps, that I used on either side of my lens to help eliminate reflections in the center of the bottles. I had been using this flash for macro on my 20D so I just grabbed it and swapped the macro lens for the 85mm lens.

    Ah-ha, I thought there was something shaky :-) deal.gif mwink.gif rolleyes1.gif
    Thank you for the details! thumb.gif
    BTW, why didn't you use the macro lens? I heard that they make excellent portrait lenses and hence would do pretty good in this assignment? headscratch.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
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  • fashiznitsngrinsfashiznitsngrins Major grins Posts: 220Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2007
    Woohoo!
    This is good for me. I just bought myself a pair of strobe lights and now I get to learn how to use them! :D A little note about some of the bottles - they may look dirty but I found them years ago on a beach outside London in what is know as a Victorian dumping site. I wish I could have captured the writing on the front of the bottles better (like in photo #1), but after seeing Pathfinder's shots, I am thinking about trying some fill flash perhaps?? Alright - let me have it... I want to learn! Thanks

    (I also need help with my PP skills as you can see from the first two. Whenever I use curves to try and bring the black out in the first photo, it darkens the bottle too much and makes it turn blue, when it is green).

    NOTE: By changing my lighting slightly, I was able to better capture the writing on the front (new image posted) and that gave a better color too...

    184572592-M.jpg184117173-M.jpg

    184117026-M.jpg184116901-M.jpg

    184116560-M.jpg184116375-M.jpg

    184117287-M.jpg

    and here's my set up... (I never used the second strobe, just the one with the softbox on it)
    184116875-M.jpg
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2007
    Karen,
    This is good for me. I just bought myself a pair of strobe lights and now I get to learn how to use them! :D A little note about some of the bottles - they may look dirty but I found them years ago on a beach outside London in what is know as a Victorian dumping site. I wish I could have captured the writing on the front of the bottles better (like in photo #2), but after seeing Pathfinder's shots, I am thinking about trying some fill flash perhaps?? Alright - let me have it... I want to learn! Thanks

    (I also need help with my PP skills as you can see fromt he first two. Whenever I use curves to try and bring the black out in the first photo, it darkens the bottle too much and makes it turn blue, when it is green).
    Thank you for joining us! clap.gif
    Nice set of both relective and refractive shots (and a setup;-). thumb.gif
    I'm sure Ken will have more things to say on the point, I just wanted to say that it could be beneficial to mask the part of your primary light. The idea (according to the book Ken mentioned) is to have the b/g exactly to fill the frame, but not much bigger.
    Nice setup, btw! thumb.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
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  • fashiznitsngrinsfashiznitsngrins Major grins Posts: 220Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2007
    Nikolai wrote:
    ... I just wanted to say that it could be beneficial to mask the part of your primary light. The idea (according to the book Ken mentioned) is to have the b/g exactly to fill the frame, but not much bigger.

    I'm not following... can you show me where this info is - I must have missed it.


    Also, where I was saying about using fill flash, should I be using my second strobe?

    Thanks!
  • NikolaiNikolai Darth SLR Posts: 19,033Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2007
    Karen,
    I'm not following... can you show me where this info is - I must have missed it.
    It's in Ken'd post:
    LiquidAir wrote:
    ...
    Introduction
    To kick off this assignment, I am going to cover two basic strategies for lighting glass. Note that much of the material I am discussing here starts from the book Light, Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua. I am not going to assume you have read this book, but if you are interested in this topic, you should read it. Over the weeks, I intend to expand these basics in a few directions toward some more sophisticated lighting strategies.
    ...
    Also, where I was saying about using fill flash, should I be using my second strobe?
    Thanks!
    Probably yes, not exactly sure, though, ne_nau.gif can you elaborate, please?rolleyes1.gif
    "May the f/stop be with you!"
    Star*Explorer: on Dgrin, home; Master Class: open;
    Class is in session, My Facebook, @DarthSLR, #NiksTips
    member: NAPP, PPA, partner: Adobe
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  • dlscott56dlscott56 Major grins Posts: 1,320Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2007
    Nikolai wrote:
    In this version I like the more defined contrast between glass and the b/g. thumb.gif
    However, the really tight light patch on the b/g is ditracting, IMHO, I think it should be either better shaped or PS-ed into the rest. deal.gif

    Thanks for the feedback Nik. I'll give it another try with a better mask. I'm working on a "new improved" setup to help.
  • dlscott56dlscott56 Major grins Posts: 1,320Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2007
    LiquidAir wrote:
    Wow, those are some great bottles and some nice shots.

    A few thoughts:
    ...
    If you don't have a second flash, here is one thing to try. Set up an incandescent bulb as your back light and put some CTO (color temperature orange) gel on your flash to match the flash color to the light. This set is a handy collection of gels for color matching your flash, but there are others; you can get single sheets of a wide variety of colors. Cut them to fit; I use velcro to attach gels to my flash, but a rubber band works. Using a contiuous light for the background works nicely because you can control the relative power of the back light and the flash by adjusting the shutter speed.

    Once you do this with the incandescent light and the gel do you need to set the white balance? Or shoot a 18% card?
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