Featured Black and Light

Discussion in 'Lighting Tutorials' started by MichaelSewell, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell

    As a commercial photographer, I often find I’m switching backgrounds at a fair rate of knots. White, black and grey being the usual suspects. Not really an issue with most things, but anything that needs to be wall mounted is definitely a challenge.

    Unlike swapping a backdrop, the “wall” can become peppered with holes in a very short time. And how many boards do I keep already painted, so as the time required to switch over doesn’t include drying time for the paint?

    Well, to be honest, I cheat. Yeah, who’da thought it, eh? I use one MDF sheet, and staple coloured paper to it. That’s basically it. It also means I can use wallpaper if necessary, and stapling it stretched tautly would work the same. So, after shooting on white, I simply remove the light, staple black paper, and refit the light. On the light fittings that don’t weigh a vast amlount, I find I can pull the power cable through the hole and clamp it tight from behind, negating the need to drill further holes to fix it to the board. Obviously, if it has decorative screw heads, or the fixing screws are visible, then I have to fix it in place using screws. But I don’t need to do that anywhere near as often as I used to, and it prolongs the life of my “wall” immensely. Not to mention the fact it reduces the time needed to switch the background and fitting by about 50%, sometimes more.

    So, that’s how the background is sorted for wall fixed items, so lets move onto the lighting.

    As usual when photographing lights, it’s not just the object that’s being sold, but the ambience and lifestyle it projects. This particular light had a very ornamental filament bulb, consequently giving a very warm glow. Quite often, to combine both the ambient light provided by the bulb, and the flash light provided by the Elinchrom studio heads, I have to use a quite slow shutter speed, as explained here : Mixing Ambient and Flash for Product Photography

    On this occasion, the bulb is actually quite bright, due to the lack of shade. Shooting at an ISO of 400, which I often do in these situations, I found I was able to use a shutter speed of 1/160th sec, which is quite different from the previous post.

    I placed an Elinchrom ELB400 immediate frame right, firing at an output of 3.0 through a 90×90 folding Lastolite softbox.

    Again frame right, and a little deeper into the frame, I placed another ELB400, firing at an output of 4.0 through a 30x140cm honeycombed stripbox.

    Olympus E-M1 mkII 1/160th sec ISO400 12-40mm f6.3


    This particular image is constructed in a similar manner, although it was actually shot with the board flat, and the lamp simply laid on top of it. The image was rotated in post to make it appear a vertical wall. Same principal as above, really, although this bulb wasn’t quite as bad, and I used a shutterspeed of 1/60th to compensate.

    Okay, for the purpose of describing the lighting, you will have to imagine the image as I originally took it, which of course was in landscape mode. The top of the lamp is frame left, the bottom of the lamp is frame right, okay?

    So, frame left, I placed an ELB400 firing through a 80×80 folding softbox, barely out of frame, and angled slightly upward so it feathered across the paper, but lit the lamp frame. It was set to fire at an output of 3.0 due to the proximity.

    Frame right, I placed a silver reflector disc, held in place on an arm. It was angled slightly downward to reflect the light along the top of the lamp (seen as the front of the lamp in the image above).

    Just a simple single head setup.

    Olympus E-M1 mkII 1/60th sec ISO400 12-40mm f6.3

    Both are quite simple setups, but effective.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
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  2. steveadams

    steveadams Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 16, 2016
    South Georgia
    Steve Adams
    Fake walls, you're just full of useful tricks. :biggrin: Great job as always.
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  3. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    I really like these shots, and considering how beautiful they've turned out, the simplicity of the set up is amazing.

    That first pic - is the light fitting upside down?
  4. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell

    No, just the label. There's a variety of cage like shapes in that particular range, and some definitely need to be "up", whilst others have to "hang". But in all honesty, I think you can get away with having them either way.
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  5. KeithT

    KeithT Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 17, 2017
    South Africa
    Keith Temlett
    Hi Michael, great shots (as always), very clever and very effective.
    Being in the lighting game I always find taking shots of lamps (bulbs) challenging because you are shooting a light source.
    Very difficult with strong light sources like fluorescents and metal halides.
    I normally turn down to underexpose to at least get a picture of the light source when doing lighting audits. Result is not pretty!!! but at least I have a reference to work on.
    Just enjoy the way you approach the task at hand . . but then again you are a pro.
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  6. PetitP

    PetitP Mu-43 Regular

    Beautiful !

    As a personal comment, I would have maybe removed the labels, if possible.
  7. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    So would I, but this particular client tends to "forget" to do a number of jobs pre-shoot, including assembly.
    The increased cost in time, and therefore the invoice, tends to jog their memory the next time.

    Regarding the labels, when asked if they wanted them removed, they asked how much time had already been spent building the lights they had forgotten to put together (all the ceiling lights). After being informed two days, they were quite happy* for all the labels to stay.

    *They didn't actually sound that happy.
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  8. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    I swear I'm buying that light fitting for my hallway redecoration later this year!
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  9. TonyVentourisPhotography

    TonyVentourisPhotography Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 1, 2015
    Washington DC
    Great image as usual Michael!
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  10. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    Good to see you here Tony.
    I hope all is well, and you are suitably over worked ;) 
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