Product Photography With A Single Lightsource

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Michael A. Sewell
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I find it interesting how ideas can evolve. This image, for example, was a bit of a throw-away idea for the Northern String Quartet. A bit of something and nothing for their Facebook page.

I was to shoot some portraits and lifestyle imagery with them at Eaves Hall. Some indoors, some outdoors, and a few darker images in various settings in the hotel, which, incidentally, has some fabulous nooks and crannies for those who go looking. After shooting a relaxed group image in the bar area, I shot a couple of close up images of their instruments. The sort of thing that makes for an interesting social media post when announcing a concert or event. The violins were obvious candidates for those close up images, but the Cello was a bit of a challenge. We managed the violins on the coffee table, but the cello just filled it completely. The high gloss of the cello also reflected the finish of the table quite clearly too.

The cello was moved to the floor and a test shot taken. Hmmm. Whilst I quite liked the image, it spawned the idea for the above shot. The test shot was okay, but the group were visible in the background, still sat around the table. The background was very distracting from the cello, and made the whole image look a bit “busy”. Also, the cello kinda looked a bit lonely too.

The test image had also been made with just the one light source, mainly to see if it was feasible, and whether we needed to bring in the stripboxes I’d been using with the quartet. The fact the members of the quartet were visible in the test shot showed I didn’t need the other lights, but needed to better control the one light I had.

We placed the violins in front of the cello and Wayne boomed the light source over the instruments, with the centre of the light source in front of the violins. “Booming” sounds quite exotic, where in truth, Wayne simply held the lightstand horizontally. The light source was an Elinchrom ELB400 firing through a 90×90 Lastolite Ezybox at an output of 1.0 and directed to fire straight down in front of the instruments.

I used the fastest available x sync shutter speed of 1/250th of a sec and an ISO of 200, which shut down the ambient light completely, nicely isolating the instruments from the room beyond.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkII 1/250th sec ISO200 12-40mm f2.8 @f5.0

The Northern String Quartet may be found at www.northernstringquartet.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NorthernStringQuartet
 

ionian

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Nice and simple but incredibly effective. Do you use an ND filter to keep your aperture at f5, or am I just underestimating how far the light source was from the instruments?

As basic as it sounds, I need to remember that placing your subject in the middle of your light source isn't always necessary or desirable.
 
Joined
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Michael A. Sewell
Nice and simple but incredibly effective. Do you use an ND filter to keep your aperture at f5, or am I just underestimating how far the light source was from the instruments?

As basic as it sounds, I need to remember that placing your subject in the middle of your light source isn't always necessary or desirable.
No ND filter.
At a light output of 1, you have very little from the ELB400, and a speedlight would have been more than adequate, other than the problem of filling the softbox correctly.
I'll get the exact Ws output at 1.0 for you at some point. (6.0 is 412Ws & 0.1 is 7Ws)
 
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Nice image and the lighting is immaculate, like always.

To my eyes, the reddish violin on the right gets lost. I may have liked to see it transposed with the one of the left. But maybe you did try different positions and this one worked the best.
 
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Michael A. Sewell
Nice image and the lighting is immaculate, like always.

To my eyes, the reddish violin on the right gets lost. I may have liked to see it transposed with the one of the left. But maybe you did try different positions and this one worked the best.
I tried on the day, but it looked like the darker violin "cut" into the Cello, whereas the two lighter violins kept the overall shape and form.

Although I agree, the darker violin does potentially look a little lost.
 

ionian

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@MichaelSewell - just curious, what was your PP approach? You've captured the deep colours of the instruments beautifully, a quick overview would satisfy my curiosity.
 
Joined
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Michael A. Sewell
@MichaelSewell - just curious, what was your PP approach? You've captured the deep colours of the instruments beautifully, a quick overview would satisfy my curiosity.
Honestly, very little....

Lightroom
Deepen blacks slightly
increase clarity (21%) and vibrance (19%)

Photoshop
Check for any rubbish on the floor, which was pretty much spotless, but used the healing brush on the one or two bits that were visible.

About three minutes in total (ish!)
 
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