Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Garbage Bags and Gaffer Tape

For the last couple of days I have had to take a whole bunch of shots of items so I can sell them online. It is not very exciting work and it even less appealing because it's not even my stuff. Oh well, every time I pull out the camera and the lights a learning opportunity always presents itself and this time was no exception.

The first day's session involved getting shots of dolls. I looked at the dolls as if there were real, human subjects so by that I mean I thought I would add a bit of flare to the lighting. Instead of just chucking up a couple of lights and blasting them with dull, flat lighting I thought I would at least make a bit of effort to make the lighting interesting. Interesting to me means shadow. So I concocted a quick set up involving one light on the subject, reflector on the shadow side and a couple of lights on the sky blue seamless background. The resulting shots were well above the typical, online, something-for-sale picture.


The next day I was shooting plates. It would have been nice to use the same lighting set up but it really wasn't appropriate. For the plates I wanted nice even lighting and zero reflections if I could get them. The reflection part was tricky because every plate was different. Slightly different sizes, shapes, designs (of course) and finishes. Some were matt, some were glossy. Eeek. Turns out the best lighting I could come up with on my own was putting a soft light on either side, perpendicular to the plate surface and maybe even the slightest bit behind. The few test shots looked pretty good but I was getting glare on the camera right side of the plate, which was coming from my light on the left. I only have one softbox so one the other side I had to use a shoot through umbrella. Shoot through umbrella = light grenade, softbox = more directional. I suppose I could have tried bouncing the light in to the umbrella and closing it down somewhat but then I would have had to slap up some diffusion in front of it to create the same, creamy softbox light on the other side.

I stuck with my original tool - shoot through umbrella but it needed help to shape the light a bit. What did I come up with? Yup, you guessed it. Garbage bags and gaffer tape. Without too much effort and a few pieces of gaffer tape I was able to secure two black garbage bags in place to flag off the offending light and create an even look on both sides.

I have used lots of different items in the past to flag off light - towels, yoga mats, foam core board, cardboard, seamless paper but this was the first time I tried garbage bags. They worked awesome although there's no getting the gaffer tape off them without ruining the bag. Perhaps I'll be tucking a few in my kit because you never know when they'll come in handy.


Keep shooting.

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