Skip to main content

BTS - Glass Buffer shoot

In the last article we talked about using an existing product used for one purpose and modifying it for another. In this case, a skin cleaning machine is repurposed as a glass and metal cleaning buffer.

In that post I introduced the product with the image shown at right. In this post we will go behind the scenes in how I created it.

This is a nice, simple product shot that uses three simple techniques anyone can replicate with a little ingenuity. A single light for our main light, a white reflector for fill and a mirror to show an additional side of the product. In this example we have the bottom side of the product showing the drive shaft, where an accessory brush attaches, and the top side showing the operating buttons. I removed the accessory brush and placed it adjacent to the product.

The first step is to set up the product. I used a small block of floral foam as a base and covered it with a cloth. The brush is removed from the buffer as I wanted to show the modification. The floral block is used to raise the product off the table in order to hide the bottom edge of the mirror. If I hadn't rushed it I would have used the shadow on the back side for more separation and edge definition on the top edge.

A broad view of the shot, messy basement and all
Next I place my main light, a small watt LED lamp with umbrella diffuser, at camera right. I aim it so that it creates a nice sculpting shadow on the rounded handle. Because it is a low watt bulb I pull it in close to the subject. This increases the effectiveness of the light and also causes the light to wrap the curves. The LED bulb is a typical hardware store purchase and is not color balanced. The light is rather yellow so you will need to do a custom white balance.

Since we are using a single light for this shoot it leaves the opposite side in shadow. To minimize the shadow I use a large white card reflector to help bounce some of the light back onto the product. The card is place directly opposite the light.

Finally we have the mirror behind the product. Originally I placed my small fish tank in back as I wanted something glass to tie in with the glass buffer article. The fish tank failed miserably and I opted to replace it with the mirror. It proved to be much more effective in displaying the product even if it doesn't quite tie in as a glass buffer.

View from the product side of the set up
The problem with mirrors is that they are highly reflective. They can prove a challenge in blocking unwanted views. In this shot the mirror was facing me and I was being clearly reflected in it, or rather my crotch. Not something you want to see in a product shot. The simple solution was to use a black card (called a flag) to block the view. This image shows how the flag is used to hide me in the shot.

The whole setup is compact and doesn't require any expensive equipment. The light can be any diffused light, not necessarily an umbrella. The reflector can be a piece of white foam core and the flag a piece of black foam core. As for the mirror, I'm sure you have one hanging around somewhere.

For a setting, any neutral cloth can be used. As platforms I have used everything from small cardboard boxes to books, plastic food storage containers and anything that happened to be on hand (including a roll of toilet paper).

Hope this gives you a little inspiration for your own shoot.


Most Popular Posts

Large DIY Diffusion Scrim

One of the most commonly used tools in my photographic arsenal is the all purpose diffusion screen . I use it to soften light, create gradients and light fields or as a background. One of my current favorites is a metal framed 4' x 4' foot scrim with thick white artificial silk made by Matthews. I didn't think I would use it so much, being so large, but having borrowed it from a friend I really came to love it. The downside for me is the price. At just over $100 I couldn't really justify the cost, considering I want at least two of them. Time for a DIY alternative.

DIY Softbox Storage Hanger

If you own a softbox, or two, you understand how bulky and unwieldy they can be. Imagine owning several in different sizes. Storage becomes an issue. One solution is to break them down and store them flat, but that becomes a pain after the first few times struggling to put one of these things together. It is more convenient to just grab one "off the shelf" and go to work. Allocating shelf space seems like such a waste of valuable storage space. In my case I have two square softboxes, three striplights and soon two more rectangular ones. That's a lot of real estate. Time to come up with a storage solution that doesn't require floor space or shelf space. The solution I came up with is a compromise of an idea I originally had of hanging them from the ceiling on pulleys so they would be out of the way until needed. I still like that idea, but for now I will be suspending them from a wire rack shelf system in my studio. Here is what the system looks like.

Don Julio - Hero Shot

For starters, a hero shot is one in which the product is showcased in all its splendor. Careful attention is placed on making the product look its very best. For this shot of Don Julio I knew I wanted to give the bottle some majesty by photographing it from a low angle. That low angle makes the bottle look tall, towering over the viewer and creating a position of dominance. Can't you hear the choir of angels singing in the background? I also knew that I wanted a rich, moody image with lots of darks. I am partial to darker images, which is surprising to most people because the majority of the work I do are images on white backgrounds. But that's another story. I also tried a lifestyle type shot with glasses and lime slices but I wasn't feeling it and ended up scrapping it. Again, that's another story.

Observations on composition - Pieter Bruegel

In this article I am reprinting a critique I published on regarding the painting entitled ' Census at Bethlehem ' by famed painter Pieter Bruegel , who was born in what is now the Netherlands in the 1520s. The first point I would like to say is that you first need to consider both the medium and the time frame of this painting. Being a painting, the artist has a certain advantage of being able to carefully direct the large amount of content presented to the viewer, unlike, say, a photo of opportunity of the street photographer (I strongly believe Pieter would have been the 'street photographer' of his time). Even a studio photographer, with the luxury of space and time, would have a hard time justifying creating such a complex composition. Where you would see this type of visual composition today would be in modern cinema. In particular, period pieces that rely on background elements to "sell the era" .  Secondly, the era in which thi