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Thread: Love Rocks?

  1. #1
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Love Rocks?

    OK, I can't explain my motivation but this is a photo I took tonight. ISO 800 with my nifty 50. The bokeh isn't that great, and I probably should have added some more light from the left to help separate the subject from the background. My goals was simply to isolate the red bottle from the rest, in a somewhat interesting composition. F4 might have been too shallow? Perhaps the blue bottle isn't the best as it seems to conceal the left side of the spray nozzle of the red bottle. The front focusing of the nifty fifty really annoys me sometimes...
    Any comments/critique are welcome. Thanks for viewing!

    Love Rocks?

  2. #2
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    Re: Love Rocks?

    If you have an issue with front focusing, you can always check it or resolve it using manual focus, Brian. I hope I am not too hard on you but there is always simple ways to make a stronger image:

    1. Avoid clutter. If the other elements doesn't really help the composition at all, take them out and redo the shot. That's the good thing about table top photography - you have full control of your elements.

    2. Make good use of the light. If the room light is not that great, kill it and add some flash to the shot. Even a table lamp can do wonders since your subject is stationary. All you need is a tripod to steady the camera and a longer shutter speed. Actually if you use flash you don't need the long shutter speed and get away with a correctly or dramatically exposed image.

    3. Give emphasis to where it is needed. If you want to emphasize the whole bottle with the sprayer then you have to position it parallel to the camera for good and even depth of field. If not, that's the time you use a smaller aperture to give you more DOF. The problem is, you'll probably make the background in focus, too. The way to work around with this is to position your main subject closer to the camera and keep a distance from the background. From my experience, even at f/2 I can get good results if I put about 10 - 12 inches of gap from the subject to the next element in the scene when I position the camera to its closest focusing distance from the subject. the key here is a lot of experimenting. If you become very familiar with how your lens operates you can immediately know if the 50mm or the 18-55mm can be the one to use for that scene.

    For me, I'd go for a simplistic setup with this shot. Use the same table because I like how it reflects the subject then take out all those other stuff in the background. Or, another option would be to keep its distance to the subject by about 1 - 1.5 feet so the shallow DOF would work well. Use a small light source for some hard shadows and probably use some flags to control the light spill so that the light would shine only at the top part of the bottle. Then, use another light source to light up the front part to highlight the brand and the sprayer. With a dark background I really do think that that red bottle would stand out nicely.

    Another route would be to use a softbox and put it very close to the subject for some really subtle and soft shadows. Table top photography is fun if you experiment a lot. Good luck and keep experimenting. That's how we learn. Just always remember: Shutter speed controls ambient light exposure, Aperture controls the flash exposure. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Love Rocks?

    Thanks for your comments Jiro. You make some good points that I hadn't realized - which is why I posted this here!
    1. The clutter I like, except the way the dark bottle coincides with nozzle.
    2. I used some ambient and some bounce flash here (got a new flash). I'm not happy with the light either.
    3. I struggled with whether to leave the sprayer in focus or not, I ended up not, primarily due it's length. It just looked goofy sticking out the side at full extension, and as you pointed out, to have it in focus as it is in the picture above would have left most of the rest of the bottles in focus as well, which isn't what I wanted.

    I had no idea that what I was doing was called table top photography! I agree that it is neat to be able to move things around at your leisure, and other than the dark bottle behind, I'm good with what I ended up with. The idea was to emphasize the red bottle amongst all the other bottles You make a good point about spacing, and I actually did place the red bottle further forward. If I moved it much more forward, it would have started to tower above the others.... unless I used a longer lens!? As far as the front focusing, I can't tell any better than the camera if that darn lens is in right focus or not

  4. #4
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Love Rocks?

    Thanks for explaining your setup.

    Considering that you used bounced flash, I think that hurt your setup more than helping it. Bouncing a flash lights up everything evenly since you are using the rooms' walls to create a "larger" light source. In result, you get even light with no emphasis on your main subject. If I may explain farther, considering that you like the clutter, my question is: - "How does the arrangement of the clutter helped to put emphasis on your main subject?" The rectangular white area directly behind the red bottle is really asking for attention. Does it really have to be there? The other element laying just behind the red bottle (looks like a gold material to me) doesn't seem to help much on the composition, too. Picture the background bottles as "supporting actors" for your main actor, the red bottle. Now, are they really supporting the main actor or competing? I'm just trying to give pointers, Brian.
    Last edited by jiro; 2nd September 2011 at 11:00 AM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Love Rocks?

    Jiro, I think all your points are valid, and I appreciate you taking the time to share them with me. The good news I used my camera today AND I smell pretty Oh, and tomorrow is Friday


    Love Rocks?

  6. #6
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    Re: Love Rocks?

    Just trying to help, Brian. Loved the details on the 2nd image. I believe you can still further develop this concept of yours and I hope you do. Good luck.

    Here's my very crude edit on the first one.
    Love Rocks?

  7. #7
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Love Rocks?

    Thanks Willie, I broke out the umbrella for the second one. Perhaps this weekend I'll give it a try with more than one flash - need to get that color popping!

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