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Thread: Stainless Steel Menagerie

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    Stainless Steel Menagerie

    IMPORTANT: If you're not interested in the long explanation accompanying this shot, simply skip to the image.

    Continuing on my quest to understand studio lighting, I graduated from my last shoot of capturing one shiny, metal object to capturing many of them. Whereas I had to contend with only one family of angles in my previous exercise, there are many families of angles in this one. Dealing with that is the lighting challenge. (By the way, this is a color image, not black-and-white.)

    My goals:
    1) To make the image mostly by controlling the light rather than relying heavily on post-processing. That was a success.

    2) To create reasonably bright or very bright areas on all surfaces; no surface was to be mostly dark. As you'll see below, that didn't work out so well.

    Disappointments:
    1) The small spatula in the middle is mostly dark despite, as mentioned above, that I wanted most parts of every object to be at least reasonably bright. I believe that is impossible to accomplish using this arrangement. That's because I had only two light sources and a handheld reflector and that spatula positioned as it is involves a fourth family of angles; I needed another direct light source or another hand or stand to hold a reflector in the proper position to light that spatula. The fact that I know why the spatula is dark and what I would have had to do to make it bright indicates that I have progressed a lot in the last few weeks. That's thanks entirely to the book mentioned below.

    2) I don't like the reflection of the grater appearing in the bottom of the far right spatula. It wasn't worth it to me to deal with that, as that was beyond the scope of the stuff that I wanted to learn in this exercise.

    3) All of the utensils are well worn. The scratches show despite that I lit the scene and positioned everything to minimize them. If I were to make a serious studio shot, I would use brand new utensils.

    The book:
    For those of you who have the most recent edition of Light: Science and Magic, the basic concept that I implemented is displayed in Figure 6.31 and explained on page 151. Though the concept that I used is the same, the setup that I used to accomplish it is very different. I was very pleased and actually a bit surprised in this early learning stage that I was able to implement the same concept despite that I didn't have the studio products described in the book.

    Stainless Steel Menagerie
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 24th August 2012 at 09:22 PM.

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Mike, these exercises that you are doing are interesting. Thanks for sharing them and the book source with us. This will be helpful to me when I get back to doing product photos in my weaving studio.

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    My pleasure, Terri. Thanks as always for checking in. However, knowing your preference for color images, I do feel bad about these exercises of photographing stainless steel on a white background that the images look as if they're black-and-white.

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Could you have used the self-timer on your camera to free up a hand?

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Curtis View Post
    Could you have used the self-timer on your camera to free up a hand?
    Good question. I would have to determine if the self-timer works while using Live View, as I have never tried that. Even if it does work, I was already holding a reflector in one hand and I'm so uncoordinated that it's doubtful that I could hold something also in my other hand and keep both hands precisely where they need to be.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    I would have to determine if the self-timer works while using Live View,
    It does.

    The importance and value of an exercise such as this is not about the end result but about the process of learning. I hope many of us will take on board the key point that is made in the thread - that this about studying and then applying the results of that study. And both the act of studying and of applying are part of the learning process.

    I think we tend to think of learning as just being the studying part and then when the application part doesn't work first time we think we haven't learned. Whereas what this thread clearly illustrates to us that trying out what you have studies is an integral part of learning.

    A good lesson for all of us.

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    The importance and value of an exercise such as this is not about the end result but about the process of learning.
    Thanks for putting the spotlight on that, Donald. For me, the process of learning is just as enjoyable as any other aspect of photography. That explains why I'm sharing these exercises even though I wouldn't otherwise share the images that they have produced. If the learning process was not enjoyable itself, I probably would have given up using my makeshift studio long ago. Instead, I recently took the time to modify it just a bit to make it easier and thus more enjoyable to use.

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Thanks for sharing your exercise, Mike, and for calling our attention to the book. I read the first several chapters on the plane during my recent trip to the Alaskan backcountry, and am looking forward to doing some of the exercises myself as soon as I have time. At the moment I still have several hundred Alaska images and videos to finish processing.

  9. #9

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Looking forward to those pics of Alaska, Arlen. Keep in mind that you can use the family of angles explained in the book to your advantage even when photographing a tree or a building exterior. (Not that I do. I'm terrible at figuring angles. Anybody would want to play pool or billiards with me even if I could hit the cue ball where I wanted to, which I can't.)
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 25th August 2012 at 03:16 PM.

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    My pleasure, Terri. Thanks as always for checking in. However, knowing your preference for color images, I do feel bad about these exercises of photographing stainless steel on a white background that the images look as if they're black-and-white.
    I forgive you, Mike. All for the sake of learning.

  11. #11

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    Yes, Mike, I'm expecting that keeping the Angle Family in mind will be of use in many different situations.

    I've just posted the first of my Alaska images in a thread called Alaska #1. Mignight Sunset. I have to admit that I didn't apply any of what I've learned so far from the book--as I didn't start reading it until the return trip.

  12. #12

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    Re: Stainless Steel Menagerie

    I decided to have one more go at accomplishing my goals. As a reminder, they are:

    1) To make the image mostly by controlling the light rather than relying heavily on post-processing.

    2) To create reasonably bright or very bright areas on all surfaces; no surface is to be mostly dark.

    Unlike my previous image, both goals are met to my satisfaction. I even eliminated the reflection of the grater in the far right spatula and got rid of 95% of the scratches, all by changing the lighting and the composition.

    Stainless Steel Menagerie

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