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Thread: Display Lighting Solution

  1. #1
    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Terry

    Display Lighting Solution

    This display is the project.

    This is a photo example that was sent to me. I am going to come up with a solution to light and photograph it.

    I will have three speedlites with various modifiers/reflectors/flags available. I intend to modify/diffuse all lighting.

    Some obvious preliminary thoughts that I am having:
    ē Lose the existing overhead lights and light support rods.
    ē Any background distractions will be blacked out.
    ē Arrange pieces in such a manner as to minimize shadows on each other and such that each piece is as visible as possible.
    ē Possibly shoot from a slight angle (probably camera left) rather than straight on. Iím tossing around
    shooting slightly downward from a slightly elevated angle rather than eye height. Iím not sure how much room I am going to have between the camera and the display.
    ē Shoot tethered for immediate review.

    I am thinking I will light and shoot the camera left ďLĒ shape and pedestal separately from the camera right ďLĒ shape and composite the two. I will be prepared to composite as much as I need, but naturally would rather keep it to a minimum. The end result is to be one shot of the entire display.

    I will need to light for the display pieces with the actual display walls as secondary. However, the whole thing needs to flow somehow.

    I have a couple of lighting solutions in mind but nothing written in stone yet! I will not have a chance to play around with it until the actual shoot.

    So I thought Iíd bounce this off the Forum for any thoughts on the matter!

    Display Lighting Solution

  2. #2

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    Urban Domeij

    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    I wouldn't even think of using speedlights, as those make shadow and reflection contol difficult, but make sure all light bulbs illuminating the scene were the same type and arrange the lighting as pleasing as possible. With constant light sources I would see where reflections occur, and I could use some extra light, still same type, but with reflector screens, to alleviate the deep shadows. If there's enough headroom, I'd think of elevating the bars holding the overhead lights, to get them out of sight and facilitate pp. Some extra spotlights on stands outside the image area, directed at some of the items might help to give them a bit of glow.

    If I would make the display, I'd think of some under shelf lighting.

  3. #3

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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    The first three things that hit me are...............the downward angle of the lights making large shadows under the shelves, and some of the glass is above the background walls. (a backdrop will be needed or the objects will need rearranged so nothing is above the top of the wall.) I also don't like the black line at the top of the wall , flowing through the plates.

  4. #4
    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    Hey guys!

    I appreciate you chiming in. I really didnít figure I would get too many souls brave enough to offer any thoughts on this one!

    Urban,

    I was thinking about eliminating the light bars completely. I took this shot into post to see what it would take to eliminate them there and it wasnít too difficult. Iím not sure if the bars are part of the structural integrity of the display. They may be but Iím going to find out. I was thinking I would use stands to elevate lights and have more freedom of placement.

    My experience with this stuff is that if you use a modifier, then the reflections are quite large off the glass. Hit it with a big softbox and you are going to get a big softbox reflection! Itís much easier to eliminate point light source reflections in post so I am considering hitting it with hard light, maybe gridded and composite several individually lit shots. I donít see any way to eliminate reflections entirely in-camera with what I have to work with.

    I have no studio-grade continuous lighting, but could use good bulbs, consistent, and in differing reflector arrangements. Iíll give that some more thought, Urban.

    The shadows I will lift with some fill. Probably from below for this specific purpose. Iím not too worried about that for now and you guys are on the $$ there. That was one of the other things I noticed straight away. The owners are not worried about shadows below their shelves. They are concerned with their glass displaying nicely. Folks are looking at their glass with this display, not the shadows below the shelves. Iíll have to deal with that with my lighting for the shot.

    The display will be shot as is with the exception of the glass pieces that populate it. And hopefully the rods across the top. So no way to do eliminate the top black border Steve. There will be different pieces displayed and one thing I can do is arrange the pieces accordingly. I do have a choice there and can make sure there is nothing above the top border.

    Thanks again guys! I'm still open to suggestion if anyone else cares to suggest!

  5. #5

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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    Can you move the right hand cabinet back and to the left to take out the difference in height, and the exit sign in the middle. I tried cropping to get rid of the extraneous material, and that cleaned up the image.
    Bring the light bars forward and up and flag to reduce reflection on the shiny plates, especially the left one which you may be able to rotate to reduce reflection.
    If possible drop the plates down so that they are not protruding outside the cabinets

  6. #6
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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    Terry, I have a similar challenge when shooting wristwatch close-ups using two lamps (direct lighting) with no flash. With the bare lamps (LED 30-deg floods), specular reflection from curved surfaces, both metal and plastic or glass, guarantees burned out highlights - especially bad with slightly curved surfaces such the crystal (sapphire, glass or acrylic) which reduces the contrast of the dial features unacceptably. Flat surfaces required careful positioning of the watch to avoid perfect capture of tripod legs or my shiny belt buckle!

    The miniature solution is to place diffuser panels between the lamps and the watch and to accept the longer exposure caused thereby. This often leads to a rather flat-looking, low-contrast image, therefore a flashlight (torch) on a microphone stand is available to provide high-lighting if needed.

    Which brings me to suggest that a big light-tent or diffuser screens over the entire front of the display would help with all those high-contrast specular reflections from the glass/ceramic ware. The light-tent (thin sheet, muslim, tracing paper, etc) provides a 'Lambertian surface' which provides light from a very large area as opposed to point sources e.g. lamps, speed lights, etc). Then use the existing lamps selectively to restore highlights if necessary. The penalty will be low exposure speeds, perhaps compensated by higher ISO settings if you can stand the noise.

    Outrageous, perhaps - but it does work at table-top size.

    For interest, here's a shot of my setup for an eBay item:

    Display Lighting Solution

    Crude but effective. There's an overhead fluorescent which I usually leave on. The diffusers, placed with no particular care, are heavy tracing paper edged with aluminum cut from a thin baking tray. The Panasonic AWB seems to cope.

    Display Lighting Solution

    Hand-held, IS on, 16mm, ISO 400, f/16, 1/20 sec. There are shadows but not aggressively sharp and virtually no blown-out highlights, if any. The same technique has been used successfully on glazed items in the past. The ratio between the distances of the lamp from the diffuser and the diffuser from the subject allows adjustment of the 'flatness' of the diffusion effect. On that note:

    I intend to modify/diffuse all lighting.
    If the diffuser is close to the lamp and far from the subject, the diffusion effect will be quite small. If the diffuser is close to subject and far from the lamp, the diffusion effect will be large. So, putting 'soft boxes' over the speedlights, for example, may not work as well as a diffusing sheet placed closer to the display, IMHO.
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 14th June 2013 at 01:07 PM. Reason: added an eBay item example

  7. #7
    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    Hi Ken!

    Good thoughts and thank you for them. I took this photo into post so see how it would play. I can get rid of all the outside distractions and isolate the booth fairly easily. I was thinking if I shoot the two sections separately and composite them that would be a viable solution.

    Ted,

    Thanks man. I know what you are saying.

    Obviously I am not going to be able to enclose this entire set in a light box. I just donít have that capability. So I was wondering about how to simulate that. You have mentioned some nice ideas. I had thought about shooting through the largest diffusion panel I could make in the time allotted (providing I could find some material) and sectioning the shoot for composite. A white sheet stretched across a background stand might even be enough. I just donít know and is why I posed the question for the Forum. I donít see any way to get it all in one frame with what I have to work with.

    What you mentioned, and what concerns me most are the reflections I am inevitably going to get. These are all curved and very highly reflective surfaces. The booth is, as far as I can see, going to require direct lighting which totally screws classic glass lighting techniques. No matter what I do I donít see a way to completely eliminate the burned highlights/speculars that wash the color and obscure the product. So to minimize and maybe see if I can use them to advantage them might be the best I can hope for. I don't see a way to effectively light the whole display outside the family of angles.

    You have me thinking along another line Ted. I can stand the long exposure penalty. And could even drag the shutter if I need some flash help for fill.

    I just found out today that where the booth will be set is going to have a west-facing light source (windows) for ambient. I could possibly get evening light but it may be direct sunlight. Maybe set the scrim in front as you suggested Ted to diffuse and then supplement as necessary. I am seeing that I am going to have to do some scouting!

    Anything else occurs to you Ted please feel free!

    What occurs to me is how the hell did I get myself into this one?!

  8. #8
    xpatUSA's Avatar
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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Loose Canon View Post
    What you mentioned, and what concerns me most are the reflections I am inevitably going to get. These are all curved and very highly reflective surfaces. The booth is, as far as I can see, going to require direct lighting which totally screws classic glass lighting techniques. No matter what I do I don’t see a way to completely eliminate the burned highlights/speculars that wash the color and obscure the product. So to minimize and maybe see if I can use them to advantage them might be the best I can hope for.
    With diffusers, the specular reflections are not eliminated but are diminished in intensity, thereby reducing the contrast or dynamic range of the scene. I took some glass and glazed shots today for SWMBO's on-line store:

    Display Lighting Solution

    Display Lighting Solution

    The horse I posted earlier had a matte surface which is why it looked quite good. As you can see above, specular highlights can only be made less damaging, so to speak. They don't look bad, though. For the glass, I pulled the lamps further away from the diffusers and further toward the wall, but still the glass at left has quite a large blown area. Would have re-done the shot - but I tread a fine line because she likes her images "bright"!

    Another way to get a diffusion effect is to bounce flash off a huge piece of white sheet-rock (plaster-board) or a white bed-sheet, for that matter. Any handy white walls at the location for your 1000-Joule speedlights? ;-) White ceiling? (drowns while clutching at straws . . .)
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 15th June 2013 at 06:02 AM.

  9. #9

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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    Just too big and too many angles to make this a simple and cheap lighting job. You could use flashes with soft boxes but it looks like you'd need 8 or more to handle it. A couple of 7 foot soft boxes with monolights might do the trick. Do you happen to have access to a Chimera F2 http://www.chimeralighting.com/Produ...-F2-Lightbanks ? You could start doing some research on the web on how to light up automobiles.

    Personally I'd consider the time to dismantle and move the display outside into the shade. It would be the simplest option for me.

    If that's not possible my first attempt would be light painting with a couple of constant light soft boxes. (Those track lights in a cardboard box covered with a white pillowcase would do nicely) How about building two light walls, left and right, out of white bedsheets lit from behind with those track lights and a few others? With those and the soft boxes you could light everything. There's a few ways to go about it and you'd have some fun playing with them. Just make sure the light bulbs are all the same so you have a consistent white balance to work with.

    Also consider your subject is not moving. How about turning off the track lights to get rid of the harsh shadows and doing a long exposure in softer lighting?

    Another option (not for me) is to use a smaller lighting setup and photograph each display separately then put them back together as a composite.

    Lots to start with.

  10. #10
    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: Display Lighting Solution

    Hey I just wanted to thank everyone for the ideas and suggestions.

    We ended up doing the shoot outside in the shade (good call Andrew).

    I did the shoot tethered. I shot six frames and the Client called it good on the sixth frame.

    I was going to shoot this thing from different angles, the works! Oh well!

    Display Lighting Solution

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