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Thread: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

  1. #1
    HaseebM's Avatar
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    Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Hi folks, my uncle and cousin who run a very distinguished business of bespoke suiting requested me to take some product images of a few chosen men's suits on mannequins. Their interest obviously was piqued seeing some of my images and perhaps they mistakenly think I may yet become their professional photographer.

    Okay so I am elated but at the same time, worried stiff. To make matters worse, when I suggested lack of adequate lighting, they immediately offered to pay for whatever equipment I prefer. Rewind back a little, this happened a week ago during which time I researched on available but well known brands and was surprised to find the Elinchrom brand was available in India. Not one to waste time, I immediately researched some more and found the FRX 400 kit to be a good deal ( and hopefully adequate for the intended shoot ). I therefore purchased them today with a muslin off white backdrop. I then searched the internet to find sources for a learning curve but afraid most of them talk about 'ghost mannequins' which is not our intention.

    To summarise, I now have as follows:-

    1. Elinchrom FRX400 ( two 400 watt strobes ).
    2. Two soft portalite boxes ( 66 x 66 ? ).
    3. Two transmitters.
    4. Two stands.
    5. 10' Muslin backdrop with stands and bar.
    6. 600 RT EX.
    7. 60D.


    Is this adequate enough to obtain decent images enough to warrant sending to customers? I am both thrilled and worried that being new to strobes or studio lighting, I may do something horribly wrong and wish I had posed this question earlier on CiC which I honestly forgot due to my work and on-going process.

    I am worried about angles and if 400 watts each would be adequate or should I dial down the power?
    Should I use my Speedlite as well?

    Apologize in advance for so many questions but I do not want to end up with bad photos and leave an all round bad impression. I hope you understand and as always help us newbies get through with flying colours.

    Thank you!

  2. #2

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    I can only make one suggestion, set it up get a friend to stand in, shot, look at, adjust if needed, repeat, repeat, repeat, oh and learn from any mistakes as it is not the equipment that the fool standing behind it takes makes the mistake. That is how we all learn is by doing.
    Oh and good luck.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    I agree with Allan... IMO, always test your shots before shooting important images...

    You can shoot your 60D tethered to a computer (If you have the use of a notebook computer)

    http://www.prophotolife.com/episode-...photo-capture/

    You can play with your images and adjust your lighting to your heart's content and view the imagery on your computer screen which is a lot easier to work with than if you were trying to judge your images from your camera LCD.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    +1 on shooting tethered as being the best advice . . . then adjust the lighting set accordingly.

    Bigger and a calibrated screen, if possible.


    WW

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    You really need to decide if you want the lighting to go above and beyond just what's required for this shoot. I shoot with Elinchrom gear - and it's good stuff, but they do make quite a few combinations of gear - many of which will be suitable for what you're planning, but they may not be suitable for other jobs that you may want top use them for (eg something more portable and battery powered like the quadra range) (that also has skyport receivers built in).

    Most product shoots like this are pretty straight-forward; 2 lights - 2 softboxes - camera - appropriate lens - tripod. You mentioned the 600EX RT Flash - great flash (I have 5 of them), but not sure what you'd be planning to use that for in the context of the suit shoot??

    Other than that, the only other thing I'd add would be colour profiling and calibration equipment if colour accuracy is required (eg spyder colorimeter and passport to profile camera and monitor).

    If you shoot against a backdrop like you're planning it'll be gray not white if you're illuminating it with the same lights as the suits, but usually it's a moot point because it's usually easier to just extract the product in post-processing, so it doesn't make a lot of difference.

    Last but not least, you'll need to post-process the shots correctly with regards (especially) to colour correction and sharpening.

    Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Thanks Allan. I intend on using a spare mannequin. Hopefully that works.

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Hi Richard and William, thanks for the input. I do have a laptop which could be utilized. Hope the wireless triggers with the EOSutility?

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    You really need to decide if you want the lighting to go above and beyond just what's required for this shoot. I shoot with Elinchrom gear - and it's good stuff, but they do make quite a few combinations of gear - many of which will be suitable for what you're planning, but they may not be suitable for other jobs that you may want top use them for (eg something more portable and battery powered like the quadra range) (that also has skyport receivers built in).

    Most product shoots like this are pretty straight-forward; 2 lights - 2 softboxes - camera - appropriate lens - tripod. You mentioned the 600EX RT Flash - great flash (I have 5 of them), but not sure what you'd be planning to use that for in the context of the suit shoot??

    Other than that, the only other thing I'd add would be colour profiling and calibration equipment if colour accuracy is required (eg spyder colorimeter and passport to profile camera and monitor).

    If you shoot against a backdrop like you're planning it'll be gray not white if you're illuminating it with the same lights as the suits, but usually it's a moot point because it's usually easier to just extract the product in post-processing, so it doesn't make a lot of difference.

    Last but not least, you'll need to post-process the shots correctly with regards (especially) to colour correction and sharpening.

    Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.
    Hi Colin, thank you. Forgot to mention I also got the grey / white / black card for white balance which I understand needs to be shot based on same lighting as product. I can then use Photoshop to balance colours and sharpening. That's a nice sharp image btw.

    With regard to 600 RT, reason for pointing that was to know if it could be utilized as fill flash or whatever as I am unsure but your reply suggests there is no need. So hopefully these two strobes should be enough which would be great.

    I am surprised the off-white backdrop will change to grey and not white but that should be okay. Later on maybe I could get a Grey backdrop. I hope F/5 - F/8 will work out well but I will experiment with the dummy first.

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by HaseebM View Post
    Hi Colin, thank you. Forgot to mention I also got the grey / white / black card for white balance which I understand needs to be shot based on same lighting as product. I can then use Photoshop to balance colours and sharpening. That's a nice sharp image btw.
    A grey card is fine for white balancing, but it doesn't address camera colour profiling in any way. In my experience the built in profiles from vendors are never 100% accurate.

    With regard to 600 RT, reason for pointing that was to know if it could be utilized as fill flash or whatever as I am unsure but your reply suggests there is no need. So hopefully these two strobes should be enough which would be great.
    This type of thing is simply strip lights at around 45 degrees either side of centre - no fill flash required

    I am surprised the off-white backdrop will change to grey and not white but that should be okay. Later on maybe I could get a Grey backdrop. I hope F/5 - F/8 will work out well but I will experiment with the dummy first.
    What colour is a white sheet when all the lights are off? The colour of the backdrop is proportional to the amount of light that reflects off it, and if you only have lights illuminating the product then the amount of light that hits the background will be less because they're further away. With separate lighting you have total control over the background - you can make white white, white gray, white black, black black, black gray, or even black white

    To be honest though, it's not just the equipment - it's photography and processing technique too ... and it's quite a steep hill to climb to jump straight from "never having shot with studio lights before" to "professional quality work".

  10. #10
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    What colour is a white sheet when all the lights are off?
    Strangely zen-like, but very pertinent question when it comes to color management. Hasseb, I think you'll find that your muslin sheet is a warm white under flash lighting (5200-5600K, generally). So the "white" you're after won't be perfect. However, you can either desaturate it in post, or make sure it gets lots of light from the flashes to wash out any color cast. Catch there is that you have to avoid over-exposing the background.

    Nailing your white and color balances will be critical. Product photography requires accurate colors, so a color checker ("passport") will be very helpful. Essentially, it's an advanced version of a grey card. Several samples of calibrated colors in a little booklet, which can be used to create a custom color profile for that camera and light. Some software can do this semi-automatically.

    Two 400 watt-second strobes with 66in softboxes will do rather nicely. If you're going for a straight, evenly-lit product shot like what Colin posted, then his suggestion of placing the lights close to and 45deg to either side of the mannequin will work rather nicely. Working out the power level and camera settings will take a little while, so I recommend experimenting before the big day. You could use the 600EX-RT as a spot light to highlight any worthwhile details, but that's something of a creative effect the customer may not like.

    The 60D will be just fine, especially since the flashes will let you keep the ISO nice and low. What glass are you planning to use? In the interest of avoiding distortion and keeping the perspective consistent, I recommend a prime above 50mm. Maybe rent an 85mm f1.2L (the "cannonball!") for really crisp detail. Make sure you run enough depth of field to keep the whole suit in focus. Shooting from an anchored tripod will keep the shot-to-shot differences down and save your arms from several hours of swinging a camera around. Make sure you have plenty of time to work. Allow 2 hours for initial setup. Get the lighting perfect. Then just start assembly-lining the suits through your setup.
    Last edited by RustBeltRaw; 20th September 2013 at 01:50 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    This type of thing is simply strip lights at around 45 degrees either side of centre - no fill flash required
    I've got to agree with Colin on this one. A couple of strip lights (soft boxes) at 45 degrees not too far out of the frame are going to give you the best lighting for this type of shot. You are looking at a fairly long (jacket and trousers) but narrow image, so the light distribution would be nice and even.

    I'm not sure that the muslin is the best background as most catalogue shots are taken with a white background so that the subject blends in with the paper or screen. The bit of warmth the muslin will add to the shot may make the colours of the suits seem off a bit. A roll of white seamless might be a good investment.

  12. #12
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    One other piece of gear that would help speed up the initial set-up and help you duplicate it in the future would be a flashmeter. A common brand is Sekonic. The meter can be used to determine the light level from each light, verify even lighting across the subject (as desired) and the total exposure on the subject and the backdrop. Flashmeters were indispensable in the film days and I still find them very helpful.

    John

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Colin / Lex / Manfred / John, thank you for your replies. I find them informative and useful. Luckily, today the person who was to identify which suits to photograph was busy throughout the day which gave me sufficient time to set-up equipment and take a few test shots. The Lenses I carried were 17-40 f/4l, 85mm, 18-55mm. I tried test shots with all three but unfortunately, the 85mm could not cover the full mannequin due to lack of space. I therefore tested with other two lenses and as you'll rightly pointed out, the backdrop turned almost white. What I feared most was inadequate lighting and was surprised therefore to note that I actually had to reduce the power to 3 from the full 6 of the strobes and even this at f/8 at 1/160th, ISO 100. The outcome was enough to make me happy though not overjoyed as I am yet to learn all about shooting with so much lighting power.

    From what I understand from Colin and the rest, angling at 45 degs quite close but outside the frame should make for good product photography which I think I did not quite accomplish as I was restricted by a wall column on the left side. I look forward to trying this out tomorrow by somehow finding a way to angle the left strobe near the mannequin.

    With regards to colour, I think the outcome was not terrible as mostly shot 'Grey suit' with varies f/stops. Tomorrow I will do proper white balancing and angling. Here is the test result which I hope isn't too bad.

    Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Thank you once again for all the good advice and I will come back here tomorrow with hopefully better results.

  14. #14
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    It looks like you have made a very good start and a lighting setup and camera technique.

    The lighting in your shot seems like it needs a bit more tweeking to get it balanced; the right side of the image is a lot brighter than the left side. I'm not sure if this is your intent, or if this is just the way this shot turned out.

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    It looks like you have made a very good start and a lighting setup and camera technique.

    The lighting in your shot seems like it needs a bit more tweeking to get it balanced; the right side of the image is a lot brighter than the left side. I'm not sure if this is your intent, or if this is just the way this shot turned out.
    Thank you Manfred, I am glad to hear that. I think it has to do with the 45 deg. angle you guys mentioned. The right strobe was 45 deg but the left was restricted due to a wall column. I intend trying this method tomorrow.

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    I agree with Manfred, I think just a slight rotation of the softbox a few degrees to the right should help. I do believe that you are getting the hang of it.
    Again good luck

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    Strangely zen-like, but very pertinent question when it comes to color management. Hasseb, I think you'll find that your muslin sheet is a warm white under flash lighting (5200-5600K, generally). So the "white" you're after won't be perfect. However, you can either desaturate it in post, or make sure it gets lots of light from the flashes to wash out any color cast. Catch there is that you have to avoid over-exposing the background.
    For this kind of work it's far easier to just use the backdrop to provide a contrast against the product so that it can be easily selected in post-processing (and thus replaced digitally). Trying to do it "in camera" is risky because the light drops off towards the periphery of the background and it's easy to miss come areas that aren't at "255". Nuking the background is another option, but it can bite; it doesn't work if the model has fine hair, and if the subject is too close to it then it can bleed into the foreground.

    You could use the 600EX-RT as a spot light to highlight any worthwhile details, but that's something of a creative effect the customer may not like.
    Triggering it could also be a problem.

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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by HaseebM View Post
    Colin / Lex / Manfred / John, thank you for your replies. I find them informative and useful. Luckily, today the person who was to identify which suits to photograph was busy throughout the day which gave me sufficient time to set-up equipment and take a few test shots. The Lenses I carried were 17-40 f/4l, 85mm, 18-55mm. I tried test shots with all three but unfortunately, the 85mm could not cover the full mannequin due to lack of space. I therefore tested with other two lenses and as you'll rightly pointed out, the backdrop turned almost white. What I feared most was inadequate lighting and was surprised therefore to note that I actually had to reduce the power to 3 from the full 6 of the strobes and even this at f/8 at 1/160th, ISO 100. The outcome was enough to make me happy though not overjoyed as I am yet to learn all about shooting with so much lighting power.

    From what I understand from Colin and the rest, angling at 45 degs quite close but outside the frame should make for good product photography which I think I did not quite accomplish as I was restricted by a wall column on the left side. I look forward to trying this out tomorrow by somehow finding a way to angle the left strobe near the mannequin.

    With regards to colour, I think the outcome was not terrible as mostly shot 'Grey suit' with varies f/stops. Tomorrow I will do proper white balancing and angling. Here is the test result which I hope isn't too bad.

    Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Thank you once again for all the good advice and I will come back here tomorrow with hopefully better results.
    Good first effort, but the image has some significant focusing and / or sharpening issues. Also the lapel in the (camera) right side looks very jagged - not sure why. Touch of CA on the bottom too.

  19. #19
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    Hi Allan, I will try rotating the softbox and check the effect.

    Colin, the jagged edges are party due to over processing of the background and mannequin in which the shadows overlapped a bit. I need to check that. The slight CA at the bottom may be the result of 18-55mm stock lens. I checked the other practice shots on which I used the 17-40 f/4L ( which I processed a bit ) and did not notice CA.

    You are right insofar as the 600 EX RT is concerned, does not fire even in Slave mode which is surprising. I thought the Slave mode should work by triggering the strobes. I have the skyport on the camera hotshoe which triggers the strobes well and surprisingly, the Nissin Di 466 works perfectly in Slave mode. Cannot understand why a high spec flash such as Canon not fire in Slave mode.

    Thank you all again for the advice. Cheers.

  20. #20
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    Re: Need help ( urgent ) for bespoke suit photography.

    looking good for the first go especially. I did notice the left being darker than the right, for uniform lighting (albeit not clothing) I find lights either side slightly back pointed slightly forwards and pop up reflector (or foam core, card, sheet etc) in front to bounce back and fill gives you even light but with enough shadow to accentuate shapes. Sort of 5 bands of light dark light dark light from left to right across the subject if it makes sense.

    When you get used to it you could start tweaking small things like use the edge of the light spill/feather it to give more control. I mainly use 300ws lencarta ultras monoblocks (occasionally 600) and find they are more than enough indoors in smaller spaces as you've found. Moving lights further out isn't possible like you say but if you ever get chance remember the falloff decreases since distance increases so you'll get more even light, but you'll need to turn it up to get same intensity as close in obviously.

    edit: and for print on dark background for dark page (doubt it in this case but mention in case) you can pop the speedlights in the back to rim light and give separation from dark background. I sometimes use them on light backgrounds to brighten or gelled to colour it, always an option when you can't get the white bright enough behind to make cutout in post more time consuming to bring it up with your speedlights.

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