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Thread: The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

  1. #1

    The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

    Playing around with folder paper and lights. No disrespect to any photocopier salesmen out there

    The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

  2. #2
    cneedha's Avatar
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    Re: The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

    Steve,
    Remind me of your setup for these? I still have not found a totally black background for images such as this other than chasing all my family members out of the living room after dark! Black construction paper isn't really very black.
    Chris

  3. #3

    Re: The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

    Hi Chris

    I use the dining room But you do not require a completely dark room. There are at least 2 ways to do this;
    Before I describe these the setup for me is now a 2ft x 2ft light box made from a white opaque material on 4 sides. The box came with a set of six different colour backdrops that fit nicely onto 2 sides of the box with velcro. The set also included 2 50W halogen lamps gelled for daylight (ideal for this kind of close work)


    1. AV mode with wide aperture (obviating the need for a tripod, mirror lockup and cable release) with constant lighting (in this case 1 spot shining through the box at the lefthand side). Spot metering (and Focus). I metered off the nearest thing to mid tone. Always set up your lighting to illuminate the subject leaving the background in shadow.

    2. Manual mode with flash gun. I think the settings were 1/125 SS with f/4.5 aperture. Use FEC at -2 stops. I also used an old plastic ketchup bottle base as a diffuser (fixed to the gun with self adhesive velcro). Fire the flash through the lightbox side. If your camer hunts in he darkness just flick a light switchto let the camera focus and meter then flick it off again.

    Now this does not give out of camera perfection by any means. I use GIMP and UFRAW but its much the same principle in most apps. Open the raw image and get the right exposure for the subject (do not worry about the background at this stage. You can also adjust the temperature at this point to get your whites Daz white. When you are happy with the main subject open into your image manipulation app (GIMP for me). No to get th background BLACK. Open levels and click the black dropper (usually to the left). Take the dropper and click on the darkest part of the background. Keep clicking (usually 2 or 3) until the back ground turns a uniform black. Then use the levels slider at the right end of the curve to restore the highlights on he main subject by dragging it to the left. If the curve is very shallow drag the slider to halfway between the far right extreme of the curve and the point where the curve first starts to rise. With a steep curve drag the righhand slider to the point where the righthand side of the curve starts to rise (you can judge by eye if you have overdone it. Close levels dialog.

    Now open curves to get some vibrance back. Starting at the left of the rising diagonal plot drag the line down a couple of degrees abut quarter of the way along the diagonal. From the right hand end of the diagonal plot, about a quarter of the way down grab the line and drag up by a couple of degrees. You should now have a shallow S-curve. As with levels this is not an exact science so keep checking the image to ensure you get the look you want.

    In the above image I used the colourise function to get a cool blue (but remember to lower the saturation slider). Last, I use USM to to get everything crisp.

    I used to use 2 pieces of art card, one piece as the base and one as the back drop. This works well if you make sure your lighting is dialed well down. You can use a diffuser or bounce the light off a white reflector. he join between the cards can be cloned out if visible.

    Hope this helps

    Steve

  4. #4
    cneedha's Avatar
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    Re: The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

    Steve,
    Thanks for taking the time on your reply, it is a great guide. I moved my still life 'studio' to my basement workshop this weekend and invested $8 in some black velvet for use as a backdrop- the first shots had a nice invisible background. I'll try some of your lighting hints next. I have much greater control over the ambient light in the new space.
    Chris

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

    Hi Chris,,

    Often the "trick" is to simply get the backdrop as far away from the subject as possible; the closer the lights to the subject, the smaller the light depth of field (or to put another way, the light can't illuminate what it can't reach).

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    cneedha's Avatar
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    Re: The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

    You bet. The dark living room using the flashlight covered in wax paper has been good to me!! Until I found the red LED on the front of the TV set in all of my shots

    All wisecracks aside, I do see what you mean. I have been trying to build more depth into my arrangements so that the background is not so visible.

    Chris
    Last edited by cneedha; 31st January 2010 at 02:37 AM.

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    PopsPhotos's Avatar
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    Re: The Private Life of a Photocopier Salesman

    The "red light on the TV" comment reminded me of a session I had once. Couldn't figure out where the stray light was coming from as I was photographing some jewelry for a client. Finally realized I was getting the IR connector from the front of my laptop shining across my workspace. I couldn't see it, but the camera could.

    Pops

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