Thanks, Jason. Usually when I work for those people, we do five pieces of furniture per hour for two days non-stop, each piece in around 10 different positions. That's a bit more stressful, particularly since some of the furniture is literally arriving unassembled from the production line and assembled on the studio floor. The limited time is also the reason for the number of strobes; because of this, I need to cover every angle by rotating the chair or sofa, mostly without moving any of the strobes. Adding to the challenge is a ceiling height of less than 250cm (around 8 feet), and yes, the ceiling is white.
This is all a result of lots of experimenting. Until three years ago, I hardly knew what a studio strobe looked like, but I participated in a local workshop and adapted what I learned to real life. During the process, I've learned that unlimited amounts of tape and cardboard in assorted shades of gray, black and white is at least as important as how fancy the lighting equipment is.
My standard setup for furniture is as follows:
- One strobe with softbox on the left, as high up as I can get it, pointed 30-45 degrees down. One of two main lights.
- One small strobe on the left, almost at floor level, low power but only softened with a couple of layers of semi-transparent plastic. This is to avoid hard shadows under the armrest.
- One strobe with reflective (silver) umbrella high up on the right. Lower power than the one on the left, but more contrasty light.
- One strobe lower down on the right with a small softbox or a transparent umbrella. This is to give even lighting when shooting sofas from the front and recliners from the side. This is also the one that was too hot yesterday.
- Two strobes symmetrically on the background, shielded from the product with cardboard that is black, corrugated (totally non-reflective) on the side towards the furniture and white, reflective on the side towards the background.
Because of the low ceiling, I often use cardboard or black fabric to avoid light from the strobes reflected in the ceiling. This is particularly important with the background strobes, and when shooting products with black, reflective, horisontal surfaces.
I would like to experiment with two tall light boxes, one on each side, but they are expensive, so I've pulled the brakes until I can get a studio with a higher ceiling. One of the beauties of the system that I have now, is that it goes into three bags, one for the three large strobes and all cables, one for all stands, softboxes, umbrellas, tape and whatever and on ThinkTank Airport Addicted for four small strobes, two camera bodies, lenses, chargers etc. All in all, just over 40 kilos. If I have to go by air, I skip the bag with the three large strobes, take the ThinkTank as carry on luggage, and I'm all set
Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 26th January 2010 at 18:36.
I'm a little late to the party (Left Coast). Great photos and interesting comments. Thanks everybody for sharing. Cheers.
Terrific job you did there Jorgen, really.
And great insight, with a particularly bounding location.
A couple of questions though, if you don't mind.
I guess this time you shot Manual mode, what was the actual speed? SOmething like 1/160th or 1/200th?
Was it a trial and error not having a meter?
Last, how do you synchronize (chords, PW, auto detection with pop flash...)?
If the posted image is pretty much on echot "out of camera", what i find the most
impressive is the HL reflections in the metal legs (while keeping details and good exposure allowing details on the white leather).
Great skills are required to achieve that kind of details, exposure and structured lighting especially in not-so-controlled conditions and a relatively reasonnable level of equipment.
(though i also see there another proof that this 80-200mm is a treat)
Thanks, Jason. Answers in the quote.
One more thing: This is a little bit cold, I believe around 4300K. I did that to make the white chair stand out from the neutral background. To most people it will look white, while it is in fact blueish.
Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 27th January 2010 at 11:28.
Just a little Color In The Dead Of Winter...
D700, R80 Lux
D300,ZF 100 Makro Planar
D300,ZF 100 Makro Planar
Steve, the colours of the second one are beyond amazing
Very nice to see those lush colors in January, Steve. Thanks!
Even more fun with Pine trees and tractors. I'm finding that it's a tad difficult to carry a camera and a chainsaw while driving the tractor. It might be time to put down the saw.
Steve: Thanks for the "color".
More seriously, this is really intestesting stuff. Many thanks for sharing.
Your method is definitely a mix between the "rules" and "real life experience" as you put it before, like a chef cooking his own recipe.
The part about white/black leather suprised me. Shooting usually small products (mostly much smaller than this kind of furniture with a few exceptions) and some with reflective surfaces, in my experience it's often quite the opposite: once HL are clipped, details are gone for good, though it has proven much easier to recover texture in the black areas. Guess the discrepancy depends on the kind of surface, and probably even more on the shooting distance. From up close (around 50cm) reflections are a different matter than from a several meters range.
Incidentally in February i have to shoot some furniture size, black piano lackered stuff. I did it before (using a simple one head + reflector setup) with decent results for catalogs and mid-size posters, but this time i'll pay a particular attention to this thanks to your remarks. Maybe i'll try a multi strobe setup too -but on lacker finish it often turns a little funky.
Please tell us you don't actually have this kind of light now... here we're under layers of clouds since what seems forever
(colors in the second shot are so out of the ordinary that it almost look like you stacked two photos using one funny curve in raw processing for the leaf...)
William, your work is Out Of This World Awesome!
Brownie & Boo Boo..
D300, 200Vr 2.0
D3, 58 Noct 1.2
D3, 58 Noct 1.2
My oldest, with his oldest (also with the D300 and the 85/1.4):
Oh, Lloyd! So captivating, so heart-warming. I feel my face glowing when I look at them.
Thank you Osman and Corlan. Much appreciated.
Lloyd, that first shot looks like Val Kilmer, the actor! Super job! Your grandson is Awesome! So cute. Top Quality Work Amigo!
I had the 50/1.2 "Normal", which I bought when I got my first F3, circa 1980. My son (the one pictured above) signed up for a photography class in Junior High, and asked if he could use that lens on a Nikkormat body I told him he could use for the class. Somewhat reluctantly, I let him take it, and the very first day it was stolen! He was like, "oh yeah, someone took it"... totally casual about the whole thing. He's a photographer in New York now, and would be completely freaked out if some lifted one of his cameras and/or lenses.
Last edited by Lloyd; 28th January 2010 at 12:21.
One from the archives. (You might know this place Steve)
D70 with the kit 18-70 lens:
Lloyd, how'd you get that Spiderman perspective of the Lenny "Steakum" Bridge?! Cool shot!
William, the portrait of the boy is an instant classic
Love your dog shots, Steve, and I don't even like dogs (15 stray dogs across the canal, keeping me awake at nights). Like your lens too, but the price these days... I could hire an assistant for a year for the lowest price in this country.
Lloyd, those portraits are very "Lloydish". Top class
Beautiful light this morning. Too bad it's in large part to the really bad inversion (read: pollution) we've had with this high pressure system sitting over us.
Nothing special about this first shot, just liked the light:
Did make for some really nice reflections in the windows along my way to my first meeting this morning:
All with the D3 and the 70-200/2.8 VRII
Last edited by Lloyd; 28th January 2010 at 14:22.
Lloyd, Beautiful Light!