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Not a glamour shot, but I still need advice...
Old 05-20-2005, 10:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I know this isn't a glamour shot, but I still need some help. I've been experimenting and trying to learn still life photography, and I keep getting annoying reflections.

To avoid me being in the picture, I set the camera on self-timer and have some more Amstel while I wait. Still, tough the camera and tripod are reflected. I'm using indirect natural lighting from the kitchen window. In the second shot, I wanted the garlic to reflect, but not the tripod which can be seen if you look hard enough.

Is there a trick to avoiding these relections? I've got more Amstel if anyone is close and wants to show me.

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Re: Not a glamour shot, but I still need advice...
Old 05-20-2005, 12:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I used to do a catalog for an aftermarket VW engine builder that used a lot of chrome. I took a portable paper stand and white paper and cut a hole in it big enough for my lense then shoot thru the paper. This worked for me.

Michael Dean

You can ship the Amstel to my studio in Oklahoma [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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Re: Not a glamour shot, but I still need advice...
Old 05-20-2005, 12:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I used to use a sheet of either white or black, depending, in front of the tripod. It can be proped against the tripod, held by a stand and clamp or hung from a paper roll holder.

It's tough to do with just available light and avoid uncontrolled reflections. Adding black gobos or shims to block reflections is probably the best bet.
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Re: Not a glamour shot, but I still need advice...
Old 05-20-2005, 01:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm waiting on my firewire drive so I can put my archive online but until then I can't show any examples... but the Tiffany catalog will give you an idea. Like this. I love the Tiffany images... world class.

I'm a reflection freak, I love solving problems with shooting reflective stuff. The thing to remember is, you will never eliminate reflection but you can control it, shape it and hide in it.

The pitcher is a perfect example. No way to get the camera out of the image without PS; you have a curved surface reflecting a nearly 180° field of view (reminds me of an eBay shot that made the email rounds a few years ago where the cameraman was clearly reflected in a teapot... and buck naked, hairy johnson and all).

The flatter the surface the easier it is to control the reflection because you can choose what gets reflected by changing some angles. You can eliminate the camera by tilting the subject so the face reflects a big flat light source... while the camera hides in a corner/edge zone.


Here's some tips I've picked up over time, mostly shooting jewelry:

- Choose what is going to be reflected. Use white or black reflectors or fabric surrounds.

- Simplify the reflection. Same deal, use reflectors and arrange them so most of the surface is reflecting a smooth white light source.

- Use BIG light sources; big silks on frames or arranged in surrounds like a tent or corral. Minimize wrinkles and seams unless they spice up the reflection with long stripes of black or grey.

- Hide the camera in a seam or a place where the subject is sharply convex likesay, the bottom or top edges. That's the Tiffany way. They are using long lenses with lots of bellows or tube extension to back way off (reletively) and hiding in a border zone. they can still focus close that way... think 300mm lens with a bellows extension.

- Convex reflections have large fields of view and consequently shrink whatever they reflect; the smaller the radius the more things shrink... slightly rounded corners are killer hiding places.

- Make your own border zone. Use a big, continuous white canopy and shoot your lights through it from a distance; extend it down to just above the top of the image frame. Make everything else black by turning off all room lights, possibly using a black surround that extends to just below the bottom of the inage frame. Hide the camera in the transition zone between the white and the black.

- You can expose shape in a reflective object by adding black (or colored) reflectors. You just try out different sets until the image says what you want it too.


OK so that's the sterile, simple world of jewelry and silverware.


With the teapot, I would use a dark surround that would encompass the whole curving side and hide where it the transitions to a dome... you'll be visible but small and un-obvious.

With the pitcher, if you want to use natural light and have the garlic reflect but not the tripod you have to solve the problem without surrounds... you need the context of the kitchen evironment.
You see that area where the pitcher begins to flare at the top? That's where you want your camera. As a transition zone is not perfect because it's concave (it will enlarge whatever it reflects) but it's still your freind. Consider sliding that cabinet (Is that a cabinet?) out from the wall a bit and shooting from behind it. You could use anything shadowy and furniture-like to hide in or behind so long as it doesn't disrupt the context.



So to summarize, Choose what gets reflected and simplify the reflections with big light sources and smooth set surrounds. Hide the camera by backing it as far away as practical and using an angle that places it in a dark transition area, preferrably a convex edge or a non-reflective element.



A quick word on polarizers. They work... sometimes, it totally depends on the quality, source and direction of the light. To use them predictably, polarize your light source as well with Rosco Polarizing film. You will be amazed at how well you can supress or control diffuse reflections. This is a whole other subject... but a great trick to have in your bag.

One other tip, get a polishing cloth (rouge cloth) from a jeweler, $5 or $10. Polish everything obsessively and touch up frequently. It really makes an image stand out.

Good luck, if you care to talk on the phone about it, PM me.
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I dont know what to say...
Old 05-20-2005, 11:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Chip,

I'm not sure how to thank you for taking the time to answer my question like you did. I've read your comments several times and keep looking at them like a lost treasure I just discovered.

I'm going to have to reshoot both of these shots with your advice in mind. Someone once told me, when people say you have potential the are actually saying you failed--I think these two images have tremendous potential. Besides the reflections there are a few other problems I have with them.

I hope that you get your firewire soon so that I can see some examples. Let me experiment for a little while and I'll PM you some of the results--then I'll give you a call and you can guide me in the right direction.

Thanks again,
Alan

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