First Post of my images

Discussion in 'Commercial/Product photography' started by SMG, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. SMG
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    SMG New Member

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    Just thought that I would post a couple of shots that I have done here and there for my own pleasure. These were ostensibly to sell Fountain pens which I collect and repair (and sell duh!), but they kindof fit into this forum.

    Let me know what you think.

    Cheers,
    SG[​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  2. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    I'll give you some technical comments just from the perspective of commercial product photography.

    #1 is a nice macro shot. I see some blue ink smeared on the nib. Also, the background has variable sharpness. It is sharp lower left to soft upper right. It would have been better to adjust depth of field just to cover the nib but throw the background slightly out of focus. The gold of the background interferes with the gold of the nib. The gold on the background should be further away from the nib. Raise the pen higher so that it is further away from the background.

    #2 A pretty good shot. I see some lint that you should have cleaned up in post process. The set has more contrast than I like between subject and accessories. The lightest area of the bank note is nearly blown out while the pen (your main subject) is pretty dark, particularly in the area where the pen is on the background itself. Perhaps, if you had made the entire background out of bank notes, it would have put more snap in the final image. Contrast between background and subject is good in product photography. Contrast between subject and accessories in the set is less good when everything is in focus.

    #3 This one is the best of the lot. Perhaps, because I like Pelikan pens personally. :) You did get a harsh reflection on the upper pen. It is likely a lighting problem.

    #4. Here you need to control depth of field better. The nib is sharp from the tip to the Scheaffer text and then softens toward the barrel of the pen. The depth of field needs to cover all of the text. Other parts of the pen can be soft but all the text should all be crisp and sharp. Try different apertures or perhaps a less extreme angle.

    I think these are comments you might get from an art director at an ad agency. They are meant to be constructive. Overall, you have a good sense for decorating a photographic set to make it interesting. I'll try to reproduce some of your shots with some of my own pens as a personal assignment. Then you can critique mine. It will be fun.
  3. SMG
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    SMG New Member

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    Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.

    I did actually see the ink in #1, but it's pretty hard to clean one of these nibs totally when it is full, guess I could have cleaned it further or cloned it out in post processing. I have a couple more from that setup that are a little more concentrated on the nib with a better depth of field, nib in focus background blurred. The Makie-e box that I posed the pen on is pretty much like a mirror so I need to might just post process that down a bit.

    For #2 I think that I have another version of this where I cloned out the lint. Thanks, I didn't review this one much before posting it, that will teach me to look a little harder at the shot before sending it out. :)

    For #3 I acutally put a couple of lens flares in in Photoshop to bring interest to the gold trim, but probably went a little overboard, as I am still learning PS.

    #4 is my favorite, but I know what you mean. I really wanted all of the text in focus, but actually liked the softness of the image.
    All of the shots in my first post were taken with my D50 and either a 70-300 Sigma Macro II or my new 105mm f2.8 macro Sigma.


    Here is another that I like as well. Shot this with my old setup, Canon S2IS and light tent.
    [​IMG]

    The yellow from the background picks up the mottled bands in the pen, but the red corner at the top right is problematic.
    Thanks again for the critique, I am always open to constructive comments.

    Cheers,
    SG
  4. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    The one above is pretty nice. There isn't quite enough light on the right end of barrel and there is something that doesn't belong in the upper right hand corner but overall it is pretty good.

    I did the easy one first. I think it is close enough to your #4 to make the point.

    [​IMG]

    You can see that all of the text on the nib is crisp. Look at the background and you can see that I stopped the depth of field right at the point where it would keep the word Aurora in focus. The problem is that it required an aperture of f36. Your lens may not go that small. If it doesn't then you just need to back up a little from the subject and then crop the image.

    If you like a softer background then it is just a matter of lifting the pen away from the background about 3 inches. That would throw the background out of focus.
  5. SMG
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    SMG New Member

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    Cool image. Yeah my 105 sigma will go down to f32 so I can replicate that. I will try tonight or tomorrw, babysitting duties tonight so no time to play with the camera :(

    Thanks for the advise. I really appreciate it.

    Cheers,
    SG
  6. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    Here's #2, the Parker pen with black flashlight. I don't have any cool bank notes laying around so I used a map. Perhaps a little busy but I was trying to tone down the contrast between accessories and image. My Parker pen doesn't do battle with any of the accessories. It is clearly the subject of the photograph. The accessory became the background. What do you think?

    [​IMG]
  7. Christie Photo
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    Christie Photo New Member

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    gee... I have no collectible pens. I'll just stand over here....
  8. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    Here's #3, the Pelikan pens on a white background. I'm not happy with the way the set is accessorized. I didn't spend much time on it and I wouldn't show it to an art director. But I wanted to show you that it is possible to capture the brilliance and shinyness of the gold plated hardware on the pens without having it look soft or blown out. This is what light tents do very well. I'll do better on #1.

    [​IMG]
  9. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    Nobody said anything about needing collectible pens. See what you can do with a Bic. That sounds like more of a challenge than making fancy fountain pens look interesting.
  10. Christie Photo
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    Good point!
  11. SMG
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    SMG New Member

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    How far away from the light tent sides are your lights? I have mine touching the sides of the tent to get the amount of light that I need or wan, but that tends to give me some blown out highlights or hot spots.

    I just bought a sb600 last week, and will be starting to work with flash lighting instead of constant. Currently I have a couple of daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs (the twisty kind) in 10" reflectors just basically clamped to the top of my light tent. I bought a lumiquest diffuser for the flash head and it seems to be OK, but I might need to play with the fill flash settings a bit to get the correct amount of light without blowing it out.

    I see what you mean about the balance of the flashlight/pen shot. Nice Duofold by the way. The background doesn't clash with the pen as there are no broken edges or lines traversing the image to take your attention away from the subject. The lines on the map are there, but they are so slight that it doesn't impact the image.

    I will have to post the image of the Pelikans without the lens flares, I think that it will be much better.

    Thanks for the dialogue, it is cool to learn in this manner instead of trying to figure it out on my own.

    Cheers,
    SG
  12. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    Here's a snapshot of my light tent setup. I have to get busy invoicing the day's work so I'll finish up when the invoicing is done.

    [​IMG]
  13. Christie Photo
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    [​IMG]
  14. SMG
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    SMG New Member

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    Fred, thanks so much for taking the time to help me out. I appreciate your comments more than you know.

    Cool Bic stick shot, seems like it is floating. Did you have to remove any supports in PS afterwards??

    It looks like the arrangement of the lights to the lilght tent will make for a softer light overall. Guess that it makes sense. Time to start reading up on lighting I guess. Any suggestions on where to start??

    Cheers,
    SG
  15. Christie Photo
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    Yeah... it's hanging by sewing thread. Slow morning.

    Pete
  16. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    I have a great idea for the Bic pen. I need to go to the store to buy a prop. I promise I'll post it when it is finished. SMG, I'm still fooling around with #1. My comment was that I thought the background fought for attention with the subject. Below is my first iteration of solution but it isn't right because the purpose of your image was to show a macro shot of the nib and I didn't really do that. My idea was to put just a little line of gold in the image to coordinate with the nib but without dominating the subject. I think it does that OK but I need to spend a little more time to make the serious closeup of the nib. Here's iteration #1:

    [​IMG]
  17. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    Perhaps this is what we're after.

    [​IMG]
  18. SMG
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    SMG New Member

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    Ohhh La La what a nice shot of the nib. The gold lines running down the image aligned with the pen are a nice counterpoint to a very nice macro shot of that nib.

    You do have some good taste in pens, I have to say. :)

    Cheers,
    SG
  19. oldnavy170
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    oldnavy170 New Member

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    Wow, I love these. I am not usually into this type of photo but I have to say that I really enjoyed the pens and the different styles you used. Nice!
  20. fmw
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    fmw New Member

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    Old Navy, Commercial product advertising photography is a craft all its own. Normally, the commercial photographer has specific guidelines from an art director. The photographer has to make an image of a product fit into a preconceived and preplanned presentation. There is plenty of room for creativity but the final image has to fit a rigid layout. You might think of it as still life photography done from a storyboard.

    In my case, I used SMG's photos as the storyboard and recreated them to make similar images that responded to comments I had made about his images. It is very natural for me to take a product and fit it into a preconceived layout. I've done it a jillion times. His images and mine are different even though the subjects are basically the same so there is plenty of room for creativity and personality even though the layouts are the same.

    It is more challenging to do than most photographers think. I love to see print ads just because I appreciate the photography. The shots SMG and I posted here are what I would refer to as typical of catalog photography. Thousands and thousands of catalog shots are made every day by thousands and thousands of commercial photographers. It is actually the largest single part of the photographic industry. Glad to hear you appreciate the images.

    SMG, I got frustrated years ago at the junky Chinese made pens I would buy at the office supply store. I could buy a dozen pens and they wouldn't last a week. So I started buying better ones. Perhaps I went a little overboard. It is a real pleasure to use a great pen - I have about 50 of them. I use all of mine and no longer buy junk pens at the office supply store. When I was a kid in school, the ball point pen hadn't even become popular yet. We all used Esterbrook or Scheaffer fountain pens and had ink wells in our school desks. I guess I never got over it. ;)

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