Quasi Product Photography Lighting setup for forensics

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by madtonic, Nov 16, 2017.

  1. madtonic

    madtonic TPF Noob!

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    I am in police forensics. A small forensics units which is a benefit because I get to set things up how I want it rather than following a standard operating procedure. One of the tasks I have is to photograph seized evidence. I would say this might be a lot like product photography except my “products” might be a knife, gun, or some other random object. I take these photos in an area of my lab that I have specifically designed for photos.

    The current setup is a 6’ wide by 2’ deep countertop mounted about 20 inches off the ground. The surface and background is a white corrugated plastic sheet.

    My current lighting is an on camera Nikon SB5000. I shoot almost everything at f8- f11, handheld, ISO 400, flash in TTL mode with it bouncing off the ceiling. The main differemce between most product photography and what I am doing is 90% of my photos must be taken directly overhead at 90 degrees straight down with a ruler to provide context. Angles are a no no and only the occasional photo will be taken from the front with the object standing vertical.

    So I know others may not care but I just hate using an one camera flash. I love the freedom of just holding the camera only to take shots. I can get hold of two super cheap sb800 that work and a I have a set of radio controllers or Nikon SU800 from the R1C1 kit. I am wondering what people think of purchasing wall mounted extensions that would be place at the left and right side of the table, mount the Sb800 with one on either side covered with those cheap small speed light soft boxes you see on eBay. The 12” square ones. Lights would be above and to either side of the item I am photographing.

    I am curious what some might think of this setup before I pick up the equipment and if there are other suggestions. I don’t need or want the Cadillac of lighting systems. A single on camera flash does work. I am just looking for the ease of a more permenant system that is 1. Affordable because I spent my budget on some really awesome camera goodies 2. Takes into account the limited space I have (no room for large soft boxes or floor space for light stands). I also want to leave it setup all the time so small setups won’t get in my way when working in my crammed forensic lab; and 3. Will give me more freedom to just hold the camera without a flash. I do not want to use the SB5000 in the setup because that will be in my go bag. I want to have the whole setup ready to rock when I need it.

    Other option that I have zero experience with is LED continuous lighting. Could I used the same type of setup but with two large 500 light LED panels like you see on Amazon all the time? I don’t know the amount of light that these produce and if handholding shutter speeds will be possible when shooting at f8 and f11.

    One option I am not interested in is non LCD lights. I have those on my copy stand and frankly I feel like I’m roasting in an oven when I’m using them. High ISO is also not an option. I take all normal photos at 400 and analytical 1:1 photos at 100. I won’t go higher than that.

    I hope I have been detailed but fire away if you have questions. Haven’t posted lots but have been reading the forum for years and value the opinions of others. My skills and equipment development can be attributed to the info I have here. Thanks.


     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Sounds like a pair of SB 800 flashes fired through a pair of small, 12-inch softboxes ought to provide plenty of light for such a documentary/evidence-based type of shooting setup. Flash is always good for the hand-holding factor, and with two flashes, you might be able to stop down to f/13-ish if needed at ISO 400 to 500 or 640, for anything that requires a bit more depth of field to get into crisp focus. The SB 800 has an optical slave mode if needed or if desired,or you can use the radio remote. As for mounting the flashes and softboxes: photographic clamps or umbrella swivel mounts, whatever type of grip equipment you need could be used. There are many types of clamps and mounts and extensions with ways to attach lighting equipment, based off of say the 5/8 inch "spigot", or 1/4 x 20 National Coarse threads, etc..
     
  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Unfortunately, the good stuff is fairly expensive. If you can afford to get two of these stands, you get the adjustability of height and the arm gives you the ability to position the lights pretty much anywhere in relation to the object.

    I conducted a brief online search for an "accordion" or "scissor" style of lamp holder, but I don't think they will be strong enough to hold a speedlight with small modifier.

    Your best option might be more like what a professional photographer would use, so I will link to this one:

    https://www.amazon.com/Flashpoint-C...=UTF8&qid=1510922200&sr=8-5&keywords=c-stands

    I will advise you to stick with electronic flash because the light is very white in color, and "normal" for photography in general. You don't want to go introducing light that is not exactly white, and have the defense attorney make it an issue.

    You can probably fire the two flashes with one receiver by putting the other flash in "slave mode". Or put both flashes in slave mode, and fire them using the built-in flash. If you want flat, very even light, having two flashes opposite each other will do it. This is not how we would choose to do product photography, but I understand the need to keep the light uniform.
     
  4. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I suggest getting a couple Manfrotto articulating arms, or magic arms, and some super clamps. The magic arms hold more weight but shorter. The 196 articulated arm will hold a flash and any basic light modifier just fine. All you need is a super clamp at the bottom end. Use that to clamp to a pipe or even 2x2 screwed to the wall (or edge of table) or anything else about 2 1/2" or less. And can adjust the entire arm up and down. I have 2-Magic arms and several clamps. They also make a 3 section articulated arm with slightly lower payload but longer reach. But again good enough for a flash and modifier.

    https://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-196B-2-2-Section-Articulated-Bracket/dp/B000OPWSYM

    https://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-244-Variable-Friction-Bracket/dp/B000J4FONU

    https://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-03...pID=51Qwszxkv2L&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
     
  5. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  6. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    They wont be good for long items like rifles, axes, pipes, etc. The SB-R200's do come with little stands that have a screw recess on the bottom. So they can be mounted off the ring. But if your going to go through that trouble, might as well have a couple real flashes too. Just leave them on the arms out of the way till you need them. SB-R200's cannot be mounted directly to anything but the ring or the special feet. They don't have a hot shoe foot. They only work CLS too!

    I have a kit with 2 extra SB-R200's for a total of 4 lights. That's max the lenses can take weight wise. The ring will hold up to 8 though.
     
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  7. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    How about an LED strip light attached to plywood plank.
    Easy to build and cheap to buy.
    Mount camera on tripod.
     

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