Taking product shots of flowers - advice needed

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Overread, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Ok so my dad has this great plan to get a load of free photos and guess which muggins pulled the short straw for providing them :er:

    However whilst I have tried a few test shots, from a technical standpoint they were ok, but overall they were lacking (in my eyes) with presentation. Furthermore there is the added problem that I didn't quite know what I should be presenting and nor was my father after a specific look to the output.
    So its very much in my hands to sort this, but I don't know what I am trying to show.

    For an idea these are the sort of flower images that you see on the little lables that contain name, image and sometimes a few other little detials on potplants when you are in the shops. Limitations on me are that I am often dealing with single plants in a pot rather than multiple samples in a bed of earth or close packed (read hidable) pots. So the slightly wider angle views that appear popular are not quite as possible for me to produce - certainly not on a production line scale (there are apparently a good few 100 he wants shots of).
    So compositionally I am a bit lost and would welcome some input in that regard.

    Next of the technical - I am thinking a lighttent setup with a diffused background (a few rocks, green stuff - stuff that will give a little shape save for pure green, but won't distract and might be changed around a little for variety within the shots). After that custom white balance and a circular polarizer to help ensure that the flowers come out as authentic as possible. Of course this setup is based on me getting up close and personal with my macro lens and might no be quite what is suitable for the composition/presentation of these plants so might require some revision.

    So if anyone has any advice/input I would greatly appreciate it.
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Keep in mind that a very dark background will tend to make the colors look very lovely, white the extreme contrast between a white background and many delicate flower shades will tend to make the flowers appear pale and washed out. In my experience, the small plastic identification tags that are tucked into bedding and vegetable plants are almost universally done against a black background if done in-studio. That makes the greens and the colors look lovely. A solid dark black background is also very simple. Quite a few people who photograph orchids do so against basically black backdrops, lighting the stems and blossoms with multiple flash units. Working in a semi-darkened room, they can illuminate only the foreground areas, and send the backdrops into darkness by combo of low ISO, smallish aperture,and fast shutter speed.

    Have you considered shooting on a regular kitchen type or folding table, with a large sheet of dark vinyl flooring clamped to the front edge of the table and then suspended in the back, tacked or clamped to a wall, so that you have a nice, smooth,wide "sweep" of dark vinyl as a seamless background? That would allow you to prop the set with a few small piles of rock, or a small bit of ornate border fencing, or a garden tool like a claw soil aerator and a pair of gardening gloves, and would stand up to the spilled dirt and small amounts of water that always seem to accompany potted plants.

    My brother ran a plant nursery/truck garden for almost 15 years...the greenhouses had lovely,softy,diffused lighting inside them--excellent light for photography for hours at a stretch. Maybe I am not understanding what,exactly, the photos are--are they for the web? Sales circulars? Catalogue of stock on hand? I am thinking that what you want is a good,simple area with a seamless background, a scant few props (if indeed, any props at all) and good, simple lighting on the foreground subject, and minimal spill light on the background. I think a gridded softbox would be a decent main light.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The shots are mostly for a catalogue of stock and the little tags on the plants themselves - so really just presentation of the plant itself is what is the intent, with a clear focus on the head of course (or upon multiple heads). I was thinking for a generally dull greeny sort of background (a few moss covered stones infact) which when suitably blurred would have a little tonal variation so not to be totally monocoloured, but suitably diffused so not to be a bother. I'm not really thinking big scale shots here with additional features, mearly product presentation. Lighting at my end is mostly a softbox (large lumiquest is the biggest I have) and a single flash with the tent giving lighting from other angles (and yes the big tunnel domes do give nice soft lighting).
    However if you are going to encourage more studio gear I'm all ears for new toys and ideas

    The totally black backgrounds is an option and could be a good idea as I could mix that with heavy editing should the rim of the flowerpot start to be to evident in the shot (though idealy I would get the shots without it).
     
  4. LearnMyShot

    LearnMyShot TPF Noob!

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