Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Project 60

As anticipated this proved to be an extremely frustrating project to complete, although ultimately quite a lot of fun and definitely very educational.  Although the learning so far is to never attempt to photograph a highly polished surface ever gain unless threats of violence are involved.

I selected a small stove top espresso coffee maker with a highly chrome finish.  First of all I placed it onto a black felt surface and too a simply shot as a starter

Canon EOS 5D2, 50mm, f/8, 1/60s, ISO 100

The camera was fixed on a tripod and I used a couple of 11W low energy florescent lights on extensible arms as lighting.  These are quite bright but without any modification created a very ugly shine on the coffee pot.  Over the next few shots I have continued to use these lights, either directly, or bounced off the ceiling of my studio.  Keeping the aperture at f/8 and ISO at 100, I had a variation in shutter speed from 1.60s to 8s, depending upon the lighting position and intervening diffusion material

My next move was to place the coffee pot in a light tent that already own, this was easier than using tracing paper, but would achieve the same thing without waste.  This is the result

The reflection of the light is very much improved and the tonal gradation in the reflection is much better, however the blue floor of the tent is clearly visible as is the tripod.  My next move was to try and get rid of the blue mat, but also to light the tent to create a softer reflection on the top of the coffee pot

I have also adjusted the camera angle for a lower aspect, again trying to improve the reflections.  At this stage I have not tried to hide the camera yet and both it, the tripod and I am clear in the reflection.  In the next image I have covered the opening in the light tent with tracing paper and cut a hole for the camera

This is much better, but I did not like the black felt reflected in the coffee pot, so in the next image changed to a white surface:

This is very much better, however, the camera is still visible in the reflections - PHOTOSHOP

At this point I have progressed a long way from my first image and spent much time and effort playing with tripods and bits of paper.  However, the result is still far from what I would want, the reflection is still intrusive and it is clear that the pot is inside some sort of a tent.  

I think the biggest improvement that I could make at this stage would be to replace the surface under the coffee pot with something translucent and to light from below in such a way as to blow our the background.  An infinity curve could help here.  I would also look at add a light tent with a spherical rather than square shape to reduce the reflections.  Moving from continuous light to far more powerful studio flash might gain more control and again enable me to blow out the background.

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