I have kind of fallen into being the photographer at work. We build and run big experiments and they're difficult to photograph. Partly because of how they're made and partly because of the lack of space. I like to use strobes to limit distracting elements and also to keep any other IP sensitive stuff out of the shot. Most of these experiments are made of acrylic (plexiglass) and they usually make for glare city when you start putting lights on it. I usually rely on having the lights at an extreme angle (usually very high pointing down) to keep reflections out or I have the light really close and use the acrylic itself to diffuse the light.
Coming up with examples of this is difficult as most of the stuff we do is owned by the client, however I have a couple to share to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Hopefully I can get some tips or suggestions on lighting.
The first photo is our water channel. It is about 12m (40ft) long and about 2m wide and the glass section is about 1.5m off the ground. I only had a couple hours to cleanup and set this shot. I have 3 Elinchrom d-lite on the floor right up against the glass shooting into the channel (you can see the on the left) and one with me up on the platform about 10m in the air. The softboxes are the 2x2ft shallow ones. I used some really heavy grad filters in lightroom on the sides to cover up some of the othere experiments and distractions. I'm not sure what I could have done differently to take this photo besides using the ambient light with no flash. But I think it doesn't look very good because everything looks really flat and there are lots of reflections from the lights on the ceiling (which are off in this photo although the room is not dark).
The second photo is of the pump system. Three lights, one on camera right and another on camera left to get coverage and the third is lighting up the glass on the far left. All the lights are fairly high up to avoid seeing reflections in the glass. You can see the hotspot the light on the far left made on the steel beam at the top. I think for this I would rather have had softer lights, but I couldn't move the lights further away due to space restrictions. And I didn't want to have a ton of spill... I was thinking about getting bigger soft boxes with possibly grids... thoughts?IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/23xcXMC work photos (4) by Greg Petroski, on Flickr
This photo is of a laser measuring device. It is used for getting velocity data and it also looks pretty cool because of the intersecting lasers. I exposed to get the lasers nice and bright along with seeing a bit of motion in the pipe flow. I used one d-lite about 4 feet above the pipe pointing down sent to really low power so you can actually see the pipe... Without it the pipe is almost invisible. Going high and pointing down keeps the reflections off. This thing is 25mm expanding to 50mm diameter. You're seeing about 30cm of pipe length. The circular black thing on the left is the laser emitter head. With refracting light in most stuff the light will be brightest at about 35 degrees off the axis of the laser, hence the angle of the camera I have chosen. This photo I'm actually pretty happy with as just an interesting looking photo... But if you've got some recommendations for improving it I'd like to hear.IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/23xcXQo work photos (1) by Greg Petroski, on Flickr
And this last one is the other type of photography I do here. Taking studio style shots of smaller components. This thing is about 60cm tall. I have to think back but I think I was using two lights on either side and maybe one speedlight. Except for making it look less crooked (which I don't think it is but it sure looks like it) I'm not sure how to improve. This one was fairly easy because it is a dull colour. Sometimes the pieces are very reflective and/or transparent making them difficult to photograph. Might be useful to have a larger softbox?IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/23fMv54 work photos (5) by Greg Petroski, on Flickr
I've only really used the equipment I own or what I have a work which is rather limited. I'm allowed to get some more items so I'm thinking about getting a big softbox but I'm not sure if that's the right choice as I've never personally used one. I am going to get a couple more speedlights as I find them handy for getting a little bit of light really close to certain features that I want to highlight. I also use them to trigger the d-lites with the optical slave and I use a yongnuo transceiver to control the output of the speedlight. Handy when I stick them in a difficult to reach location... I know these photos are kinda boring as far as creativity goes but I want to try and improve. The amount of research that takes place that completely lacks decent photos is really sad. I'm lacking in studio skills as this is just a hobby for me and I normally only take pictures of cars and racing! Any tips of ideas would be helpful.