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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 10 Jun 2009 (Wednesday) 19:16
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Playing around with new lighting gear. Need opinion!

 
nicksan
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Jun 10, 2009 19:16 |  #1

Hello folks,

Thanks to members in here I have put together my lighting set up this past weekend. I have been playing around with it for the last few days in preparation for a shoot I will be doing on the weekend which involved shooting musical instruments.

So I figured why not practice on my guitar!

After struggle though some lighting configuration, I managed to arrive at something decent, I guess...

Thanks to all who have helped me along this process!

Please C & C. I really need it and I can take it with the best of them!:D
(Aside from the guitar stand as a distraction and the wrinkled up Muslin...)

IMAGE: http://nicksan.zenfolio.com/img/v0/p290221893-5.jpg

A full bodied shot proved much more challenging than the above. This is all I could muster...
IMAGE: http://nicksan.zenfolio.com/img/v5/p791624516-5.jpg

Configuration:
Guitar about 5 feet away on the first shot and 3 feet away on the second shot from the BG. No room for more. Genesis 200 with shoot through umbrella half opened about 3 feet away camera right at the side of the guitar, perhaps pointed a little towards the BG. Genesis 200 bare, camera left, 7' high, pointed down towards the right side of the guitar in an attempt to fill in the darker area around there. Various reflectors for highlighting the guitar surface.



  
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vtecnturbo
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Jun 10, 2009 19:40 |  #2

I am in the same boat as you just got my light set up i will set it up tomorrow.
the shots look good.
the hardest part is the reflection off the glaze


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Gentleman ­ Villain
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Jun 10, 2009 21:40 as a reply to  @ vtecnturbo's post |  #3
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Guitar's like that are a bit tricky to shoot properly...

If a photographer chooses a large and soft light source, then the highly reflective parts of the guitar come out looking really good, but the soft light source on the glossy finish of the guitar makes the wood grain appear dull. So, the overall image will look kinda milky and mushy. The way to make a beautiful wood grain is to use direct lighting. But direct lighting doesn't look good on the highly reflective surfaces. For example, the frets would go jet black if lit with a direct source. So, there needs to be a compromise.

In the studio, I would approach this problem by first lighting for the highly reflective surfaces. I would place large and even light sources at perfect angles to get long beautiful gradations in the frets and other highly reflective surfaces of the guitar. Next, depending on the angle, I might use a polarizer to dial out some of the milky highlights of the glossy finish over the wood grain. Then I would make an exposure for a controlled highlight in the reflections and this would probably leaves the overall shot appearing dark as if it's underexposed by a stop or two. This is good...because then I will come in with direct light sources (like grids or fresnels) to highlight the wood grain of the guitar. I would choose a normal exposure for the direct light sources. It's also possible to light paint the wood grain with a direct source (even a flashlight would work) A warming gel (maybe even a full CTO) could look really good on the wood grain.

Basically, it takes two different types of light sources to adequately cover a guitar like that....It requires large soft sources to handle the highly reflective surfaces (like frets and tuning keys)....and direct sources to bring out the wood grain. Depending on the angle, a polarizer might be necessary to tone down some of the reflections from the large soft source that would wash out the wood grain....and two different types of exposures would need to be made...one exposure would be dark for the lights covering the reflective surfaces and another exposure would be normal for the wood grain.

That probably makes absolutely no sense. It's hard to explain in writing. I've thought about doing a tutorial for this type of lighting scenario before and that's probably the only way to really teach it. But basically, it's not possible to effectively light a guitar like that with just one kind of soft or hard source. It takes a combination of the two sources.




  
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aram535
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Jun 11, 2009 06:24 |  #4

I've had similar issues with circuit boards. What I ended up doing was actually taking two photos and combining them in photoshop. Lighting Group A for the reflective parts, and Lighting Group B for the rest.

Use the Group B photos as the main and combine in Group A photo with mask. One important lesson learned is that don't leave the PocketWizard in the hot shoe as changing the lighting group may move the camera, use a PC or hot shoe cable.


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nicksan
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Jun 11, 2009 09:49 |  #5

So is it THAT bad?
:-(




  
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Gentleman ­ Villain
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Jun 11, 2009 10:13 |  #6
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nicksan wrote in post #8090019 (external link)
So is it THAT bad?
:-(

I think your shot looks at the same level as most guitar catalogs :D That's a good thing since it doesn't really need to be any better and still sell to most clients and viewers. It's sad that photo discussions often make people feel like their work is inadequate. I hate that fact about C&C...In fact, the whole idea of public C&C is probably bad. That's why I don't usually post comments at POTN directly about specific work. The guitar photos are just as good as most catalogs and ads IMHO :D




  
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nicksan
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Jun 11, 2009 10:20 |  #7

I didn't ask whether it was "that bad" in offense to any C & C. Not at all. In fact I welcome C & C and I find it absolutely helpful!!!

I realize there are others that get easily offended. I am not one of those people. I know my place. I mean, I've just started out with the lighting thing this past weekend! So trust me, I KNOW I am inadequate and all I want to do is act like a sponge, and absorb as much knowledge as I can! :D

It's good to know that the shot is "catalogue quality"! That's actually what I am looking for because I will be shooting instruments for sale for someone who owns a music school. As he gets new ones in, he wants to sell used ones at a great discount.

I probably didn't make that too clear. Sorry about that.

I will be shooting Cellos, violins, etc...and some of these instruments don't have as much "shine" as this guitar. I'll also be shooting brass and wind instruments which probably would be more challenging.

Keep the C & C coming...PLEASE!:D

Gentleman Villain wrote in post #8090155 (external link)
I think your shot looks at the same level as most guitar catalogs :D That's a good thing since it doesn't really need to be any better and still sell to most clients and viewers. It's sad that photo discussions often make people feel like their work is inadequate. I hate that fact about C&C...In fact, the whole idea of public C&C is probably bad. That's why I don't usually post comments at POTN directly about specific work. The guitar photos are just as good as most catalogs and ads IMHO :D




  
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shooterman
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Jun 11, 2009 11:11 |  #8

That Gibson Howard Roberts is a beauty! :)


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nicksan
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Jun 11, 2009 11:45 |  #9

Thanks!

It's not everyday you see one, though they did release a newer semi-hollow one quite a while ago.

It's got great tone and I just love the way it sounds. Also notice the headstock, very Epiphone like...but it is indeed a genuine Gibson.

shooterman wrote in post #8090502 (external link)
That Gibson Howard Roberts is a beauty! :)




  
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snyderman
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Jun 11, 2009 14:01 |  #10

Nice Gibson! Personally, I think your shot is pretty good. It's the high-gloss finish on most guitars that would really present the challence. Maybe try taking some shots with the guitar tilted slightly away from the main light source? Just an idea to try rather than at a perfect direct-on approach.

dave


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nicksan
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Jun 11, 2009 14:32 |  #11

Thanks.
Actually the high gloss look was done on purpose by placing white foam boards at appropriate locations relative the the light and camera.

The main light is actually to the side of the guitar. This was done to minimize it casting shadows on the BG.

I was wondering if the high gloss look isn't all that nice?

snyderman wrote in post #8091485 (external link)
Nice Gibson! Personally, I think your shot is pretty good. It's the high-gloss finish on most guitars that would really present the challence. Maybe try taking some shots with the guitar tilted slightly away from the main light source? Just an idea to try rather than at a perfect direct-on approach.

dave




  
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george ­ m ­ w
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Jun 12, 2009 11:18 |  #12

Nicksan,
As a shot to use in 'for sale' ads I think it looks terrific. If you were looking for something that is creative and artistic, then I'd probably do something different, like shoot from an angle, get some shadows going etc. Since you said these are for a client that is selling this stuff, then I'd say you're gonna make them very happy.


regards, george w

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Jun 12, 2009 11:33 |  #13

nicksan wrote in post #8091671 (external link)
Thanks.
Actually the high gloss look was done on purpose by placing white foam boards at appropriate locations relative the the light and camera.

The main light is actually to the side of the guitar. This was done to minimize it casting shadows on the BG.

I was wondering if the high gloss look isn't all that nice?

High gloss is good, just make sure you use large reflectors and light sources to fill the reflection, or shoot so that the angle of incidence won't show the lightsource/reflective surface in the camera. Also, I'd recommend losing the background altogether. Try and shoot enough light onto the guitar--and far enough away from the background--that everything not being exposed by the strobe will then fall into shadow (fade to black). Then the guitar will be the only thing in the frame.


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symbolphoto
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Jun 12, 2009 11:40 |  #14

Yeah i mean as a guitar player, i want to see the front on shot. With a nice reflection highlighting the body curvature.

And secondly i want a detail shot on the grain, especially if the grain varies. Not so much on these acoustics, but like a les paul shot, grain is very, very important. It totally decides the price of the guitar. Unless it's painted of course.




  
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Jun 12, 2009 11:46 as a reply to  @ Cathpah's post |  #15

My eye isn't trained for proper C&C but I can give you a casual consumer opinion . . . .

Overall the shot looks great. The body of the guitar looks fantastic but I can't see the neck/fret area much at all. I also feel straight up like that looks a little too perfect or "clinical." Perhaps angling it a little would make it more interesting (tilting left or right and twisting it a few degrees). If you are doing multiple "poses" I feel a close up shot across the bridge, catching some body and the strings around it, with a heavy bokeh, would look good too.


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Playing around with new lighting gear. Need opinion!
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