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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 24 Jan 2018 (Wednesday) 10:29
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Shooting white on white

 
AshikChauhan
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Jan 24, 2018 10:29 |  #1

Hi Everyone,

I need to shoot some photos of some white rope handle paper bags against a white background. Just wondering if anyone had any tips on shooting these so they come out correctly?

I've got three lights to light my product. I was going to be shooting on my 24-70 f2.8 lens. I will be using a high aperture so they stand out & are all in focus.

Any tips would be useful.

Thank you!



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Wilt
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Post edited 6 months ago by Wilt. (3 edits in all)
     
Jan 24, 2018 10:42 |  #2

Just to gain a bit of real experience rather than trying to simply memorize what a bunch of different people say (and which apparently conflicts with each other),


  1. take a white towel with texture, and illuminate it from perhaps a 45 degree angle with a unmodified small light source
  2. Meter the towel with your camera in Partial or Spot mode, and the resultant suggested reading will record your white towel as dingy gray (18% tonality)
  3. Now take a series of photos in perhaps 1/2EV increments: e.g. +0.5, +1.0, +1.5, +2.0, +2.5EV, +3.0EV, +3.5EV

Now in your PC examine the resulting photos and determine which of the above 8 shots results in

  • just perceivable detail in the towel
  • no perceivable detail in the towel


And now you know that for THAT type of lighting where to target your exposure...AT (or a small fraction below) the 'perceivable detail' detail step...the no-detail is totally blown out and useless for what you need to do! If your lighting is less contrasty, or if it is at a different angle to the towel, the threshhold of detail will be different. So if you still see detail at +3.0EV above the '18% gray' reading of the towel, you can try to shoot and chimp photos of some of the actual items, to verify that you capture and see the necessary detail in your tone-on-tone item being photographed.

Also keep in mind a fundamental principle...if you light your subject with ONE light, and the illumination from that light also falls upon the background, the background will not be 'as bright as' the main subject when it is any distance farther from the light source. So even if your rope bag was identical to the backdrop in inherent tonality, the backdropwill be somewhat darker than the bag and 'separated' from the subject by the tonal difference (I am assuming the bag is not literally laying upon the surface of the backdrop) .

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AshikChauhan
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Jan 24, 2018 10:52 as a reply to  @ Wilt's post |  #3

Hi,

Thanks for your response.

When you said

Now take a series of photos in perhaps 1/2EV increments: e.g. +0.5, +1.0, +1.5, +2.0, +2.5EV, +3.0EV, +3.5EV, does that mean changing my exposure? What exactly on my exposure am I changing?

I am more better at travel & portraits compared to products. I also don't know what you mean by partial or spot mode.



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BigAl007
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Jan 24, 2018 11:22 |  #4

AshikChauhan wrote in post #18548000 (external link)
Hi,

Thanks for your response.

When you said

Now take a series of photos in perhaps 1/2EV increments: e.g. +0.5, +1.0, +1.5, +2.0, +2.5EV, +3.0EV, +3.5EV, does that mean changing my exposure? What exactly on my exposure am I changing?

I am more better at travel & portraits compared to products. I also don't know what you mean by partial or spot mode.


I don't want to be mean, but this is the absolute basics of photography. If you really don't know how to adjust your exposure up or down by fixed EV steps, or the basics of how your camera metering system works, should you really be selling photographic services at all?

I would suggest getting hold of a copy of Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure, which will take you through everything you need to know. I would also suggest that the manual for your camera would make a good companion to Understanding Exposure, since it will then give you specifics on how your camera's settings work.

Just to give you a little more useful info, 1EV is equivalent to changing the exposure by one stop.

Alan


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Wilt
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Post edited 6 months ago by Wilt.
     
Jan 24, 2018 11:28 |  #5

AshikChauhan wrote in post #18548000 (external link)
Hi,

Thanks for your response.

When you said

Now take a series of photos in perhaps 1/2EV increments: e.g. +0.5, +1.0, +1.5, +2.0, +2.5EV, +3.0EV, +3.5EV, does that mean changing my exposure? What exactly on my exposure am I changing?

I am more better at travel & portraits compared to products. I also don't know what you mean by partial or spot mode.

Of course you are changing exposure, so that your white object is getting lighter and lighter in recorded tonality in each successive shot, unitl it is blown out and without detail.
If you instead put a person in a white shirt in front of the lens (rather than a towl), their skin and their white shirt would progress from dingy gray to white to blown out overexposure.
Change your exposure by whatever means is necessary to increase the amount of light getting to the sensor...f/stop or shutter or light intensity or ISO, are all useful methods.


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Jan 24, 2018 12:34 |  #6

If the background has to be white, then the 'white' of the handle will have to be exposed properly so it won't be overlit and blend with the background.

first set your light for the background and light it so it is the white you want.

Then set the bag in there and adjust that lighting and distance to the background to be the proper exposure to show up against that white background. This may involve gobos, grids, and knowing the inverse square law to make sure you don't add light to the background, loosing the separation you need to make this work. knowing f stops and exposure inside and out helps too. Where the light placement is, and what type of light you have, will have as much affect as how much light you use... White on white (aka high key) is about where the shadows fall.


Product photography is a whole nuther country compared to macro, sports, landscape and portrait photography. Well worth getting some good books from Amazon if you wish to pursue this type of photography. Certainly it will improve any photographers skills overall if you take it serious.


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Jan 24, 2018 13:15 |  #7

I just shot a cream colored blanket with hard source about 60 degrees above the blanket. First shot was gray card to establish color temp and baseline exposure (ISO 400, 1/45 f/5.6) All successive shots were white balanced to the LR eyedropper off the gray card. (For this quick'n'dirty example, I was in a poor environment of mixed light, with window light coming in as well as the overhead halogen and the intensity of the windowlight varied across the photo!)

Shot 11 and shot 1 were both at ISO 400, 1/45 f/5.6 baseline. Every other shot was in +0.5EV increments of increased exposure, altering shutter speed. I show a series of close crops of the full frame, so that you can see detail and judge where the detail of the blank becomes invisible...that is too much exposure! Based upon that, I would say that the limit of overexposure is about +2.0EV to +2.5EV above baseline gray card exposure.

IMAGE: http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i63/wiltonw/Principles/Exposure%20steps_zpsldzd26xu.jpg

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Jan 24, 2018 13:19 |  #8

AshikChauhan wrote in post #18547983 (external link)
I will be using a high aperture so they stand out & are all in focus.

Any tips would be useful.

Thank you!

"I will be using a SMALL aperture (a big f/stop number) so they stand out & are all in focus."


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Jan 25, 2018 08:21 |  #9

ksbal wrote in post #18548087 (external link)
If the background has to be white, then the 'white' of the handle will have to be exposed properly so it won't be overlit and blend with the background.

first set your light for the background and light it so it is the white you want.

Then set the bag in there and adjust that lighting and distance to the background to be the proper exposure to show up against that white background. This may involve gobos, grids, and knowing the inverse square law to make sure you don't add light to the background, loosing the separation you need to make this work. knowing f stops and exposure inside and out helps too. Where the light placement is, and what type of light you have, will have as much affect as how much light you use... White on white (aka high key) is about where the shadows fall.


Product photography is a whole nuther country compared to macro, sports, landscape and portrait photography. Well worth getting some good books from Amazon if you wish to pursue this type of photography. Certainly it will improve any photographers skills overall if you take it serious.


The above is good advice.

1. Set up your background, figure out what aperture you'll need to get the whole product in focus, and light the background so it is properly exposed at that aperture. Note that in this case, "properly exposed" probably means full clipping to white. You can maybe do this with one light, but two lights will likely give more consistent results.

2. Place your product in the shot. It'll need to be far enough away from the background that the background lights don't affect the product. Take some test shots without adding additional lights, to make sure the background lights don't inappropriately light the product. Add flags or gobos as necessary.

3. Use your remaining light(s) to light the product. Hard lights will show off more texture, but may give unwanted hard shadows on the surroundings. For a blown-out background and a simple non-reflective product, a single well-placed main/front light might be just fine.


You're fortunate that paper bags are pretty easy. When the client comes back with a glossy porcelain sculpture, a bottle of wine, or a steaming cheese pizza, you're in trouble.

Invest in a copy of "Understanding Exposure" and a copy of "Light: Science & Magic," and read them and practice and re-read them until you understand.


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AshikChauhan
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Jan 25, 2018 08:46 as a reply to  @ nathancarter's post |  #10

Hi All,

Thank you everyone for the tips.

The lucky thing is as well as photography, i have a full time job at parent's company & they are who I am doing the photos for. I am fortunate I can try as many times as needed.

I do understand my exposure but I am reading it all over again so I have it in my head. I will try the 3 tips mentioned above.

I used to always keep the product right next to the backdrop but having it far away is good advice.

The paper bags are in different colours so pink, black, white, grey & lilac so I have plenty of colours to experiment with & try out.

I will post some images here so you can all offer some input.

Thanks!



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AshikChauhan
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Jan 25, 2018 09:16 |  #11

I am having quite a bit of trouble with shooting these products so I have decided to just go ahead & give it to a professional to do.

Thanks everyone for the help!



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Jan 25, 2018 09:55 |  #12

Another thing that perhaps hasn't been mentioned yet, is that the automatic modes and the camera's meter WILL NOT WORK for this style of photography. Off-camera flash, manually controlled flash power, and blown-out white backgrounds are extremely confusing to the camera's meter and all of its automatic modes.

Ignore the meter, use fully manual settings on the camera and flashes, and use the "blinkies" (Highlight Alert Enable) and the histogram to make sure your exposure is exactly what you need.


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AshikChauhan
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Jan 25, 2018 10:04 as a reply to  @ nathancarter's post |  #13

Thank you for your message. I am giving the job to a professional as I am having a lot of trouble with this.



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Jan 25, 2018 10:32 |  #14

AshikChauhan wrote in post #18548585 (external link)
Thank you for your message. I am giving the job to a professional as I am having a lot of trouble with this.

I suggest that although a pro photographer has been brought in to do this, YOU WATCH what they do, and try to learn as much as you can about technique simply by watching.

I also suggest that YOU TRY to photograph a few items, mimicing the photographer's own methods used for that object, to see IF you can replicate what he achieved, even in a more basic form that he/she did.

(But also keep in mind that 'professional' is a word that only impies 'paid to do this', and the person you are watching sadly might not be all that much of an expert in shooting textiles or products and lighting them to best presentation.)


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Feb 01, 2018 04:53 as a reply to  @ Wilt's post |  #15

I sort of feel like I have accepted defeat in the fact that I can't do the images myself.

I am good with my travel & portrait but can't do products at all. If I can do one thing should I always be good at everything or does it vary?

There is a local photography studio down the road from me so going there to get the photos taken.

Thanks everyone for the help!



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Shooting white on white
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