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Archive 2011 · Product Photo
  
 
st33ve0
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p.1 #1 · Product Photo


Hey all. I'm new here, but it sure seems like a nice community full of knowledgeable folks and hopefully I can learn a lot here. I've been into photography for just over a year and personally think this is one of my better shots, but I'm curious how it stacks up.


True Master Key by st33ve0, on Flickr



Jan 01, 2012 at 03:38 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #2 · Product Photo


First, welcome. Couldnt wait until 2012 to sign up?

Strong, simple, clean comp. I like the diagonal orientation of the key elements, the way the lock points toward the axe, and the implied relationship. I wish the Pelican Case label was not upside down and reversed. I suspect the image works best with this orientation, but if you were "posing" it, I would have changed that. Not sure its worth the effort, but you could do some PS work to re-orient the sign.

Looking forward to seeing more.
And, BTW, how do you like the case?

Scott



Jan 01, 2012 at 03:43 AM
st33ve0
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p.1 #3 · Product Photo


I like the case fine, wish I had a larger one like what I'm planning to get for my rifles. That case holds 10x USGI AR15 magazines fully loaded like it was made for it. The way the case is positioned in the photo the lock hasp would be toward the viewer, but I do see your point on the logo.


Jan 01, 2012 at 03:45 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #4 · Product Photo


Its a minor nit.
You get those here on Critique.
Scott



Jan 01, 2012 at 03:48 AM
st33ve0
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p.1 #5 · Product Photo


It's all good, I appreciate the critique.

I was surprised how well my EF-S 60mm macro lens did on this shot with just a single light through an umbrella. Though I'm eying either the 45mm or 90mm TS-E lens for some product shots in the future

My 17-40L and the 60mm macro both resolve terribly at f/22 and somewhat at f/16...



Jan 01, 2012 at 03:54 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #6 · Product Photo


Not sure why you would want to shoot with the 17-40 so stopped down.
Disappointing to hear that the macro lens doenst do better at f16, but I have never used that lens.



Jan 01, 2012 at 12:38 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #7 · Product Photo


Welcome to FM !!!

I checked compared the EF-S 60 macro @ f16 to the 45 & 90 TS-E's as well as the Tamron 90 Macro and the Sigma 105 Macro @ TDP and ... WOW, the EF-S is a "DOG" looking at the test shots.

I've been one to suggest that you need to account for diffraction, but I don't recall seeing a "quality OEM" lens respond this badly to stopping down ... ever.

Here's a link that you can interactively compare various lens crops side by side, as well as putting the same lens at different apertures side by side (mouseover to see the diff).

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=349&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=6&LensComp=335&CameraComp=474&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=6

www.slrgear.com is another site I like using when comparing glass and if you like that focal length, the Sigma 70 Macro might be worth checking out.

Even though you are shooting on a crop body ... I HIGHLY recommend using glass designed for FF image circle and not the EF-S glass small image circle (boring technical trigonometry/physics theory) if you are planning on stopping down (fewer penalty inducements).


















Edited on Jan 01, 2012 at 04:16 PM · View previous versions



Jan 01, 2012 at 04:07 PM
st33ve0
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p.1 #8 · Product Photo


Very cool, thanks. The reason I shot so stopped down with the 17-40L on a few occasions was wanting max DoF on a close up product shot [taken at an angle, really wish I had the TS], and on the other wanting the longest shutter speed possible in daylight [waterfall]. Here are a couple of the images with the 17-40L, they look ok on the web which is fine, but at 100% I'm not terribly happy with them and now I know not to stop down so much on these lenses


VTAC/5.11 Viking Axe by st33ve0, on Flickr


Amicalola Falls by st33ve0, on Flickr



Jan 01, 2012 at 04:15 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #9 · Product Photo


Stopping down (while it does induce diffraction) isn't the end of the world when you need the DOF or shutter speed. It is mostly when you are striving for optimal sharpness that f16/f22 becomes such a detriment (i.e. product photography) ... and thus you need a lens that is designed well to help minimize the diffraction.

I had never looked at the EF-S 60 before (I shoot FF) but had heard people say good things about it ... I was blown away (sample variation ) by the test shot. That combined with your complaint it sounds like you can't always trust what you "hear" ...

Here's an excerpt from www.slrgear.com on the EF-S 60
http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/138/cat/10

As you'd expect from a prime, the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro delivers superior sharpness over a wide range of aperture settings. Wide open, its just a little on the soft side, but just one stop down at f/4, it's "prickly sharp," and very sharp indeed all the way out to f/11. (Like many lenses, things get quite soft beyond f/16 or so, don't even consider using f/32, unless you're deliberately trying for a soft-focus effect.)




Edited on Jan 01, 2012 at 04:33 PM · View previous versions



Jan 01, 2012 at 04:23 PM
 

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st33ve0
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p.1 #10 · Product Photo


Well, I should say it's relatively sharp when I'm shooting with strobes at more like f/8-f/11 [where I really should have been for that axe photo and just adjusted my strobes down in power, lowered the ISO, and been ok with giving up some DOF, but live and learn.

I've been very impressed with it for a $400ish macro lens, but I'll be upgrading to one of the TS's and either the 100L macro or a Zeiss down the road, but I think for product photography which I seem to enjoy most now a TS will help me the most.



Jan 01, 2012 at 04:31 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #11 · Product Photo


+1 @ f8-f11 ... f/13 is my mental threshhold that I go, "Hmmm, do I really want to do this?" Sometimes the answer is "Yup", sometimes "Nope" ... but either way, I have accounted for the fact that I'm headed into different waters @ f16/f22 and thus don't simply discount the impact that diffraction plays.

That being said ... PP can offset diffraction a bit as long as it isn't too excessive.

Cool Viking Axe ... Damascus ??

As to the comp ... I'd probably like to see the "business end" of the axe oriented into the frame and toward the "hacked out" lock ... inferring that the axe could cut through the shackle, but not the case. As it is, the axe edge draws my eye away from the product (logo), so it seems to be a bit ambiguous as to where you are trying to take the viewer.

Also, the inclusion of your watermark logo being the same as the axe logo strengthens the connection between you & the axe ... which in turn reduces the emphasis on the case further (also upside down case logo) ... leaving the viewer wondering which is the product that you are actually trying to promote ... you, the axe, the case or the lock (i.e. red).

I "think" you're trying to promote the case ... by virtue of the cut lock implication ... but everything else (leading lines, color, logo, etc.) makes me "look" elsewhere.







Jan 01, 2012 at 04:39 PM
st33ve0
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p.1 #12 · Product Photo


Gotcha, believe it or not the lock wasn't cut, it was broken with the spike end used as a pry bar. Usually the forward edge would be used to break the hasp, but as we recently found out the spike works really well for a slow mechanical break that takes much less time than hacking away at it. I am trying to promote the tomahawk in this one, it's just that the case fit with the theme of breaking locks.


Jan 01, 2012 at 05:55 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #13 · Product Photo


Gotcha ... the explanation helps.


Jan 01, 2012 at 09:17 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #14 · Product Photo


It doesn't read well for me as a product shot because the product you are trying to sell doesn't CONTRAST from the other content in the frame for context and storyline. Starting with the black on black scenario made it more difficult to make the black axe contrast. The red lock and upside down label on the box wind up being distractions which pull attention off the axe. The axe appears to have a nice wrist strap which I would have liked to see incorporated into the shot rather than cut off by the crop.

From a technical execution standpoint the exposure is causing loss of tonal range with blocked shadows and muted specular highlights where stronger ones would be expected. Opening the file in Levels and holding down the alt key, then clicking the shadow slider reveals the shadow areas in your image devoid of any detail in colors corresponding to the clipped channels / combination of channels.







If you do a similar check on the highlights you'll see the sharpened surfaces of the axe are not clipping much, which in this type of shot makes them look duller. The most intense specular highlights are on the distracting red lock.

My first question when taking / editing any photo is: What is most important here? My second question is: How can I make it contrast strongly the most with everything else in the frame?

With a black on black situation tonally to make one object contrast you need to make the other have a lighter tone of black than the other, with sharp clean crisp specular highlights on the product and darker more muted highlights on everything else so the product "pops" more than the props.

The challenge when lighting products is highlighting the focal point product more that the background context. That requires physical separation between the product and context props and controlled light sources with snoots, small mirrors, flags, etc. to control both the relative intensity and the degree of specularity in the highlights. Another way to create contrasting selective sharpness is via DOF. You can use the relatively shallow DOF of close-in shots to your advantage by keeping the product and camera sensor at the same plane, but instead of laying the axe on the top of the case lay it sideways so the DOF puts it and the lock OOF in the background adding context without all the distracting eye catching detail...

Here's an edit of your posted image to give you an idea of what I'm suggesting...







My goal was to make the product contrast and hold attention. My strategy was the make everything else in the shot contrast less with the black border added to anchor the perception of the overall tonal range.

I started by adjusting dupe layers in levels to make the case look gray and washed out relative to the axe. For the axe I pushed the highlights in levels so the bright cutting edges had clean "sharp" specular highlights I'd expect to see reflecting off a sharp axe. I desaturated the lock and toned down its highlights. I did additional tonal tweeks with screen and multiply layers. Once all the tonal adjustments were completed I flattened, duped again and selectively sharpened the axe with USM and blurred everything else (what would be better done with DOF at capture).




Jan 02, 2012 at 02:17 PM
st33ve0
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p.1 #15 · Product Photo


Hmmm, a lot of food for thought there. It would certainly be easy to prop the product off of the case, but at the same time I wanted to "show off" the lock that it breaks in this particular shot. I'm not too worried about showing off the rest of the product in this one because it's more of a detail shot and I have several others of this product in its entirety.

I definitely need to learn more about USM, other adjustment layers and some more advanced lighting. As for the lighting on the product itself, would a snooted/gridded light from an angle have helped or hurt?



Jan 02, 2012 at 03:07 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #16 · Product Photo


st33ve0 wrote:
I definitely need to learn more about USM, other adjustment layers and some more advanced lighting. As for the lighting on the product itself, would a snooted/gridded light from an angle have helped or hurt?


What you need to consider is the physical distance from key light to everything in the shot. When you move lights closer for product shots they fall off much more rapidly.

The way you arrange the photo elements and lighting the lock wound up physically closer to the key light that the axe. That's why in my edit I had to tone down the specular highlights on the lock and boost them on the axe. They were more correctly exposed in the closer to light lock, which resulted in them being underexposed on the axe.

There are two solutions to that problem:

1) change the direction of the lighting to put the key light closest to the focal point of the shot. That's something you should consider always, even if shooting a portrait. For example if a person in a white shirt is posed in a way that puts the shoulder closer to the key light than the face its impossible to expose both correctly and make the face brighter without blowing the shirt highlights. The solution there isn't to change the lighting it's to change the pose so the face winds up closer to the key light than the shoulder. Same in product shots. When setting up the composition of the shot arrange the product and everything else so the product winds up closest to the key light. One way to do that is suspending the objects on wires which you remove in PP so the product and props are physically separated and different distances from the key light.

2) When its not possible to put the focal point physically closer to the key light that's when you want to consider strategies like feathering or snooting the key light to aim it more on the focal point than anything else, quite literally putting the "star of the show" in the "spotlight". A different means to the same end is to use a "gobo" or "go between" to block the key light from the less important parts of the scene.

Pros who shoot products will often employ all manner of flags and reflectors to nuance the lighting gradient across a product. Often a two or more "key" lights will be used from a similar direction. A larger source to create the overall 3D defining direction of the lighting pattern, then a smaller snooted source from the same direction but aimed only as a specific area of the product they want to be the strongest focal point. But those types of gradients can also be created in PP if you have a full range image to start with.





Jan 02, 2012 at 03:46 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #17 · Product Photo


After thinking about your explanation ... wondering how the comp would be if you put the spike "through" the broken hasp to connect those two a bit more strongly.

I subscribe to the "What's the point" that you are trying to convey to your viewer, so when you ask that of yourself and get your answer, then it becomes "What can I do to emphasize my main point" ... and de-emphasize competing points/distractions.

Lots of tools in the toolbox to choose from, i.e. lighting, comp, contrast, association, color, lines, falloff, etc. Just watch that you aren't using some tools to emphasize your point while using others to emphasize your distractions.



Jan 02, 2012 at 06:06 PM





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