Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

  New fredmiranda.com Mobile Site
  New Feature: SMS Notification alert
  New Feature: Buy & Sell Watchlist
  

FM Forums | Lighting & Studio Techniques | Join Upload & Sell

  

Archive 2012 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface
  
 
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


Struggling to get this lit properly. Currently the board is on the floor and the tripod is above it with the center column reversed.

Any thoughts on improving the lighting?

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/423653_10150716885256418_503836417_11483628_953244127_n.jpg



Mar 16, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Skarkowtsky
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


Try side lighting it. Bring the light in closer to the subject, lighting it from one of three sides. If needed, add fill from the opposite side of your key light. This will introduce some depth to the flower, and pop it off the wood.

Beautiful piece of wood, by the way. It deserves flattering light!



Mar 16, 2012 at 01:21 PM
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


This one was side lit. I'm still not digging it. I think the problem is that I can't get the lights low enough with the wood on the floor and if the wood is up on the posing table, it becomes an issue of balancing the camera on a horizontal column above the shot which I don't like...

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/424776_10150712720571418_503836417_11471208_177948600_n.jpg



Mar 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Skarkowtsky
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


The second is a bit too harsh for me. Over-sharpened? Try diffusing your light sources a bit (more, if you already have).
Is the wood massive in size? If not, I'm sure you can find household objects to prop it to just the right height.

If not, stand the wood up,vertically, and carefully tack the flower to it. Light it the right way, and it will feel like an overhead shot.

I don't like the directly overhead composition. It renders the flower as flat. It's a delicate flower to begin with, and doesn't prop up much on it's own. I'd work with a different camera angle, and show some of the flowers depth.



Mar 16, 2012 at 01:56 PM
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


Compositionally it's what I want. It's just the lighting i'm trying to fix. I think propping it up on cinderblocks or 2x4 might help. Tacking the flower isn't practical.


Mar 16, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Skarkowtsky
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


Use Blu Stik from behind to tack. Who said it had to be practical, you want the shot, don't you? You're complaining that with the current setup you can't achieve your vision. Don't limit yourself. Keep the composition, just try to capture it another way, by rotating the wood, making it easier for you to frame-up and light. If you won't try that, try a 3/4 laydown.

PS It's going to take lots of attempts and brainstorming, and otherwise 'unpractical' methods to achieve black backgrounds. Embrace the hard work : )



Mar 16, 2012 at 02:11 PM
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


blu stick isn't going to work for everything (for example the anthers).

There is fundamentally no difference in lighting by moving everything 90 degrees to a vertical orientation. Moving the platform up would make a difference



Mar 16, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Skarkowtsky
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


If you can't move the platform up, from the floor to the ceiling in direction, which you said you couldn't, and you can't move the camera in closer, which you were apprehensive about because it would be a risky balancing act, then you turn the entire set vertically, and from the safety of your tripod, you move your camera in, toward the set.

Blu Stik won't work on everything, but there are other adhesives and tacky substances out there to use in addition. I've photographed way more challenging subjects than a flower on wood, and had to derive even crazier ways to achieve it.

You seem to be coming up with all the answers as to why you can't make this photo work.

I'm just trying to help.



Mar 16, 2012 at 02:20 PM
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


huh? I didn't say I couldn't move it up. I said "I think propping it up on cinderblocks or 2x4 might help."




Mar 16, 2012 at 02:54 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Skarkowtsky
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


I thought you said "I can't get the lights low enough with the wood on the floor and if the wood is up on the posing table, it becomes an issue of balancing the camera on a horizontal column above the shot which I don't like..."

I didn't see the cinderblock response, sorry.

Try this: Rear cinderblocks vertically, front cinderblocks horizontally, for a slight tilt.



Mar 16, 2012 at 03:01 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


If you don't like the other suggestions (helpful as they are) ... consider propping the wood up to a 45 (or other) angle vertically, and position it @ 45, etc. profile to your light. This may help with your shooting & lighting positions. You might still need some tack to help hold it in place, but likely not as touchy as if full vertical.

Have you considered using window light. The size, angle and falloff of it could play very nicely with a 45/45 position to both rake & wrap your subjects/comp ... with a little fill kick (see Doug below) to add some punch if the window light alone is too soft for your taste.

Also, if you could place your flower on "blocks" (stick pins, etc.) to gain some separation from your background (maybe at the petal end only), it would give your lighting a bit more room to generate some depth/modeling. It may take some effort, but having a flat subject, laying flat, on a flat background, using flat lighting ... generally gives you a flat pic.

Consider which of your variables you are willing/capable of changing from flat perspective/orientation ... and then play with those.

HTH




Edited on Mar 16, 2012 at 03:20 PM · View previous versions



Mar 16, 2012 at 03:13 PM
dmacmillan
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


jzucker wrote:
Any thoughts on improving the lighting?


The wood is lovely and the flower is lovely. I like what you're trying to do with the stem following the grain of the wood.

One thing I noticed that I think threw me is that the light source seems to be bottom left. I'm wondering if it would be more pleasing with the source top left or top right. I think we are more used to that pattern.

I'm also wondering if a more point source would work better in this instance. It's hard to tell without actually trying. This may provide more snap without having to resort to side lighting.

Of course, side lighting with more fill might help bring out the texture without introducing harshness. Maybe a soft key light similar to what you have with a point source skimming kicker would also work.

Good luck!



Mar 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


I think you're right about the falloff being an issue. Windowlight would be ideal. I don't have a big window in my studio unfortunately but I can move the softbox of course. I like the idea of putting the flower petals on some type of "standoff" to give a 3d arrangement. My original inspiration for this was scanner photographs where the flowers were right on the flatbed. I am still contemplating putting the flowers on velvet and masking the black background out to give a similar effect.

Regarding the bottom left orientation, I'll try more of a point source and some other lighting arrangements and post back.

Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone!



Mar 16, 2012 at 04:01 PM
BrianO
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


jzucker wrote:
Struggling to get this lit properly. Currently the board is on the floor and the tripod is above it with the center column reversed. ...Any thoughts on improving the lighting?

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/423653_10150716885256418_503836417_11483628_953244127_n.jpg


Right now, the flower look a bit underexposed overall, and the shadows being cast are "above" (as we view it) the parts that are casting them. Normally, shadows fall under objects, and so, subconsciously or consciously, we may find this lighting to look unnatural.

I think the lighting you have on this one is a good start, but I think you need to add at least one more light. Using what you have as the fill, I'd add a brighter light from what would be the upper right as we view this image.

Whether you display the image as is or rotate it to a portrait orientation, adding a key light as described will light it in a way that will look naturally placed.



Mar 16, 2012 at 06:49 PM
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


Thanks Brian. That makes sense.


Mar 16, 2012 at 07:03 PM
jzucker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/424147_10150719197721418_503836417_11490338_133752864_n.jpg


Mar 17, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Skarkowtsky
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


Understanding your goal (flatbed scanner), your latest attempt is really getting there! Adding just a bit of depth to the petals pops the flower off the board, ever so slightly. Nice touch!

Exposure looks good on my end.



Mar 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM
cgardner
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · How to improve - Still life arrangement on flat surface


Recognizing objects is a process of pattern matching in the brain from the shape clues which in a 2D photo come from contrast patterns. Here you have strong color conrtrasts which help the viewer identify the objects as flowers and stem, and color contrast within the objects which reveal their detail. Even the flat stone has interesting patterns of color contrast.

The lighting, which in most situations provides most of the clues via the shadows and highlight positions, isn't doing much in the way of providing clues here. But in this case are those clues really needed? I'm inclinded to say no, because the color contrast clues are so strong. Also consider that the strongest lighting clues which are seen, the modeling and shadow on the stem, work as distractions to the main focal points, the flowers which don't need it.

So all things considered I think an "overcast day" strategy for the lighting would woirk quite well here. Just bounce the light up off the ceiling and make it downward and only directional to the extent the spot on the ceiling is slightly off center.

In terms of shadow direction I always ask how they would look in natural lighting. Natural light always comes from above, but the angle it appears to hit things depends on your POV relative to the object. With regards to creating the illusion of 3D shape in a 2D photo light behind objects, with the camera shooting into the shaded side creates a stonger illusion of shape with the light than frontal / flat lighting. So I'd suggest bouncing the light off the ceiling behind and to the left and the net effect willl wind up looking like an overcast day at 2PM when looking south in the US when the sun is hidden behind the clouds in the SW quadrant of the sky.

The flatter lighting will not change the apearance of the flowers much, but it should make the stems less distracting because they will not have strong modeling or be casting distinct shadows.

A PP trick I use to add "snap" to soft objects like flowers and fur is to use a "soft light" adjustment layer and selective oversharpening with masks, applying it by eye to re-create the micro-specular highlights the AA filter of camera turns to mush.

Another perceptual trick that can work well in a shot like this is to simulate the look of an older lens by duplicating the image, blurring the top copy with the lens blur filter, then blending in the softer copy on the edgess and on less important detiails like the stems and marble to take the "sharp" eye catching edges off of them. That's just another way of altering relative contrast which works perceptually like making the shadows the stems are casting fuzzier by bouncing and diffusing the light more.

What changed my process of lighting things and my overall approach to solving problems like this was realizing that the brain of the viewer was reacting to all forms of contrast in images tone, color, relative sharpness, relative size, difference in pattern, etc. Consider here why tan velvet would be less distracting that the marble: the brain of the viewer is attracted to and their brain will process th4e pattern in the marble, but wouldn't on the plain background. If you put the flowers on glass several inches about the marble, or masked and blurred it with lens blur, the viewer would still see the color contrast which defines the overalll shape of the flowers, and discern enough detail to see they are over a marble counter, but not so much detail in the counter they pay conscious attention to it.

Thinking in terms of what is most important, how to make it contrast strongly, and then considering everything else a potential distraction how I came up with the idea to bounce the light and the PP tips. The bounced light will not enhance the 3D shape with highlight and shadow, it will just help make the stem less of a distraction. To make the background less distracting you'd need to change it or find a way via the glass or PP to blur it so the flowers contrast more strongly in sharpness. The brain of the viewer will naturally seek out what contasts the most, and here the color cointrast is all you really neeed to do that just eliminate all the other forms of contrast.

Here's an "quick and dirty" illustration of the points above created by duplicating and blending in blurred and sharpened versions of your original with masks...

http://super.nova.org/EDITS/ZuckerFlowers.jpg

I used select color range to create the mask for sharpening then manually knocked out the center of the flowers on the mask which left the edges of the flowers less sharp.

The bottom layer is totally blurred with lens blur.

In the middle is your original with a mask to restore the original over the blurred.

Together they create a "seen from the top" layer cake with sharp frosting on the top of the flowers over a softer less distracting background.
http://super.nova.org/EDITS/ZuckerSS.jpg

The flowers are a bit lighter in the final edit vs. the screen shot because after doing the screen shot I decided to change the mode on the top sharpened layer to "screen" which has a lightening effect, then scaled back opacity on that layer to taste your tastes will vary of course, but by using that technique and playing around with how the masks are opened and the opacity of the layers you fine tune the appearance to suit your tastes from original to abstract interpretation.

The net result I tried to create in the edit was a simulation of what the SOOC results would look like if you had shot with shallow DOF with the flower suspended on a tilted piece of glass over the marble with more diffuse downward lighting.



Mar 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM





FM Forums | Lighting & Studio Techniques | Join Upload & Sell

    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Reset password