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Archive 2012 · Tips on lighting chairs?
  
 
Daan B
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p.1 #1 · Tips on lighting chairs?


I have to photograph some chairs in the studio for a catalogue. These are chairs that are used in restaurants, hotels and offices. Looking for some tips on the lighting. I will be using strobes (max 4) with different modifiers.

I do realize that reflective materials (like aluminum, steel, shiny plastic, etc) ask for soft lighting and materials like fabrics and matt paint ask for hard lighting to bring out the details.

But how do I place the strobes? One facing down on the sitting surface and one facing down on the back of the chair? Is it handy to work with one light, move it around and merge the different exposures in Photoshop?

Any tips are welcome

I do have a lot of experience in shooting people in the studio. Chairs (and other furniture) is kind of new to me.




Jul 25, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Mr Kris
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p.1 #2 · Tips on lighting chairs?


I'm not a product photographer, but if I were, I'd probably ask you what kind of catalog you're shooting for. Is this an industrial catalog, where each page will have rows and rows of chairs on a white background and nothing more than a product number and price? Or is it more like say.... the type of catalog that showcases the chair in the typical environment you'll be using it in? With table and desk mockups? Or are these super fancy chairs that each get a full page in the catalog all by themselves?


Jul 25, 2012 at 02:43 PM
cordellwillis
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p.1 #3 · Tips on lighting chairs?


I agree with Kris. You have to know 'what for/how used' before 'how to'.


Jul 25, 2012 at 02:59 PM
PeterBerressem
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p.1 #4 · Tips on lighting chairs?


I'd use a (very) large diffusion frame / silk from one side and V flats (x-large) white reflector boards from opposite. Both at ground level. Depending on the upholstery I may add a softbox from top / boom.
That's a basic setup. I could also imagine to add an open source from some distance if I'd go for a sunny mood with a defined shadow.



Jul 25, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Daan B
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p.1 #5 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Yeah, sorry for that. The catalogue will be for sales. Rows of chairs on a white background. Evenly lit product photography so to speak.


Jul 25, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Daan B
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p.1 #6 · Tips on lighting chairs?


PeterBerressem wrote:
I'd use a (very) large diffusion frame / silk from one side and V flats (x-large) white reflector boards from opposite. Both at ground level. Depending on the upholstery I may add a softbox from top / boom.
That's a basic setup. I could also imagine to add an open source from some distance if I'd go for a sunny mood with a defined shadow.


Thanks. Basically a large key and reflector panels for fill. Would the Elinchrom Big Octa suffice as a large diffusion frame in your opinion?

Problem I have with a large light source, when I light the whole chair with it, is that I get different reflections/color on the sitting surface and back of the chair. I wonder if it helps to light these (with a smaller softbox) seperately to avoid that?



Jul 25, 2012 at 05:02 PM
PeterBerressem
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p.1 #7 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Daan B wrote:
Problem I have with a large light source, when I light the whole chair with it, is that I get different reflections/color on the sitting surface and back of the chair. I wonder if it helps to light these (with a smaller softbox) seperately to avoid that?

BigOcta? Hm..I prefer something larger, in the 3 x 3m range, at some distance to avoid harsh fall-off. Though, why not?
The back/surface difference may be a property of the fabric used (silky material) ? That's pretty unusual but possible. If nothing else helps I'd light the sitting surface as you described, do a separate shot for it and merge it in post.



Jul 25, 2012 at 05:44 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #8 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Several years ago I got an e-mail from a guy who made custom chairs seeking advice on how to light them on a white background with just the two AB800s he had. I grabbed a table that was handy and shot some examples to shot him how it could be done and also did some illustrations to show how to created the illusion of 3D shape in 2D photos. I turned it into a tutorial. It's not all encompassing, but it may give you some ideas: http://photo.nova.org/PhotographingFurniture/


Jul 26, 2012 at 12:44 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #9 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Several years ago I got an e-mail from a guy who made custom chairs seeking advice on how to light them on a white background with just the two AB800s he had. I grabbed a table that was handy and shot some examples to shot him how it could be done and also did some illustrations to show how to created the illusion of 3D shape in 2D photos. I turned it into a tutorial. It's not all encompassing, but it may give you some ideas: http://photo.nova.org/PhotographingFurniture/


Jul 26, 2012 at 12:44 AM
matthewbmedia
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p.1 #10 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Don't underestimate the product photo secret weapon - A good circular polarizer.

Start with 2 lights - a big one for "global light" somewhere and use a beauty dish to add a rim light or contrast where needed.

Watch the shadows consider catalog layout and use the light and shadow direction to lead the eye over the pieces.



Jul 26, 2012 at 01:04 AM
 

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Peter Figen
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p.1 #11 · Tips on lighting chairs?


"Yeah, sorry for that. The catalogue will be for sales. Rows of chairs on a white background. Evenly lit product photography so to speak."

Are you shooting one chair at a time, or a whole row at a time? That makes a huge difference in how you approach the job. But, let's say you're doing one at a time, start by lighting the background, then add one light at a time - a large soft fill as close to the chair as possible, picking an angle that draws the chair best. Then either a fill card or a fill light, and maybe a kicker to give some pop to the chair.

You have to be careful shooting on white to both get the background white and not have the same background flare back into the subject. And because of this I always keep the background a very light gray as I'm shooting and then push it to pure white in post.

How you treat it in post will also depend on how they're being used and whether the client wants a pure white 255 background or something with a bit of tone. The amount of work you have to do and the level of detail will be dictated by how large each image is being printed, and even though it's extra work, I almost always outline each product with a Path in Ps and use that to make sure each image is consistent with ever other one, background wise, but I don't knock out the shadows. I like to keep real shadows on white backgrounds. They look better and are far more convincing than fake shadows, unless you're really great at making shadows.

Use a seamless paper backdrop and not some cloth with wrinkles, or shoot on a cove in a studio if you have that available.

Four lights is limiting, but doable.



Jul 26, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Daan B
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p.1 #12 · Tips on lighting chairs?


PeterBerressem wrote:
BigOcta? Hm..I prefer something larger, in the 3 x 3m range, at some distance to avoid harsh fall-off. Though, why not?
The back/surface difference may be a property of the fabric used (silky material) ? That's pretty unusual but possible. If nothing else helps I'd light the sitting surface as you described, do a separate shot for it and merge it in post.


The Big Octa is the largest source I have. It'll have to do for now.



Jul 26, 2012 at 08:12 AM
Daan B
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p.1 #13 · Tips on lighting chairs?


cgardner wrote:
Several years ago I got an e-mail from a guy who made custom chairs seeking advice on how to light them on a white background with just the two AB800s he had. I grabbed a table that was handy and shot some examples to shot him how it could be done and also did some illustrations to show how to created the illusion of 3D shape in 2D photos. I turned it into a tutorial. It's not all encompassing, but it may give you some ideas: http://photo.nova.org/PhotographingFurniture/


Thanks Chuck. I'll give it a read.



Jul 26, 2012 at 08:12 AM
Daan B
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p.1 #14 · Tips on lighting chairs?


matthewbmedia wrote:
Don't underestimate the product photo secret weapon - A good circular polarizer.

Start with 2 lights - a big one for "global light" somewhere and use a beauty dish to add a rim light or contrast where needed.

Watch the shadows consider catalog layout and use the light and shadow direction to lead the eye over the pieces.


Thanks for the tips.

A pola to reduce glare? Haven't thought of that.



Jul 26, 2012 at 08:15 AM
Daan B
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p.1 #15 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Peter Figen wrote:
Are you shooting one chair at a time, or a whole row at a time? That makes a huge difference in how you approach the job. But, let's say you're doing one at a time, start by lighting the background, then add one light at a time - a large soft fill as close to the chair as possible, picking an angle that draws the chair best. Then either a fill card or a fill light, and maybe a kicker to give some pop to the chair.


Yes, one chair at the time. The BG won't be visible in the catalogue. I will remove it in post. So, I don't think it is necessary to make the BG all white. As long as there is enough contrast to make things less difficult in PP.

You have to be careful shooting on white to both get the background white and not have the same background flare back into the subject. And because of this I always keep the background a very light gray as I'm shooting and then push it to pure white in post.

Good point. Another reason to not get the BG all white. Maybe some spill from the key is enough.

How you treat it in post will also depend on how they're being used and whether the client wants a pure white 255 background or something with a bit of tone. The amount of work you have to do and the level of detail will be dictated by how large each image is being printed, and even though it's extra work, I almost always outline each product with a Path in Ps and use that to make sure each image is consistent with ever other one, background wise, but I don't knock out the shadows. I like to keep real shadows...Show more

I am more of a layer mask guy myself. But I get the point on consistency.

Use a seamless paper backdrop and not some cloth with wrinkles, or shoot on a cove in a studio if you have that available.

Seamless it is!

Four lights is limiting, but doable.

Considering the BG won't be lit, maybe 2-3 lights will be enough.



Jul 26, 2012 at 08:20 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #16 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Daan - You're still going to want to light the background. You're going to want the spill that comes off of that, almost like a giant white backlight. If you don't have it, the edges of the the legs, and other parts of the chairs, no matter what they're made of, won't look light enough. You want the background you shoot on to be at least in the same vicinity as whatever it's going on in the catalog.

When I mentioned Paths, I use them as the basis to make the selections for the Layer Masks. What I usually do is dupe the background layer, then add a layer of white below that, then mask to the that underneath layer, revealing the white there. Makes it really easy to retain real shadows, which are usually retained, but maybe just a bit less "shadow-y" than they really are, but you get the point. I've literally done thousands of all sorts of products like this from little bits to furniture and whatever.




Jul 26, 2012 at 08:37 AM
visualist
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p.1 #17 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Daan B wrote:
The Big Octa is the largest source I have. It'll have to do for now.


It won't. If you don't have a large scrim or reflector then build yourself one. That's about as quick and easy as it gets and will save you hours of work in trying to deal with reflections and post-pro.
While on a smaller scale, the technique is no different from shooting a car. Size matters. And lot's of flags.



Jul 26, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Daan B
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p.1 #18 · Tips on lighting chairs?


Peter Figen wrote:
Daan - You're still going to want to light the background. You're going to want the spill that comes off of that, almost like a giant white backlight. If you don't have it, the edges of the the legs, and other parts of the chairs, no matter what they're made of, won't look light enough. You want the background you shoot on to be at least in the same vicinity as whatever it's going on in the catalog.


Good point.

When I mentioned Paths, I use them as the basis to make the selections for the Layer Masks. What I usually do is dupe the background layer, then add a layer of white below that, then mask to the that underneath layer, revealing the white there. Makes it really easy to retain real shadows, which are usually retained, but maybe just a bit less "shadow-y" than they really are, but you get the point. I've literally done thousands of all sorts of products like this from little bits to furniture and whatever.

I understand. Not much different from my approach. Except I don't use paths for the selections, but rather brushes.



Jul 26, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Daan B
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p.1 #19 · Tips on lighting chairs?


visualist wrote:
It won't. If you don't have a large scrim or reflector then build yourself one. That's about as quick and easy as it gets and will save you hours of work in trying to deal with reflections and post-pro.
While on a smaller scale, the technique is no different from shooting a car. Size matters. And lot's of flags.


I assume you are talking about reflective furniture? I mean, if the chair doesn't have any reflective material on it, this will be less of an issue? But there are also some reflective chairs that I have to photograph. I think I have to be creative here. I have a small studio. I can tape white (BG) paper to one wall. This will be a giant reflector. Then I have to built my own scrim to the opposite of that. Any tips on how to built my own scrim? I assume it will have to be tightened against a frame of some kind, since I want it to show as a square reflection? Or maybe I can built a box (without bottom and top) out of translucent fabric and place the chair in the middle of that. Then I can place a key and fill outside of that to shoot through the translucent material.



Jul 26, 2012 at 02:47 PM
visualist
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p.1 #20 · Tips on lighting chairs?


All you need is a simple frame made of 4x4 wood and some silk, and a Stapler.
This video is about cars and he's going for a completely different look, but the priciple is the same and ofcourse you can also shoot through. And you need additional lghts and reflectors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkmhZrYdRs8

And yes, i'm talking about reflective surfaces, like plastic, metal or laquer. Especially when they are bend or curvey they behave like a fisheye and reflect not only the lights, but also everything in your studio. Or the oposite, your Octa becomes a small spot.
While you don't need a box, black cardbordish stripps around the frame will help you to controll spill, but will make that thing more clumsy to handle.

Oto, if we're talking about a handfull of chairs ther's nothing wrong with compositing. Thing is, the cost for material is neglecteble, construction is fairly easy even if you want to reproduce the Manfrotto solution from the above video, weight is not much of an issue at this size, the learning curve is doable and the closer you get your pictures to "finished", the less time you spent in postpro.



Jul 26, 2012 at 04:37 PM





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