The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Posts tagged “The Big Project

The End of The Big Project: Pour Shot

The end is finally here! My pour shot is done, and it went a little better than I thought it would. Equipment was one of my biggest concerns going into this one, but shooting my flash through the scrim seemed to work pretty well. My furry four-legged assistant was watching me, but she can’t pour liquids, so thankfully, my mother agreed to help with this one. It took us a few tries to get the timing down, but the result was well worth any inconvenience or spilled red pop. Here are a couple different shots:




Next Time: Nature or Vintage Objects


The Big Project: Textile

I confess. I’ve committed a huge violation of one of the cardinal rules of home organization and decluttering: I’ve kept a sweater I’ve had for ten years and worn fewer than five times. But I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an exception to the rule. It’s too pretty to get rid of.


The biggest challenge photographing this sweater was trying to get it arranged nicely. The next biggest issue was perspective. I extended my tripod as far as it would go, positioned it close to the table the sweater was on, and climbed on a chair. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking I could have moved my set-up to a lower surface, such as the floor. The best ideas always come later. Anyway, I tweaked it a bit in Photoshop, then moved on to my next shot.

Since these lovely flowers give the sweater its charm, a close up shot was a must.


I decided to get a close-up of the button as well.



 Next Time: Pour Shot or Vintage Items for Stock Photography

Depending on family plans for the holiday and other events in my life, I will either finish off The Big Project with a pour shot or go for some simple shots I can submit to stock sites. The pour shot is a photograph of liquid being poured into a glass or another liquid. Ideally, the liquid should be frozen by a quick exposure and flash. It’s messy, and good timing makes for more impressive shots.

The Big Project: Reflective Objects

Passing the bump in the road of my Big Project, I completed my reflective shoot last week. The basic technique for these shots is to surround the reflective object with as much white reflector board (like poster board, but not the shiny stuff) as possible in an attempt to block out reflections of any other object. Of course, the camera lens needs to poke in there somewhere and you must have an opening for light.

Since my mother has some very well-kept, hardly used stainless steel utensils, a place setting of that was a natural choice. I opted for the straight, on white catalog type shot. A little internet research helped with the arrangement.


Next, I decided to do a piece of jewelry. This watch was an excellent candidate. I wanted a reflection under the watch, so I shot it on polished wood. Problem: wood has texture. I’m still grappling with the respective merits of getting the watch all clean with no wood reflection or letting the reflected texture show because the wood is in the shot and it looks more realistic. For now, I just tried to downplay the reflection a bit hoping that will look realistic but not draw too much attention to the reflection.


Next Time: Textile



The Big Project: Transparent

Back to the Big Project. Last week, I tackled the transparent shots. Experience told me I needed a scrim for this shoot. A photographic type scrim, not a cinema scrim (made of wire and goes on a light) or a stage scrim (a sort of transparent projector sheet). One highly recommended material for making a photographic scrim is Translum, which only comes in large rolls. If you don’t want to buy a huge roll, some other kind of sturdy diffusion material will do. Because I was in a hurry, I bought a 20″ X 24″ sheet of diffusion and stapled it to a 16″ X 20″ used but sturdy picture frame (I removed the glass, ect.). It’s better to make a wooden frame that stands on its own. Anyway, I have my scrim. Now I can shoot light through it instead of bouncing light off boards or tilting my lamps so the less direct edge light falls on the subject. Quite marvelous.

For my first shot, I used this small glass container in the shape of a heart. Since I was a bit tired of shooting on plain backgrounds, I chose wood furniture to suggest a place the item could be displayed, such as a dresser or table top.


Next, I wanted to photograph a vase with a design. The black background shows off the frosted roses nicely. This was a bear to retouch. It was dusty and had a few scratches and imperfections. I did clean it, but the cloth left some lint and didn’t get quite all the dust. Lots of fine Photoshop work to clean it up in post.


Next Time: Reflective Objects

Black on Black

I continued The Big Project with my black on black photo shoot. To be honest, I thought this one would be easier than it was. In school, it was easier than white on white, and I was pleased with my project from that time. Shortly after Christmas, I’d purchased three yards of all cotton black velvet to use as a background in anticipation of this project. The problem: my lights are hard to control. They have rather large bowl-shaped dishes on them, with no provision for attaching modifiers. Getting light either on the edges of the subjects or on mirrors or other reflectors without lighting up the entire background was a chore. It improved as I fussed with it, but in the end there was only so much I could do . . . outside Photoshop. The good news is that I am keeping up my Photoshop skills. Other than that, I’m thinking I may have to limit my on black shooting or buy some blackwrap. Maybe I’ll try this one again in a few months.

This is my little black puppy. Like the black velvet, her paws absorbed light. The shine on her curly fur reflected it.


The black leather wallet had some reflective shine on it, which made things a little easier.


Next time: Transparent or Snow

The Big Project Begins: White on White

My last semester of college, I took a class in commercial photography. Our projects for the class included white on white, black on black, transparent, reflective, textiles, and a pour shot. The teacher suggested we do the projects again on our own at a later date. I thought “Yes, that would be good for me, but I don’t have the equipment.” He’d made some suggestions of less expensive lighting substitutes and so forth, but I was unemployed for some time and could not afford to buy anything. Now, I can buy some things, but I’ve continued to make excuses. I don’t have enough room, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have the right equipment . . . Well, if I keep up like that, I’ll never do it. So this winter, I’m re-shooting all those projects and posting them on this blog.

White on White

I started with this dove figure that belongs to my mother. It’s not shiny, and it has lots of texture. The challenge was keeping it white while keeping the texture.


Next, I moved on to these cute little angels. (Also my mom’s. Apparently, white ceramic figurines were popular in the 1970’s when she set up housekeeping.) They weren’t exactly shiny either, but they didn’t have as much texture. The details and shapes are lovely though. I ended up putting a white reflector board with a hole in it around my lens just to give them some good light on the front. This helped keep them brighter.


Next Time: Black on Black or Snow Shots