I had another “stretching” assignment this week. By stretching, I mean me! How many of you have been asked to do a pouring shot that shows both the item used for pouring and the item receiving the liquid. The liquid had to be frozen in motion and crystal clear. This took a whole lot of practice and finally my husband’s help to accomplish. It was something I have never done before. Lighting is completely different than what I use for portraits.
The assignment: Shoot a verticle image that shows that is appropriate for a front cover of Pour magazine. The liquid must be tack sharp and the lighting must show the edges of the bottle or glass well, any labels readable and room left for the name of the magazine. Since I began alone and was working in my studio, I started practicing with water in an empty fish tank so all the water didn’t end up on the floor. I had to shoot from my tripod so that I could get it focused and ready before I poured. I used my mirrorless camera which shoots 11 frames per second and began with just water and a pitcher. I stood beside my tripod and pushed my shutter button down with my right hand and poured water with my left. Here is the initial result:
I had practiced enough that the bottom of the glass was submerged so the glass looks weird in my opinion. The pour was over exposed but I did like the bubbles and foam in the glass.
Step 2 was to try and create the pour showing both the pitcher and the glass. As I did it, I still settled it into the fish tank. That deep tank stopped me from being able to tilt and glass while I poured and pushed the shutter button. I went ahead and used the instructor supplied magazine cover template. There was still water in the bottom and I didn’t have my camera quite straight but at least I was getting there.
My final image is below. I wasn’t crazy about the blue image even without the water in the bottom. I knew I could do better with some help and, thankfully, my husband was more than willing to help me. I found an ancient bottle that was nearly empty so I mixed food coloring and water until I got a nice amber color. I added that to what was in the bottle already. Of course, my studio smelled of booze by the time I was finished but at least it was all in the bottom of the fish tank and not all over the place as it splashed. The image is lit from behind and reflected with a white board from the front. That way you can see through the colored liquid and still read the label which was dark without the reflector. I also had reflectors on both sides. I attached the glass to a white board with gaffers tape so that I could tilt it. I wanted to make the glass look as though it was on a table that was tilted and the liquid splashed out of the glass. My husband poured as I held the glass in one hand and pushed the shutter with the other. Thank heavens for tripods! In retrospect I would have liked it best without those foamy bubbles on the surface but I submitted it like this. My instructor liked it a lot and also showed me how to make the top edge of that glass bottle show up better next time.
All in all I learned a lot and was much happier with kthis final image than I was as I went through stages 1 and 2. I really appreciate the technical expertise of pour shots now that I have done some myself. I look forward to improving my skills with this as time goes on. That fish tank was a real life saver since I didn’t want to drag all of my equipment outdoors to shot this assignment.
Well, next week is another cover assignment. This time I even got to use a human! See you next week.
It’s time for Part 2 of this tale. After turning in the dark perfume layout that I did last week, I had a chance to re-do it. We were to either catch-up an assignment that we missed, do something totally different and wonderful or redo an earlier assignment that we wanted to improve. For me, that dark bottle had to be redone. I didn’t even like the perfume itself that I purchased the first time around. I thought I did until I actually squirted it beneath my ears and on my wrists. It made me wheeze and it was very strong smelling when I used it more than one squirt on the wrist in the store. Since I knew I couldn’t wear it, I returned it to the store and exchanged it for this bottle of Givenchy that is lighter and doesn’t make me wheeze. I squirted it all over and walked around the store to make sure it would work for me this time. What luck that I got to switch scents, and in turn, containers.
Just like last time, I was surprised by what the box contained for a lid. I ended up liking both the lid and bottle and this re-done layout a whole lot better than the “green” layout. Sometimes my stomach just doesn’t feel good when I look at a finished image. That’s why I knew I needed to take another shot at the perfume assignment. The light colored bottle helped with creating a Spring look this time. The bottle looked a little bronze sometimes and pink in other lights. By combining both of those colors in my backgrounds and props, I ended up with a layout that is pleasing to the eye, shows off the bottle with carefully placed lights and I ended up with new perfume that I like and apparently likes me back.
See you next week! The assignment is Coca-Cola time! I can’t wait!
The assignment was to photograph perfume for a 3 image spring theme magazine spread.
I have been stretched a whole lot in the last two weeks. Through frustration, re-done image shots and balancing colors, I believe that I’m growing. All of this bluster is due to my Project 52 Commercial Photography course. The assignment was to photograph perfume for a 3 image spring theme magazine spread. Images needed included a vertical, a horizontal and a square. All images must present the client’s perfume using the Fragrances of Spring theme.
I was due for new perfume so I headed to Ulta to find a nice new scent that would make me happy and that provide me with a full bottle to photograph for my assignment. The surprise part of this was that only the bottle was in the store to see. I didn’t have any idea what the cap looked like until I opened the cellophane wrapped box when I got home. What I found was a lid added to the bottle looked like a Marc Jacob’s purse complete with a shiny chain handle. I bought that scent after squirting some on my wrist. The scent seemed nice so I got it.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, that perfume choice was the wrong one for me on two counts. First, I didn’t like the dark bottle for a spring layout but as a commercial photographer, one must work with what the client has provided so I used it anyway. Second, the perfume proved to be far too strong and something in it caused me to feel icky. I worked for an entire week shooting, re-shooting, using different props and re-arranging lighting before I finally finished the assignment. I had no idea how hard it is to shoot an image of a bottle of liquid. Anything shiny must show as shiny but the reflections aren’t good if they show the photographer reflected like in a mirror. The lighting needs to carefully show the edges of the bottles which many times are faceted. Most important, the letters on the bottle must be very readable and in sharp focus. So, a week later, I ended up with this image.
I turned this in for my assignment but was far from happy. It just didn’t feel right and there were two things that stood out that my instructor analyzed during the class. The bottle on the upper right shows the lettering very clearly. However, the letters look black instead of the gold that show on the other two images. It was the way the light and the reflectors hit the bottle but I should have corrected that in post production. I was so frustrated that I didn’t even notice the gold missing. The second issue, I knew was there but could not figure out how to fix it. In the lower right image, there is a reflection that is very white on the outside edge of the bottle. It looks like a white vertical stripe on the end of the bottle. That is caused from the reflection from the backlight to the reflector and on to the bottle. I now know how to fix when I am shooting. Fixing it in post I found impossible. All in all I learned a lot but I didn’t feel good about my final image. Even though technically it was OK other than those two issues, I just didn’t like it.
My assignment was a free shoot. This means that we can shoot something that we want to shoot, make up any assignments missed or re-shoot something we want to improve. I chose #3. Next week, you will see the perfume assignment with an entirely new interpretation, a new bottle and an image that makes me far happier. I hope you, too, find it more pleasing for a spring layout. Hope to see you next week.
My commercial photography mentor came up with a flash assignment last week. In addition to the weekly assignment for class, he added a brussels sprouts flash assignment. Since I am not a fan of them, finding a way to make them appealing was not necessarily in my paradigm. My initial plan was to take those icky little green balls and turn them into something we wouldn’t have to eat later. I decided to make them into a Christmas tree with little peppers or red candies for decorations and then sprinkling the whole thing with white glitter. At least I wouldn’t end up having to eat my creation that way. Off I went to the store in search of the dreaded brussels sprouts. Much to my surprise, I didn’t find any of those little things. Instead all I found was a giant vine of them. It was so pleasing to the eye that I couldn’t bear to ruin it so I headed to another store. Much to my horror, the second store presented me with the same giant vine of brussels sprouts. So, with a game plan change I bought one. I had it for two days before I finally decided how to create an awesome image with it. That second day found me heading off to the store again in search of color, shapes and textures to create my vision. As a matter of fact, in my sprouts search I learned that it is brussels with an “s” sprouts. Who knew?
Here is my final image.
For my main light, I used a gridded strip light, a second light with a 7″ reflector with a 20 degree grid and a white board to reflect a hint of light along the base of the sprouts. I love the way the brussels sprouts twist around that thick vine. Hopefully, the light concentration on the spiral sprouts draws your eye. I ended up being pleased with the image but now I have to figure out what on earth to do with that green thing. See you soon!