A Campaign for Coke

This week’s class assignment is one that took some preparation and a lot of thought.  We were to study the new Coca-Cola ad campaign, “Taste the Feeling”, and then create two images that could have been used for that campaign.  It was to have the vintage look that Coke is known for but with a modern twist.  It was also to represent my region of the country in flavor.  Since I’m in Texas, it seemed appropriate to create an image using a western dressed model and add a horse or two for good measure.   Here is the first of the two images that I submitted for critique:

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In order to meet the requirements, I went to three stores in search of a glass coke bottle.  I did find some little 8 oz. bottles at Kroger but they certainly didn’t look vintage so I continued my search.  I finally found 12 oz. bottles at a Mexican Grocery Store in Denton, TX.  I also learned that Mexican coke is made with cane sugar instead of the high fructose corn syrup that is used in the United States.  I bought 4 bottles of Mexican Coke along with fresh guacamole and some tortilla chips (not necessary for the assignment but who cares).

Take a look at the horse in this image.  That is Reyanna, my buckskin quarter horse.  During this photo session, she discovered that coke is really good.  Once she discovered that, she wouldn’t leave my model, Julee, alone.  Reyanna was after that coke in this image.  Julee was such a good sport and it was great to catch the interaction between them.  The day was windy and very overcast but so I added a little fill light from a strobe in a strip box.

The second image includes a second horse, Safari.  The interaction created a casual, fun image with coke right in the middle of it.  The images that were used for the real campaign all have a color cast added to give them that vintage look that we have seen over the years in the older Coca-Cola ads.  I added an amber cast that I added to both of these images.  I think it carries the vintage idea but is also subtle.  Here it is:

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All in all is was a successful photo session and a fun one.  The horses decided that that hat might taste even better than a Coke and they played right into my hands when they did that. My goal was to make sure that these images looked casual, unposed and showed Coca-Cola as an integrated part of them.

I decided not to use these last two images for my critique but I like them so much that I thought I’d include them in this blog. I love Julee’s hat and that coke bottle really shows up.  The last one showcases Reyanna’s new found love of coke.   She was trying to remove that bottle from Julee’s hand so she could slurp it up!

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A special thanks to Julee’ Kula, Reyanna and Safari for being great models for this week’s assignment.  See you next week!  In the meantime, enjoy a Coca-Cola and think about fun times.

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Tale of Two Perfumes, Part 2

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.

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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!

Tale of Two Perfumes, Part 1

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.

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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.

 

Brussels Sprouts or bust!

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.

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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!

Product Shot for a Magazine

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This week brought an interesting assignment.  I was to shoot a cover shot showing equipment for an individual sport.  The image needed to allow for text in the lower right corner and I knew to leave the top area for a magazine’s name.

I chose to highlight target shooting as the sport and bullets as the “equipment”.  I included the pistol and the bullet box with the company name on it for context and composition.  Lighting had to be very precise.  My lighting setup is shown in this diagram below.  The strobe on camera right is a strip light with grid to control the spill.  The lightstand was moved forward and to the right as shown.  Opposite the strip light was a white board reflector.

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This turned out to be another fun assignment.  Now, on to the next one!  Coming next is “How We Roll”.  See you soon!