My Cuppa

I picked up one of these rather interesting mugs shortly after Christmas and decided they’d make an interesting subject for product photography. I shot the mug outdoors using a white card background and ambient light. I then used Photoshop to selectively remove a couple of colour casts and darken the shadows.

The mugs are available in both tea and coffee varieties at SuckUK’s website or on Amazon.

Candlelit Promo

Earlier in the week I took a promotional shot for a production of Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer. The brief from the director was for a shot of the characters lit only by candlelight.

The shot was taken in a rehearsal room and the grouping composed with the lights on. Selected members of the cast were then given large tealights to hold and the lights turned out. We then made adjustments to the positioning of the candles whilst the cast remained otherwise perfectly still. This allowed us to get the best lighting angles.

The resulting shot was exposed at F9 for ¼sec at ASA1600 with a focal length of 58mm. A smaller aperture was needed for the depth of field of about a metre, although the larger image shows that the nearest subject is a little out of focus.

The only retouching was applied to the character in the top left of the picture where the portion of face that was in shadow was lightened a little.

Pre-shoot Consultations

Many assignments start with a pre-shoot consultation, during which I discuss a client’s requirements, timescales and delivery of the finished job.

For photography involving people, such as portraiture, lifestyle and event photography, we’ll sit down and chat about what you’re looking for and the environment in which the shoot will take place. With any such assignment it’s important for me to see the location beforehand so that I can get an idea of lighting, shooting angles and features within the environment that might be used to advantage, or those that may present difficulties. For Portraiture and Lifestyle Photography we’ll also discuss what you’ll wear and any accessories that you might use.

For product photography, a pre-shoot consultation gives me an opportunity to see the product and get an idea of how you want to use the images and the sort of results you want to see.

Another important part of the process is to establish a relationship with the client, something I regard as an important part of doing business.

The Seasons: Winter

There’s no denying that snowscapes present some wonderful photo opportunities. They also present us with some issues – specifically exposure. If you allow your camera to control exposure in the snow the chances are you’ll end up with some distinctly underexposed pictures. There’s also a good chances you’ll see a distinct blue cast. This is because snowscapes aren’t average scenes, and when a camera calculates exposure, it’s expecting an average scene. It’s expecting the distribution of light and dark and the balance of colours to be somewhere around grey. In a snow scene however, the average is pretty much white. So the camera needs to be told. The simplest way to do this is to bump up the EV (Exposure Value), which either slows the shutter speed or increases the lens aperture.

The picture above was taken with exposure set to Program mode, which calculated an exposure at 200ASA of 1/250th at f8. You can see from the image that the snow is less than white. Compare this with the photo below.

In this photo an Exposure Value of +1 was dialled in, resulting in both a larger aperture and slower shutter speed, 1/160th at f6.3. The difference is quite pronounced and gives us a truer representation of the scene.

Almost all modern digital cameras from dSLRs to compacts allow you influence the exposure using EV. Many use a dedicated button on the back of the camera, usually signified by a +/- symbol. You can use this creatively for any number of not-so-average scenes, from snowscapes to shooting into the sun. So if you find that using the cameras n=built in metering gives photos that are to dull or missing shadow detail, think about using the EV control to adjust the exposure.