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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When natural light and a reflector can help creating a studio shot

When playing with lights sometimes you never know how many you might need and if you don't have enough, well you still have the sun to help you. For these photos I had two SB800 but, to achieve the desired effect I needed an extra help.

No "moving" reflector has been used for
this shot
First of all let’s see how I organized the table. I have a squared piece of glass sitting on top of four plastic cups to separate it from the base. Under the glass there is one SB800 with a red gel, above the glass we have the Molix' Finder 110 sprayed with water. Off camera right slightly above the subject is the other SB800 through a translucent umbrella, while the window of the room is opened and its position is again on camera right.

Here we are using the "moving" reflector
but the SB800 with the red gel has been turned off
On camera left a friend is holding a silver reflector with a bit of a hammered surface; is not flat and smooth and it works better for what I want to achieve. The exposure time is 2 seconds, enough to be able to play with the light coming from the window and mix it with the speedlights.

Shot taken with the setting described in
the post
When I take the shot my friend is moving the reflector for the 2 seconds of the exposure and the light coming from the uneven silver surface paints some sort of “blurred” background with liquid lights and shadows while the product has been perfectly lit by the SB800. The water sitting on the glass surface also helps achieving this result but as you can see in the three shots, the difference really pops out.

It is very exciting for me to always explore new ways of lighting a product, the studio gives you so many different opportunities and the subjects never complain J I hope this give you some ideas for your studio work and if you think of a way to improve it your comments are always welcome.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lightroom 4.1 final version

After my terrifying experience with LR 4.0 and the volume of negative comments running around the web I thought that the guys at Adobe would have to work hard to fix all the bugs the program was carrying along, and they should work fast too because the competitors are fierce and ready to snack on any failing software, especially if it comes from the nº 1 in the industry.

My major problem was speed, so I worked on two directions, first of all I upgraded my main hard disk to a 2TB unit and my graphic card to a 1GB model, and my second move was to wait until Adobe would come out with a final version of 4.1, since the Beta was still presenting some flaws.

Last week the final version of 4.1 was announced so I diligently downloaded my tons of megabytes and installed right after 4.0. Things, I must confess, have changed quite a bit, the workflow is faster, the banding has disappeared and 4.1 is usable now. Let me be perfectly clear, is not as fast as 3.6, still is quite sluggish when moving from image to image or when is “thinking” and loading an image in the 1:1 view but for sure there’s an improvement since my previous post.

The trouble remains when using the clone tool and paint brush but I think there’s a way around it. There is a major difference if you use the clone tool at the beginning of your process or at the end (or midway) of it; when used at the beginning it works quite normally but if you have played with other sliders before, it can become a bit of a pain in the neck. The paint brush works a bit smoother but it is also affected by how far have you gone with your editing.

From what I have read in the net the culprits seem to be the clarity slider and the chromatic aberration and sharpening modules. My investigation hasn’t go far enough to study the individual parts so I cannot add much more to what I have learnt from others, but anyone can do a test at home and see how it works for him. Bear in mind that everyone has a different story, and what might work for me is probably not working for somebody else and vice versa so the true experience is the one you can make in your own machine.

This is it for the moment, hope it helped a bit, any question drop a comment; I might be out for few days but will be back on the 19th

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lightroom 4.0, what a headhache!

More or less three weeks ago I bought Lightroom 4.0, the improvements and features over 3.6 looked so promising that I didn't hesitate a second to order it. Once installed I stared to update few photos to the new version; I was aware that the program was going to interpreter the settings and adapt them and I also knew that the images would probably look quite different. This was indeed confirmed so I had to re-edit a bit of photos, but I discovered it was extremely hard.

The program was sluggish to say at least, the lag when moving the mouse around the image, or clicking from one photo to another or doing all sort of thing I could easily do on 3.6 had become incredibly long. But this wasn't the worst problem, in fact once I started playing with the clone tool and paint brush things went out of control. The delay became unbearable and surprise surprise, a very odd green banding started to show up in my monitor. What was even more annoying was the fact that the green banding would also transfer to the photos exported to a folder in my hard disk, turning them unusable. 

I browsed a bit the web and discovered that I wasn’t the only one with such problem, in fact hundreds of people, at least among those following specialist forums, were suffering the same delays and other more or less important flaws. Adobe put out in extreme hurry a 4.1 version that haven’t sort out the lag problems, is a beta and the final version will be released in June but it looks like they still have some work to do.

To make a long story short I deleted 4.0 from my PC and went back to 3.6a giving up the truly amazing new features that the new Lightroom was packed with. I don’t think Adobe will refund me for the purchase of 4.0 and I’m not even interested, what bugs me is that I will have to wait until they come up with software that rolls at least as well as the previous one. I have learnt my lesson the hard way, next time before any upgrade I’ll let the others do the test for me and then decide whether to join in or not. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making of...

How do you think I made this photo? Few hints: There's one main light and a fill light and in the background there's a .... The exposure is 4 seconds, does it ring a bell? New high tech stuff can make miracles for your studio shots