Friday, September 18, 2009

Easy as RGB

I bought some food coloring the other day and decided this morning would be a good time to play a little bit. Pulled down a few wine flutes and started playing mad scientist. Somehow, if adding food coloring to water is my idea of being a "mad scientist" I really have to start getting out more. Photographing glassware is trickier than I had given it credit for. Each time I added another light it seemed like I added another problem. What started out as a table, a piece of glass and three pieces of stemware wound up being two speedlites, a couple of gobos, a couple of negative (black) reflectors, a wireless trigger, some cards, adjustments to the speedlites and upping the EV on the camera and a lot more involvement than I was planning. The colors recorded great. I liked the way each color was represented. The glassware, on the other hand, was a bear. Reflections where they should be, highlights in places that looked sort of dumb and gave away the locations of the lights. What was supposed to be a ten minute exercise ended up being a master class in light placement. To discover what trials I went through, hit the "read more".

First thing that came up was that my white wall wasn't. Under the speedlites it came out bluish. Note to self. Buy a more neutral white paint. The next thing was the spread of the light. First try was a one light setup. That resulted in a very nice spot and a dramatic fall off of light. Not what I was going for. Next was two lights positioned under the table the stemware was on. Now I had two spots instead of one. I could see that controlling light falloff was going to be "an issue". The big thing the two light setup resulted in was sort of a Joker smile slash of light on the wall. Brought the lights out from under the table and set them to each side of the table. Plan was to skim them across the wall and mathematically even themselves out. What I wound up with was light spilling into the camera. Not good.
Time to break out some gobos. Set them to get rid of the extraneous light flying into the camera. It was then I noticed a couple of red highlights in the glass. After trying several things to either eliminate the red or, at least, find out what was producing it, it came down to the speedlite's red "I'm ready to go" light. Grabbed a black flag and the red spots were toast.
The whole episode was an exercise in chasing down one little thing after another. Once I finally got a selection into Photoshop it was pretty straight forward by comparison. Hey, live and learn. If you're not constantly learning new things you might as well sign up for that lobotomy every one's been suggesting.