Demo: Still Life Example with Multiple Lights
So what we're going to do here, is I'm going to show you guys how to photograph some still life. And so what we've got for you, is we've got a wine and cheese plate that we're going to photograph. I'm going to show you how to use strip lights to get a really nice reflection on that, and we'll do a bunch of different lighting scenarios. And see from the camera perspective on set, does this angle work better?
Yeah, that looks fine.
Okay, great, pull our awesome orange chair out. Okay, and I'm going to give myself some space, behind it and in front of it. So this should also be instructive to you to understand that you need to have space all around your set so that you can adjust your lighting. And if your stuff is, you know, if you're in a small room sometimes you just don't have space behind it, so we've got good space all around. So what we've got here, is we've got some grapes, and we've got some awesome cheese, and the cheese is marbled, and so the cheese has lots of color here. ...
And then we've got some crackers, and we've got this wine bottle. And we took the label off the wine on purpose, because I want to show you how to create kind of these vertical strips of light on the wine bottle. That's important, you don't want your wine reflections to be round, ideally you like to have these strips, so. Let's do some tabletop, food photography. And we're going to work kind of fast here, and it's probably not going to be perfect, but it'll be good enough, and you'll get the idea for how this works. Let's start with one light, I'm going to start with my soft box. Have you guys heard of strip lights before? Strip lights, and what a strip light is, is basically a very skinny soft box. A strip light would be, maybe half the width of this, or a quarter of the width of this. Typically, we use strip lights when we're photographing wine bottles. That is very common, that is what gives us the nice reflection on that wine bottle. The nice vertical, tall reflection. So, for this I'm just going to put that right there. Not a perfect strip light, if you don't have strip lights, like you don't even necessarily need to buy strip lights, you can just use black paper. Get some big craft paper and just tape the paper so it covers half of either side of your soft box and then you've got this nice strip. That works out just great, okay. So this is my aperlite, this is my $40 flash I've currently got it at 1/16 power, I think that's probably going to be okay, we'll leave it there. Next up, oh boy... Let's think, I'm just going to use one light here in the foreground for now. Let's think about the background light. I probably want to have some type of rim lighting, to kind of separate the food items from the background. So to do that, I might use a softer light overall, I think I'll use an umbrella, that makes sense to me. And by the way, CreativeLive has a really awesome food photography class. Kenna, maybe you could tell people how they could find that.
Sure, Mike. We actually have a number of food photography classes, so if you go to our catalog under the photography part, and click on food, or search food, that is probably the easiest way to find them, but some awesome classes.
Over the years.
I've watched a few of them and I'm just in awe of what these people can put together. I am not a food photographer, I aspire to be one but, you know, with enough lighting modifiers you can simulate what they do. Watch the class, though, because there's a lot of techniques that I'm not going to really show today that can really set your food photography apart from the rest. So this is going to be our, kind of our rim light, and I might have to end up using the boom arm to get this out of the way. I don't want any of this to kind of show up as a reflection on my wine bottle. So if it does give me a reflection, well, okay, I'm going to have to change things up a bit. So this one is currently at 1/16 power as well. So I've got two flashes for this scenario, and I'm going to start there. If I bring in more lights I might actually just bring in a reflector, and we'll see how that works with the reflector. Okay, I'll pull off our tethered tools table, so everybody can see. And I'll still use this lens I'm thinking about changing out to my 24 to 70, but... We'll start with the 7,200. Okay. Depth of field is an issue, right? So, probably go to F11. Going to need a little more aperture, a little more depth of field, so I went to F11, haven't made any other changes, all the powers on flashes are still at 1/16 power, let's see what we've got. Here we go. Picture number one. Ah, not bad. So let's look at the issues here, issue number one is it's a little dark, okay, we can deal with that, we'll just increase the power. Issue number two, the reflection on the wine bottle only extends half of the way down the edge of the wine bottle. Okay, so what does that mean? It means I have to get my soft box a little bit lower. I'm going to do that real quick here. Okay, come on, there we go. And actually, to do this, I think I might... Would you come up and just hold this for me? That way we can make some moves a little bit faster. Just hold it about right there. Got it?
Tell me if that's good there.
Yeah that's good, and then I'm going to increase the power to 1/8 power and also I'm going to increase the power on this one to 1/8 power, probably should go two stops brighter but that's good enough for now. There we go. And while we're doing that I'm going to pull, would one of you come up and hold the reflector for me? Just to show that you don't necessarily have to have five lights to pull this off. Oh, yeah, that's looking a little better. Still not perfect, but what I want you to do is just to hold that about right there, yeah. And that'll shed some more, a little bit more light on the seam. I'm going to increase the power in this one, so, quarter power, and I want you to drop it down a little bit more. And actually, come over this way a little bit. Right there, perfect. And this back one, I'm also going to go back up to a quarter power. Sweet! I think this will be our last shot of this one. I have a good feeling. Mhmmm. Yeah, that's going to look good. Here we go, one, I don't have to tell the thing one, two, three, it's an inanimate object. You see all the little conversations I have in my head. Oh yeah, that's looking better. So, okay, cool, thank you guys. If you want, you can just set that one down on the ground, face down. Yeah, and you can just lean that one right there against the table. Not a bad shot, I still, given more time, I would actually take some more time to get that reflection just right on the wine bottle, but you get a good feel for what it takes to create nice, a nice lighted look, a nice lighting on a still life object. Some of the things we did here is we arranged, we arranged the food, we kind of sliced some cheese off to make it look a little bit more appealing. And then of course taking that label off the wine bottle allows us to have that reflection on there. I didn't get the reflection perfect, but with a little more time, and maybe moving the light in a little closer, would've done it. So, five lights, five lights in the studio. Five lights is difficult to work with, initially it can be a little bit daunting, a little bit intimidating, but hopefully today I've showed you that you can fairly simply, with a straightforward, you can create a nice look with five lights. My encouragement to you is start with one, go to two, and then three, and then four, and five. Work at it systematically, make a change on one light, and then bring in the other lights and make a change with that. We've shown you lots of different lighting modifiers, and that was a lot of fun to see the differences between the strip boxes, and the octas, and the soft boxes, so hopefully you learned a thing or two today about multiple flash photography. Go follow me on Instagram of course, that's @MikeJHagen, the J stands for John, So @MikeJHagen, on Facebook we've got VisualAdventuresCo, is from Visual Adventures Company. And then you can find me on Twitter, @MikeJHagen. But I try to stay active on there, and I always get back to people right away, or as soon as I can, so if you guys have questions, feel free to email me, you'll find my stuff on my website. Visual, or, I'm sorry, VisAdventures.com, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I love bantering back and forth with people out there, and I love being helpful, so use me, but don't abuse me.