Shoot: Single Strobe - Cheese Grater


Tabletop Photography Fundamentals


Lesson Info

Shoot: Single Strobe - Cheese Grater

So we're going to move into our strobe set up here, and this is pretty much identical to what I set up when I did the test on this, the idea of what we're going to try to do with our cheese grater, which we have back here is, um we're gonna try to find we're gonna actually angle this side is the most reflective and try to fill this whole this whole thing with ah spectral highlight basically, this should go white, shiny white for us that's what that's our goal, but through the process, we're going to work with this and I'm going to show you how just the subtle changes in the direction ofthe reflectivity will change the highlight in it way want to basically do this so that khun b silhouette herbal that's why I was shooting against the white background, we're going to start with the one light, just plain then we're gonna add some fill and then if we get to the point where we're satisfied with that and we just want to try play around with how we can get highlights on the opposite side, we ...

might add our little octo light on the opposite side of the lower power okay, this what power we out on this one it's down to seven point three on the box, okay, so that's it's out of that full power dialed down just a little bit, so this has in between full quarter power half power. There are, like, incremental steps that you could take by kind of adjusting it is a little led panel that you can just adjust it from ten, which is, you know, the highest power you can get eleven if it's, spinal tap or dial backwards from from there in between full and three quarter power, so so we're going to set up like this, so first thing I want to do is, again, I want to get down, I want to look with my eyes, and I could see that as soon as I turn my head like this, I'm starting to pick up some black, which means that I'm my angle of incidence is wrong, so but this is going to be again, a kind of trial and error procedure and setting up like I said, we got this big soft box here, so this thing has the eyes of the cheese grater are watching you the eyes of the cheese grater want to be looking at the white panel that's, basically, how we want this to work, and as we turn it and twisted throughout, can I have an apple box so that when I'm working, I can sit, thank you, so when I'm working at a studio with a camera like this and I know I'm going to be in one position for a long time and it's a low position my my occupational therapist tells me I should be sitting down so um those of you who have had back problems in the past anything that you do repetitive lee will eventually come back to haunt you, so I had a tendency to do this all the time comfortably standing with my camera or leaning over the camera stand, but this is a much better posture for photography and apple box is a perfect height for a lot of the stuff that you do a tabletop. So this is another piece of studio equipment that we haven't really talked about these come in this is a full size apple box, they'll come in half sizes and quarter sizes and you can use these to set up all kinds of things on a tabletop on the floor to stand on to sit on these air really like all purpose kind of pieces of equipment that you'll see in any photo studio so it's a little bit neglectful that we forgot about the poor out the box but that's also that okay, so let's get this going again I'm using a longer lens here because I want to be able to get a little further away probably goingto switch off switch off one hundred to the seven twenty eight to seventy but use it a little bit wider so that I can get a little bit further away to prevent lens flare so if we can switch that out where's it's underneath underneath okay um am I the only person in here that's feeling I think we can cool it down for you it would be really good toe cool off a little bit everyone in the pool this creative life have a pool it's the lights yes it's really right and that is that something in your own studio usually keep the a c up and people when you know when we're working with food we're goingto a lot of times try to keep the room warmer because we don't want everything to get cold really great, which is to my dismay because I am like I heard like you one who runs hot a little bit little bit little bit hot blooded okay, so I'm also going to flip down into the vertical position on this which because this is his camera stand he has the pleasure of teaching me yeah we gotta work we'll probably rotate around the sweat come with me come with me come on, we're dancing, we're dancing we have a couple of old italian guys so john's going to square it up for me and I'm gonna talk you through kind of a little bit he's he's, you know, and the way john is with me on set is very common to the way assistance work with photographers in a studio setting in that the photographer pretty much is we discussed beforehand what we're trying to do. John and I have been talking about these setups for three days, so he knows exactly kind of what we want to do, and he will set it up and get it organized and then from there the photographer will kind of step in and take the shot and then make the talking make adjustments as we go, good assistants are able to anticipate your every move and a lot of has to do with good coordination and communication between you and your assistance and what everyone on set is expected to be doing asst photographer especially in a studio setting, and when you're working with other people, you need to be the the director first and everything else after that. So basically you have to make sure everyone around you understands what their roles are and what they're going to be doing, and you collaborate and lean on the people who have expertise. John is a very good light lighting technician he understands lighting in eight lee so trusting him what I'm asking him to do is it's like having a next ra said, not just an extra set of hands with an extra brain so having an extra brain, you kind of look like a brain, so I'm gonna see what his test shot looked like and it's close um I'm putting my focus right on the corner right here so that that's my focal point so at at all at a small aperture that's going all kind of full in right around that point, I think more so than just about any lighting technique. Strobe lighting is probably the most trial and error because you're not seeing it in real time. You have to kind of take the shot, look and then try to make the adjustment and it's a guesstimate pretty much all the time tio estimate where you want the light to be next year do you do you use your center focus on your camera and not always yeah, because I put I put the center focus in the middle of the frame but it's not always where I want to focus. Sometimes I do something off center using negative space it's not easy to move it on the arm that's true too, and that they mean this camera has what thirty two focal point focal points on it now? I mean the older ones it was harder because they worked that didn't give you the full range of focal points, but with these air pretty easy now, so our first shot you could see pretty clearly that that side is not as white as we would like it, so that means our angle of incidence is wrong, which is intentional at this point because I wanted to show how it could work and we're gonna work. The other thing I notice is that the highlight on the handle is a little too bright so we can probably change our aperture a little bit in this situation because remember we're not worried about shutter speed when we're using strober only managing our exposure through esso and ah aperture so we're we're still in one hundred right? Okay, so we'll go to thirteen and we're going to change that angle, but I think that would probably come back and take a look with eyes because this has got a modeling light in it which is really important with better strobe lighting have what's called model lighting for working in the dark room, which is often the case this is very rare to be sitting in a room this light is powerful enough to push these out, but it's not always the case if you're not, but if usually in a darker room you need modeling, lighting set up for the camera to be able to focus you have to be able to see but it's also helpful and trying to figure out your angle of incidence and see if that's gonna help boom and you can tell right away and if we could put those up side by side that immediately I figured out my angle of incidence is is where it needs to be now that's exactly what I want, but what I see in that situation is the highlight obviously is well again, I can't judge by that I kind of liked that highlight on the handle I think that it's kind of cool because it gives you some definition between the outside and the inside of the handle, but what I might want to do is over under exposed a little bit bring that highlight down type suddenly and then we re introduced some light on the other side, but you could see side by side how dramatically different that one little twist and using your modeling light to kind of to check your angle of incidence really helps. This is not an easy object to photograph for obvious reasons it's got weird texture, it's reflective all over the place and if you're going if you want to achieve something that has some edge to it, we're going, we're going to show you also howto kind of build out this a little bit and make it a little bit better so right now I see the picture on the left is obviously problematic we have a lot of hot black I mean matt black coming through there's a there's a kind of a wavy shadowy thing going on on our shiny side one of the second side is definitely better. We kind of solved the problem of on our key light angle of incidents, but what we really want to try to do now is fill out all the side so I'm gonna try first with a card we could do this with a big card first and as you could see now, john and I are working a lot more comfortably in a true studio setting. We're not fumbling with, uh, things falling over and there's no there's certain pet peeves that a lot of photographers have about different things mine is when stuff falls over or because there's absolutely no excuse for stuff to fall over in a studio if it's if it's secured and it's done properly, things shouldn't fall over john right on cue welcome to the jon and andrew show um, so we're going to get this together now again, if you find this might be the case, we may find that this card is too big. We keep a raising keeps a razor knife in his pocket not because he's a thug, but because we might want to cut these off and make them smaller and kind of fit him to do the things that were going to do here I'm looking at the saying I'm probably not going to get the reflection I want out of this angle but I'm gonna try it anyway because I can see that I think this would probably the light's coming this way right it's sweeping across so that means it's hitting this boom and coming out this way what I might want to do yeah I wanted to see it from the front so the lights coming straight across and it's hitting this boom and then it's coming out here like this right so if that's making its making that kind of forty five which one are we trying to fill this one ok so it's night yeah well we'll see I mean wait talk all day we could get you one of the other so let's look can you put up the second and the third one back to back and eliminate the first one that would be really helpful to look at okay so now we kind of filled almost that whole thing but was one subtle little thing going on there so it's it's back here it might yeah it might be the hole between the two things the hole between the edge of the the sweep and the card so maybe if we took the card in behind it yeah like that maybe that'll help don't let that fall all right we'll try again and keep rolling them next to each other so was show the progression that would be great but you see how that light just makes that chrome just glean it's really nice light and it's really cool if we could get it right where we want it there it is and I feel like we totally have a really really quality product shot on that third one and it's just subtle, subtle trial and error we went from something that had weird, reflective kind of imbalance to something that was truly balanced and clean we have really nice incident of light shining up and around the handle on dh now I think at this point now that we're comfortable with this we can probably try toe play with some black highlights and see if we can make it work without making it look weird with some small black cards what I'd really love to highlight here is something like the edge just that edge possibly even up into this rim it may or may not be something we can do but we're going to try this is the shot that you like and then now you're going to play now I'm gonna play again write that we talked about I've got my shot I gotta go I have a quality product shot that I'm comfortable with and I like it but I think maybe why not? I mean you can't hurt to try to do some things and it may or may not work and that's the whole idea of trying until you fail right? I mean that's kind of where it really is and the other thing we're going to try to do is recreate that third shot with a second light but if you understand the bouncing principles of light a single light source is really sometimes all you need especially a tabletop photography because at these proximate ease that so it's such a tight tight proximity reflected light off white cards is almost as effective as another light sometimes it's easier it's definitely it's definitely more manageable financially toe work with one light yeah could you recreate that with daylight? Do you really need lights to be out to see that that would be it would be a little bit harder I think because I think that you wouldn't get that kind of really really hot pop that's what you need to do that so this is really truly a strobe kind of endeavor I think it would be extremely hard to do with daylight but it would have to be very, very bright they like that's really adequately soft filled so when the light is coming directly through my studio window and I have my big scream in the window possible but it wouldn't be something I would try to do if I was really doing product works like this I would totally use strokes for that okay? So I'm going to look and see it's it's kind of the best thing to do is move it around the other thing you could do is have a little hand mirror and you can kind of try to reflect and see what what angle is coming at harder with black obviously that really works well with when you're working with highlights but so I'm trying to kind of if I'm sitting here where the camera is, I could see that were illuminated really nicely and I see that that angle might work so let's try it oh he's seeking obviously roll it down and see the next one because what I'm really trying to concentrate on is those lines on the edges that's the one we just shot maybe you see the one before it we definitely picked up something you could see it in the handle you could totally see that that bar across which isn't that is not really doesn't bother me at all it's just a it's a it's a little hotter what I do notice is that inside the inside the little smiles of the cheese grater there's a little bit more black detail there's a little bit more it's very, very subtle and that's the whole idea of this we do work in subtleties in this type of work so let's add another one but here's my little mirror that we were talking about where if I'm looking at the way the light is coming and I kind of bounced it across this is kind of you see it immediately when I put it here I could see that shining right on these grates yeah, I think I need to be at the height of it and the reason I'm going with a shape that's very similar in size to that is that I don't want a half of a highlight a half of a catch I want to see if I catch something that goes down the whole line of it so I'm gonna put another one in here and see what that looks like and I'm sort of working off the corners so it's not it's, not kind of random it's I'm really working off the angles of the corners of the cheese grater to see if I can pick up those highlights to the naked eye like right here where I'm looking and can you come here for a sec? John I'm curious because I'm looking at this in that edge highlight looks better to me pull out the first card first one the first small with the first small one yeah okay, I'll put it back and I'll pull out the second one it's hard to tell, but it seems to me like it looks a little more defined but that just might be my imagination but wondering if there's something on that that's possible too yeah can't see that it's not really and this is the scene before we're done, there might be ten pieces of cardboard on the table because you'll just keep putting them until you find something that you like cork holder like with cards exactly, but I did that and yeah, exactly did that with all the cards and everything else but that was I think that was a daylight shot but it was the same concept because it was shot from the top in the daylight coming in from the top can you move that the orange to the other side of that hard andrew terribly mind reiterating exactly what lights and what settings on your lights on inside of those pretty little soft boxes, please? All right, who wasn't watching from the beginning? I want no names I don't want to know right now I got that you're in the shot rooms right immediately using one light right now it's it's a bronc color strobe plugged in to the power pack it's just about at full power but only one light thanks, john don't give in that easy okay? Is that our last latest one and we maybe we could see it side by side you know it may just be that I'm have wishful thinking but that's not the front edge definitely looks like a little blacker to me it definitely looks subtly blacker to me, especially as it goes down it may be very similar at the top but definitely getting a little heavier as it goes down now remember also this is a raw image unprocessed if that if that catches their eye it can be enhanced in in postproduction that contrast could be brought up so that it becomes that even a sharper line so we're giving it we're giving it it's definitely there now that I turned away and look back at it again it's definitely there it's not my imagination or wishful thinking at least that's not what I'm copping to get modeling in this edge well, come here, john if you look at the photo with me yeah let's gaze together okay, so you see how the black highlight on the edge isn't coming down here? You see how it's a little more defined in this one yet a little sharper, so that's kind of where we're at and I think we can corner yeah two corners of the two things I really liked in the way that working out. So you see what john is doing exactly what I was doing before is that you use your eyes and fairly the angle of the camera which is kind of straight on to see if we can pick this up now having that card in the frame is in a problem because as long as I have a footprint around it that I can crop into for this, because obviously we're not gonna we're not goingto just use the whole thing, we might be able to pick up even more edge and and definition with, um, with that card, there may be able to get away with a smaller one, but let's see, if it surely well, I like the fact that it's the full length because I want to maybe see what this is, really what this really might help with is the inside of the handle because this is the inside of the handle its eyeballs are like this looking straight down into that black card, so if we have the right angle here, we might that might kind of increase that edge on the inside of the reflective object inside is getting hit from right here that you might we might end up creating something a weird cat, though, when the light comes across let's, try this first, I have an idea to john when you if this doesn't create what we want it's dark in the dark and the inside of the handle and a dark and a little bit further the did the whole great holes come, you could see from here all right, he's in his own way cos you're looking through the camera, but look, every time we had more black, it gets it gets suddenly better we could see the holes in the in the greater on the left side are darker and more defined and that's what we're looking for right is every one of those little great holes is like a little eyeball and now when we had a little more black the definition between where the hole is and the shiny strobe splash is getting more defined would you ever do a double exposure with the card and without it and marry line together? Yeah, I mean it's possible I mean it's not again it's something that is really common in product photography to use composited images when you lay them on top of each other and they kind of get the best parts of both it's something that isn't totally doable depending on the client and what they wanted teo for sure is what I'm seeing here now this little card now we'll take this down but it's gonna add yeah, so letting it tio here let's take the shot and see what it looks like it might create a little bit of a shadow that is different. Yeah, it did immediately killed the front killed the front you see it? Yeah, yeah so that's subtle little difference and that's what you know it's okay to take a step backwards to go forwards because now we know that that we cannot intercept the light between the object and the key light without creating some kind of a reflection, particularly that we have a proper angle ah, problem angle of incidence so let's see? Okay, so I think I'm satisfied that this last shot that we accomplished with two tall black hard and the one laying on thing has given us even improvement on our original assumption that that one shot that we got was great. We're good now we made it a little bit better. What I want to demonstrate now is how maybe we can start over with a second light and take out the phil cards because now that's going to get even more complicated because now if we have a light source there, putting cards in the way might create more of an issue. So this is where maybe it's simpler to work with one light than it is to work with, too, so maybe not maybe, but we're going to see if we can get a significant change in our in our thing, then we're gonna bring in the round cheese grater. Actually, you know what? Why don't we do the round cheese grater first in the same set up? And then we'll move on to the second light, why don't we do that? Because we've we've we've mastered the four side of cheese grater, you know, I have to say andrew, while you're bringing up around cheese grater, snappy gourmet has a question. You're happy gourmets. Happy gourmet is a return, I think, a returner, because I remember from my first time hi, snappy, uh, they asked, you ever used some kind of dulling spray for reflective or shiny object dulling spray? Yeah, I don't know, you know, I wouldn't. We just try to manage the highlight the best I could. I don't know. Do you have, ah, suggestion for a really good dulling spray student, but it puts a that's a mat coding on there, and I don't think it would look that good. Oh, no, that's, interesting. I've never heard of it, I might try it. Why not? I mean, I'm all for anything that could be, you know, used to change and highlight the things that we're doing. Absolutely so why not?

Class Description

You don’t need a studio to take professional-grade product and still life photographs! All you need is a simple tabletop lighting setup. In this course, award-winning food photographer Andrew Scrivani will show you how to create and tailor your own table top lighting setup — on any budget. Whether you’re a beginning photographer looking to master lighting or a professional photographer eager to expand your services, this course will give you a candid, comprehensive playbook for tabletop lighting.

Tabletop photography transforms a single surface into a small-scale studio. Andrew, a regular contributor to The New York Times, will show you how to create and then optimize your lighting setup for your needs — using everything from the latest gear to household items. Andrew will cover metering and bounce cards, working with strobes and soft boxes, LED lighting, and tips for shooting glassware and other tricky products.

By the end of this course, you will know how to set up and adjust your very own tabletop studio — and how to use that small-scale studio to expand your services, improve your photography, and market your business.


a Creativelive Student

I was pleased to see real life situations and set ups, their work arounds and the little fiddly things all commercial/product photographers go through to produce a viable shot. Unlike some of the other reviews, the "oops, it didn't work, let's try this instead" was totally real world and believable. So many times on other teaching venues, the shot is already set up and perfected before the instruction begins. It was extremely helpful to watch the processes that were involved in producing the correct captures. I was impressed with the humor and teaching style as well, especially for the time constraints in a classroom setting. The student set-ups and critiques were valuable and spot on without being negative in any way. All-in-all this was one of the best classes I've viewed at Creative Live. I just wish I could have had three more days and to have been there in person for the one-on-one instruction.

Aly Cupcakezz

I really liked how things were experimented. Instead of just giving do x, y, z. It shows you how to correct issues as they come up, and how to enhance your photography This gives you a guided idea of all the things you can play with to perfect your product photography image. You really learn how to fix the image problems as they appear in front of you. A very realistic way to create your own personal lighting setup for your product photos for your own studio space. Excellent fundamentals class for new photographers or small businesses attempting to do their own product photography. Thank you!

Sunil Sinha

very nice table top