Lighting Tag

A lot of manufacturers say that they are dedicated to the small world of macro photography - and they point to one lens in their range with that word on the barrel. Or to a small flower symbol somewhere in their digital menu. Mount the lens or press the icon and all will be tiny and in perfect focus...

I have permission to tell you this tale - from the principal in the story. A noted international photographer who lives in Perth worked hard all day - indeed he works hard every day because he is good at what he does and the people who buy photography buy it from him. Anyway, he went home in his car and unloaded it. But due to the hard-working day and the need to continue that hard work with the post-processing, he had a little lapse of memory - he left a bag of Profoto portable studio strobes in his car. Don't judge him - we all forget sometimes. He was awoken the next morning by the neighbour telling him that his car had been damaged. Indeed - a back window stove in by some random thief and that bag of Profotos gone...

Look at the heading image - it is a neat nylon bag from the English firm, Lastolite. It contains a solution to a problem that you may not know you have. First, let me show you my problem: There it is - the steel-framed elephant in the room. Proof, if any were needed by now, that I should never be trusted with a yellow pad and a pencil - and certainly never turned loose in Bunnings with money. It is my adaptation of a Steve Sint design for a product table as routed through Bunnings Myaree. It has steel frames, perspex sheet, pine stringers, Manfrotto 035 Super Clamps, and IKEA extension cord holders. There are Elinchrom monoblocks and an orphan SLS strobe bolted on. It's only the strict firearms laws in this state that stopped me from adding an Oerlikon mount...

I proceeded to the Murray Street premises of Camera Electronic and interviewed the store manager, Domenic Papalia. He opened the Canon show cabinet and took out a Canon Macro EF-S 35mm f:2.8 IS STM lens and a Canon 70D camera. After ascertaining that there was a charge in the battery, Mr. Papalia admitted that the lens had an inbuilt lighting system that could be actuated by a button on the side. Subsequent tests showed this to be the case  - the button has three positions: high power, low power and off. The lens has aperture stops ranging down to f:29 - which is quite unusual for many small digital lenses. It autofocuses, as well as manually focusing once you release the locking. It contaains internal stabilisation. The picture of the SD card may not be art but it is science enough to show you how close and big it will go. The advantage of the two LED lights is seen when you are this close - otherwise, it is nearly impossible to obtrude other lights in front of the lens at such a distance....

Do we all love the household trade pavilion at the Royal Show? I know I do - you can have the midway rides and the petting zoo - give me the spruikers demonstrating tomato slicers any day. If I miss out on seeing the Miracle Window Cleaner take half a kilo of margarine off a sheet of glass I reckon I haven't been to the show. And it's not just for the benefit of the rural seeds - I'm standing there gawping along with them. I get my Jethro on...

Well, you've got your product there waiting for your magic, and like all products, it has an outside and an inside. If you're selling either one of these you'll want the people to see what it looks like.  So you deliberately set up 8 separate strobe banks controlled by a computer to shoot from all sides. Two air conditioners play on the set to prevent the thing from melting under the modelling lights and a one-bar heater is on you to prevent frostbite from the air conditioners. Every time you switch it all on, Collie Power Station has to shift down a gear. Who said it wasn't a man's life in the regular product shooters...

I got older early in life. One of the benefits of this was I discovered that I did not know it all. And that I could get into a rut. And then I figured out that you could listen around the edges and read the next page and pick up ideas. They might not have been good ideas, but at least they put you in a new rut instead of the old one. Thus my new studio routine was born. I instituted it after reading Steve Sint's book on product photography. Sint is a commercial shooter in New York who does weddings and products. He publishes through the Pixiq company at present thought some of his work is by other publishers. He writes well, and amusingly, and had never put me wrong. I can't do all the things he does, but whenever I do something he recommends, it works. He does, as I say, tabletop shoots. That is what product illustration and some concept shooting amounts to. Also what catalogue shooting really is but no-one ever admits it. The difference between what Mr. Sint...