Lighting door slabs in a studio?

Started Feb 15, 2013 | Questions
kcrudolph
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Lighting door slabs in a studio?
Feb 15, 2013

To start, I am an Art Director for a small agency. I have taken college photography classes and been taking pictures for the last 8 years. I've only done small table top product shoots for clients, headshots by a window using natural light and outdoor shots to this point. My company oversold my abilities and now I am shooting door slabs in a studio for a client.

I can rent pretty much anything I need from the studio so my question is just about setup.

How should I shoot these door slabs? I am thinking I should lay them down flat and shoot from above. I have to fly down to Phoenix on a Monday night and setup/shoot Tuesday and a half day Wednesday so I can't make anything before to hold the doors upright.

I shoot a 5D Mark II with a Sigma 24-70 F2.8 lens.

Any suggestions on lighting/setup would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks.

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Peter Berressem
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 15, 2013

kcrudolph wrote:

How should I shoot these door slabs? I am thinking I should lay them down flat and shoot from above.

The size of the doors, resp. the large needed shooting distance, wouldn't make me shooting them from above. Can't you rent simple sawhorses, which are hidden by the doors, to lean the doors to? Leaning the doors slightly back-angled is also possible.

You need a pretty wide distance for the main light to avoid severe fall-off, i.e to get an even light across the door.

What background is planned?

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cheers, Peter
Germany

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Duncan C
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 15, 2013

What's a door slab? Was there supposed to be an image attached to this post?

For general purpose documentary photography, a large-ish softbox (relative to subject size) from above, and slightly in front of, your subject is a good place to start. If your door slabs are 6 feet long, you probably want a 4ft x 6 ft softbox to light it to best effect. Then you want a light stand and boom big and strong enough to suspend it over the object being shot.

If you can rent anything, and money isn't a major concern, I'd say rent a 800 WS studio flash, 4ft x 6ft softbox, and light stand and counterweighted boom heavy enough to suspend the softbox above your door slabs, out of camera view and slightly in front.

If the softbox/boom is too hard to pull off, you could also just shoot in a room with white ceilings and walls, and aim a studio flash with a 60 degree reflector up at the ceiling, and flood the room with light. That would give nice even light that's slightly directional.

(You'll also need a flash meter and a crash course on using it.)

kcrudolph wrote:

To start, I am an Art Director for a small agency. I have taken college photography classes and been taking pictures for the last 8 years. I've only done small table top product shoots for clients, headshots by a window using natural light and outdoor shots to this point. My company oversold my abilities and now I am shooting door slabs in a studio for a client.

I can rent pretty much anything I need from the studio so my question is just about setup.

How should I shoot these door slabs? I am thinking I should lay them down flat and shoot from above. I have to fly down to Phoenix on a Monday night and setup/shoot Tuesday and a half day Wednesday so I can't make anything before to hold the doors upright.

I shoot a 5D Mark II with a Sigma 24-70 F2.8 lens.

Any suggestions on lighting/setup would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks.

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5D Mark II

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sam photo
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 16, 2013

....if you are in a rental studio then I would suggest making a deal with someone running the studio to help you...it doesn't sound like you know where to begin if you are asking about how to position/light the product...if the client has spent money on your travel and studio rental, this seems like a pretty difficult place for you to be in...if you come up short, there will be considerable expense involved that will have to be explained...

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BAK
BAK
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 16, 2013

Art director, eh?

So you know that you need to have a layout for the ad, flyer, folder, brochure, catalog page, whatever.

And you know that you need to match the shot to the layout.

DOOR SLAB: I figure that a door slab is the "wood" part of a door, such as you would find on the entrance to a house, covering the front of a closet, blocking the view into a bathroom, etc., BUT WITHOUT HARDWARE. No hinges, no knobs, no locks, and probably no artistic or decorative painting.

But there may be raised areas, designs where some of the door is thicker than other parts, etc.

So you have a 3 foot by 7 foot flat, couple of inches thick, unaccented subject.

If this was my project, I'd get some good idea of how these door slabs are displayed at retail (assuming they are)

My bet is that they are on a vertical rack, similar to how many retailers display rugs, or art galleries display low-end pictures.

Bottom line, standing on their bottoms, vertically, on an agle, looking sort fo like they were half open when installed, so you can see both the front surface and the edge that will eventually hold the lockset.

BAK

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Barrie Davis
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to Duncan C, Feb 16, 2013

Duncan C wrote:

What's a door slab? Was there supposed to be an image attached to this post?

Perhaps door slab is what I call a door? Something like ths.... ?

(scroll down a little)

http://internaldoorsuk.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=41&products_id=11&gclid=CNySw9PTurUCFZDKtAodjzcADw

(bigger, but not much).....

http://internaldoorsuk.com/index.php?main_page=popup_image&pID=112

For general purpose documentary photography, a large-ish softbox (relative to subject size) from above, and slightly in front of, your subject is a good place to start. If your door slabs are 6 feet long, you probably want a 4ft x 6 ft softbox to light it to best effect. Then you want a light stand and boom big and strong enough to suspend it over the object being shot.

Hmmm... I'm not sure that a large light source is what would be best, here.

It happens that the shots I linked appear to be taken with something that's rather smaller than a softbox, say a GP reflectoror even, (wait for it!) a Fresnel spot!
As may be seen in the samples, the light is slightly spotted, and displays the drop-off into diagonal corners that gives the mouldings some 3-D context, so that they are not entirely even all across.

I think the addtional texture is preferable as a lighting signature, but hey...(shrugs)

Fill lighting...

I would try bouncing a light from the wall behind camera as a gentle fill, but it must be done with a mind to not generating a reflection in the doors. Better no fill at all than the wood grain reflecting, I think. If the lighting is too harsh without fill, excess contrast/shadows could be eased a bit in post processing (I'm speculating here) along with straightforward cropping at the product's edge to get a cut-out effect..[??]...which would save using any background material.

Setting up....

I agree that the doors would be easiest leaned against something.... perhaps a folded stepladder that itself is leaning against a wall..?? This would help greatly in getting the same angle from one door to the next, meaning the squaring up would be much simplified. Bedding the ladder against the wall on a couple of blobs of Blu-Tack would ensure it doesn't get jiggled out of position during repeated door swaps.

For squaring up the camera, I would use a little mirror in the same fashion as for copying art works..

* Position mirror flat against the dead centre of the leaned door.
* Position camera on tripod so that the mirror is visible in the dead centre of the frame (live view?)
* Whilst keeping the mirror in centre frame, move camera/tripod bodily until the reflection of lens appears in the centre of the mirror. This part is not so simple, actually, but you only have to do it once.

Note: The centre of the first door can be found by stretching crossed strings from diagonal corners. Likewise, the centre of the mirror is found by similarly drawing crossed diagonals on it with a felt-tip pen or wax pencil ..(Chinagraph). It also helps to shine a light at the camera whilst squaring up, so that you can see it properly in the mirror. I would prefer a manual focus lens at this stage... you can swap to any convenient lens when camera is correctly squared.

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Regards,
Baz
"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

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Duncan C
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to Barrie Davis, Feb 17, 2013

I defer to Baz's judgement as far as large light source vs a spot. I'm an amateur. He's a working pro, and knows of what he speaks.

As far as propping the door slabs up, I'd probably bring a hammer, some nails, a hand saw, and 3 or 4 6 ft 2x4s. I'd make a couple of right angle triangles at the angle that I wanted the door to lean, with cross-pieces holding the 2 triangles together, making a makeshift stand. I'd then lean the door slabs against the stand.

I like BAK's idea of angling the doors slightly towards the camera as if the door was ajar. (Then again he's another working pro...)

Duncan

Barrie Davis wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

What's a door slab? Was there supposed to be an image attached to this post?

Perhaps door slab is what I call a door? Something like ths.... ?

(scroll down a little)

http://internaldoorsuk.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=41&products_id=11&gclid=CNySw9PTurUCFZDKtAodjzcADw

(bigger, but not much).....

http://internaldoorsuk.com/index.php?main_page=popup_image&pID=112

For general purpose documentary photography, a large-ish softbox (relative to subject size) from above, and slightly in front of, your subject is a good place to start. If your door slabs are 6 feet long, you probably want a 4ft x 6 ft softbox to light it to best effect. Then you want a light stand and boom big and strong enough to suspend it over the object being shot.

Hmmm... I'm not sure that a large light source is what would be best, here.

It happens that the shots I linked appear to be taken with something that's rather smaller than a softbox, say a GP reflectoror even, (wait for it!) a Fresnel spot!
As may be seen in the samples, the light is slightly spotted, and displays the drop-off into diagonal corners that gives the mouldings some 3-D context, so that they are not entirely even all across.

I think the addtional texture is preferable as a lighting signature, but hey...(shrugs)

Fill lighting...

I would try bouncing a light from the wall behind camera as a gentle fill, but it must be done with a mind to not generating a reflection in the doors. Better no fill at all than the wood grain reflecting, I think. If the lighting is too harsh without fill, excess contrast/shadows could be eased a bit in post processing (I'm speculating here) along with straightforward cropping at the product's edge to get a cut-out effect..[??]...which would save using any background material.

Setting up....

I agree that the doors would be easiest leaned against something.... perhaps a folded stepladder that itself is leaning against a wall..?? This would help greatly in getting the same angle from one door to the next, meaning the squaring up would be much simplified. Bedding the ladder against the wall on a couple of blobs of Blu-Tack would ensure it doesn't get jiggled out of position during repeated door swaps.

For squaring up the camera, I would use a little mirror in the same fashion as for copying art works..

* Position mirror flat against the dead centre of the leaned door.
* Position camera on tripod so that the mirror is visible in the dead centre of the frame (live view?)
* Whilst keeping the mirror in centre frame, move camera/tripod bodily until the reflection of lens appears in the centre of the mirror. This part is not so simple, actually, but you only have to do it once.

Note: The centre of the first door can be found by stretching crossed strings from diagonal corners. Likewise, the centre of the mirror is found by similarly drawing crossed diagonals on it with a felt-tip pen or wax pencil ..(Chinagraph). It also helps to shine a light at the camera whilst squaring up, so that you can see it properly in the mirror. I would prefer a manual focus lens at this stage... you can swap to any convenient lens when camera is correctly squared.

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Regards,
Baz
"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

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Barrie Davis
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"Acting unpaid".... as we say
In reply to Duncan C, Feb 18, 2013

Duncan C wrote:

I defer to Baz's judgement as far as large light source vs a spot. I'm an amateur. He's a working pro, and knows of what he speaks.

As far as propping the door slabs up, I'd probably bring a hammer, some nails, a hand saw, and 3 or 4 6 ft 2x4s. I'd make a couple of right angle triangles at the angle that I wanted the door to lean, with cross-pieces holding the 2 triangles together, making a makeshift stand. I'd then lean the door slabs against the stand.

I like BAK's idea of angling the doors slightly towards the camera as if the door was ajar. (Then again he's another working pro...)

I am no longer a working pro, Duncan. I'm now fully retired and drawing my pension.

As the retired gynae-man said, I still like to keep my hand in...!... so I have been doing some press and PR shots for an amatuer theatre group my son is involved with..

.... also some documenting of archeological digs done by more amatuers, a section of something we have here called U3A.

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Baz
"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

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Yan Duval
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 18, 2013

I guess you also need a lens that shows little or simple distorsion in order to be able to correct it perfectly.  You own a good lens, is it good for that task?  Let us know how you fare!

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Yan

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Zalafoto USA
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 18, 2013

I have done similar product photography for cabinet door manufacturing company for years.

For years and years I had to shoot them straight on, but the last shoot I shot them from an angle. I can not find the setup BTS shot, but I know I used heavy wood boxes to support the doors. Used tape to mark doors, so the next was easy to place in the exact same position. That also made the images look uniform, because all doors were in the same angle, exact same placement.

I shot them upright position. Used a large 4 or 5 ft parabolic as fill camera right (right next to cam). A smaller 2x3ft softbox was placed camera right, little bit behind subject to create the accent light. I think I removed the diffusion panel from the sb to make it harsher and to help create 3d look.

Actual layout in the catalog

I shot probably more than a hundred set of doors. It took a little time to create a setup that would work on doors with hardly any grooves and also for more 3 dimensional pieces. They also had some really shiny and some really dull finishes. I had to be sure not to have softbox reflections, just nice highlights.

Good luck. Hope this helps.

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kcrudolph
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to Peter Berressem, Feb 18, 2013

Peter Berressem wrote:

kcrudolph wrote:

How should I shoot these door slabs? I am thinking I should lay them down flat and shoot from above.

The size of the doors, resp. the large needed shooting distance, wouldn't make me shooting them from above. Can't you rent simple sawhorses, which are hidden by the doors, to lean the doors to? Leaning the doors slightly back-angled is also possible.

You need a pretty wide distance for the main light to avoid severe fall-off, i.e to get an even light across the door.

What background is planned?

-- hide signature --

cheers, Peter
Germany

They are standard size entry doors. Do you not think the 9' studio stand will provide enough distance?

There won't be a background since all these shots will be COB'd. So just white for the shoot.

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5D Mark II

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kcrudolph
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to BAK, Feb 18, 2013

BAK wrote:

Art director, eh?

So you know that you need to have a layout for the ad, flyer, folder, brochure, catalog page, whatever.

And you know that you need to match the shot to the layout.

DOOR SLAB: I figure that a door slab is the "wood" part of a door, such as you would find on the entrance to a house, covering the front of a closet, blocking the view into a bathroom, etc., BUT WITHOUT HARDWARE. No hinges, no knobs, no locks, and probably no artistic or decorative painting.

But there may be raised areas, designs where some of the door is thicker than other parts, etc.

So you have a 3 foot by 7 foot flat, couple of inches thick, unaccented subject.

If this was my project, I'd get some good idea of how these door slabs are displayed at retail (assuming they are)

My bet is that they are on a vertical rack, similar to how many retailers display rugs, or art galleries display low-end pictures.

Bottom line, standing on their bottoms, vertically, on an agle, looking sort fo like they were half open when installed, so you can see both the front surface and the edge that will eventually hold the lockset.

BAK

I have multiple concepts for the brochure these will be used in already. Beauty shots and some slab and hardware shots already exist so I will be shooting at the same angle as those that already exist, which is straight on. No choice there really.

After consulting with a local photographer and going over the rental list I am using a 9' Foba Studio Stand to shoot from overhead with 2 Arri HMI lights with softboxes and 6x6 scrims to diffuse the light. I will start at 45 degree angles from either side and adjust to achieve the lighting I'm looking for.

Does this sound like a good setup for this shoot?

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5D Mark II

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kcrudolph
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to Zalafoto USA, Feb 18, 2013

Zalafoto USA wrote:

I have done similar product photography for cabinet door manufacturing company for years.

For years and years I had to shoot them straight on, but the last shoot I shot them from an angle. I can not find the setup BTS shot, but I know I used heavy wood boxes to support the doors. Used tape to mark doors, so the next was easy to place in the exact same position. That also made the images look uniform, because all doors were in the same angle, exact same placement.

I shot them upright position. Used a large 4 or 5 ft parabolic as fill camera right (right next to cam). A smaller 2x3ft softbox was placed camera right, little bit behind subject to create the accent light. I think I removed the diffusion panel from the sb to make it harsher and to help create 3d look.

Actual layout in the catalog

I shot probably more than a hundred set of doors. It took a little time to create a setup that would work on doors with hardly any grooves and also for more 3 dimensional pieces. They also had some really shiny and some really dull finishes. I had to be sure not to have softbox reflections, just nice highlights.

Good luck. Hope this helps.

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Thanks for sharing your work! Everything helps. I will post the results in a couple weeks after the shoot.

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5D Mark II

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kcrudolph
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to Barrie Davis, Feb 18, 2013

Barrie Davis wrote:

Duncan C wrote:

What's a door slab? Was there supposed to be an image attached to this post?

Perhaps door slab is what I call a door? Something like ths.... ?

(scroll down a little)

http://internaldoorsuk.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=41&products_id=11&gclid=CNySw9PTurUCFZDKtAodjzcADw

(bigger, but not much).....

http://internaldoorsuk.com/index.php?main_page=popup_image&pID=112

For general purpose documentary photography, a large-ish softbox (relative to subject size) from above, and slightly in front of, your subject is a good place to start. If your door slabs are 6 feet long, you probably want a 4ft x 6 ft softbox to light it to best effect. Then you want a light stand and boom big and strong enough to suspend it over the object being shot.

Hmmm... I'm not sure that a large light source is what would be best, here.

It happens that the shots I linked appear to be taken with something that's rather smaller than a softbox, say a GP reflectoror even, (wait for it!) a Fresnel spot!
As may be seen in the samples, the light is slightly spotted, and displays the drop-off into diagonal corners that gives the mouldings some 3-D context, so that they are not entirely even all across.

I think the addtional texture is preferable as a lighting signature, but hey...(shrugs)

Fill lighting...

I would try bouncing a light from the wall behind camera as a gentle fill, but it must be done with a mind to not generating a reflection in the doors. Better no fill at all than the wood grain reflecting, I think. If the lighting is too harsh without fill, excess contrast/shadows could be eased a bit in post processing (I'm speculating here) along with straightforward cropping at the product's edge to get a cut-out effect..[??]...which would save using any background material.

Setting up....

I agree that the doors would be easiest leaned against something.... perhaps a folded stepladder that itself is leaning against a wall..?? This would help greatly in getting the same angle from one door to the next, meaning the squaring up would be much simplified. Bedding the ladder against the wall on a couple of blobs of Blu-Tack would ensure it doesn't get jiggled out of position during repeated door swaps.

For squaring up the camera, I would use a little mirror in the same fashion as for copying art works..

* Position mirror flat against the dead centre of the leaned door.
* Position camera on tripod so that the mirror is visible in the dead centre of the frame (live view?)
* Whilst keeping the mirror in centre frame, move camera/tripod bodily until the reflection of lens appears in the centre of the mirror. This part is not so simple, actually, but you only have to do it once.

Note: The centre of the first door can be found by stretching crossed strings from diagonal corners. Likewise, the centre of the mirror is found by similarly drawing crossed diagonals on it with a felt-tip pen or wax pencil ..(Chinagraph). It also helps to shine a light at the camera whilst squaring up, so that you can see it properly in the mirror. I would prefer a manual focus lens at this stage... you can swap to any convenient lens when camera is correctly squared.

-- hide signature --

Regards,
Baz
"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

Thanks for the mirror technique. That sounds like a great way to get lined up.

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5D Mark II

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BAK
BAK
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 19, 2013

My concern would be that if the lights are high, the illumination path from fixture to door top would be significantly shorter than the distance from fixture to door bottom, making the bottom darker.

BAK

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Barrie Davis
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 19, 2013

kcrudolph wrote:

BAK wrote:

Art director, eh?

So you know that you need to have a layout for the ad, flyer, folder, brochure, catalog page, whatever.

And you know that you need to match the shot to the layout.

DOOR SLAB: I figure that a door slab is the "wood" part of a door, such as you would find on the entrance to a house, covering the front of a closet, blocking the view into a bathroom, etc., BUT WITHOUT HARDWARE. No hinges, no knobs, no locks, and probably no artistic or decorative painting.

But there may be raised areas, designs where some of the door is thicker than other parts, etc.

So you have a 3 foot by 7 foot flat, couple of inches thick, unaccented subject.

If this was my project, I'd get some good idea of how these door slabs are displayed at retail (assuming they are)

My bet is that they are on a vertical rack, similar to how many retailers display rugs, or art galleries display low-end pictures.

Bottom line, standing on their bottoms, vertically, on an agle, looking sort fo like they were half open when installed, so you can see both the front surface and the edge that will eventually hold the lockset.

BAK

I have multiple concepts for the brochure these will be used in already. Beauty shots and some slab and hardware shots already exist so I will be shooting at the same angle as those that already exist, which is straight on. No choice there really.

After consulting with a local photographer and going over the rental list I am using a 9' Foba Studio Stand to shoot from overhead with 2 Arri HMI lights with softboxes and 6x6 scrims to diffuse the light. I will start at 45 degree angles from either side and adjust to achieve the lighting I'm looking for.

Does this sound like a good setup for this shoot?

No. That is my idea of exactly the wrong lighting for the subject.

Well, put it this way... If the doors are flat, with no moulding or other 3-dimensional feature, flat copy lighting is acceptable, if boring.

However, if they have any texture, (as the panelled doors I linked to, have) then lighting them with large diffuse lights, and equally from either side, will take their main feature of texture and relief and kill it stone dead. (sigh) Why do you think I suggested using a skim light, if not to reveal the texture?

I think it would be a good idea if you showed us what has been acceptable to the client previously, so that we can see what you are actually trying to get.

In regard of vertical shooting, that is another no-no....

Even WITH full remote control of the camera through tethering to a computer, I think you would be making life vastly difficult for yourself by sticking the camera 9 feet up on a Foba stand. It just isn't far enough, (high enough) for a 6 foot subject.. The close working would necessitate a wide angle lens, which has multiple disadvantages in this application.

Firstly, it will be very hard to get truly square-on, even using the mirror... and any minor lack of squareness will be magnified by being close.

Also, a wide angle lens will increase the acceptance angle for reflection from the lights falling on the subject. Indeed, it may even be impossible to find anywhere in the studio that does NOT reflect in the subject.... especially if you insist on using those large light sources.

Don't make life difficult. Shoot from as far away as possible, horizontally along the length of the studio, and using the longest f-length that can be accomodated in the space... . 16 feet plus, if you've got it. Framing and lighting will be much easier, and that means done better, and done quicker.

Physically it iwill be easier, too. You can simply stand behind the camera and observe the subject through the viewfinder. You will NOT be standing on one leg at the very top of a stepladder and craning dangerously, in order just to get your eye to the eyepiece. Neither will you be performing this feat of acrobatics with the stepladder ITSELF straddling the subject, and obscuring all the lighting while it does it.

Believe me. My description is no exaggeration. I have been there. This mode of photography isn't fun. It always is worth finding ways to be able to shoot while standing on the floor .... and we have ALREADY told you how to do that.

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Regards,
Baz
"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

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Barrie Davis
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Nice shooting, Mister (nt)
In reply to Zalafoto USA, Feb 19, 2013
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Baz
"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

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Peter Berressem
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nothing to add...
In reply to Barrie Davis, Feb 19, 2013

Barrie Davis wrote:

Believe me. My description is no exaggeration. I have been there. This mode of photography isn't fun. It always is worth finding ways to be able to shoot while standing on the floor .... and we have ALREADY told you how to do that.

That basically nails it, word for word. (see also my first reply, first sentence)

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cheers, Peter
Germany

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Zalafoto USA
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Re: Nice shooting, Mister (nt)
In reply to Barrie Davis, Feb 19, 2013

Thanks!

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Zalafoto USA
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Re: Lighting door slabs in a studio?
In reply to kcrudolph, Feb 19, 2013

Yes, let us see some of the final images, when you are done!

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