Belinda buys these bags of clementines every time she heads to the grocery store. I'm not a real clementine fan but she sure is. Loves them. Yesterday she came home with another bag and for once I paid attention because I'd just put away this cool glass platter and I thought the two colors would look great, contrasted. So I grabbed the bag of clementines and the glass platter and headed across the walk to the studio. I'd been itching to wipe out the big LEDs and light something other than a human face.
I must have tried 50 or 60 variations to get stuff I liked. And it was hard. Like getting back into swim practice after taking months and months off. I'd try a few clementines on the platter and I'd try all the clementines on the platter. I had three different lights I was using. I had my 5d2 on a tripod with the 24-105mm lens. I tried different angles and different focal lengths. I tried different lighting ratios and everything from one light to all three.
I played with live view, to good effect. I've posted these images just to show what I was working with. I'll never show them to a client but I'll chalk it all up to research. And I'll try this again next time Belinda brings in a large bag of clementines. I'll try until I master the art of clementine and platter photography. Because I'll be able to apply what I learn to other jobs.
So, what did I learn in my two hours of mini-orange juggling yesterday evening? I'll start with the most important thing: If you want a good white background don't even bother to start out with a piece of foamcore. Go right to the shiny white formica. And make sure there's some rear light illuminating said background to drive the detail in the whites to zero.
Live view is cool but it doesn't show you what the image looks like at f16 until you push the stop down button or take the shot and review it.
Using one light on many clementines at a very low angle yields gloppy looking areas of shadow and it's not very attractive.
Big LED lights work really well for still life work, even without diffusion. More is more fun. I used two of the 500 bulb fixtures and one of the 1,000's. Color correction was a non-issue.
Clementines actually taste pretty good.
I'm not a designer. It's always better for me to have a great art director standing by to arrange things and decide on points of view for any subject that doesn't smile back at me.
I learned that you can try and try and try but at some point you have to give credit where credit is due. Art direction can be crucial.
Thankfully, after several hours of pushing and prodding and focusing and mumbling, the phone rang and it was Belinda, telling me that dinner was ready. Saved by the bell.
But today I was out shooting a portrait and I felt that my compositional skills seemed just a bit better than usual. Maybe these kinds of exercises convey the same benefits as physical exercise.
I like the platter.