Since an early age I have been obsessed with arranging furniture and objects in rooms. It brings out the creative spark in me, so having this large home studio where almost everything is on wheels really lets me express that creativity in ways I couldn’t have imagined. In anticipation of a big appliance shoot coming up soon I moved most of my lounge furniture out of the main studio space and into the adjoining room which was holding some gear and other random things. This really freed up the main space and to get myself more comfortable with shooting in here another client brought over a pair of outdoor sofas for me to shoot.
My plan for this space is to purchase a semi-permanent white backdrop made of PVC material. These things come in 2.6 x 6.0 metre rolls and they operate in much the same way as a paper roll, except that they are hard wearing and you can clean them with soap and warm water to remove any marks. However, for now I have to make do with old bits of white material I have had for a long time, just to provide a clean edge so that deep etching is a little easier.
For this shoot I got the camera back about 5-6m from where the sofas were positioned and with my Olympus 12-40/2.8 Pro zoom I could get enough distance so that the item doesn’t appear distorted in the frame. This is always a problem when working with large items in cramped spaces.
While my client assembled the sofas, I set up the lighting. It couldn’t have been any easier. All it took was 2 monolights with standard reflectors bounced off the ceiling, one to the left of the sofas and the other to the right and somewhat frontal. I think my ratio of lighting was 2:1 for all the shots.
Client assembling the sofas, which came flat-packed.
I have 2 screens attached to my tether trolley, one showing the live view and the smaller one the image that was just taken. I am going to remove the 2nd screen as it isn't necessary (and kind of gets in the way) since I can review the shots in Lightroom on my desktop a few seconds after taking the shot.
My biggest frustration with this shoot was the white material wrinkling up around the feet of the product. That would certainly cause problems in tracing the edges, so when I get the PVC backdrop that problem will go away. However, another issue with the white flooring when using flash bounced off the ceiling is that it does tend to cause fall-off between the floor (which is now another light source) and the products that sit on them. You can see this effect on the legs of this sofa set. It’s not a huge deal for the e-commerce type shots I am doing, but if it was more of a high end shoot then I would probably need to flag off the floor with black card (or material) and comp those untainted legs in with Photoshop.
This is the final "deep-etched" result that is used on the client's website, which you can see here, along with some of the other angles I took.
For my next big shoot I will need to create a black wall in front of the products as they will be some highly reflective appliances. To achieve that I am going to invest in a set of Manfrotto Autopoles and I will suspend a curtain rod between them, onto which I will drape black material. There will only be a “peephole” for the camera lens to stick through so that the rest of the studio isn’t reflected in the glass and doors of the appliances.
The biggest issue with that shoot is going to be moving the products around in the studio! I have 40 of them arriving over a period of several days and there is no easy access to the studio. It’s all stairs around here…