What do I need to do tabletop - product photography

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by lilmsmaggie, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    OK - I'm way out of my league here. A friend of mine contacted me recently, saying he knew of someone that was opening a bar. Specifically, I think its a Tequila Bar & Grill.

    My friend has seen some of my photography and I guess he feels I might be able to bring a different photographic sense to what the owner of this new establishment may want to see in advertising promotional images.

    Did I mention that this was way out of my league?

    Anyway, I thought it might be kind of fun as well as a learning experience. I have a teenie-weenie bit of tabletop exposure but it was with a lot of guidance and hand-holding. This time around, it will be all me. :laugh:

    I'd be shooting with a 4 x 5 Chamonix 45n-2. Probably shooting some B&W although I'm sure the owner will want some color images as well. I'm thinking I can use a Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S 210mm for sure, and perhaps a Schneider 350mm APO-Tele-Xenar compact but the 210mm may be all I need.

    If interior shots are required, I have Rodenstock Grandagon-N 90mm & APO-Sironar-S 135mm but that's it.

    I don't have any lighting equipment, and at the bare minimum not sure what type of equipment I should have to help with lighting.

    Is there a basic lighting kit setup I should consider that would help.

    Did I mention that this was way out of my league? :blink:
     
  2. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I'm a fan of hot lights. I find focusing on the ground glass tough with the strobe modeling lights tough. My favorite hot lights are Mini Moles. Lowell Tota lights are nice for lighting broad areas. You will probably need saw horses for your table top.
     
  3. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Clip lights are your friend. Get normal size ones and heavy duty 300 watt versions. It'll set you back no more than $50 for a set. You want extension cords and chairs or stands to clip them on. Use a big 300 watt one and bounce. Your biggest concern is getting even light, as you can leave the shutter open. If you need to shoot color stick an 85A or whatever over the lens and shoot tungsten lights.
     
  4. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    As you don't have lighting, the problem will probably be with shadow detail. Take some silver cards and mirrors and some white cards to bounce light with. Considering you are going to photograph stuff at a bar, take some silver card you can cut into small pieces and put them behind glasses of beer or wine to catch light and light up the drink.
    Really good professional table top lighting or food photography lighting is master class stuff. Good luck.
    Dennis
     
  5. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    The first and only time I did a tabletop shot was with food and wine as part of the subject. I don't think we used silver card, but it was something used in the manner you describe to catch light on the wine glass and bottle.

    Turned out as a really beautiful shot in B&W - but I had a pro showing me the tricks and we had a soft box and strobe.

    I just may have to pass on this one :blink:
     
  6. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Member

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    .
    And a copy of Advertising Photography, by Allyn Salomon.

    There is a chapter that covers photography by Gary Perweiler.
    Gary Was My Hero, when I was a youngster ...
    I spent almost a year renovating his Manhattan residence
    while I was going through my carpentry phase of life !

    I read it until it was raggedy then, and I still enjoy it now.

    .
     
  7. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    If you are shooting food, there is a lot to learn. Food photography is an art in itself, and if you want to see how it shouldn't be done, look at any pictures of the food at your local mall food court. Most food in photographs aren't made of anything that it is supposed to look like. They are clever props to make the food look more appetizing than reality. Equipment wise, 2-3 strobes with the option of soft boxes and some white cards for fill and black cards to block light. After that, practice, practice, practice.
     
  8. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Here's another lighting idea. When I was assisting tabletop photographers many, many moons ago, the rage was painting with light. Aaron Jones started the craze with a gizmo called Hosemaster. It's a bright tungsten light with fiber optics. I'm sure today with cheap LED flash lights you use them to paint light. Here's a link. http://www.repertoireart.com/news_views/photo_legends/jones.htm
    Best of luck.
     
  9. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Don't forget the food stylist

    There are the food stylist that do all that food puffery. Some foods after being shot you don't want to eat. Stylist use hydrochloric acid to make steam, and glycerin to make foods glisten. A lot of trickery. I think there a more natural look in today's food photography which I like more than the highly primped product shot.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    good luck!

    from time to time i was asked to do this type of work
    for magazines that were doing articles on restaurants ...
    it was never easy, but a lot of fun :smile:
    ( and the food / drinks were always to die for ! )
    there was never a stylist or anything over the top,
    just me, who showed up with a camera and lights ( or a flash )
    and a macro lens ...

    look at magazines that cater to the food and restaurant industry
    and get some ideas on what you can do, and as greg suggests, remember
    the mall and what not to do ...


    have fun !
    john
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    As I understand it, the "truth in advertising" laws have really put a crimp in a lot of the really creative techniques in food photography. Apparently they don't like it if you need a bottle of glycerin to make every recipe actually look edible :smile:.

    Many years ago I worked with a photographer who had shot 4x5 colour negatives of all of a chain restaurants standard menu items. Each time the restaurant expanded (and they did a lot of expanding then) the owners would order another set of colour corrected 8x10s of each item. They didn't use them for promotion - they used them in the kitchens as a visual reference to be used by the chefs and food preparation staff. That way, if a customer went to one of their restaurants and enjoyed a menu item, the customer could later go to another of the chain's outlets, order the same item, and receive a meal that was prepared and presented in a similar manner.