The spotlight. Manipulating light using foam core boards.

Hello March!

The trees are blossoming, the sun is shining (most days), and the sun is setting a bit later, which for us photographers is very welcoming. I don’t know about you but I found the dark days shooting in natural light very challenging!

It’s March 1st and with a new month comes new themes in the Photo Clubs over on Unsplash! My theme is product photography with the focus literally on the hero. The other clubs themes for March are; Comfort Food, 50mm, Houseplants, and Monochrome. You can find out more, including links to join over on the Unsplash Blog.

I’ve already submitted five photos to the topic #houseplants. Surprisingly I almost never take photos of our plants. For the most part they’ve always been gorgeous, but I find in our apartment where the temperature is warm, or warmer they aren’t doing so well. Some plants that we’ve had for years are showing signs of distress. It’s a bit of a bummer because neither of us have green thumbs. We were just lucky that our plants did well and were forgiving. I guess the heat in our flat is just too much for them. Another thing I’ll have to read up on. “How to not kill your houseplants.” I’ll do some more plants before the month is over but I’ve started with this succulent plant.

Here are my first submissions to #photoclub-pawel Houseplants

And lastly this one

The light on this one was directed by me to come in from the side. Like with many types  of photography you’ll want your light to come from the side. For example Food Photography. Side lighting really helps soften textures, create tonal depth and balanced contrast. With the exception of some items of course, for example cocktails are best shot using backlighting.

I placed the succulent inside a ‘tent’. I create the tent placing multiple pieces of foam board together to form triangle shape. On the side where the light is coming in I use smaller pieces so I can create what you could refer to as a door or window. The space between the smaller boards is where the light is allowed in. The front and the small area on the side are the only sides not (fully) covered.

Interesting technique

Here is where I learned to do this technique. From the one and only amazing Joanie Simon, creator of The Bite Shot. I stan Joanie, sorry not sorry. She’s an inspiration and provides so many useful tips and techniques with her viewers.
TIP! If you continue watching the video from Joanie you’ll get some useful Lightroom editing tips.

The black foam core board is held together with t-pins. She places a small block by the opening to block more light. This allows light only from the top left side. I think for this you need to play around with your own set up until you’ve manipulated the light flow to your liking. I wanted my light from the side. I however am now having second thoughts! haha I’ll do another subject this month with the light coming in from the top. Stay tuned!

I like trying new things out. It allows me to learn more about light and how it works. Using the foam core I learn how the light can bounce back, or be absorbed. It’s amazing to see how it can fill in the shadows, as well as help create more contrast. I sometimes find myself disappointed that my photos aren’t better, but at the same time I see where I started, and how far I’ve come and that feels good. I keep pushing myself to get better. Trying things like this is sometimes challenging but worth it, and necessary if you want to up your game

Lesson learned.

It is a constant struggle trying to use all the techniques that I’ve learned while shooting. Learning which skills to use when, and where. Just this last weekend I forgot to level my camera on the c-stand. It wasn’t obvious until I got into editing. Oh my what a pain to try to correct them. I’ve decided they aren’t worth it. Luckily they were just for fun and didn’t cost me any money! I still can’t believe I forgot. My level was on the worktable during the entire shoot. It’s usually one of the first steps I take! I don’t think forgetting to level my camera will ever happen again!

Game changer.

 One thing that is a real game changer for me is tethering. I now have a camera that allows me to do remote shooting with my smartphone, however, I still use classic tethering for almost everything. It allows me to see the shot as I am styling on a large screen (I even cast my laptop to my tv if shooting in the living room). For styling it has really helped me improve my composition. I am learning to do as much as possible in-camera. This not only saves time when editing, it helps me better to understand what things influence the photo. What adds to it, what subtracts… and so forth. If you’re not tethering maybe it is something for you to try.

Joanie has a video for that too. Is there anything she can’t do?!

My workflow for shooting.

This is my workflow on shooting day. My entire workflow is much more than this, but that’s for another day. Here I’m just going into the actual capturing. I use my Canon 6D Mark ii together with the EOS utility and it really works well for me. My settings send my photos directly to a folder on my computer (my tethering source), and then I  transfer them to my hard drive of choice afterwards before editing with Lightroom. Something I’ve recently started doing is edit the first few shots to make sure I am off to a good start. I do some simple edits in Lightroom so I can see if I want to do more things in-camera. If I’ve forgotten to turn off the overhead lighting I’ll see it immediately during the editing process. I’d rather discover that in the beginning than at the end. Overhead household lighting is so ugly.

That's all for today. If you're interested in seeing the videos shot during the weekends shoot that wasn't leveled, here 's an example. On Pexels you'll find more.

See how that surface appears to be at an angle, and not flat? Yes, I did that *facepalm*.


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