Monday, September 15, 2008

A very thirsty rose

Today I wanted to use my strobes again. I had planned to take them outside for some on-location shooting, but my model wasn't available so I'd try a still-life shot (again).

First I tried to shoot some water shots (things falling in a bowl of water, water drops etc) but I didn't have a large enough glass containter for the shots I had in mind. Then I took out some colored glass-vases and lit them from above, from the side and below, but the results weren't pleasing. (Maybe one of them got a little interesting, but I'll describe it in another post).

I was about to call it the day, when I discovered a bouquet of dry roses hanging on the wall. I don't like to shoot flower shots if they don't have a story, but I thought I could make one with a dry rose. Hoping that my wife wouldn't get mad, I out one rose from the bouquet. Last time I took a rose from her, she wasn't too happy...

As I mentioned, I didn't have any plan for how to shoot this rose, but reglardless I needed something to put it on. I took out the glass plate I used in the raisin shot and wiped it clean. This is very important. Dust and fingerprints does not look good during a strobe attack, so keep it nice and clean. The black cloth was used for background.

I put the rose on the plate and mounted an umbrella with SB-600 on camera left and a bare strobe on camera right for fill. Here are some straight-out-of-the-camera (SOOC) examples:

So what did I learn by taking these three shots?
  • Soft light is not suited for a dry rose. I thought it looked too boring and needed a little punch. So I decided to snoot both strobes to create some strong shadows.
  • The rose just laying there was pretty boring, so I removed it leaves. Still a little boring. A bowl of water was standing right next to me (after the water shot attempts in the beginning) and I thought that a dry rose might want to drink water? Finally I had the story I was looking for!
I removed the umrella, put the flash on the floor (to create longer shadows) and made a new Taco Dinner cardboard snoot for the camera left strobe which lights up the rose. This is the final setup:

The reason why the flash to the right is upside down is because the light sensor for remote triggering is closest to the camera. I was too tired to experiment with manual flash output and relied only on TTL... 

After some test shooting, I came up with these settings:

Right strobe: SB-600 85mm zoom, TTL -0.7
Left strobe : SB-600 85mm zoom, TTL 0.0
Lens: Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 102mm
Exposure: 1/250 @ f/5, ISO 200

Finding the right angle and crop was so hard. I was extremely tired, my wrist was hurting and was pretty much fed up with photography due to all the failed attempts earlier this evening. I had never aborted a strobe photo shoot without a result and I certaintly did not want this to be the first. After about 50 shots, I got a shot that I was pleased with.

The SOOC version:

This was done in Photoshop:
  • Added a vignette
  • Desaturated the reds a little
  • Levels adjustment
  • Removed some of the shadows on the rose (don't tell anyone, OK?)
The result

A very thirsty rose

After I was done shooting, I had ask my wife why the 3 roses was hung on the wall. She said that they were the roses she gave me on our wedding day...(ops!) When she asked why I wondered about that, I had to tell that we had 2 beautiful roses left...

The next post will be titled "Why photographers need to know a marrige counsellor".


John Brainard said...

The harsh lighting definitely works much better than the diffused lighting. The long shadows make the photo look very interesting.

What is the piece of glass you use?

zetson said...

Thank you, John. It's not very often that I actually prefer harsh lighting as the only source of light.

What do you think of the Taco Dinner snoot? I tried a Fajitas snoot, but the lighting was a little too spicy, LOL.

I used the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 macro for this shot. Not my favorite choice of lens, but I needed a compressed view.

John Brainard said...

Your choice of snoots was very creative. Your flash might have spent the evening sitting on a bucket of ice had you continued with the fajita snoot. I'm glad you made the wise choice and went with the Taco Dinner snoot.

I sometimes wonder if, for all intents and purposes, a lens is a lens is a lens. I mean, how obvious would the differences in image quality be between a Sigma 70-200mm lens vs. a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS? Would it be so noticeable? The two reasons I want the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS is it's speed and it's image stabilization. If Sigma had a comparable lens, I might consider that, but they don't (that I'm aware of anyway).

And by "piece of glass", I meant the glass surface you were using. It almost looks like a glass cutting board, but I couldn't make it out too clearly in your photos.

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting. I am always learning something from your "adventures"....I was wondering what was going to happen to you when your wife got home...hahaha...that was funny.