This blog post will be evaluating and finishing up my second brief of the year.
This was my second brief of year 2 photography, which has been on studio and it asked us to deconstruct and re-create a studio based advert. It also required us to produce research on photographers and adverts (printed and digital based media) to gain an insight into commercial photography. Once I fully understood the outcome of the brief, I found this assignment interesting and very challenging.
Research was a very crucial part of this assignment; it gave us insight into what kind of pictures we wanted to take and how we would present them. I decided to start with researching the concept of Studio Photography.
I also found that the equipment used within Studio Photography can range from what camera you use and what lights you use. Nowadays, you have two main choices for your camera a full frame digital camera or a larger format digital camera. Some Photographers don’t shoot with Full Frame or larger than full frame but smaller, due to personal preferences or the cost of owning a full frame digital camera or larger than full frame digital camera. These cameras offer very high quality shots to be captured and is why they are favoured for studio work. What they lack in portability, they make up for in sheer image quality, and is why they are both used by Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz.
I looked at different studio photographers; Steve Bronstein, Martin Schoeller, Richard Avedon and Greg Gorman. Each of these photographers has their own style and working point, from the close up and personal portraits of Martin Schoeller to the cleverly “punned” Absolut adverts from Steve Bronstein. Richard Avedon helped “America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century” – The New York Times. Greg Gorman is another iconic American portrait photographer who continues to photograph his portraits in black and white.
For this studio assignment, we had to shoot three studio shoots. The first/test studio shoot was to experiment with our research on re-constructed adverts. The first studio shoot enabled us to get an idea on how certain products would be photographed in the studio. The shoot was interesting and gave me a good insight to how the photographs are constructed, though the shots were not that great. It also didn’t help that this was the first time my new camera had been used in the studio. From this shoot I had decided on the product that I wanted to shoot for the first studio shoot. I shot a few different bottles, which brought a few challenges, but allowed me to understand how I should photograph the different types of bottles.
The objective of the second studio shoot was to recreate the Malibu White Rum Advert. Understand the technical lighting employed within the advert. Also how to use the Photoshop to produce the final advert. This shoot took two different images and was going to have the two images placed together on Photoshop. This was shot with Sony Alpha A7 and the 24-70mm kit lens, I had my Mac tethering to my camera to allow easier viewing of the images. My aperture was at f/29 all through the shoot and the same with my shutter speed 1/125. The studio set up was a studio flash with a big soft box suspended in the air on a studio boom. The background was a studio flash with two different soft boxes. We had issues with the Perspex getting dirty after a few seconds because the coconut kept giving bits off. I should have remembered to bring a cloth, to clean the Perspex.
The Third studio of the Absolut Vodka bottle went a lot better than the first. For this shoot I my full-frame Alpha A7 with 24-70mm kit lens, however my sensor had dust on it which led to some spots that needed to be cleaned out of the images. This allowed me to capture a variety of images with different perspectives and angles. The objective of the second studio shoot was to recreate Steve Bronstein’s Absolut Vodka Advert. Understand the technical lighting employed and how to employ the Photoshop to produce the final advert. This studio shoot took 4 different images to be put together to produce in Photoshop. I also learnt how to use different pieces of equipment (for example a spigot) to hold my bottle on the studio boom. We also had to keep the exposure the same on the camera to achieve the same characteristics of the exposure across each image, so the lights had to be readjusted to make sure the exposure would be the same. However, I think this shoot went a lot better than my first studio shoot and though I didn’t have a clear image in my head of what the shot was going to look like this would be made within Photoshop. I believe I achieved some of the qualities in the original advert and the rest will be subtly introduced with manipulating the image.
If there is anything I learnt from these experiences while shooting in the studio apart from organising . I will need to get better at understanding focussing distance to be able to decide on the focus without having to continuously check.
While working with images in Photoshop I found that I encountered compatibility problems with the college computers and my own computer at first, while trying to work with files from either camera. I was able to rectify this on my computer to some degree, I still had some issues with Photoshop being able to open the files automatically. At college I had less success as I would have to get the technicians to manually update each computer. DNG files do work better with Camera RAW than the current support for the Sony RAW files which kept making editing slightly irritating.
The three images created from the test shoot, the shot of the blue Curacao and White Malibu were simple to process looked clean if a little dull and plain. The horizon line was too high I should have shot lower down for the images for these bottles. The final experimental image of the Smirnoff bottle was a bit too much for me to chew as a first attempt. This did give me some insight into the amount of Image Manipulation that is taken to produce these images.
The Malibu image created for the first studio shoot, wasn’t finished because I wasn’t happy with the reflection from the Perspex. It wasn’t as white as the original, this might be due to there Perspex and how it reacts with the studio flashes. Their bottle also had no number on the glass which wasn’t to challenging on the bottle but on the reflection of the bottle. The image was very similar to the original but I still would have needed to make it brighter and alter the white balance. Compositionally the image is very close they had slightly different coconuts and I could not break them to mimic the broken pieces in the original.
Overall I am very happy with my recreation of Bronstein’s Image and I feel it comes very close to the original. There are some issues such as my background light is a larger spread and the angle of my camera is different and feels tighter. The other glaring issue is the bottle design changed to a shorter fatter design which meant the magazine had to be higher and less of it in shot, or you would see the clamps on the bottle holding it in the angled position. The process of creating the image has been challenging all the way through this project but to come this far and achieve a good image in the end has been rewarding and to learn more about photoshop.
I am pleased with the final image submitted from the third studio shoot. The Absolut Vodka shot is clean and looks sophisticated yet when edited together was very complex but the final image yet looks simple.
This was my second assignment for the second year, and I believe that I have produced a satisfactory amount of work for this brief. This brief has opened up new ideas and possibilities for other assignments and I’m very excited for these challenges that this year will bring. But there are some important lessons to learn from this assignment. I need to concentrate on ensuring a consistent workflow to be able to produce good amount of work. All shoots a photographer undertakes require planning and research to make a shoot successful. They also need to think on their feet and consider every possibility and not limit yourself by the equipment factors, think outside the box. When shooting in the studio, you have to willing to experiment in what you are shooting and how you should shoot it. When creating a digital workflow, ensure all components work to ensure that you have no trouble with editing images or importing them onto a computer.
“America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century” – The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/02/obituaries/richard-avedon-the-eye-of-fashion-dies-at-81.html
There you have it the final piece of my Unit 25 Studio Photography, it was an interesting brief that has given me some challenges.