'product photography' Category

Chris Henderson (Light) Paints a Really Big Truck

Henderson headshotA big challenge in any creative profession is staying ‘fresh’ in your approach to your work, which as anybody who photographs shoes for a living can attest, can be problematic after a spell. For Chris Henderson, a UK-based corporate/industrial photographer with a specialty in photographing unusual, and often large-scale subjects in a variety of environments, maintaining a creative edge has been a priority over the course of his 30-year career.

Henderson takes lighting seriously, be it natural ambient lighting with a reflector or two, or photographs in which he has to light the entire scene.

A recent project that involved photographing a massive mining truck in real-world surroundings proved to be a perfect test bed for a lighting painting scenario he had been working out in his head for some time. Just as he lights each facet of a product in a studio set precisely, Henderson’s plan was to light each of the contrasting shapes and forms of the massive mining truck independently, batch process them for consistency, and merge the best portions of the resulting images together post-capture in Photoshop. But first he had to photograph the individual components, and to do that he turned to his PocketWizard remote triggering system

Henderson photographed the project engineer separate from the truck. He then shifted the lens focus to the truck for the balance of the exposures.

Henderson lit the project engineer using a PocketWizard-triggered Elinchrom Ranger and a reflective bounce reflector. He then shifted the lens focus to the truck for the balance of the exposures.

 

Henderson’s hand-held lighting system consisted of an Elinchrom Quadra Ranger RX Hybrid monopack synced to a PocketWizard Flex TT5 Transceiver, both of which were mounted on the end of a telescopic boom pole. The camera,which was mounted on a sandbag-stabilized heavy-duty tripod, was triggered manually by Henderson (seen holding the light in the inset pictures) using a hand-held PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver from each lighting position to a PocketWizard Plus III wireless trigger, which was attached to the camera via remote camera cable. When the camera was triggered, the shoe-mounted PocketWizard Flex TT5 triggered the Elinchom flash head, which was synced to another PocketWizard Flex TT5. Each exposure was PocketWizard controlled from start to finish.

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The PocketWizard side of the story doesn’t stop there. Chris wanted to maintain control over the brightness levels of the surrounding skies and foreground, which was limited by the relatively slow 1/200th-second top sync speed of his Canon EOS 5D Mark III. To get around this limitation, Henderson took advantage of the HyperSync function of his PocketWizard trigger system, which enabled him to dramatically darken the skies by syncing his camera to his flash at an effective 1/1000th-second at f/8.

The final image is composed of portions of about 45 individual exposures that were sampled, tweaked, and merged together into a single powerful image. By setting the camera remotely and securely, and methodically lighting each portion of the vehicle to emphasize the shapes, scale, and textures of its massive surfaces, Chris was able to create an unearthly iconic image in a real-world setting. What’s also notable is that despite the size, logistics, and scale of the truck and the fact it was photographed in a field of mud and far beyond reasonable reach of an AC outlet, Henderson’s PocketWizard remote triggering system enabled him to capture the image single-handedly.

“I have used other radio triggers… and had nothing but problems, the main ones being poor range, misfires, and electrical noise interference when working in… large industrial complexes”. Since switching to PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers, they’ve become his ‘go-to’ remote triggering system. “They have proven to be robust, reliable, and each time I use them I am confident they will perform faultlessly.”

PocketWizard wireless technologies have allowed Chris Henderson to shoot in ways previously impossible. In his own words, PocketWizard radio triggers have added an extra creative string to his bow and changed the way he goes about creating photographic images.

To see more of Chris Henderson’s work visit his website.

All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and © Chris Henderson, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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Making Waves, 3 January 2014

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Making Waves is a weekly round-up of current posts featuring PocketWizard products.

Chip Kalback is a photographer based out of Denver, Colorado who shoots commercial and editorial photography with a focus on environmental portraits and lifestyle sports.  Chip used HyperSync to capture the new standard of performance vehicles, electric cars.  Chip brought along his FlexTT5 as a transmitter and had his lights setup with Plus III radios so he could capture the cover photo and all the images for the feature story in Popular Science magazine.   Chip’s setup for each shot is described in his own words.

“For the cover shot and opening spread I was using a FlexTT5 (Canon) with a Plus III hooked up to an AlienBees B800. Using HyperSync I was able to stop the cars at 1/2000, f/6.3 and ISO 640. My camera setup was a Canon 5D III and a Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZE. 

For the portrait shot of the driver I was using a FlexTT5, with one AlienBees B800 and a gridded beauty dish, and 2 AlienBees B400’s both with tight grids, all three flashes synced with Plus III’s. Those were shot at 1/100, f/8 at ISO 320 with a Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZE.

For the shots in the garage I was using an AlienBees B800 and 2 AlienBees B400’s, all with tight grids on them being synced with Plus III’s, in conjunction with the ambient light coming in from both sides of the garage. Those were mostly shot using my Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZE while again using my FlexTT5.”

Photo: © Chip Kalback

Photo: © Chip Kalback

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Josh Ross and His Gatorade Sculpture

Continuing from our first story on Josh Ross, this exciting shooter continues to develop as an inventive conceptual product photographer. Here, in his own words, is how Ross put together this exciting shot featuring Gatorade.

Gatorade product shot, ©Josh Ross.

Gatorade product shot, ©Josh Ross.

This shot was an evolution of my work with a natural splash caught on camera. I wanted to create a shape with the liquid. While out for a run one day, a Gatorade ad in a local store window caught my eye and served as inspiration. I was attracted to Gatorade and the lightning bolt logo because I felt like it allowed for a powerful story that really spoke for itself.

(more…)

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Q&A with Scott Dukes

We recently were able to ask Los Angeles-based photographer Scott Dukes a series of questions about his work. An L.A. native, Dukes is still in his hometown and shooting the automotive photography he has become known for.

Fisker Karma

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Marc Quigley, From Sanding to the Ultimate Product Photography

Not many Americans these days can say they not only love what they do, but plan on doing it for the same company from the time they’re eighteen until retirement. Marc Quigley is an exception to this norm. After high school, Marc began working as a sander at PRS Guitars, then in Annapolis, Maryland. He sanded guitars and grew his skill sets as the company — considered by many to build the finest guitars in the world — grew into its recently-expanded factory in nearby Stevensville.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

Currently celebrating its twenty-fifth year, PRS is often credited with bringing about the second golden age of American electric guitar design and manufacturing. When Gibson and Fender were languishing in the 1970s and ’80s after a series of owners stopped innovating, Bowie, Maryland’s Paul Reed Smith began building guitars with John Ingram, another local, and beauty and quality were returned to solidbody electric guitars.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

From sanding, Marc Quigley eventually held all the jobs in the Finish Hall, where guitars are painted, eventually managing it. He then moved to Customer Service before becoming Art Director twelve years ago. For the past six years, Marc has been responsible for the gorgeous product photography showcased in PRS literature, magazine ads, and on their Web site.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

As Art Director of PRS Guitars, Marc initially hired local pro photographers to shoot the growing line of PRS offerings. Robbie Blair, Sam Holden, and Jim Noble all helped bring the amazing curly maple, Brazilian rosewood and other tone woods to life. Eventually, Marc began to build his photographic chops on his own time, the way he often learns new skills for his day job.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

The very nature of the products Marc is called upon to photograph make this assignment difficult, to say the least. PRS guitars are typically coated with a polyester basecoat and either an acrylic urethane topcoat or a nitro-cellulose topcoat. The brilliantly-shiny surfaces and many curves of these instruments act like contoured mirrors, particularly on the darker-colored guitars. Not getting the strobes, flash umbrellas, and white cards to appear in reflections on the guitars is close to impossible. “I fire strobes through a very large piece of white plexiglass, which acts as a diffuser,” says Marc, revealing one of his tricks. “I can control how hot the highlights are by adjusting the distance from light source to the plexiglass.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

The mirror-like shiny finish of most PRS guitars is not the only problem faced when doing product photography for new models. “In the hand carve, we get weird reflections,” Marc explains. “At one point I realized you can actually see a reflection of the headstock in the hand carve of the guitar when you’re shooting straight on. You can see all the way up the neck to the headstock and tuners. The multi-faceted surface combined with the shininess makes it very tricky.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

Some PRS models are more problematic than others due to the curves (or lack thereof) in woodworking. “The SE Customs were hardest. They have no carve on the top whatsoever. I like having a little highlight splash along the top or edge. With a flat top the only way to do that is to slash a reflection over half of it. It may look kind of cool, but it doesn’t show the product properly. The only choice I have is to not have any highlight on those models except maybe a very tiny one on the edge.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars Ltd.

Different finishes also provide a variety of photographic challenges. “The sparkle finishes are very hard to get done right,” says Marc. “It’s like they have a million little mirrors all reflecting in different directions. They’re either too hot or it looks like little black spots on the guitar. It’s difficult to find the right balance. I hold a silver card in front of me and I shoot directly over the top of it, so the guitar is reflecting the silver card, and it bounces a little bit of light spilling from the side of my strobes.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

If there’s one thing which makes the PRS Guitar product shots stick out among competitors, it’s the detailed photos Marc takes of each model and shown on the product pages. Most manufacturers have two shots: instrument straight on and instrument being played by celebrity musician. Marc’s rethought this decades-old approach, and has given new life to instrument product photography. “I worked on these guitars for years, and I know them inside and out,” he says. “One of the jobs I did is called Prepping. The first thing I’d do was take it from a Sander, close my eyes, and run my hands over the whole thing to ensure the shape was correct. I knew them well enough to tell if there were any runs, dips or anything else wrong.” This level of product knowledge gave him the foresight to know how the guitars looked from all angles possible. Previsualizing what he wanted in photos, Marc sketched out how he’d like them to look, complete with where the highlights should be.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

With the perfect shot in his mind’s eye, Marc’s studio set-up is surprising. “I have the guitar suspended from a fishing line. I’ll grab the neck, headstock or butt of the guitar to hold it up with my left hand and angle it toward the light panel until I get a reflection I like. I shoot with my right hand, so I’m pretty contorted while working. It’s fun to photograph them because they’re so beautiful.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

With PRS Guitars releasing a line of amplifiers in 2009, Marc was facing a new set of challenges. “That was a brick wall when I first faced that challenge. They’re not shiny. They’re boxes, essentially,” laughs Marc. After two half-day photo shoots failed to meet his standards, he came up with a different approach. “I now shoot through the plexiglass on the left side, with two lamps over there. I use a third pointed at a bounce card to bring light to the other side. Reflector cards in the front put some light on the dials.”

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

Marc relies on PocketWizard Plus IIs — three of them, to be exact — to keep his Nikon D2X and his flashes in sync. “The Plus II’s are awesome,” says Marc. “They’re worth every penny. They’re durable, which is important to me. They have great battery life, they’re easy to use, reliable and have outstanding range. A great product I would recommend to anyone.” Rounding out the key elements of his gear, a Profoto softbox is his main reflective unit.

© Marc Quigley for PRS Guitars, Ltd.

After 21 years, Marc is far from content to remain static. He recently created the poster for the independent film Loop, and is constantly working on his own photography, featured on his site. He also is responsible for all audio recording at PRS, and now shoots and edits video of guitar and amp demonstrations. All PRS collateral is created in-house from his department. He cites the freedom PRS Guitars gives him to explore new technologies as being key to keeping him innovative and widening his skills. Guitars, amps, cameras, PocketWizards and the time to create. Now we can see why Marc’s been there 21 years with no signs of leaving any time soon.

Marc Quigley’s Blog

Marc Quigley’s Twitter Feed

Marc Quigley’s photography at PRS Guitars

Loop

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