Monday, October 20, 2008

D-I-Y Product Photography: Light Tent Photos

As I was writing my previous entry about using available light for photography, I thought I'd blog about product photography using (sort of) available lighting as well. Now, I don't claim to be an expert in any of this. While I was fortunate to apprentice with Carlos Legaspi for a very short time, I still feel that I lack the equipment and experience to go into commercial photography and be successful at it like he is. However, I've made my attempts at such on a small scale by using materials available to one with a small budget.

I may not have the high-powered flash units, the sprawling studio, or the material that a successful commercial photography studio has, but I think that I've been able to come up with some fairly acceptable product shots using several PVC pipes, joints, stiff paper, white cloth and several fluorescent clip lamps (by acceptable I mean good enough to use on ebay or on multiply, and even for a certain stock photography site). All above mentioned equipment will help you build your own light tent!

There are a lot of D-I-Y light tent tutorials available on the net. Based on the product shot samples I saw and the availability of materials, I decided to go with building one using PVC. Instructions for this particular design available here. A flash tutorial is also available here.

The lights used in this particular set-up were halogen, though he also mentioned that he'd been using CFL bulbs as well. I've personally been using 40W CFL bulbs, 4 of them to be exact. It's helped me even out the lighting on several different products. However, while CFLs, or any other hot light (not strobes / flashes) for that matter, provide sufficient light for us to see clearly with, they might not exactly provide enough light to enable you to take your product shots with a hand-held camera. Or rather, you can, however it might require you to increase your ISO / ASA / film speed, and thus sacrificing the quality of the image. If you intend take better quality shots to show detail, you'll have to lower your film speed and shoot with a smaller opening (higher F number). This means slower shutter speeds for you, making this an impossible shot if you don't use a camera support. So, in short, get a tripod.

The following photos were taken using the light tent, a tripod, and the C-8080. I forget the exact settings, but the opening was at f 8.0, ISO at 50, and the shutter speed was damn slow. I used a remote to prevent my hand from blurring the photos.

Crystal Prism
Mustang replica
Boo the bear
Red Glass Ring
Black Brown Nefrite Nazca Necklace (tikanchay)

The last 2 photos in this set are samples of products I shot for a little business my girlfriend and I had / have. It was early on in my light tenting and I was experimenting with some circular fluorescent bulbs as is obvious in the catchlight on the stone and on the ring.

If this is, at all, helpful, leave a comment. :) Thanks!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Available Indoor Light and You

I don't pretend to be an expert when it comes to lighting. I have an idea what good lighting is like (portraiture) whether indoor or outdoor, though I can't say I'm able to achieve it with precision. Taking photos with available light, avoiding flashes and strobes, gives one's photos a different feeling, even letting a viewer feel as if he or she were truly there. Outdoor portraiture depends a lot on the sun as your major light source, and it's not something you can switch on, and off at will. Light modification outdoors takes a lot of creativity, and often other people besides yourself.

Lighting subjects indoors is another challenge altogether. Different indoor lighting fixtures give off different colors, not to mention different amounts of light. Depending on the situation, there are several things you might need to consider to adapt to said light, or in a different circumstance, you might consider having the light adapt to you.

If you're lucky enough to be able to shoot a subject in a room with available track lighting, and have the permission of the owner, you could manipulate said lights to provide you the illumination you need. Point high ceiling-mounted spot lights on the subject and go!

Then again, there are those lighting fixtures that might make good elements in the pictures themselves. Colorful hanging lamps or chandeliers might help provide the light you need and add a touch of interest to your end photo.

Keeping in mind that you'll be using artificial light sources, and different ones at that, you might consider changing your White Balance setting around to figure out what kind works best. More on that in another entry perhaps.

Personally, I would seriously consider investing in fast glass (lenses with big openings - f1.8 to 2 if possible) and / or a stable tripod. Depending on just how much available light there is, you might also consider telling the subject to be extra still.

I hope something made sense in this post. Hehehe. Will post pictures illustrating what I mean in future I hope. For now, however, I must switch off my lights and get some sleep.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I heart Olympus

Why Olympus?

I've been asked this question many times, by Nikon and Canon users mostly (as they make up majority of the camera-toting population of the country). I've owned 4 digital cameras in my time, the latter 3 being Olympus units. And each time I was readying myself to upgrade, a friend or a relative would ask me why I stick to the brand. I'm writing this entry basically to answer said question in case it is posed by anyone else who has yet to ask me and have not heard my long-winded answer.

So Why?

The short version: Basically coz I'm used to it. Basically. Yeah. That's about it.

Long version:

1) I like the 4/3rds standard. Olympus cameras use the 4/3rds standard, which, if you're not familiar with, is the same standard your monitor display uses. Shallow reason, fine. But I like the standard. I figure that you lose less detail in most photograph croppings compared to other brands. Canon and Nikon both use the 2/3rds standard, which is fine for your usual 4x6 prints, but you lose detail at both ends of the shot if cropping for 5x7 or even 8x10. It could be said that the reverse then is true for Olympus and 4R prints, particularly with top and bottom detail in landscape shots (sides on portraits) but who cares? Plus the 4/3rds standard helps to make the camera smaller than its 2/3rds counterparts, particularly true for the E-410 and E-420. I'm sure there are other arguments against the 4/3rds standard, specially locally, but who cares? :) I don't.

2) I like the feel. Mind you this is model-dependent, but I've been lucky enough to like the cameras I've owned in the past (with exception perhaps to the first digital camera I've ever owned, which wasn't Olympus - I liked it at the time, but digital wasn't cheap then - but a 1.3 megapixel Aiptek pencam with limited onboard memory with no flash or preview screen). Every button is placed logically, each function easily reached (specifically I'm describing the C-8080 WZ, though the C-5000 Z wasn't bad either). This can be said of any camera if you've lived with it long enough, but I liked this on the 8080 from the get go.

3) Storage: Truth be told, it wasn't exactly easy to find affordable XD cards locally when I first got the C-5000 Z. However, I was lucky enough to have been given a 256Mb card, which was a lot back then. Plus they've been getting cheaper and readily more available as time passes. Another thing I like about the C-8080 and all the E series cameras is their ability to use two storage media: XD and CF. This can come in handy in a pinch if you have the right memory cards.

4) Made for Digital lenses: That's one thing the Olympus - Zuiko partnership has over the others. Their lenses are made specifically for digital photography, and not just adapted from film. There's an advantage here that I've read before but can't put my finger on and expound on (if you happen to read this post and know what I'm talking about please feel free to comment so that I might, in future intigrate it into this post). That being said, Olympus lenses are a bit pricey. :) But then again good glass is always expensive.

5) For DSLRs, if you know where to look, who to trust and when to buy, these cameras are relatively cheap. :) But you get bang for the buck. I promise.

Sure. As a brand it's not quite so easily serviced (a point a buyer should consider always) as it's not quite officially an entity here like Canon is, but it won't stop Olympus loyalists around the country from patronizing the brand.

If you're an Olympus user and you read this, please leave a comment! :D

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baby Basket: Case Logic Digital Video Camera Bag available at Living Well Podium

I think most of you now know that I'm the proud owner of an E410 two lens kit. :) And it has dawned on me that I need a better carrying case.

I used to be able to carry my digicam around in a neat little pouch, or wrapped in thick cloth / one of my shirts and inserted in my bag. While that provided my C-5000-Z ample protection, and was relatively ok enough for the bulkier C-8080 WZ (though somewhat more difficult as its general shape was a bit awkward for any of the pouches I owned, and it occupied a lot of space in my already always full backpack), I couldn't bare to do that to my new baby. I'd been looking at camera bags since I got it but couldn't bring myself to spend the amount of money needed to buy something that would look good and do the job. Luckily though, on the way back to the store from the restroom (its a long walk) I decided to take a quick peak into Living Well at The Podium. Low and behold, amidst all the sale items, that which I needed appeared to me. :) at 50% off! :)

The Case Logic Digital Photo-Video Bag DC90 is an ultra-padded, weather-resistant Koskin case, has multiple accessory pockets, dividers for lenses and any other accessories, and fits a good sized video cam or a 35mm, which meant plenty of space for the E410! Sure, it's not quite ergonomic, like the ones I saw in Island Multi along Gamboa, however it costs 1/8th the price (what I was looking at cost something like 2500++ so you do the math), provides the space and protection that my gear needs. How could I pass it up?

Get yours today at Living Well in The Podium, while supplies last! :)
Reg Price php 655.00
Sale Price Php 327.50

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Workhorse Upgrade: E-410

To those who know me and / or read this blog semi-regularly, you probably know that I've been using two very functional point and shoots for my personal photography. Those who've had a personal relationship with those cameras know that they've served me well and have provided many an entertaining moment (particularly with the video recording function hehe). However, after so many years of experiencing their limitations, I've decided to upgrade. To do so, I had to say goodbye to one of my cameras, to my Olympus C-8080 WZ.

I've said good bye to the 8080's amazing versatility, it's video recording capability, it's comfortable bulk and all-in-one lens (all-in-one kasi wala ka naman talagang choice. hehe). And I've finally said hello to my first DSLR, the olympus E-410. :)
It's smaller than the 8080, and doesn't have your standard camera grip, which has made it challenging to handle and stabilize. However, it is lighter, faster, and since it is a dslr, I can, theoreticially if I had the lenses to do so, switch between the lenses to suit the situation. At present however I only possess the dual-lens kit lenses, which offers coverage from 14mm to 150mm (equivalent to 28mm to 300mm on 35mm set-ups). They aren't the fastest lenses, but they do the job (so far). I haven't really been able to take them out to shoot as I only got the whole thing recently (2nd hand from its first owner and in extremely good condition).

I'm actually pretty excited. I'm looking forward to the 3 weddings I expect to be going to within the coming 3 months. We'll see what it can do as far as events are concerned. :)

The Podium is on Sale and so are we! :D - shameless plugging


:) The Podium Mall is having its 3 day sale from October 3 to 5. In line with this, The Picture Company is going to give free sessions for non-members on those dates. :) For those who would want to become members, you can get in on the action for 30% less than the original price! That's a big discount! :) With the membership, you can enjoy unlimited photo sessions during your membership year and pay only for the prints that you want, plus loads of other freebies and priviledges! :) Come one, com all! :D

Visit The Picture Company Podium
this October 3, 4 and 5 to avail of this wonderful discount and FREEBIE!!! :D

To see the perks of being a Picture Company member visit this site: :D