In the Kitchen

Wedding season is relatively slow in the summer yet I still can't seem to find any free time (OK, so I did go fishing on Sunday). I finally found a few minutes for a quick product shoot though. David over at strobist has begun his "Lighting 102" series that is basically an online course/lecture/experiment/workshop/group learning kind of thing for photographers. The first "assignment" was to shoot kitchen utensils. I busted out some measuring cups and the wooden cutting board and got started.

This is the final product and the image I liked the best. The following images will give a brief overview of how I arrived here.

I chose the measuring cups because in a normal situation I would avoid shooting something so reflective and curvy. This subject posed a few problems, but that was the point; to learn and improve.

So we start simple. I placed an umbrella close to and slightly behind the subject. This angle was chosen because it give the best highlights on the rims of the cups. Unfortunately that is about the only cool thing of this photo (and that shadow in front of the cup is pretty distracting).
I turn off the umbrella light (for now) and experiment with a second light. My main problem with the shot above was the dark shadows inside the cups. So I bounced a light into my ceiling, knowing that I would be able to see the reflection of my ceiling inside the measuring cup. Bonus: this second light gets rid of that nasty shadow from the previous image. Also, both of these shots look underexposed because they are each one flash; the final image is a sum of the two.
Now we have the final lighting scheme. Well exposed, nice highlights, nice shadows, and enough light inside that small cup to help draw your eye to the center of the concentric pattern created by the cups. Once the lighting was figured out I played with a few different compositions.

Here is a setup shot of the final lighting scheme. The pillow is propped up to act as a GOBO (go between). This prevents the cups from reflecting the actual flash. Just as you can see the flash in this picture, you could see that same reflection on the cups. This simple step eliminates those specular highlights while allowing the cups to "see" that bright ceiling.

And now just a few bonus images for a different prespective. As I made the images, I grew more interested in the artistic/abstract patterns than the cups as a product.

A different view. One thing I did here that helps the image is rotating the cutting board so the grain is going diagonally. The cups are arranged in such a linear and uniform composition that I felt the image needed that small touch for the added design element.

OK, back to the normal stuff soon. Hopefully I will have some images of baby Grant this week!

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