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Thread: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

  1. #31
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    In my experience, subliminals in stills are either done as a joke or happenstance. The result of people having too much time on their hands and looking at images with an agenda.

  2. #32

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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    IMO, there is no substitute for a really GOOD food stylist. These folks know all the tricks to make food so appetizing and appealing on film or screen.


    Bernice

  3. #33

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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Bernice,

    Yea, with that much strobe power, it seemed to clean up very minor CC shifts, only a box or two I got had a major shift over the years, with something like 30G cast on film, but was exchanged when I returned them... Obviously defective, but I had to live with a few results... :-(

    The studio used a bi-head with 2 Norman 2000D packs, but to trim the output, just raising or lowering the soft box an inch or two worked fine...

    The times I have seen the advantage of UV corrected flashtubes was shooting matted art or shooting on a background of white rag paper where the UV would florescent a slightly blue cast (05B) and needed some CC correction, until I brought over my Speedotron 2403 with UV corrected heads, and life was better...

    The trick with keeping softbox neutral was washing the diffusers with Woolite detergent once in a while to remove warm colored city smoke, and back to neutral they would go...

    Modern light sources can be close, but with film there can be a peak in the color somewhere, but digital cares less about it... And there's Photoshop now, but back then we just nailed it through skill and experience...

    Happy Daze!?!!

    Steve K

  4. #34

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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Wow Steve, that was a trip dow memory lane.

    Typical CC filters used were 025 to 10 to maybe 20, at CC-20 or more of any correction color filter, the worry began to set in knowing something is horridly wrong.

    Indeed the soft box fabrics would get soiled producing color shifts. This was not so bad in the SF bay area, in other areas like So-Cal it could be different due the the environment. Regardless, a good wash often fixed the color shifts. Speaking of soft boxes, the Fave back then was Plume Wafer which had a smaller inner diffuser to aid in light uniformity. These worked pretty good.

    The "high end" studio strobes back then were Elinchrome or Bronocolor. These were nice to use as they had the ability to adjust power by fractions of an f-stop with ease which was easier than moving the lighting unit on a stand. Typically, one would like the soft light source to be much larger than the object being imaged. If moving the soft box too far away for the size of object being imaged the quality of light would change..

    Speaking of Bi-tube strobes, Elinchrome & Bronocolor made 8,000 watt/second single head units. The Elinchrome set up required two 404 power units to make the bi-tube strobe head produce that kind of strobe power. That much strobe power was useful for 8x10 with small taking apertures like f45.

    After using those UV corrected flash tubes, they made enough difference to avoid using non UV coated flash tubes. Overall the color rendition was often better.

    What is not often appreciated, white LEDs are made using individual Red-Green-Blue LEDs with peaked spectral output at each of these colors by phosphor to deliver the current to light conversion efficiency. This results in special gaps that film responds to. Light from good flash tubes or arc or halogen tungsten filament can be made with mostly uniform spectral energy light output that do not have the spectral gaps LED light sources do. While LEDs for lighting have become very common, they have specific limitations and do not meet the lighting needs of specific application needs.

    Remember using fill cards or negative fill cards that were cut to the needed shape then trying to figure out where to place it to get the lighting to look good on the object being imaged? Then the stack of polaroid of trials before putting color transparency film in the camera?


    There was a LOT of satisfaction to Nail that Image with one sheet of film back then. That was proof of skill, knowledge with a LOT of hard work to make that happen.



    Bernice




    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    Bernice,

    Yea, with that much strobe power, it seemed to clean up very minor CC shifts, only a box or two I got had a major shift over the years, with something like 30G cast on film, but was exchanged when I returned them... Obviously defective, but I had to live with a few results... :-(

    The studio used a bi-head with 2 Norman 2000D packs, but to trim the output, just raising or lowering the soft box an inch or two worked fine...

    The times I have seen the advantage of UV corrected flashtubes was shooting matted art or shooting on a background of white rag paper where the UV would florescent a slightly blue cast (05B) and needed some CC correction, until I brought over my Speedotron 2403 with UV corrected heads, and life was better...

    The trick with keeping softbox neutral was washing the diffusers with Woolite detergent once in a while to remove warm colored city smoke, and back to neutral they would go...

    Modern light sources can be close, but with film there can be a peak in the color somewhere, but digital cares less about it... And there's Photoshop now, but back then we just nailed it through skill and experience...

    Happy Daze!?!!

    Steve K

  5. #35
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    I have a friend will a two-story shooting setup. There is a half-story well above the kitchen with a telescoping extendable catwalk which accepts his big Foba stands and Sinar cameras, then his Bron lighting boxes underneath. Gourmet chefs solicit his skills, and he now specializes in cookbooks. It's a full gourmet kitchen setup too, with lots of fancy China and tableware in storage as needed. One of the amenities is being able to eat the food after the shoot. He used to do 8x10 Sinar P film shots, and had in-house capacity to print them up to five-foot wide on Cibachrome. The detail of some of the fancy China and so forth was amazing. But now in his late 70's he's ratcheted the operation down to just cookbooks shot digitally on Sinar P 4x5's and edited on premiese by a skilled helper at a computer screen. It's still a multi-million dollar operation equipment-wise, and he outright owns the huge building. But it shows how lucrative this kind of photography can still be to a very select few. I always got a kick out of one of those former PBS cooking shows where some ole gray-bearded guy walked into the studio wearing overalls and talking like an inbred Cajun behind a big cast iron pot full of gumbo. His favorite line was, "it tastes so good I could have a stroke". Right after the session he probably took off his scruff overalls, put on a dress jacket, and drove away in a Porche. Food is getting to be quite a big slice of the entertainment industry itself.

  6. #36

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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Wow Steve, that was a trip dow memory lane.

    Typical CC filters used were 025 to 10 to maybe 20, at CC-20 or more of any correction color filter, the worry began to set in knowing something is horridly wrong.

    Indeed the soft box fabrics would get soiled producing color shifts. This was not so bad in the SF bay area, in other areas like So-Cal it could be different due the the environment. Regardless, a good wash often fixed the color shifts. Speaking of soft boxes, the Fave back then was Plume Wafer which had a smaller inner diffuser to aid in light uniformity. These worked pretty good.

    The "high end" studio strobes back then were Elinchrome or Bronocolor. These were nice to use as they had the ability to adjust power by fractions of an f-stop with ease which was easier than moving the lighting unit on a stand. Typically, one would like the soft light source to be much larger than the object being imaged. If moving the soft box too far away for the size of object being imaged the quality of light would change..

    Speaking of Bi-tube strobes, Elinchrome & Bronocolor made 8,000 watt/second single head units. The Elinchrome set up required two 404 power units to make the bi-tube strobe head produce that kind of strobe power. That much strobe power was useful for 8x10 with small taking apertures like f45.

    After using those UV corrected flash tubes, they made enough difference to avoid using non UV coated flash tubes. Overall the color rendition was often better.

    What is not often appreciated, white LEDs are made using individual Red-Green-Blue LEDs with peaked spectral output at each of these colors by phosphor to deliver the current to light conversion efficiency. This results in special gaps that film responds to. Light from good flash tubes or arc or halogen tungsten filament can be made with mostly uniform spectral energy light output that do not have the spectral gaps LED light sources do. While LEDs for lighting have become very common, they have specific limitations and do not meet the lighting needs of specific application needs.

    Remember using fill cards or negative fill cards that were cut to the needed shape then trying to figure out where to place it to get the lighting to look good on the object being imaged? Then the stack of polaroid of trials before putting color transparency film in the camera?


    There was a LOT of satisfaction to Nail that Image with one sheet of film back then. That was proof of skill, knowledge with a LOT of hard work to make that happen.



    Bernice
    Bernice,

    Sorry to get back to this so late... Things have been a little crazy at work these last weeks... Fun topic!!!

    You are correct, I'm mixing up CC with CP filters because it's been a long time ago... Thanks for that!!!

    Yes, the Plume Wafers were the best box, but I did prefer only using the outer diffuser only despite some very minor fall-off... Slightly more crisp light...

    These days I much prefer using a single reflector hard light head with many reflectors to have a point source highlight and higher lighting ratios than with a soft box for the technical antiques I usually shoot with some drama impact... But a box is still good for some stuff that needs a broad even light...

    Still cut many different reflectors, and of different shades... Black cards to reflect back to camera to "see" dark in a too shiny area, grey to very slightly light glass or clear plastics to give some slight tone in clear stuff without overpowering it (Had to use these on a job to shoot clear plastic toy robots and they worked perfectly!!!)... And of course smooth and textured white, and shiny foils when a very hard reflected light was needed...

    Sometimes the reflectors were strange shapes, like an orbit band 1" high that almost went all around the subject to provide a reflecting area to a chrome band around a classic microphone, or for food, a life-size cut-out of a wine bottle that went FLAT on the shooting deck behind a dark wine bottle that lights up the contents!!! A lot of solutions were found and used...

    For the food OP, most plates were slightly back lighted and the "holes" of shadows were filled in with fill cards... Some stubborn holes could be filled it with a small make-up mirror on its little stand on the deck... Suggest using color neg film as chrome films have a tiny latitude for exposure and shadows...

    Would love to continue this discussion!!!

    Steve K

  7. #37

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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Well Steve...

    Those were the really great days of view camera film photography in so many ways. Those who had that experience is likely going to remember them for a long time. It was LOTS of fun. Beyond all the studio lighting antics, there was the excitement of dropping of the film for processing then waiting for the processing to be done and looking at the processed E6 at the lab's light tables. Could be surprise or more.. Then it was off to the Foto store film fridge for more film... test the film and make more images...

    Remember those curved product tables where lighting could be placed under the table as needed and how these product tables could add so much to the image due to the added lighting?

    Friend who was a cameraman for National Geographic back in the day would tell me about how their lighting crew would use many of the same lighting techniques for studio product photography except on a MUCH larger scale. The cinema folks favored arc lamps adjusted to match daylight color temps to avoid any color shifts in the film footage or alter the color temp of the arc lamps slightly as needed. They also had a large variety of diffusors (GIANT size), reflectors of various flavors from aluminized to white and more. They used negative fill as needed (those black high absorbers) and shaped as needed. All this demanded an entire crew and more with a director to coordinate it all.


    Thanks for bring up these wonderful memories Steve,

    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    Bernice,

    Sorry to get back to this so late... Things have been a little crazy at work these last weeks... Fun topic!!!

    You are correct, I'm mixing up CC with CP filters because it's been a long time ago... Thanks for that!!!

    Yes, the Plume Wafers were the best box, but I did prefer only using the outer diffuser only despite some very minor fall-off... Slightly more crisp light...

    These days I much prefer using a single reflector hard light head with many reflectors to have a point source highlight and higher lighting ratios than with a soft box for the technical antiques I usually shoot with some drama impact... But a box is still good for some stuff that needs a broad even light...

    Still cut many different reflectors, and of different shades... Black cards to reflect back to camera to "see" dark in a too shiny area, grey to very slightly light glass or clear plastics to give some slight tone in clear stuff without overpowering it (Had to use these on a job to shoot clear plastic toy robots and they worked perfectly!!!)... And of course smooth and textured white, and shiny foils when a very hard reflected light was needed...

    Sometimes the reflectors were strange shapes, like an orbit band 1" high that almost went all around the subject to provide a reflecting area to a chrome band around a classic microphone, or for food, a life-size cut-out of a wine bottle that went FLAT on the shooting deck behind a dark wine bottle that lights up the contents!!! A lot of solutions were found and used...

    For the food OP, most plates were slightly back lighted and the "holes" of shadows were filled in with fill cards... Some stubborn holes could be filled it with a small make-up mirror on its little stand on the deck... Suggest using color neg film as chrome films have a tiny latitude for exposure and shadows...

    Would love to continue this discussion!!!

    Steve K

  8. #38

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    Re: Large Format Product & Food Photography Tips/Advice?

    Yea Bernice, remember "living at the labs" well!!! After a long day, overnight, even 4 days without sleep (!!!), headed right for the lab to catch the first or last run (depending)... Would shoot 4 sheets per shot and run one (N ) and hold the rest... Downloaded at the lab, and made myself comfy for the next hour until I got the results... Got over to the lightbox to see if anything got too light or dark on areas of the film... Or maybe picked up a cast that could be "scrubbed" out with a little pushing... If so, made the best guesstimate of what the next sheet needed and ran another sheet... The last two sheets were for finals for the client and me (clients always seemed to loose film, and asked for another, or maybe something for the portfolio)... 50 sheets of film then cost about what 10 or 20 sheets of chrome costs now, so we never cheaped out on film or processing... I was usually pretty wired after too much coffee and shooting so didn't need to sleep YET!!!

    Used those shooting tables sometimes but knew other ways to "float" an item over the background... A college I worked at part time last decade had one, but the top tended to shatter like glass sometimes... Found the problem was some student would put a 1000w spotlight under it for their shoot, and it would overheat and set the top in that position, then someone else would change the angle causing it to break in many pieces!!! Expensive to replace as it was a custom size...

    Yes, a big studio took more light to shoot, but the principles were still the same... Likewise, I shoot very small sets (usually 1X2 feet) made for hand sized stuff now, and it's still light, just at a "powers of ten" scale... But a big relief to get rid of large booms, C stands, and big hot lights... Can now get away with using microphone boom stands, a single 12" reflector light acts like a large softbox over small items, and a select single LED flashlight can behave like a 1k light up close if you expose for it... But I'm using the same thinking as back when... (But very rarely shoot color film and lotsa Pull-a-roids like then...)

    Thanks for reminding me that it was challenging and fun!!!

    Steve K

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