Shooting my Portfolio tips

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mac.FINN, Mar 4, 2006.

  1. mac.FINN macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2006
    Okay, so I'd consider myself a fairly competant amateur photographer and I recently got myself a Canon Rebel XT. I'm a graphic designer and I'm looking to update/improve my portfolio by photographing it.

    My first question is this - should I spend the dough and rent a studio for a day, is it worth it?

    And my second - Does anyone have any tips or tricks for product style shooting of 2D items (on possibly reflective paper) and booklets?

    The one area where I'm seem to suffer most in staged photography is lighting. Every idea is welcome and appreciated. TNX

  2. mlrproducts macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2004
    Lighting? => "Light - Science and Magic" 2nd ed by Hunter. Should really help with those product shots. I know it is expensive for photog books. I've bought many, many photog books, that was the most expensive, but tied with another for the best.

    Also, I bought a light box for father in law for eBay photos. I played around with it - amazing! Several sizes available from Amnova on eBay.
  3. mac.FINN thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2006
    Thanks :D

    I built a light tent out of PVC piping... you're right great results! Still need a little work on the lighting, to the bookstore I go.

    Thanks again!

  4. cgratti macrumors 6502a


    Dec 28, 2004
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    please post a pic of your light tent you built, I am curious to see how you pulled it off and what you used for the outer cover.
  5. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    Renting a studio -- how ambitious! First off, what equipment do you have to bring to the shoot, and what specific plans do you have for the shoot?

    OK, so you've got the Digital Rebel. What lenses do you have? What plans do you have for using those lenses? Is it possible for you to rent additional lenses to capture specific effects you have in mind?

    With this studio, what exactly comes along with it in the way of lighting gear: brollies, booms, softboxes, barn doors, modifiers, etc.? Does the camera have a PC synch connection so that one can use a cord to connect up to lighting? Or would the lighting be provided by something like the popular Alien Bees? Or would you be using one or more Canon speedlights? Does the studio provide lots of goodies? Props? Great. Do you know how to use them? No goodies? Well, where can you obtain them? Again, do you know how to use them?

    Yes, lighting is very critical in doing any sort of product shoot or even just your basic still life/tabletop photography. Do you REALLY need to rent a studio just to do some basic tabletop photography? I have a lot of fun working with setting up things on my own dining table....
  6. mac.FINN thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2006
    I called the studio and really decided against it quickly. No goodies - nothing. Basically the only lighting provided was big old bay windows...swell. Then again i wasn't really expecting much - small studio, and it was cheap. Nice looking place though.

    As for my lightbox, I'll post a pic of it when I get my crap together again:rolleyes: until then here's the link to for the tutorial I used to build it.
    I had to get a little creative, since the Home Depot didn't have any pvc joints ("what's a T-joint look like" he asked me!) So I used copper pipe joints and pvc tubes. Oh and some good honest duct tape for extra stability :D For the cover I just used a cheap white bed sheet I bought. Hopefully I'll post some shots of how it works later.
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    [If this is 2D artwork why not use a scanner? A good flatbed scanner will capture a better image than a camera.

    And then if the artwork was generated on a computer you already would have a digital file and would not even need a scanner.

    OK so asuuming you have some reason to shoot small objects like books what a studio gets you is acces to thier studio lights. Do you know how to use this equipment?

    You can get the lighting effects you need at home. Do things like use window light with shear curtains drawn or rig large white posterboard refletors or fiol glued to cardboard. You can buy large seamless paper on rolls for use as backgrounds. You willl find you need a bunch of stands and clamps and the like but maybe you have some old tripods?

    If you are shooting digital it is easy to go into Photoshop and fix erros like the background not being 100% pure white or fix small exposure errors. It is not like the old days with 4x5 transparencyt film that must be done dead-on perfect in the camera.

    Shooting at home the time pressure is reduced and a re-shoot is not expensive.

    I would say if your subject is large, larger than what would fit on a small table then studio rental is cost effective. Shoting a image of a washer and dryer laudry set in a small apartment is not going to work but table top photography is something amatures can do at home.
  8. mac.FINN thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2006
    the reason I want to photography the files instead of just using digital files, it to show different aspects of the work instead of just a spread, or a digital mockup. Plus a photo of a completed and bound book looks better than just a flat spread. Also paper texture is a factor.

    And I've already decided against the studio - table top is just fine for what I need. thnx.
  9. fuzzwud macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2004
    I was an industrial design major in college, and I spent countless hours in our photo studio. I do some graphic design and photography as well. I have a Rebel XT too. The most important thing in photography is lighting. I did most of my portfolio photos with a Nikon FE manual SLR and slide film. The downside is that studio equipment can get very costly, but don't worry, it's possible to shoot on a shoestring budget.

    If where you live has good fair/sunny weather, I would consider setting up a studio outdoors. Sunlight is great. All you need is a table and covered by some white or black background paper (the kind they sell 4' rolls). You also need a wall and duct tape. You gotta make sure your wall and table can be set up at the propoer angle to the sunlight (I prefer mornings. Avoid shooting at noon when the light is directly above, and late afternoon when it is yellow). Since sunlight will be coming from one direction, you can get a large piece of white foam board to reflect light from the opposite angle. You can use multiple pieces of white foam board of different sizes to reflect the light on to your object.

    You'll also probably need a tripod. I assume the auto white balance is sufficient, but if you want to get technical, you can use a gray card, and do a manual white balance, that's fine too. I prefer doing that. Instructions on the XT manual. You're mostly set. Word of caution, since you're outdoors, stay away from trees, birds, light poles, cables that may cause shadows or stuff on your project. Sometimes overhead cables are hard to spot. When you're working outdoors, the sun and shadows move.

    If shooting outdoors is not an option, all you need is a closed (block out stray light) room with the same setup, and 2 lights. You can get softboxes or cool boxes (ie, or your local camera/photo store). The cool boxes basically is a soft box with a daylight adjusted flourescent spiral light bulb. They're great b/c it won't melt you, they're daylight adjusted, and last longer. Place one light on the left and one on the right and your object in the middle. Use foam board for reflectors. You can use 1 light and a reflector too, but 2 or 3 is preferable. Those lights can cost you about $200, and save yourself from renting a studio.

    Oh, you don't really need to use your flash. Some photographers prefer flash but I'm not a expert on using flash.

    good luck,
  10. mac.FINN thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2006
    Great - thanks a tonne.

    Outdoors is kinda iffy for me... no where really near by, and anywhere I go I'd have to carte everything around with me... damn no car.

    I'm going to give the table top photography a try, hopefully tonight. All I need is a good sized backdrop sheet - many a few colours.

    we'll see how she goes!

    Thanks for all the advice :D

    ps I don't plan on using a flash - I'm inept when it comes to 'em.
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    What's wrong with just using your light box? Are the sheets of paper you're trying to shoot too reflective?
  12. mac.FINN thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 16, 2006
    nothings wrong with it... I hadn't built my lightbox when I started this thread. So now I've got the lightbox, I just need to shoot.

    I'm pretty much all set.
    Thanks for all the help.

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