The first shot is from a typical cosmetic/product set using my ol trusty 4x5 in my studio. I use the Kapture Group's sliding back adaptor for my Phase one Back. This set is a 4 light configuration, about as ambitious as I ever get. The soft box pointed towards the background provides the main light indirectly by bouncing of the paper. I have one light with a grid spot shooting through each sheet of plexi, frosted side facing product for nice highlights. Finally, a wee kick from an overhead light with a 10 degree grid spot for that little somethin extra. The black cards peeking in the sides provide a darker edge on the product which helps hold detail in the edges. I use mainly Broncolor in the studio and Dyna Lite studio heads on location, this shot uses both.
Below is the prodigious and tremendous props stylist, Ed Gallagher, attempting to work a little magic with some really cheap ribbon. We have just finished the Gift Guide season, on to Valentine's Day! In this shot, Ed is trying to work his magic below my Fuji GX680II, also adapted to my phase back with the help of the Kapture Group. I really should have swung the camera out of his way since it is mounted on my camera stand. I own two, a big beautiful FOBA stand and a small, much cheaper Cambo. I have a pretty small studio these days and I have my FOBA on permanent loan to Evan Kafka's Some Studio, a terrific rental studio in NYC where I shoot often.
A grey card color checker shot from my Valentine's Day shoot for Ethel M (Mars) Chocolates. The above shot is achieved with only two lights, a medium Super Pro Chimera soft box pointed back and the background, and a small fill light. As well as a heavy handed use of fill cards and flags.
Above and below we have the talented and extremely funny food stylist, Brian Preston-Campbell, attempting to arrange some root vegetables. This was being shot directly overhead with my Canon 5D MarkII using a combo of natural light and strobe. It was a partly cloudy day, one of the trickiest when using day light as the exposure and quality of the light bounce all over the place... even with the use of an excellent daylight rental studio such as A Loft NYC. Here I have a Profoto Beauty Dish with diffusion bouncing of the wall/window/ceiling adding an extra bit to my long exposure. I have my Profoto dish converted to Dynalite, an easy process. And when the sun came out I suspended the 1 stop silk you can see off to the left side across the back of the set. I love me a big Mathews silk.
lots of dishes to choose from for my Shop Smart shoot...
My lovely and new tricked out 27" iMac. I used to travel with a laptop and Eizo monitor but this machine is great to travel with and it's all one piece. I still have 3 ColorEdge Eizo monitors in the studio, they are by far the best monitors I have ever used and carry a 5 year warranty.
Above is what you do when you don't have a camera stand to secure your camera with while shooting overhead. Here I have a Mathews C-Stand gripping the stud from a SuperClamp's threaded pin. It is my personal belief that Everyone should own 5 Century Stands, preferably Mathews. What can I say, I started assisting in LA where they used 2 C stands for everything.
Below is a shot of a recent set of crumbled cosmetics. There are stylists that specialize in this and I have used a few, but I mainly do this sort of thing myself. It is one of the reasons I love photography, it is hands on! I have a whole set of dental tools I use for both cosmetics and diamonds but below you can see tweezers and a butter knife I found at the rental studio. It was perfect as it had a real thin and flexible surface. I joked with my assistants that I was going to steal this from Go Studios where I was shooting, I hope they didn't actually do that... time to check the kit. If I have it Halley I will bring it back :) - Halley Ganges is the owner of Go Studios and a wonderful photographer as well.
And finally, the 3 shots used to make a Cover Try image for Consumer Reports magazine, final below. The hardest part of this shot was not rigging the shredder, but shredding the paper in a way that matched my sketch to the Creative Director. They chose 3 of my 6 sketches and in the end liked two, this one and another of a $ embossed on a boxing glove.
retouching, as always, by Nathan Kipe at Every Pixel Counts.