Concord Litho Website

Innovative Formats

Although the shoot wrapped over a month ago, it wasn’t until this week that the Concord Litho website went live. I previously posted about the process involved in photographing the products, however, the rest of the website photos proved to be a little more creatively challenging. Our direction was loosely to tell a story while showing off what the company is capable of. This meant showcasing the products, numerous departments and specialties, and the people involved, but with the odd crop size, most of our ideas were thrown out the window. Frustration set in early until we began to visualize how to work within the constraints and the gallery below represents a fraction of what we shot. Some of the images involved using flash and directing people, while others were taken balanced on ladders or standing near fast moving equipment. In the end, somewhere between 10-12 images out of the hundreds were delivered to the client. A few of these shots are the actual ones chosen for the website.

My Lucky Something

Lucky Day

To coincide with St Patrick’s Day, the theme of the 52 Week Photo Project for this week was “My Lucky Something.” I suppose the point would have been to replace the word something with an object that I find lucky, however, I don’t exactly believe in luck. Without a pair of lucky (and horrendously dirty) socks that can’t be washed, or really, anything of the sort, I opted once again to make myself look like a complete idiot. After a bit of brainstorming, I came up with the concept of showing “My Lucky Day.”

I donned my goggles once again to switch into my alter ego, let’s call him Floyd for now, and gathered up a few props to create a simple scene. Tiny table and chair, check. Giant bowl and spoon, check. Festive green shirt, check. Some lucky cereal and lottery tickets, check. Using two sheets of foamcore as a white backdrop, I swapped lenses around until I found a perspective that I liked and then twisted my tripod into a pretzel in order to mount the camera where it needed to be. Truth be told, all of these photos were taken with the camera upside down (see the setup photos above), so it was kind of a test to see how well I know the buttons and dials.

As I took test shots to adjust the lighting, Dude decided to join in the fun and curled up under the tiny table. There was a softbox set up to camera right as the main light and a reflector set up to bounce some light back onto the front of the Lucky Charms box. I decided to add a little fill to my face and the background with some continuous light from a CFL angled up from the floor, and once the exposure looked about right, Floyd jumped in. He ate some cereal to stock up on luck and then used it to win the lottery for a really lucky day.

I did a few simple tweaks in Lightroom, cropped two shots down, then pulled them into Photoshop and fixed the background. I selectively added on three filters in Color Efex Pro (Detail Extractor, Tonal Contrast & Glamour Glow), sharpened a bit, and liked the result. Vibrant, edgy, and goofy without being as embarrassing as Bathing in the Washing Machine. The photo of Dude was only adjusted in Lightroom and sharpened in Photoshop. I tried deciding between the photos for the week and thought I’d use both as a sequence to tell the story.

Luke Tanner liked this post

Trial and Error

RandomCover

Ultimately, this may have been a project that I should have declined, however, the challenge was welcomed. Shoot the cover of a brochure – no deadline, limited input from the client, and the only request is that it feature a variety of products and look nice. My own self-imposed guideline was that the end result needed to stand out and be something different, and without any other rules to follow, it was hard to know where to begin. Too many options does lead to creative paralysis.

Product samples were in abundance, so what resulted was a process of trial and error. The first shots came out mundane, flat, or colorless. Not the greatest start, but it ruled out some of the more obvious ideas. Certain products didn’t photograph well at all, so those were easy to discard and replace with something else. Gift wrap, a product that needed to be featured, came across early on as lacking depth and by the end I had it wrapped around boxes to show it off. Greeting cards proved to be interchangeable as long as they were colorful.

As I moved past the boring snapshots and started to get creative, the first thing I pictured was a glowing envelope that would somehow have rays of light bursting from within. I wanted all of the other products to be flying out from the envelope and was never quite sure how. I cut a hole in the side of the envelope just large enough for my flash head to fire through, then lined the inside with reflective silver material. It mounted to my flash like a bizarre snoot. Take a look at the green envelope photo above and you’ll see one of many test shots that resulted from this idea. It all looked a bit too alien to me, and while it worked, I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it into a larger idea.

In a moment of experimentation, I shut off the lights of the room and decided to try lightpainting the products with a flashlight. With a 30 second shutter speed and a trigger cable, I tripped the camera and set out to illuminate the various products without lingering too long in one spot. The quality of light was interesting enough that I tried a few variations before something else occurred to me. I printed out the logo of the company and cut it out of the paper with a knife to create a stencil for my flash. After adjusting both the flash intensity and the aperture, I found that the logo became nice and crisp when the flash fired in the dark. With the angle of the camera set to look directly at the flash, it appeared that the light spilled down the length of the table in a single beam of light to provide interest.

I was starting to see something I liked, so I added the lightpainting back into the shot after the flash fired and felt like I had something that might work for a cover. The product was too small, so I reconfigured and tried again. The products jumped out of the darkness and grabbed my eye. It was dramatic, flashy, and different. All of my other ideas paled in comparison, and while I was coming up with more elaborate setups, I didn’t want to put in the time if I didn’t believe in them wholeheartedly.

As an afterthought a day or two later, I tossed some of the products together and snapped a quick image only to have it be the one that the client chose. I liked it for it’s vibrant colors and simplicity, however, it soon came down to replacing nearly everything in the shot at the request of the client. While I won’t show you the final image, I can safely say that something was lost, but I suppose that is only my opinion.

Kane, Mickey, Myers & Tiki

Is That My Foot?

Kane, a lonely three-year old Pitbull, stares at me and obviously wants to lick me. He sits down in front of me and lifts his paw to shake when I tell him to lay down. As soon as I shake his paw, he lifts the other one to shake again. He’d sit on me if I’d let him and won’t sit still long enough for me to get a single photo. I decide to sit on the floor with him, he finally lays down next to me, and I slowly slide across the dirty linoleum to position myself for a decent composition. Once I account for the backlighting and adjust to the perfect exposure, I get off about a dozen shots before he decides to come try to lick me again. Oh, the challenge of photographing animals.

It isn’t long after that Mickey stretches out in the hallway of the South Willow Animal Hospital and only ventures out to greet me once catnip lures him out. He is a six-year old tiger-striped cat that seems scared of my camera even after sniffing it and rubbing against the lens. Throwing caution to the wind, he rolls around long enough for me to get some close-ups before disappearing back down the hallway. He’ll make a few more brief appearances and avoid me for the rest of the session.

Myers, also six-years old, is a large orange and white cat that loves to lounge on the counter. He’s unsure of the camera lens for a second or two, lets curiosity take over and then decides he doesn’t care. Time and time again, he rolls across the reception desk only to fall off onto the floor. After a bit of catnip, he starts rubbing on my lens and covers the hood in hair. With minimal effort I get him to pay attention so that I can capture a few frames of him occupying his favorite spot. It just turns out that he loves the attention.

Tiki is a small, eight-month old gray cat that loves to play. She pounces on Myers, jumps on the benches, and sits at the computers as if she’s hard at work. It’s hard to keep track of her. One minute she’s on the desk swatting at Myers’ tail and the next she’s hiding in a doorway to pounce on anything that walks by. Once she gets into the catnip, she rolls on the floor and appears surprised by her own feet. I’m lucky to have captured that moment because she ran away just after.

Amanda Burnette liked this post

Washing Machines and Other Things

Lightroom Grid

The Week 8 theme in the 52 Week Photo project is laughter and I spent most of the week trying to come up with an idea. Of course, as I thought about it, I realized that I didn’t want to take a photograph of someone laughing which left me with the notion that I should make people laugh. So my thought process turned to coming up with something that would cause laughter and still fit my style.

I started with a roll of clear tape, taped my eyes open, taped my nose up, then wrapped my head and wound up being unable to blink or close my mouth. I took a few shots, started feeling funny, and struggled to peel the tape from my noggin. I was lightheaded, my eyes were bloodshot, and the resulting images were far from something to laugh at. They were almost creepy, don’t you agree? I processed them anyway just to show why I didn’t use them.

Eye drops and a not-so-great night’s sleep later, I started over with two ideas revolving around the toilet, the first being someone wearing a gas mask while using the bathroom, and the other being someone climbing out of the toilet. I walked by the washing machine and scrapped both ideas immediately, which I think was for the best, set up the tripod for a test shot or two and liked the composition. It was brighter and that’s something I wanted after last weeks darker themed photo, so I set up the softbox to camera left and added a reflector at camera right, dialed in the exposure, and set out to find some props.

Giant green brush, check. Blue bottle, check. Yellow luffa, check. Plenty of color to make it pop. I took the base photo that I’d be working from, then stripped off my shirt, donned a pair of welding goggles in place of swimming goggles, splashed myself with water, and started posing with the camera on timer. Once I saw that I had something I liked, into Lightroom it went, then opened as layers in Photoshop, added a little masking, a little Nik Color Efex, and a little sharpening, and I was done. For better or worse, I hope it makes someone laugh.