Tag Archive for: Backstage

A kind of different product photography, shots from guitar pedals

A kind of different product photography, shots from guitar pedals

Most of the posts we do online are from model photography. But product photography is also one of the services we offer our clients. Most of the time, the model shots are however a lot more interesting to post. But sometimes we also show you some of the products we shoot, when it’s special.

Hobby vs business

I always say I’m a lucky guy, every day I can do what I love most, create images. But sometimes I’m double so lucky when I can combine two of my passions.

I’ve known RJ-amps for a few years now and he can do wonders with tube amps but also builds great guitar pedals. When I brought my amp in I got two brand new pedals to play with which will be released later this year. And of course…. and he knows that…. I couldn’t resist to take some images.

Now we also took some of the more boring white backgrounds but when we do product shoots I also always like to add some “special set” shots. With handbags for example. We build a small set fitting the brand and took some shots in there, with fancy lighting. In most cases, we do this for free (and fun) but clients often end up using those images also.

How I shot this product, the guitar pedals

For this series I decided to shoot it at home with a combination of a Lumecube with a snoot and two Nanlite led tubes on the side.
The challenge was to get the Lumecube in exactly the right place, but luckily we could use the K&F concept tripod I’m using for my iPhone video setup. This is an awesome tripod because it can act as a boom arm, making it ideal for shoots like this or using phones in video setups.

Here is the behind-the-scenes setup for both pedals.

A kind of different product photography, shots from guitar pedals

A little bit of set styling

The reason I shot this at home was mainly because it was the best location 😀
This is the area where I create my music and also host live streams when I do seminars for clubs or Digital Classroom episodes without live shoots.

I love the carpet here (somehow most guitarists seem to love them) so I wanted to use that as my “base”
Because it’s a pedal I chose this vintage-looking amp because it’s pretty neutral-looking and stands close to the floor. So there is no problem fitting it in the frame.

Of course, you also need a guitar. Here I chose a custom-built guitar for the nice wood look which I think works great with the color of the amp and the carpet. Also, the finish has a very high gloss which makes it harder to light. But the effect when done right makes it possible to use just a little bit of light to see some details.

For some “fill,” I used my favorite-looking microphone, a nice Marantz Ribbon mic.

Lighting

As mentioned I’m using the Lumecube with a snoot and two Nanlites tubes on the left and right.
I love using accents with red and blue because both are on the same axis in the colorspace they blend together really nicely and both are also the so-called “emotion” colors so for me personally it’s a combination I use a lot.

Placing the lights is vital if you want details in the guitar without getting too much glare. However, around the edges, I did want just a little bit of reflection making the guitar stand out. After finding the right spot you can fine-tune the spread by just turning the tube very slowly and keep looking through your camera.

Ok… let’s show the results.
I did use just a little bit of BorisFX for special effects.
Get a 15% discount on BorisFX by using our link.

A kind of different product photography, guitar pedals A kind of different product photography, shots from guitar pedals

 

PS: if you like this blog about product photography (from guitar pedals), let me know! Find me on social media.

The way we tell stories and how to light them to get the right mood

Storytelling with photography

 

It’s no secret I love guitars. I don’t label myself as a real collector but I do add guitars to my collection when I find something that’s unique or a good investment :D. And of course, I like to take pictures of my guitars. This blog is about storytelling with photography.

Vintage and stories

As a photographer, I love to tell stories.
And as a musician, I love vintage gear. I think the main reason I love vintage gear so much is the story behind it. A well-played guitar with some damage through an old tube amp… I don’t know… you just play differently.

I saw the brand Vintage a few years ago and really liked what they were doing, but never added one of their instruments to my collection. However, when they started to work with Joe Doe it became interesting.

Limited editions for the masses

Joe Doe builds guitars in a very limited quantity. And where other luthiers might build a copy of a Strat or Les Paul. He builds guitars that already have a backstory (made up). And that….. combined with great playing and sounding instruments is a very nice combination.

While looking at Marktplaats/Ebay I found a “lucky buck” in like new condition so I decided that would be my first Vintage guitar. (the brand is Vintage).

Now this is not a review of the guitar, but it’s a whole experience.
You get the guitar with the backstory, but also in this case a hard case with loads of “case candy” which all connects to the “made up” story. I can’t express how much fun this is and immediately connects you to the instrument 😀

The backstory

For the Lucky Buck, this is what I got from their Facebook page.
“Leslie ‘Lucky Buck’ Coal topped the Billboard Country Music charts in 1952 with his heartbreak-inspired single, “Whiskey for Breakfast”. Flushed with sudden success, Coal signed numerous endorsement deals, the most lucrative of which was a contract to become a regular fixture on the WHB national radio show Giddy Up Y’all!.”

And of course, when you buy a guitar you have to use it in a shoot right?
Yes of course 😀

My story of storytelling with photography

Now there are always different sides to a story.
For this workshop I thought it would be a great exercise for myself and the attendees to use one prop, one model, one theme but tell two totally different stories, and how lighting and styling can completely change the narrative.

For me, the story goes as follows (following the original).
Leslie topped the billboard chart and had it all, but…. lost it all and was forced to play in small bars. Almost like living rooms, holding her head down so she could imagine still being on the big stages playing the guitar they made for her when everything was going great.

Years later a rapper finds the music, uses her hooks, and immediately propels Leslie back into the spotlights and the huge stages. So she needed photos for magazines. And this is of course a totally different Leslie. Heads up and fun Leslie, she made it “again”….

The setups

For the first setup, I wanted to create a very small stage idea.
One artist with a guitar and mic.

We used our brick wall from ClickBackdrops as background, and a wood floor to mimic an old western bar feel.
I’m using the small Geekoto 26″ softbox with a grid as my main light (one of my favorite light shapers) on the model (Felisa) and making sure the face is covered in shadow.
For some extra mood, we added a standing lamp with continuous lighting.
But that would make a very dark image.
So I added one Geekoto GT250 with our magnetic rogue grid to add some glare on the guitar en mic and just enough to give a slight outline to the face.

With that setup, a lot of areas were just a bit too dark/ So it was time for the final ingredient, a little bit of smoke.
Smoke doesn’t just add to the “smokey” atmosphere fitting the scene. But smoke is also a kind of “secret” weapon you can use as a diffuser and reflector. Add too much and it looks terrible. Add too little and it doesn’t look right. But add just enough and you get a sort of haze that’s great for light beams, glowing flares. But also to just light up areas where light doesn’t normally hit.

For the back, we are using larger smoke machines. But we recently started using smaller smoke machines for details and for smoke that actually sticks to the floor. The handheld smoke machines are great for location work but as you can see in the full-body shot. The attachment for making the smoke stick to the floor works like a charm. With the larger machines we can never get results like this. And the fun part is that they are very cheap and available in two sizes. I would highly recommend adding one of them to your kit bag, smoke really adds a lot.
This is the larger one, and the smaller one.

Setting this up is tricky

The main light has to be exactly right to light the model’s body and part of the guitar, but not the face. But also cover the front of the microphone and add a nice flare. This means you have to play a bit with the angle of the microphone, guitar, and position of the model. This does limit the poses the model can use, but in this case, we only need one or two shots.

The accent light is the hardest.
It looks maybe natural but every position and angle is experimented with and changed.
Angle the guitar slightly forward and there is no light hitting the frets and no glare on the maple neck. Angle it too much and the whole fretboard and headstock are white. But do it right and the light hits it beautifully.

Same with the microphone, it’s placed exactly in the light beam of the accent light. The sides of that light beam just barely light the face.
When it all comes together you get images like this…..

Story telling with photography

So now that we did the story of the bar it’s time for……

Better times

For me, David Lachapelle is a huge influence so for this shot I wanted to do something that has a “feel” of his work. Now we don’t have the budget or team he does, but I hope you get a little bit of that feel.

For the background, I’m using light blue with plexiglass on the floor for some soft reflections.
Because for this set I wanted something much more fun and focussing on the feeling of joy we used a small rocking horse and just let Felisa go wild.

The main light is a Geekoto GT400 with the 48″ softbox without a grid to get a nice and even light source.
You can also use an umbrella for this, as long as you have a broad light source in the front. Also, place it far enough from the model so you get a nice and even fall-off on the backdrop, we want the front slightly lighter than the back (due to the background light). And by placing the light far enough you use the inverse square law to get the fall off you like. Over time you will know exactly where to place it. But always experiment with what the light does, even if you find something you like right away.

Because just the main light looks really flat we want more depth in the image.
If you can’t use shadows to create depth you can use the opposite, highlights.
So for this setup I’m using two striplights with grids on the side.
If you aim them slightly up (or use grids) you prevent the annoying shadows that will run towards the camera and look unnatural.

For the background, I’m using a Geekoto GT250 with the Rogue magnetic grid.
If you like the center to be smaller (or if you have to place the light farther away) you can always stack our grids.

So let’s take a look at the more fun shots.

Story telling with photography Story telling with photography

Conclusion: Storytelling with photography

As photographers we are storytellers, we freeze unique moments in time that never come back.
BUT… as photographers, we can also create our own reality out of “nothing”. This will not only create fun photoshoots but also help you as a commercial photographer to be able to be creative on set when a client wants something more than just a headshot.

During the workshops, I love to challenge myself and the attendees. And by using a strong storytelling concept I always keep the workshops fresh and interesting. And I can add a lot of techniques to the educational part of the workshop.

So the next time you do a free work shoot, pick one prop and try to tell at least 2 totally different stories with it. Trust me, you will have fun, the models will too.

You can order the gear I use via our website frankdoorhof.com/shop
You also find my instructional videos there, including the brand new “Did you know… Adobe Lightroom“.

If you have any questions or suggestions let us know.

You can find Vintage guitars here.
(we are not affiliated with them and I bought the guitar myself).

Want to hear some of my music?
Check out Frank Doorhof on your favorite streaming service.

A set built with isolation blankets for… zero

A set built with isolation blankets?
Why not?

 

Today in the blog some images we shot with our model Trista during a recent workshop.
We recently had the studio roof replaced and of course, that also meant that we have some stuff left, including some isolation blankets.
The moment we saw them we knew we had to do something with them.
We have already built sets with rescue blankets (gold/silver) but these were a lot larger. And in the end, in all honesty, it just didn’t work in this set. But I think they would be awesome as a background for portraits, so I think you will see them again in the future.

Let first, start with the initial setup. We used our movable walls and taped the isolation blankets to it.

a set built with isolation blankets, why not?

As you can see the set is far from perfect, but somehow it also works.
Here I’m using the mirror to mirror the legs and the accent lights, I talk a lot about walking around the model to get a different kind of contrast, here you can clearly see what the angle does on the legs, this is not photoshoped 😀

Of course after that I oped for more close ups, mainly because I didn’t like the set for full bodies.

This I liked a bit better, but I also tried one from the back.
And to be honest I’m still in doubt between the two which one I like most.

move around your model in the set built with isolation blankets

Angles, angles and again angles….

And as usual, always try different angles.
I can’t tell you guys enough how much impact the shooting angle can have, not only in lighting but also with the total way the image looks.
Lower angles will often give a “hero” feel, where higher angles sometimes give a really cool effect.

Adding some color….
Or a lot

After the “standard” setup I opted for a lot more red in the scene.

Now be warned, these images are far from the run of the mill images, but sometimes I just love to go to the extreme sides.
In this case I opened the aperture a lot (to the point of overexposing) just maintaining the highlights in the skin, I didn’t want the skin to overexpose, this often looks awful in color shots, the only thing you could do is convert it to black and white where we are often a bit more forgiving for overexposure. But best is to keep it just below overexpose on the skin, you can always go to black and white later if you want.

Im adding a Rogue omnidirectional dome here with a magenta gel, and although I’m still using the mainlight the red really overpowers everything giving it a totally different vibe.

adding red to a set built with isolation blankets

As you can see by just adding some color you can change the look of our set built with isolation blankets completely. Just make sure the model covers up for certain angles.

Feel free to reach out with questions.
A like and share on social media is highly appreciated.

 

Check out the short about the rescue blankets 

 

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Some colourful lights in the set

Adding continuous lighting is always fun

In todays blog post some images we shot during a workshop with out model Trista.
I’m using a mix of strobes and continuous lighting here.

Due to the reflective floor (plexiglas) and the mirror the angles under which you can shoot are slightly limited.
I loved this angle because it adds a bit to the story telling part of the shot.

Hope you like the results.
The set it build with isolation blankets we had left from our new roof instalment.
A good set doesn’t have to be expensive 😀

Over time you will collect things that you can always combine during photoshoot. Some people will decorate their whole house with little sets, in our case we just collect a lot of “junk” at flea markets, attics etc. we are always interested in things we can someday use. The only problem is room.

Always try to see possibilities, like in this set we used the isolation blankets. There were just laying around so why not use them.
I’m pretty sure you have a lot of stuff in your home that would make awesome set pieces.