Thursday, January 28, 2010

Site Logo: Photographing a broken lightbulb

Luxphile.com Logo
For the header of my site, I wanted to photograph something that would be immediately related to title of the site ("luxphile"  - hence related to light), but would capture the somewhat dark atmosphere found in some of my work.
After a few days of deliberation an idea bulb lit up (or rather broke) above my head - and I decided on the shattered bulb concept.

If you've ever photographed someone wearing glasses, you should know that reflections can be tricky. The problem increases significantly when photographing a round glass object - since no matter where you place your light source and camera - you'll always catch a reflection.

The best way around this issue, is controlling your specular highlights, David Hobby has a wonderful piece about the technique over at the Strobist Blog which I really recommend you read.
But either way - long story short: If your going to photograph something that will reflect your light-source from any direction - the trick is to make the light source's reflection fill the entire object.

In order to make the light source's reflection (or "Specular Highlight") fill the whole object - you'll wan't a large diffuser - much larger than your standard umbrella or lightbox. The rule of thumb is - use something that would fill your entire field of vision if you were standing where your object is. Usually this is done with a large white fabric lit from behind.

In my case, I made a makeshift softbox from some white fabric, draped over a coffee table, and a broomstick. As you can see - you won't be needing any expensive studio equipment to achieve this :)

BoazArad_1377.jpg BoazArad_1379.jpg

I tried lighting the fabric directly from above - but found that I got softer light  and less reflections when I shot my strobes into the ceiling to further diffuse the light before if hit the fabric.

You can see a much more impressive, yet conceptually similar setup over at Strobist, under Stainless Steel and Cookies.

I used to SB-24/25's at full power to light the ceiling, and one SB-26 on 1/64 power, just winking on the left of the "softbox" to light the very bottom of the bulb and separate it from the black background.
The key lights were fired with modified poverty wizards, and the left fill was on optical slave mode.

I hope you found this tutorial useful, and would love to hear what you think about it, and the final result in the comments.

3 comments:

Lewis N. Clark said...

The rule of thumb is - use something that would fill your entire field of vision if you were standing where your object is. Usually this is done with a large white fabric lit from behind. www.shlogodesign.com/logo-design-illustrator

Lewis N. Clark said...

After a few days of deliberation an idea bulb lit up (or rather broke) above my head - and I decided on the shattered bulb concept. logo design

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