Happy Easter

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The quote on quote ‘right’ way of getting into the photography business is finding a successful, experienced photographer and working under that person for x-amount of time. Personally, I’m all for practical learning any time any day. You end up learning things you won’t pick up from a textbook. That being said, not all aspiring pros will have the opportunity to learn from a master photographer. So how do you go Pro without seriously hanging with a Pro? Not a difficult question to answer. The Internet and how information is disseminated make it super feasible for a curious mind to gather the tricks of the trade. Key word being curious and I should add – persevering.

Easter long weekend is here, the Asian store where I do groceries is a mad house. Deep lines at the cash register’s appalling enough for me to do a U-turn and walk out the store empty handed. Next stop is the LCBO. Hopefully buying liquor wont be as much of a hassle. Standing in the aisles I start to think, since there will be no fancy dinner, the evening might be better spent creating a cool image. I often admire shots of wine staged with food in magazines, so why not make one. After about an hour deliberating a bottle with character, a choice is made and I’m headed home to capture my image.

I never had proper training on product photography. Like many, I teach myself by being curious and persistent, even when my images don’t turn out how I want. If you want a motivational phrase that will see you through your darkest creative block, here’s a popular one…… Just Keep Shooting. Put on some Jazz music (or whatever gets your juices flowing), settle down and get to work.

My approach to every project is to first transfer what I see in my mind to paper. I get better results this way. Once the sketch is complete, I stage the bottle and position the strobes using my drawing as a guide. Stop here and look at the resulting image; can you guess how many lights are illuminating the scene?

I have five light sources defining the wine bottle and glass. Four Alien Bees and one Nikon SB-910. An obvious challenge shooting anything glass is reflections. You must figure out a way to minimize or totally get rid of them. Here’s where that perseverance kicks in. I’m constantly adjusting the lights, sometimes by a tiny bit to change how they interact with the subject. In my early photography days, I focused on the highlights in any image. But now I give equal attention to the shadows, there can be no intrigue, no character, no suspense without them.

The goal was to create a magazine worthy image. Do you think I succeeded? What I like about this image is how I’ve used lighting to carve out the bottle and wine glass. Just enough is lit to leave you with some imagining. I love contrasty images and really like how the colors here work together. I would have liked to completely tame the reflections on the bottle. That’s a challenge I’ll carry over to my next wine/liquor bottle project. All in all, I think it was an Easter well spent. Oh I should also mention the wine’s pretty good, check it out the next you visit the LCBO.

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