Just playing around with the scrim I made a while back. It’s roughly 1.5x2m with a frame made from 21mm plastic waste pipe (B&Q sell this along with all the corners, T pieces, 45 degree corners etc. to make any kind of frame you want). The surface is Translum plastic which is made by Savage. You can buy it on a roll 1.5m wide. The idea is to project light onto the scrim so that it drops to nothing before it reaches the edge of the scrim – and so there’s no edge visible. You can also try projecting patterns using something like the Lightblaster however on this occasion I just wanted a classic ball of light with a nice gradual drop-off towards the edges.
The trick here is that we see the blue ball reflected in the shiny black Perspex surface. It’s being generated by a Lencarta SF600 with a 30 degree grid and blue gel. Now, of course this blue light also shines on the chocolates; and I don’t want blue chocolates. So they are lit from the side by a 50x90cm soft-box on another SF600. This is turned up enough to wash out the blue on the chocolates. It doesn’t show up in the black Perspex surface as it’s an almost perfect mirror, and that light is not visible in it.
I also have a low angled snoot on a 3rd SF600 from the front/left to eliminate shadows caused by the leftmost chocolates on the ones to the right. This light doesn’t show up in the black mirror surface either – so that remains blue as only the blue light from above is seen by the camera reflected in the Perspex.
Shooting tethered in the studio with a remote trigger allows me to stay where the action is: adjusting the positions of the lights and seeing the results on the monitor after each shot. I’m using a TetherTools 5m USB 3 cable to connect the camera to the laptop. These cables are very reliable, as the cores inside them are much thicker than regular cables. They don’t need any amplification or other trickery – they just work because they are a very good spec. On the laptop, I’m not using Lightroom, or Capture One to capture the images, as neither of those allow saving of the image onto both the laptop *and* the card in the camera. Control-My-Nikon is the only software I’ve found for Nikon that does this, and it works well. It’s only $30 or so as well. I don’t need to develop or edit the images on the laptop and I tether the camera purely to see the results in near real-time. When I’m done I take the card out of the camera and feed it to my more powerful editing machine. Control-My-Nikon does a load ore than just catch images too – it will provide live view with focus peaking, manual focus from the laptop, AF, and control over all exposure settings. It also does some nifty stuff for stop-motion too – with an overlay of your last image in live view; and a whole bunch of triggering options from sound, motion or network control. For product photography like this it’s the best solution I’ve found for Nikon.
To trigger the camera, I could use the laptop, but I’m not usually near it, so I plug a Viltrox radio remote into the control port on the camera and use that instead. I chose the Viltrox radio remote for a couple of reasons: it takes AAA batteries – not weird, low capacity exotic batteries; and it allows both press-and-hold and start-stop bulb modes (press once to start and again to stop). None of this is required for this shoot, but when using long exposures with specialised light it’s very useful.
Post on this shot was purely clean-up. I used the healing brush to get rid of some bigger scratches on the acrylic surface, but most of it was dealt with by creating a Dust-and-Scratches layer, and masking this off the chocolates. Some cloning and healing on the chocolates themselves and some selective sharpening and it’s done.
Note: I saved these chocolates from last Xmas – and we’ve moved house since then. I’ve been meaning to shoot them for 10 months as I thought they looked good and tbh, they don’t look too good now. I’ll try this again with some new ones soon 🙂