For those that may not know, I write in-depth gear reviews professionally for Pentax Forums (I get to test out some sweet gear!), and I just completed my latest one. The last four reviews have been of a tripod and three zoom lenses and this review marks the first time the crux of the analysis was about a prime lens (which, let me tell you - is so much easier!).
With all of my reviews I have made it a personal goal to make an engaging and technically challenging cover photo for the review. Not only to entice more clicks (what? the site is a business after all), but to continue challenging myself technically and creatively.
For this humble 35mm prime, a "Plastic Fantastic" of sorts, the before and after of the final take looks like this (grab the slider and move it across the image to compare the two at your own leisure):
Pretty sweet animation huh? ;) But in all seriousness, how'd I get there? If you keep reading, I'll show you the steps and at the bottom is a behind the scenes shot showing the entire set-up and all the off-camera flashes.
I don't have an acrylic sheet that would allow for jet black reflections, a "trick" that has become common in professional product shots as of late (it's on the "To Acquire" list). It then occurred to me to use a glass table cover from a small coffee table in my living room with the black seamless background paper underneath it. The glass would provide the reflection and the black paper would give it that darker, subdued reflection (as opposed to just placing it on a mirror).
The first take, which began a long series of rearranging everything (as well as testing for the lighting) until it looked like above, was this:
"Nope, not a fan, try again."
"Hey not bad! I can work with this. What if we tried less depth of field?"
"Nope, I want to be able to read the label on the box. Let's go back to how we had it, only this time let's add a light from camera left."
"Nice! Gives it a lot more dimension. Oh, what about 'Pentax Green' for the background to add some flare and color?"
"Oooh much better! And really cool - this is my first time ever using gels!"
"Voilà, the final image!"
/end inner monologue :)
I know I posted the before/after slider above, but I'll do it again here, with an actual explanation of what went into it.
I learned that no matter how hard I tried (and dammit I really tried) I just couldn't get all the dust off the table and the lens. And I blew and brushed like crazy - still after looking at the images on my computer at 100% magnification, sure enough they were still there. So I cloned all of them out, cleaned the bottom of the box (although I guess it could be a tad straighter towards the lens' right side) and removed the hard reflections/spots of light on the lens itself. Also, the vertical | between the words PENTAX and 35mm on the face of the lens needed to be touched up as it was not as clean a paint job as I would have liked. But hey, it's a $150 lens, so its quality control, especially on cosmetics, isn't going to be super high. It's also worth noting that I never noticed the "flaw" until I was editing the image.
Once that was all done, I played with the sliders in Lightroom to ensure the exposure was correct, brought out the green a bit more, and then finally gave it a run through Topaz Clarity for that 'pop' I've come to love from that plug-in.
Here's that before/after slider again:
And finally, the Behind the Scenes shot of my tabletop studio setup and the three light sources:
If you look closely you can see a lens cap used to prop up the rear of the box. This helped make the reflection tighter as opposed to being spread out across a larger area vertically. Also it gave the text on the box a hint more of an aggressive feel to it, helping with the "marketing" pitch the image was designed for.
- Pentax K-7 on Tripod
- Adobe Lightroom 4.4
Thanks for reading, and if you want to make sure you don't miss another post like this, I encourage you to visit and like my Facebook page as I will post all my blog updates there: Alex Jansen Photography on Facebook.
Additionally, as a "Sneak Peak" so you know what you'll be missing if you don't like my Facebook page, here are two other cover photos for reviews that I will be completing similar BTS blog posts for:
For the Sigma 18-35 F1.8 DC HSM "Art" lens:
Click for a larger view. And not a cover "photo" but rather an animation, for one of Pentax's weather sealed kit lenses: