Alex Jansen Photography | Sigma 18-35 "Art" Exploded!

Sigma 18-35 "Art" Exploded!

December 21, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Click for a larger view.

That kind of explosion. Not the "violent and destructive shattering or blowing apart of something" type

This is the third Behind the Scenes product photo that I've written about in which the image's creation was catalyzed by a personal goal of an increasingly unique and eye-catching cover photo. The first was a simple prime lens (not-so-simply) shot in the studio and the second was a zoom lens that was photographed over 100 times to make an animation, all while under a hose to tout that specific lens' weather sealed construction. Click on either image below to visit its respective BTS write-up:

See the Behind the Scenes! See the Behind the Scenes!

For the suspended lens at the very top, this specific concept has its origins in two places. First, the "explosion" where the pieces are suspended in midair came from a similar shot of a newly acquired lens by Paul Monaghan, a Scottish friend that does amazing work at his Kirky Studio. The second was to have the box's interior glowing and lighting the suspended lens from below, which should remind many of you of this classic game (where I got the inspiration):

I knew that I had to start with the base image of the box itself, so that was where I began, focusing on the glow from the inside juxtaposed with the shadows on the outside of the box being filled. Because everything (the backdrop, the box, and the lid flaps) were all white, it was a very delicate balancing act with managing the strength of the light sources, both inside and out of the box. But we got it:

Click for a larger view.

Before moving on to individual lens components, I want to quickly show you how the flash was placed inside the box. I noticed immediately that just the flash by itself was providing a pretty harsh and uneven light spread due to the flash head being on one side. To remedy this, I placed a folded piece of printer paper on top to create a diffusion panel:

Click for a larger view. Click for a larger view.

If you're wondering how the light turned the brown cardboard into perfect white flaps, there's no magic there. The above two images are actually using a different lens' box (yet exactly the same size from another Sigma lens) because I realized that I never took an image of this part of the setup before returning the lens (sadly it was a loaner and had to go back). Also, the small spring clamp you see was attached to the flash's foot in order to help lift that side of the paper so it lay flat.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how amazing it was to have the capability to change the flash's power settings without touching the flash itself, thanks to being able to remotely adjust the power settings via a wireless transmitter. Once the flash and the paper were set, it was certainly a boon to no longer need to move away from my camera to adjust the flash power. If you haven't already dipped your toes in speedlights that offer the ability to have their settings remotely controlled, then just go ahead and proceed to checkout, because it's amazing. And we now return to your previously scheduled programming

So once the box and its placement were how I wanted them, then came the task of individually holding up each item directly over the box from behind. This was so the pieces would uniformly have their bottoms lit while the side facing the camera and the tops was also given a slight boost to the shadows from an umbrella located camera-right.

Click for a larger view. Click for a larger view.
Click for a larger view. Click for a larger view.

The lens body was the most difficult because it was really heavy (by far the most dense lens I've ever held!) and yet I was trying to hold it by  touching the least amount of surface area possible to minimize the amount of fingers I would need to mask out in PhotoShop. I really felt like I was going to drop it the entire time haha. But after the last piece (the rear lens cap) was such a failure, and you can see just how much I rotated the image to try to salvage it, it occurred to me to try something different:

Click for a larger view.

Do you have any idea how much time this would have saved not only in photographing but making a clean mask in PhotoShop?!

And on to PS Elements it was to make each component its own transparent layer, from where I brought all the layers into one file. This was so I could arrange the components how I felt was best. OK, fine, I may have had some help from my wife at this point (I originally had all the pieces way too high above the box). But here are the 5 separate layers, brought to you by the magic of animated .gif's:

Click for a larger view.

And finally, here is the BTS shot with the lighting and how everything was setup in my small studio that my wife allowed me to turn the bonus room above the garage into:

Click for a larger view.

Once again, the black box is from a different lens as I had to recreate the same set-up after returning the lens. And like a set of book ends, we'll finish right where we started - with the final image Click for a larger view.

If you would like to read the review I published of the Sigma 18-35 F1.8 "Art" lensthe fastest DSLR zoom lens ever madeyou can find it here. If you'd like to see all the professional in-depth gear reviews I've authored, among other publications, you can find them on my website here.


Equipment Used

- Pentax K-3 on Tripod
- DFA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR lens (at f/10)
- Cactus V6 Transceiver on Camera

- 2x Cactus RF-60 Flash
        Camera Right: 1/4 power through umbrella
        Inside Box: full power through folded paper

Software Used

- Adobe Lightroom 4.4
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 11




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