Lesson Of The Month
High Impact With Extreme Close Ups

A local guitar collector wanted to put his guitars up for auction but felt that his photographs didn't do justice to the high quality of craftsmanship and beautiful details of his instruments as shown in original image. We showed him how focusing on the key details could create more enticing images that would really "sell" the guitar to potential buyers.

To create a simple lighting setup, we used a Quantum Qflash powered by a Quantum Qpaq-X battery (#1 below). We find this combination useful for offsite shooting because it is lightweight and port-able. A medium Photo-flex LiteDome was attached to the strobe unit to diffuse and soften the light (#2).

To effectively illustrate the details and show the fine condit-ion of the piece, we brought the camera in close and positioned our light source to a low angle to partially reflect into the chrome. The result showed nice detail and texture in the wood and sound holes, but didn't highlight enough of the faceplate, particularly the interesting bottom detail (#3).

To include this feature, we repositioned the guitar on a wooden stool with the camera oriented toward the base of the guitar. This created an interesting angle that brings the viewer's eye across the face of the guitar. We brought out the detail of the faceplate by positioning our main light in close and moving it to a side angle so that it was directed across the face of the guitar rather than down onto it. Then we added a Photoflex 42" MultiDisc (white side) to reflect light into the contours of the left side of the guitar (#4). To focus the viewer on the guitar grill work, we reduced our camera's depth of field to throw the back of the guitar slightly out of focus. The result is pleasing and effective in showing general detail (#5).

In order to achieve the "selective focus" look that is so popular in product photography today, we needed to come in closer to create a very shallow depth of field. To create this effect, we added a set of bellows to our Contax 645 camera and 80mm lens (#6). We placed the camera on a sturdy tripod to prevent any chance of motion blur due to camera movement (#7).

Using just a softbox, a reflector, and a versatile camera (#8), you can easily create extreme close-ups that reveal the subtle details and craftsmanship of your product (#9, #10, and final image).

This lesson will be posted in the free public section of the Web Photo School at: www.webphotoschool.com You will be able to enlarge the photos from thumbnails. If you would like to continue your digital step by step education lessons on editing, printing, and e-mailing your photos it will be on the private section of the Web Photo School. Shutterbug has negotiated with WPS to offer our readers a special 33 percent discount rate of $30 per year.

Technical Equipment
Camera: Contax 645 with AE Prism Finder
Lens: Contax 80mm f/2
Accessories: Contax Polaroid back; Contax Auto Bellows system; sturdy tripod
Lighting: Quantum Qflash; Quantum Qpaq-X; Photoflex medium LiteDome; Photoflex SC-8040PR Connector; Photoflex 42" MultiDisc 5in1; Photoflex Litedisc Holder; 2 Photoflex 2218 Litestands
Background: Black muslin cloth; Photoflex Boom Stand and Boom; A-clamps


Original Image
Photos © 2001, Ben Clay, All Rights Reserved


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Final Image


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