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Author Topic: Home made photo isolation table  (Read 9556 times)

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steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« on: May 07, 2012, 15:18 »
0
A common task for stock photos is to isolate the subject against white and beginners can sometimes have an issue with this, especially with lighter subjects as the subject blows out along with the white card background. I was asked by someone who follows my blog if I could write a short post about how to make an isolation table from things you may have around the house, and I did that today.

If anyone is interested, here is the post:  http://www.backyardsilver.com/2012/05/home-made-photo-isolation-table/

If anyone wants to suggest improvements, please feel free! I'm always glad to learn more.

Steve

PS - why didn't I use a piece of translucent plastic? Two reasons - I couldn't find one in my local DIY store, and I also wanted to add some separation between the lighted surface and the subject plane to avoid any details in the surface of the translucent sheet from showing through.


« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 15:28 »
0
I can't see the point in this. You will always get light from beneath that will look terrible. You can se it in the "pottery pig" image.

You would be much better off by placing the reflector BEHIND the glass 3ft/1m or so and lighting it separately. (This illustrates my point: http://vid35.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/product-photography-behind-the-scenes/ )

I like the objects to have a natural shadow, that calls for a different approach and some post-production work, there doesn't seem to be an easy way of doing this, just work, work, work...
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 15:32 by Perry »

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 15:55 »
0
Hi Perry

I like your method as well! The one with the light from beneath does provide some nice shots on certain types of object - fruit can get a nice translucent feel, for example.

I do agree that it can give unwanted light from below, but it can also give a rim light that works as well.

Steve

« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 16:25 »
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   I don't place a lot of value on white isolation tables. I usually shoot with a light grey background to maintain a nice under shadow and avoid background spill over. Also, trying to keep everything absolute white in the background has proved too time consuming, because every shoot has it's own little set of problems. I now just perform all isolations in post production. (Photoshop) I'm very fast at it, and it comes out very clean.
   Since I shoot so much product stuff, I usually make several exposures at different focus points (front to back) and  auto-align and merge the layers. Photoshop has made this very easy to do now. That's my workflow.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 16:37 by rimglow »

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 16:54 »
0
Nice - do you extract with the pen tool or try to select the object and clean up the edges?

Steve

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 17:05 »
0
Quote
You will always get light from beneath that will look terrible.

Perry - I was thinking about the physics of light and am now wondering if both approaches are actually the same? If you bounce light off a white background with sufficient power that the reflected light goes through the glass table to the camera sensor to fully saturate the pixels, then you are creating the same "flow" of light as the method where you directly light a translucent sheet under the glass. In both cases, if you get the exposure of the background to just burn out the white, but no more, then the amount of light is the same.

My pottery pig was not properly exposed - I wanted to show how the light comes up from below.

But aren't the two methods identical if the exposure is correct? There is a difference in that the reflected light off a sheet is more diffuse, but if the translucent sheet is a distance away from the subject, then that diffuseness is probably similar?

Steve

« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 17:08 »
0
I would say 80% of my isolations are done with the pen tool so that I can include a clipping path. (very desirable)
The more complicated edges are selected with the Quick Selection tool and I then use the Refine Mask.

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 17:54 »
0
Never one to take a stance without an experiment (the scientist in me!)

I did a test where I took one image with a backlit translucent fabric under the object, and another where I shot through the glass table onto a lit white background paper. I've updated the original post to show both shots.

Overall, the results were similar, although there is less light spill when you light a piece of white paper some distance from the subject. With the translucent fabric method, you get more light coming onto your reflectors and other areas above the object, providing more light onto the object itself. As a result of this test, I think the method explained by Perry is more controllable.

Steve

helix7

« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2012, 20:42 »
0

Do simple isolated objects still sell? Or even get accepted? Seems like this sort of stuff would very likely get a "too many on site" type of rejection.

avava

« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2012, 21:07 »
0
I would say 80% of my isolations are done with the pen tool so that I can include a clipping path. (very desirable)
The more complicated edges are selected with the Quick Selection tool and I then use the Refine Mask.


Can you expain how you use the refine mask.

The server at www.backyardsilver.com can't be found, because the DNS lookup failed. Can't see the blog.

gillian vann

  • *Gillian*
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2012, 01:06 »
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@rimglow: The focus stack technique is excellent, do you do the stack first? then do the isolation?  I do product shoots for a mag and I just don't have time to go to that much effort, from arriving to a room full of boxed up stock (12~15 items) I get the evil eye if I take longer than 2 hours to do the whole shoot incl post.

« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2012, 06:16 »
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@avava: meant to say "Refine Edge Mask"

@vannphoto: focus layers are auto-aligned & auto-merged before performing isolation.

« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 06:42 »
0

Do simple isolated objects still sell? Or even get accepted? Seems like this sort of stuff would very likely get a "too many on site" type of rejection.

I'm not shooting isolated shots of common objects any more. The sites are already full of them. It's really difficult to generate decent sales with such generic isolations. It makes no sense to dilute the sales more. So stop shooting those red apples on white! :)

BUT, if you have some niche objects or shoot "still lifes" you can get some success. Or if you are certain you can shoot a CLEARLY BETTER image than those that are already on sale.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 06:44 by Perry »

« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2012, 08:01 »
0

Do simple isolated objects still sell? Or even get accepted? Seems like this sort of stuff would very likely get a "too many on site" type of rejection.

I'm not shooting isolated shots of common objects any more. The sites are already full of them. It's really difficult to generate decent sales with such generic isolations. It makes no sense to dilute the sales more. So stop shooting those red apples on white! :)

BUT, if you have some niche objects or shoot "still lifes" you can get some success. Or if you are certain you can shoot a CLEARLY BETTER image than those that are already on sale.

   I am always amused when someone brings up this old chestnut. "There are too many isolated: apples, roses, doctors, businessmen, elderly couples, construction workers, etc." Who's to say there are too many? What is the number? By that reasoning, one day all stock sites will no longer accept any more submissions because the isolated limit will be reached on all subject matter.
  There will always be a need for new approaches to any subject. Isolated imagery will always be in demand for any art director that wants to drop an image into the latest project. I know. I've combed through hundreds of isolated photos of lemons looking for just the right angle, point of view, color, and lighting, only to end up shooting it myself. I've never wished I had less choices when looking for stock photos. No stock agency brags about how few choices they offer.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 08:10 by rimglow »

helix7

« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2012, 08:06 »
0
I am always amused when someone brings up this old chestnut. "There are too many isolated: apples, roses, doctors, businessmen, elderly couples, construction workers, etc." Who's to say there are too many?...

Agencies, I believe. Admittedly I don't know for sure that this is happening with isolated photos (I don't do photos myself) but aren't isolated simple objects more prone to rejection nowadays? Those "too many on site" type of rejections?

« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2012, 08:18 »
0
I am always amused when someone brings up this old chestnut. "There are too many isolated: apples, roses, doctors, businessmen, elderly couples, construction workers, etc." Who's to say there are too many?...

Agencies, I believe. Admittedly I don't know for sure that this is happening with isolated photos (I don't do photos myself) but aren't isolated simple objects more prone to rejection nowadays? Those "too many on site" type of rejections?

I haven't received that kind of rejection from any agency, and isolated objects are all that I submit. The trick is to make it stand out from all the others. Approach it from the angle that, if you want to submit an isolated red apple, go for the one that will be the most downloaded apple of all.

Microbius

« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2012, 08:32 »
0
I am always amused when someone brings up this old chestnut. "There are too many isolated: apples, roses, doctors, businessmen, elderly couples, construction workers, etc." Who's to say there are too many?...

Agencies, I believe. Admittedly I don't know for sure that this is happening with isolated photos (I don't do photos myself) but aren't isolated simple objects more prone to rejection nowadays? Those "too many on site" type of rejections?

I haven't received that kind of rejection from any agency, and isolated objects are all that I submit. The trick is to make it stand out from all the others. Approach it from the angle that, if you want to submit an isolated red apple, go for the one that will be the most downloaded apple of all.
I think this is the key. Are the sites drowning in isolated objects? yes. Are they drowning in isolated objects shot and edited to the standard that rimglow does his work? not by a long way


Wim

« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2012, 09:01 »
0

Do simple isolated objects still sell? Or even get accepted? Seems like this sort of stuff would very likely get a "too many on site" type of rejection.

I'm not shooting isolated shots of common objects any more. The sites are already full of them. It's really difficult to generate decent sales with such generic isolations. It makes no sense to dilute the sales more. So stop shooting those red apples on white! :)

BUT, if you have some niche objects or shoot "still lifes" you can get some success. Or if you are certain you can shoot a CLEARLY BETTER image than those that are already on sale.

   I am always amused when someone brings up this old chestnut. "There are too many isolated: apples, roses, doctors, businessmen, elderly couples, construction workers, etc." Who's to say there are too many? What is the number? By that reasoning, one day all stock sites will no longer accept any more submissions because the isolated limit will be reached on all subject matter.
  There will always be a need for new approaches to any subject. Isolated imagery will always be in demand for any art director that wants to drop an image into the latest project. I know. I've combed through hundreds of isolated photos of lemons looking for just the right angle, point of view, color, and lighting, only to end up shooting it myself. I've never wished I had less choices when looking for stock photos. No stock agency brags about how few choices they offer.

Same here mate, mind you that most of the time the people that say this have a niche full of similars.
As if we don't have enough industry, business people, animals, cartoons, models, backgrounds and what not in stock?
Isolations/on white are still a big part of stock, as long as the execution is performed properly they will sell.

Danny might not have the pretty framed pictures or high volume/sales others have but one can tell he puts his heart and soul into his work and is a master at the craft. I'm a big fan of his work since I started in stock, to me he's a standard for people trying isolations.

Wim

« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2012, 09:07 »
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Thanks Wim & Microbius for the kind words.

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2012, 11:34 »
0
Quote
I usually make several exposures at different focus points (front to back) and  auto-align and merge the layers. Photoshop has made this very easy to do now.

I have also been using the auto blend approach to focus stacking in Photoshop, but I downloaded the 30 day trial version of Helicon Focus two days ago - absolutely great for quickly creating the best blend of focus from multiple images. Much faster than PS, and seems to be more accurate. I haven't got into all its features yet (you can touch up between the layers in the program before it creates its final blend), but I'm seriously thinking of licensing a version once I have expired my trial.

Steve

« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2012, 02:51 »
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I make many isolations. In different ways, from very simple to quite advanced.
This is a simple one, done in a setup like the OP mentioned, lit from below.


This composite contains several isolations, done in different ways:

« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2012, 09:53 »
0
Quote
I usually make several exposures at different focus points (front to back) and  auto-align and merge the layers. Photoshop has made this very easy to do now.

I have also been using the auto blend approach to focus stacking in Photoshop, but I downloaded the 30 day trial version of Helicon Focus two days ago - absolutely great for quickly creating the best blend of focus from multiple images. Much faster than PS, and seems to be more accurate. I haven't got into all its features yet (you can touch up between the layers in the program before it creates its final blend), but I'm seriously thinking of licensing a version once I have expired my trial.

Steve

Thanks for the tip!  I'm playing with Helicon Focus today, and it is very impressive.

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2012, 10:53 »
0
Quote
Thanks for the tip!  I'm playing with Helicon Focus today, and it is very impressive.

Yes - I did some shots of cables and a computer chip yesterday and it is really slick in putting the images together. It nicely adds the pieces that the camera doesn't see properly when an object in the foreground increases in size and fuzziness as you focus on areas behind it. Photoshop often leaves that piece a bit blurry I find.

Not sure which version I will buy in the end - the trial is for the top end 64 bit gee-whiz version, but I think the basic version will do what I want to do.

Steve

gillian vann

  • *Gillian*
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2012, 04:04 »
0

Do simple isolated objects still sell? Or even get accepted? Seems like this sort of stuff would very likely get a "too many on site" type of rejection.

I'm not shooting isolated shots of common objects any more. The sites are already full of them. It's really difficult to generate decent sales with such generic isolations. It makes no sense to dilute the sales more. So stop shooting those red apples on white! :)

BUT, if you have some niche objects or shoot "still lifes" you can get some success. Or if you are certain you can shoot a CLEARLY BETTER image than those that are already on sale.
I've never wished I had less choices when looking for stock photos. No stock agency brags about how few choices they offer.

except for maybe DT......... ok, they don't brag, but their last standard rejection spouted something about "more images just competes with your own port and dilutes your sales" so in effect, they kinda were saying "fewer is better".

OM

« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2012, 16:44 »
0
  I don't place a lot of value on white isolation tables. I usually shoot with a light grey background to maintain a nice under shadow and avoid background spill over. Also, trying to keep everything absolute white in the background has proved too time consuming, because every shoot has it's own little set of problems. I now just perform all isolations in post production. (Photoshop) I'm very fast at it, and it comes out very clean.
   Since I shoot so much product stuff, I usually make several exposures at different focus points (front to back) and  auto-align and merge the layers. Photoshop has made this very easy to do now. That's my workflow.




I too do a lot of isolations for commissioned work and I find your method of isolation closest to my method after some years of experimentation. I have a 50mm f1.8 Nikon lens which is prone to a nasty flare spot in the middle of the frame when there's too much white background so I tend to prefer the background to be light grey/flagged off to reduce flare generally. Haven't tried the multiple shot approach with align and merge but will try that in future. Advice to others......learn to use the pen tool properly. Can't beat it for good isolations. Thanks.

rinderart

« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2012, 11:43 »
0


 

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