For my project I was creating collages consisting of objects associated with particular people. Each picture represents one person. My aim was to keep that narrative and to explore product photography techniques at the same time, so I’ve chosen to make the collages similar to fashion style guides.
The photographs reflect my vision of a person and at the same time the person’s subjective view of himself or herself. That means that for each shoot some of the objects were chosen by me and some by the subject. So in some pictures you can see objects that seem to come from different worlds, like the picture with the nail polish and the hummer. Here the nail polish is my association with a person while the hummer is her association with her. That shows two interesting findings I’ve made during the project. The first one is that a person consists of variety of features and at the first glance they might look completely different and incompatible. And the second one is that how we see and what we think about ourselves might differ a lot from others’ opinions on us.
In the technical aspect of the project I think that the cutting out approach can be used not only for product photography, but also in portrait photography to change the background for example, to replace the overexposed sky with an appropriate one or to cut a part of picture out to place it on t different layer.
During the project I developed range of technical skills that may be applied to product photography for magazines and online shops.
As I was working at home where I don’t have a studio softbox, I decided to use a speedlight and a shoot-through umbrella. But the difference with the studio equipment is that I can’t place the flash with umbrella such way that the umbrella would be just above an object. So when I put the light stand on the side, the objects had highlights on one side. As I was planing to cut and rotate the objects, seeing direction of light was intolerable. Then I tried to shoot without the umbrella with the light direction straight horizontally into the corner between two reflectors (white walls in this case). Shooting in the second way light was spread more evenly and the shadows looked softer. However in the second case you can see red reflection on the object – that’s my T-shirt, so the last thing I had to do was to change my clothes so that I would become another white reflector. Here are examples of shooting through umbrella from side and shooting into reflectors:
Because all the pictures were taken in the same place and with the same lighting, I found it easier to make edit them in Camera Raw, choosing a number of images at the same time. To do that I opened the files through Adobe Bridge. Editing various images simultaneously:
I made some coffee beans photos, but using right exposure they look too dark, so I tried to do it two ways: shooting normally and adding more light in post production (+exposure, +whites, +shadows in Camera Raw) and overexposing and adding dark tones in post production (-exposure, -whites, -shadows). I believe the first way works better as when it comes to specular highlight you lose the details, the texture. So the first one is correctly exposed while second one is overexposed:
When it comes to many small objects it’s a hard job to cut them all using Pen Tool in Photoshop, so I tried out a method I had seen on YouTube where model’s hair were cut using the difference in Channels (here), but probably the technique better suits when the aim is to select a mass then separate objects like in my image of sweets:
After I selected the tweets separately , I noticed that the selection is imperfect, but fortunately found out that the selection can be converted into pathway rather than only vice versa, so I was able to improve the selection just a little bit without cutting everything out manually with Pen Tool. However I’ve noticed that when it comes to more defined forms than sweets, it’s easier to use Pen Tool only. Selection converted into pathway:
When it comes to dozens of small details, using a Pen Tool can become a a painful process, but in the result you get smooth and clean lines:
After cutting out I placed all the desired images on the separate layers, used Gradient on the first layer ad applied a filter to make the background look more like paper: