Posts Tagged ‘photographer Milnerton’

On paper it sounded straightforward. Photograph the various fruits that you taste in the three Quay 5 wines made by Distell. Shoot the fruits on a series of water splashes to make them look fresh, glistening and delicious. Job accepted.

But then reality struck. Some of these fruits were not available, out of season in the Cape Town winter. No amount of digging, hunting down of importers or experimenting with frozen foods helped. I was going to have to make a plan.

But first, I thought, let’s do the easy stuff. Like the splashes. I sourced a fish tank to catch the spills. One Nikon Speedlight for high speed sync behind a white translucent sheet, tons of plastic sheeting on the studio floor. Then enlist the help of my wife Nicky to throw the water at a piece of glass suspended by clamp to help create multiple droplets. That should do it. But just in case, let me add some red food colouring to the water, make the splashes more visible.

Big mistake.


First, the splashes looked like blood. Or like a crime scene after a particularly nasty axe murder. Secondly, my wife  got exceptionally grumpy. The red stuff was all over her clothes. And the studio floor, the innocently-bystanding softboxes and other studio equipment. But hell, I was committed, so I pushed on. Cleaning up was a problem for much later.

Two hours of splashing later, we had sufficient shots to build the background. Two hours after that, the studio was more or less back to normal. Less like a horror movie scene.

And then the hunt began for the fruits.¬† I spoke to importers, I sorted through fresh fruit vendors’ bins, I selected perfect “hero” fruits, bought several “stunt doubles” to be sacrificed under the knife, and got to work.

Again, not as easy as it looked. A simple softbox three quarter back of the subject did the trick in most cases, with white card filling in some of the shadow in front but leaving just enough to allow some gradation back to front on the items. The items were placed on white plastic. But that lowered the contrast and caused the items to generally look flat. So to make the fruit really pop, I needed to boost the colour. A simple trick is to surround fruit with matt black fabric, allowing just enough white visible for deep etching.

Once the in-season fruits had been shot, I searched far and wide for the summer berries, and even shot some frozen ones, but this was a disaster. I finally conceded defeat and bought some cherry and berry images from a Russian iStockphoto colleague of mine, Anna Kucherova. Then the editing begun.

In Photoshop, I first put down the splashes, and built up a rough “5” on which to overlay the fruit. Then, one by one, I inserted the items, scaling each to be in proportion to the whole. Each item had to be either deep-etched or masked off and the background painted out. This literally took weeks. But I had to be sure every detail was perfect, as the images were intended for point-of-sale displays at huge size. Any error would be glaring.

The result was exceptionally pleasing. The colours seem to go together well, the composition works and most of all, it looked fresh, as per the client brief. This image depicts the red wine flavours, and below are the entire range.

splash_berry_fruitsFBWM Q5FruitySplashCompFBWM

To show the various layers in Photoshop, I put this little video together:

This behind the scenes post is courtesy of Wordsource Productions.

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Smoke and mirrors – sometimes literally. In the modern era of Photoshop, a lot of the old-school photo techniques have been replaced by plain digital art. Or what masquerades for art, sometimes.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of high-reflectives. In this case, a number of very heavy chrome taps that arrived at the studio. Make ’em look good. OK. But how do you get them to stand up while we do it?

This shoot called for some nifty tricks. Usually I would suspend the items with very thin fishing line, and remove any signs of this later. But these babies were heavy, lopsided and decidely unfriendly to work with. They kept falling over, no amount of sticking down with Prestik. It called for drastic measures – Photoshop.

… and after

This mixer, for instance, had a mind of its own. So out came various props, boxes and more Prestik, and it became a bit of a balancing act. As soon as it looked like my contraption was going to stay upright, I fired the trigger – and seconds later it would all come crashing down. Deep breath, go make coffee, stay calm …

Before …

And so it went, all day. No wonder no photographer wants to shoot these!

Still, chrome is the most beautiful surface to shoot. Love it. I used big polystyrene boards to light the faces of the mixers, and in Photoshop removed all props and signs of my cheating.

It makes one wonder – how did they do it in the old days, when they produced brilliant pictures and had to do so with film, Polaroids and no Photoshop? A lost art?

… and after

Before …