Manchester Based Photographer, Illustrator & Designer

In Strobist We Trust

I’ve been an avid reader of Strobist for a couple of years now. I remeber straying upon it through some bmx photography. The regular dose of lighting education pretty much got me my current job in a way. Strobist got me into flash photography, which lead on to an interest in editing, which lead to months of playing with photoshop, which lead to some sort of portfolio, which landed me a job. It’s a tenuous link at best…but y’know. Anyway, I’m sure mostly everyone has strayed upon Strobist by now, but if you haven’t then check it out. It really is an amazing collection of information, and an amazing community has developed around it.

Anyway, I mention all this because Strobist kinda saved my bacon a little while ago. I had to get some shots of this little shiny, bullet shaped USB stick created by our agency for Saints Row 2. I just needed some standard shots, for promotional print. Anyway, these USB sticks were the shiniest, most awkward little things to light. Plus it was a bit of a rush job. I faffed around with one of the cameras at work for while with some modelling lamps but to no avail. I got a little frustrated and then promptly slapped myself before putting on my strobist hat!

My camera and strobes were at home so it was going to be a lunchtime mission! 1 hour to get something workable…with 10-15 minutes journey either way…and preferably some food involved! In the end it was no mission at all. All that lovely free lighting education had made things rather simple.

I placed a piece of glass on the coffee table, with a sheet of matte white paper underneath. Thats my nice little reflection sorted.

I took five pieces of styrofoam (formerly used to pack a picture frame) to use a reflectors. The bullet is super shiny, so I know I want large light sources and a consistently white surround. I just place the sheets surrounding the USB, with one resting on top to form a little white macro studio. There’s my nice even lighting sorted, smooth highlights accounted for and any chance of hideous reflections neatly quashed.

I’m only going to need one flash, an old speedlight will suffice, and I want the light flooding through an overlap in the reflectors. This way i’m avoiding any reflections and getting a slightly softer, non-direct main light. As I’m just using flash now, I have no need for any colour correction and my white balance is simple as pie. Just a quick clean of the bullet with my sleeve to remove an fingerprints or dust and I’m good to go. A whole ten minutes to set-up and shoot from scratch is all that was required. I mean it’s a super simple setup, but I just needed some simple clean images…and more importantly, I had time to cook a bowful of fresh pasta to wolf down before heading back to work! In Strobist I trust.



5 responses

  1. Hey chief, nice post. I bought myself a macro filter for my rubbish 18-55mm kit lens and now have a decent macro lens. I’ve been looking to build myself a make shift macro lightbox but this looks like an even simpler method!

    November 11, 2008 at 3:37 pm

  2. andrewlewiscampbell

    There’s nout wrong with that 18-55 (that i’m still rocking) darnit! haha. Yeah, polystyrene works beautifully as a reflector, diffuses the light well and it’s free! Plus I’ve got some thicker, lower sections to place right round objects. You can sort of bounce the light round in a big arc and get cool highlights surrounding stuff! Hope you’re good man.

    November 11, 2008 at 3:54 pm

  3. LOL, the Canon 18-55mm kit lens is poor. They’ve replaced it with an image stablised version which is leaps and bounds better than the non IS one.

    You mentioned that you don’t have a style of your own in your earlier entry. Don’t beat yourself up over it, most photographer/artists out there have a niche which they stick to and rarely deviate from that. Your work is so varied which is great because you’re suited for most situations. Variety is the spice of life!

    November 11, 2008 at 5:20 pm

  4. all hail strobist. that is always good clean ez buisness. its classic, the whole while i was reading i was wondering if the shot would show itself…and lo and behold. the results are all the way live.

    November 12, 2008 at 4:04 am

  5. andrewlewiscampbell

    haha, I’m just keeping y’all guessing! Call me the master of mediocre suspense if you will! mwuhahaha

    Oh and tar Andy…though I’m not so sure on all this image stabilisation business darnit! I rebuff the notion of all this expensive technology!

    November 13, 2008 at 8:08 pm

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