Friday, June 17, 2011

Packing It In

Some days, you just want to pack your stuff in a box and hit the road. After a week like this past one, I would be happy just to find myself with busfare in my pocket and shoes on my feet. Somewhere between Monday morning and today, I promised Nancy that I would do make some images of her vintage suitcase collection. I figured a still-life photo session was just what the doctor ordered. I never would have guessed it to be even the slightest bit difficult.

What I found was that for all of my product photography, most of what I have done has been fairly small, usually under 14" tall. That's not too big. By taking up most of my shooting table, and stacking these suitcases three and four high, I found myself with new issues that I'd never faced before.

The biggest issue was running out of light to throw at the scene. Never had that issue before. Mind you, these strobes aren't underpowered but the way I normally shoot with them is to have them dialed WAY down.

After looking at the images I made yesterday I was very disappointed. I wanted to see more detail, more texture... more punch. So, rather than try to fight it with bigger harder light, I went to bed. Yep, I figured that sleep would give me better answers than arguing with my strobes. Woke up and thought about what David Hobby had to say about setting up a scene. His suggestion was to start by determining the influence you want the ambient light to play in the image, then slowly add one light just a bit at a time. I dont think he could have given me more pertinent advice!

After all was said and done, I'm not leaving home and joining the circus. Heck, the lions are at the gate and the ponies run wild through our living room. Nope, I am going to keep playing with these lights and enjoying the little surprises they send my way. Thanks David!


  1. How about trying a less sterile environment? Like a curbside or something? It'd be harder, lighting-wise, but it might complement the character of these wonderful cases. Bring out the quirkiness of the collection.

  2. I like that idea Carol. I was thinking about a kitchen setting too... but I figured I needed to get the lighting ideas sorted out before I loaded everything up outside or inside the house.... especially if it is going to keep raining intermittently.

  3. Nice work!
    We had a set like the blue ones, only grey.

  4. As I use to tell Mark- if you leave me take me with you....
    Love the teapots down below- they are pretty wonderful.
    I have been doing some outside shooting and for some reason I can deal with the results better then my in the cube stuff.
    No one said this stuff was easy but taking photos makes us nuts! We were just wishing we lived closer to you and then we would just pack the car and come to your house.

  5. Meredith, My offer still stands... you guys fill a couple boxes with pots, send em out this way, I'll shoot them gratis. You both deserve killer images of your best work.

    Or, if you want to get really funky, find a couple folks who want to learn to shoot their artwork and have them host me for a workshop. I'll come down and we can visit and talk pots too, and shoot some fantastic images.

  6. I have a soft spot for old suitcases myself; the only downside is how they umm, er...smell sometimes. But these look as though they must be daisy-fresh! Seeing what you're doing is always a treat.

  7. Steve, you are so right about the smells! Nancy dug these out and there was a light whiff of mustiness, so she put them out in the sun. Apparently that helps kill of the mildew. Then we put cedar blocks in some and damp-off in a couple of the others.

    I have some ideas for images using these suitcases. Should be fun! I think we're going to move from the studio into the house (and our bed!)... should be fun.