Could use some camera and lighting help

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    • #48217

      I have been looking to buy a digital SLR type camera (not video) I need to do some photoshoots with high quality of flower arrangements, and gift items.

      Over the past few years as I’ve used my camcorder some of the best information and discussion I’ve been party on this forums has been so excellent. I have learned to trust the members for competent, sensible answers.

      I think I’d like to spend about 1,000 or less on such a camera with a lens or two. Most of the things I’ll be shooting are in the 20′ to 3′ range. I need to shoot a catalog for a friend of flower arrangements. This can be pretty hairy as I can tell from my friend’s gallery of photos.

      I can use some advice on backdrops and lighting as well. Shooting flowers especially, something I’ve rarely done.

      I realize a D3 Nikon would be great, but I’ll probably shoot several hundred pics and pass of the camera to my friend (who is actually going to buy the camera). So… I’m thinking such a camera is overkill for this project. Principally, because different people just set up the arrangement for pictures, the pull down the backdrop turn on the lights and shoot.

      Currently, my friend is using a little Lumix camera shooting against a background black or white. He has two lamps one on each side just about 2 feet above the flowers (5500K swirl bulbs). The green screen is out, because so many arrangements have blue and green flowers.

      It appears to me the camera and the lighting is not that good, the camera is just OK…just OK as I see it.

      I’m not quite sure what a best lighting arrangement actually is, because I don’t actually shoot the photos. Yet, most of photos appear to be washed out and color clarity is lousy. The white background behind the flowers has too many shadows and taking out the backrgound shadows with a software is too technical for my friend and his employees. A light box is out because many of the arrangements are too tall or wide to fit.

      I set up the original backdrop for his pictures with 2 window shades, 1 black and 1 white. The little lumix has a flash, and the lighting arrangements is probably pretty good it’s just not done well enough to produce better pictures.

    • #198209

      take a long hard look at the pentax kr and 35mm f 2.4 lens combo, then check out:

      for a lighting solution.. I have been known to shoot the odd flower or two..

    • #198210

      Dom, as far as your lighting question, could you possibly move the flower arangement to the back of the table and move the background farther away from the table/flowers. This should makeany shadows that are producedfall below the line of sight of the camera. Or you could use a lighting setup as Don has with dramatic shadows produced by some ovehead and slightly behind lighting.

    • #198211

      Sorry, I didn’t point this out.  I have a very small area setup for taking photos.

      It is on a table 3 feet deep with a open area 48″ X 48″.  The backdrop is usually about a foot or so right behind the arrangement AT MOST.

      The distance from the subject to the background is an issue.

      Basically how it works now.

      The flower designers finish an arrangement take it go the the photo table

      They pull down the black or white shade

      Turn on the 5500 K florescent lamps

      Setup up camera and then take picture.

      Professional quality just does’nt seem possible in this kind of ON-THE-FLY situtaion.  I’m trying to help better the situation with a better camera, tripod and some lighting perks.

      This may never be a best situation, unless I can get more space.  Seriously, it is almost an impossibility because the store is very small, and with flowers so much water is used.  It’s about the only space they have been able to consistently keep dry… and often that isn’t possible.  Not trying to make this more difficult than it is by any means. This is just a small store with a lot of busy people stepping over and ontop of each other consistently.

      The little arrangement I prepared for them has at least encouraged taking pictures of arrangements, where before it was just too difficult. At least now there is consistent photo taking.








    • #198212

      Granted, I have some nice studio strobes, but that flower shot above was done on my kitchen table. I did use some plastic plant branches to create the mottled light patterns…

      you don’t need a lot of space. I used a plastic table cloth for a backdrop, three lights (doesn’t matter for anything but color balance what lights you use really, for this type of shot) and a tripod for that flower shot. It is all about the descisions you make regarding light quality (diffused or hard light (affected by size of light source relative to subject), intensity (affects contrast due to light falloff being a factor) and direction (shadows hidden or shown to hide or enhance texture). as for water… work with it, use a mister…spray bottle… little droplets of water work great for flower shots!.

    • #198213

       There is something serious wrong with this site.  I’ve re-written postings several times and it keeps locking up.  Using IE 9

    • #198214

      I moved to Firefox, maybe better.

      I will not be taking the photos, it will be store employess after I setup the photo taking area.

      Your Idea about spray water is great, but I’m talking about a deep sink very close to the photo area where they process flowers, filling buckets, dumping water into the sink,etc. I mean it’s a real busy working area and water seems to get on eveything.

      The Pentax KR definitely looks like a solution. Now my friend advises he really doesn’t want to turn his employess loose with a $1000 camera. Guess I can’t blame him. I did a few shots today with the Lumix and amazing as it sounds there is a reason for all the lousy pictures taken last week. The lens was filthy with finger prints,etc. The lens is about as big as a quarter. It amazes me how people can manage to mess up things.

      Anyway, I cleaned the lens and the results were very much improved. I had to reset the camera to work without the flash in the photo area.

      I went to Walmart this morning and bought 2 white pillow cases, and 2 each 18 x24 poster board frames, which have a clear glass in the frames. I slip the pillow case over the frames with the clear glass and use to diffuse the light. I’m going to have to work with this… the light passing through both sides of the pillow case may be too diffused.

      I do have big reflector cones around the 100Watt 5500K Florescent swirl type lamps. I plan to work with this abit more tomorrow.

      I really very much like your diffuser box idea in the video. I wish I’d seen the video before I went to Walmart this morning. I spent about $40. I would be afraid to use your diffuser box the way you describe it in this store, because the people are very electric ignorant. All the water around on the floor and such I’m not sure about for safety reasons.

      Currently, I have a multi-strip connector high and dry about mid-way up on the photo area to the side. There is a fused switch on it. I’m thinking I should install a Ground Fault Interrupter. I wiped off the stainless table top of the photo are, which was covered in water before I could take pictures today.

      I tried to communicate several times with people that were there to make sure they had a thoroughly dry photo surface area before taking pictures.

      I’ve been using the two window shades (Ikea) white and black as backdrop. It has helped abit, because everyone knows the water discolors and stains the shades. Still the white shade is very stained.

      A friend suggested I just use a black muslin or other soft black material in lieu of the window shades. The shades have been good, because the picture taker just rolls the shade down to take pictures. Yes, they don’t usually roll up the shade when they’re done… all they have to do is pull a cord.

      This may be a lousy darn project for getting cooperation from employees, but I will try to help as best I can.

      Thanks very much for the input—

      Firefox browser seems to be working, and isn’t locking up

    • #198215

      Dom, I think that Don is heading you in the right direction, as far as the backdrop and shooting setup. He used a table cloth as the covering for the table and as the back drop for the shoot. Perhaps a vinyl table cloth could be put on roller behind the table and could be rolled down and spread across the table before placing the flower arrangement. Maybe a number of these could be set up for use. The flower designers could use their expertise tobuy these and chose which one they would use for each arrangement. By using table cloths with some sort of pattern, the effect of shadows would be lessened and the vinyl material wouldn’t be affected by water splatter. Good luck with your endeavor.

    • #198216


      The water spatter goes away when they start taking picture. The table top usually has to be dried off, and then the black or white shade (rollup) is pulled down and hangs over the front of the table.  Actually, the entire area from 48″ above, on top of the table and several inches of shade hangs over the front of the table.

      The ideas from Don are good. I’ll just have to make some adjustments with the stuff I already have.

      Tomorrow I plan to take pictures to test the setup.  I’lll post results for sure.




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