I stole the idea for this shot from Paul Seward, who in turn stole it from John Domingo.
With such clear instructions I thought “Meh, how hard can it be?”. I don’t think my result is anywhere near as good as Paul’s or John’s, which just proves it’s probably harder than I thought 🙂
Given that it was a brand new mirror, straight out of the cellophane, I’m disappointed by the refraction. Maybe I was too close to the mirror.
I found it pretty hard to align the flash. It would be easier with a modelling light so I could adjust the red gel and see where the red light would fall.
3 thoughts on “Copper macro”
the reflections are caused by getting a reflection from the surface of the glass, and also the mirrored layer. to get a clean reflection try an opaque plexiglass. (or a front mirror, like what’s in an SLR, but they’re quite fragile).
I like the light on the background, and the light coming off the reflector on camera left.
I’ve got one or two tips for you if you want. I’m not really an expert on this, but I’ll pass on what I’ve learnt from the internet (I *heart* strobist.com – Lighting 101 and 102 are both really good!)
This gets a bit rambling, but as you may have guessed, I’ve been at the gin 😉
Reflections first: Unfortunately, the reflection looks blurred precisely because you’re using a mirror.
If you put your physics hat on, you’ll see that you get two reflections from a mirror (one from the top surface of the glass where it meets the air, and one from the back of the glass where it meets the silver backing) and it’s this double reflection which is making it look blurred.
You can minimise this effect by carefully choosing the angle you shoot at. You’re almost paralell with the mirror here, which exagerates the distance between the reflections, a higher angle would work better.
If you avoid having the whole reflection in the shot it’s much less noticeable anyway. Some would say that was cheating, I don’t care, it works for me!
The only way to get a spotless reflection is to not use a mirror. A sheet of black (or white) perspex is ideal. Very good reflective properties, and as they’re opaque you’ll only get one reflection (from the top surface)
If you’re shooting a reflective surface, the best tip from a lighting POV is to light the background, not the surface. That seems to be working well enough in your shot already (both on the mirror and on the face of the ingot) – score!
Modeling lights. They can be handy if you’ve got them, but you can work around them if you don’t.
When setting up a bare or snooted light, I stand by it and look down the line of the light to what it’s pointing at. You probably already do this in “real life” without thinking. For example, you can probably point a torch at the right thing before turning it on.
With a bit of practice you can see where the light is going to hit, and where it’s not. Mentally draw a line from the light to the subject – is there anything in the way (including the edge of the light fitting) which will cast a shadow?
I’m beginning to be able to do this with light modifiers such as softboxes and brollys, but it’s harder. Thinking of a brolly as casting a “white shadow” seems to help a bit though.
If you can’t stand by the light (because it’s too high up perhaps) flip the technique around, and put your head where the subject is. Look towards the light. Can you see the front of the light source? If you can’t, it’s probably not going to directly light you where you are (I use this variation a lot when positioning flags, or for checking the snoot is pointing at the right bit of the subject)
I find that manually popping the flashes on their lowest power settings also helps me to see what the light is going to do thanks to persistence of vision. It has to be low power otherwise it overpowers my eyes and I can’t see what it did!
If you try the visualisation thing and can’t get the hang of it, you could always gaffatape a maglight to the side of your flash heads 😉
Oh, and lastly, once I realised that the red filter was effectively casting a red shadow onto the scene – I twigged that the closer it was to the subject, the darker and more defined the “shadow” would be. You may have the filter at the right angle, but if it’s too far away it’ll just get washed out.
Let me know if any of that is useful, try some of it out, have another go at the shot, and correct any of it that you felt didn’t work for you. I might pick up some ideas!
Blimey, I did ramble didn’t I! It didn’t look that big in the comment box – honest!