How The Shot Was Made

Equipment Used
Nikon D3s, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lnes, 3 Einstein 640w Strobes, Silver Beauty Dish, 10 degree honeycomb grid, white sheet, glass pane, white board
Studio Lighting
Silver Beauty Dish diffused with white sheet positioned camera right and slight behind subject, bare bulb strobe placed in laundry hamper below subject to light through glass pane, 10 degree honeycomb grid placed directly above subject, white board to fill shadows camera left
In my living room.
Camera Settings
F22 - 1/250 - ISO100

Focus Stacking
Increased Depth of Field 

My approach to macro photography with jewelry and glassware is just trial and error, as I can't really predict how light is going to interact with the curved/slanted/angular surfaces of a translucent object. I just know how I want it to look. What I can predict though, is how much I want to be in focus, and when you're shooting at the macro level, your depth of field DRASTICALLY decreases. I was shooting at f/22, which if the object was a human 5 feet away in the city, then just about everything would be in sharp focus, from the person all the way to the building over a block away. But with macro photography, the level of sharpness decreases down to a few millimeters. 

Focus Stacking is the method of taking several photos of the same object, at different focus points. The final shots were 15+ images combined in Photoshop manually, blending together the sharpest parts of each photo to create one final image with extended depth of field that would otherwise not be possible.  Take a look at the images below to see how shallow the depth of field is, then go further down to see a completed image. 

Completed Images

Below is a completed image. This was an additional photo I did for my own practice and enjoyment, as the client had a small budget which meant generic photos that aren't time consuming. On a side note, going above and beyond for a client that doesn't pay well, will not convince them to pay more. Go above and beyond for yourself, and use that work to gain the interest of clients who have higher budgets and value your work, or pitch the better work at a higher rate to the original client if they want to use it, never just give it to them at a lower value. You got your bills paid and met your monthly financial goals, they got the quality of work relative to their budget, so you can now get creative and seek higher quality clients.

Back on topic, you can see I didn't blend the images together perfectly, as there is some blur on the upper right claw of the ring, and some blur on parts of the lizard while surrounded by sharpness, and some blur in the glass reflection in the image to the left. I had the same issue in the image to the right, but fixed most of it with the clone tool, which was much easier than going back through the manual masking process of 15+ images into one image.
When shooting these, I start with the point furtherest away that I want in sharp focus, and then just twist the focus ring ever-so-slightly to focus further and further in. From front to back these images have about 2 inches of sharp focus.

Key Point

Trial and error is your friend when it comes product photography with translucent objects. To help refine the process though, try using black boards to block or absorb light on certain sides, and white boards to reflect light. There are fantastic all-natural light setups where you just have good light come through a window from behind the object, and use white boards in front of the product to reflect the light back onto the object, giving a beautiful, all-around soft light that costs maybe 15-20 bucks in material. No need for studio lights, invest more in quality lenses!  

Babadook Potter
Professional Reptile Model


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