Shot this at a wedding recently and a few people asked about how I did it. I am happy to share that plus the behind-the-scene setup shots to show you exactly what I did.
Before we get there, I thought it will be fun to have a challenge. Anyone who can guess the exact lighting recipe will win a 135-minute World Tour wedding photography instructional DVD which retails for U$100 each. Deadline is next Thursday, 15 December. Good luck!
updated 15 December 2011
This is how we did it…
At a wedding, I always have to improvise and work with mobile tools. For a reasonable good ring shot, it has to be focus and sharp to bring out the design, cut and colours. I have the SB800 & 900s, Lastolite softbox, 60mm macro, and a mirror of make-up kit from the make-up artist Always be nice to the make-up artists. They can be your ALLY!
I need to achieve a few things: background must be almost pitch dark, enough depth of field to show the details of the rings. And for these reasons, I couldn’t have used ambient light whether indoor or outdoor. It would have created a lot of spill. A softbox on the other hand, helps me to contain, shape and direct the light as I see fit.
Shot it at f11, 1/250, ISO200. The low ISO and shutter speed allow me to kill off most of the ambient light so I can get a near pitch back background. At f11, I get reasonable sharpness. It is still some distance from say a De Beers or Tiffany ad, which would require more powerful lights and lenses and camera with higher resolution for a pin sharp shot of the ring. Yet given the little time and limited equipment, I have to compromise between being as perfect as a commercial shooter and getting a good enough shot.
Many correctly predicted the use of a softbox from the left and wrongly assumed that I had a reflector on the right. From the early days of photographing small objects, I’ve learned that mirrors gives a more specular bounce than white or silver surface. This is helpful to bring out the details and colours of the sapphire.
I wish I have a smaller softbox. Lost too much power with the Lastolite 24″. A smaller softbox may help me gain 1-1.5 stop of light, and thus allow me to shoot at f16-18. Oh well, this is guerrilla lighting, not always perfect, but always mobile and effective.
Thank you for taking part in this. Since nobody made a perfect guess, I’ll bring the prize forward to the next recipe challenge. Cheers!