Alessio Michelini Photography

Deconstructing the picture of my new Fuji X-E1

15 January 2014

A couple of weekends ago I was bored. Really bored. So bored that I forced myself something to do, so I decided to take a photo of my brand new camera, the Fuji X-E1. I was partially inspired by this article by Laya Gerlock, where he uses a black granite tile for some of his still life works, which gives great results on the cheap. But where the heck I can find a black granite tile in Dublin? Well maybe if I go to citywest I can find someone who sells it, but without a car going there is nearly impossible, especially if then you have to carry a piece of granite, which it's definitely not lightweight, and I didn't want to wait a week before even try to find something, so I turned on the little MacGyver inside my brain, and I found a similar solution, not as good as the granite, but somehow and with the help of Photoshop it worked.
Essentially I reused an A4 size black cardboard I bought for another photo I did in the past for a client, and on top of it I've placed a glass from a frame I had, and voit la! I had my black glass surface, not as good as the black granite, as the thin glass creates two reflections, one on top and one of the bottom, but still better than nothing.
So then what I tried was to use my backdrop holder with a bed sheet to use it as a background, but while I thought it was a great idea, it didn't work at all, simply because the bed sheet let the light pass through, so you lose part of the light and unless you use an heavy weight, or you iron the sheet, which I really didn't want to do at that hour of the night, it just can't create a compact and clean surface, it will be just full of folds and it wasn't just right, so I put back the backdrop and I used what I had to use in first place, the wall.

I wanted to create a similar effect, not the same, but similar, and I put my cheap-but-good Yongnuo YN560-II (which I keep forgetting to review it, it's just a great flash for that price) just under the table I was using, with a Rosco blue gel, pointed straight to the wall at 1/16th of the power, just to create the nice blue backlit on the background as shown down here.

Then I added a softbox with my Canon 430EX II at 1/8 of the power, quite close from the subject, on the right side but angled at 30 degrees towards to me, so it would lit the camera from slightly behind the camera, and I did that just because I didn't want to have any lights to spill on the background, and this light was essentially lighting up some details of the top of the camera, like the shutter speed dial, the hot shoe, the shutter button, the left side of the camera, and it created three nice stripes of light on the lens, and I've also added a couple of white cardboard to bounce back some light to fill just a little bit up the front of the camera.
The result with these two combined lights was the following:

After that I needed my key light, so I've added another softbox with a Canon 430EX II at 1/4 of power right on the left side of my subject, and this light did lit up what was left, the fron element of the lens, the front of the camera, and it added more light to the shutter speed dial and the shutter button.

I know it might looks a bit too dark in some areas, but with that glass surface, because the cardboard under the glass wasn't 100% black, it was reflecting back some light, so I had to find the right balance with the light of the flashes and the amount of light I got back from the cardboard.
I also had some dust on the glass, even if I thought it was clean, but even the camera, especially the lens, was pretty "dirty", but thanks to Photoshop and a couple of hours of work, I finally got to the final image, which I'm pretty happy with it :-)

And if you want to see how was the light set up, here we are a picture of it, with my cat on it.

It doesn't look very professional from this point of view, but it did the trick and it kept me away from boredom for at least four hours :-)