Tuesday, July 03, 2012
The First Studio Product Kit
With the introduction of the new LiteIgloo shooting enclosure products, Photoflex is also introducing a new LiteIgloo Kit to our line of complete studio solutions.
The First Studio Product Kit includes a Medium LiteIgloo, two new First Studio FirstStar quartz reflector lights with the Starlite Swivels, two Photoflex 2205 LiteStands, and two FirstStar 250-watt lamps. This gives you an extremely high quality portable studio you can set up anywhere you can find a plug. The Medium LiteIgloo measures 19.75" cubed, so it is ideal for most products the approximate size of a shoe box.
In this lesson we will take you through the basic set up of the LiteIgloo, the FirstStar lights and the 2205 LiteStands. Then we will get you started on how to use the kit showing you several set-ups and results illustrating how easy it is to create professional quality images in very little time.
(Click on any thumbnail image below for an enlarged view.)
- Prepping your set
- Setting up the LiteIgloo
- Installing the white sweep
- Setting up the 2205 LiteStands
- Setting up the FirstStar reflector lights
- Shooting the LiteIgloo Kit
- Shooting for background knockouts
- Lesson review
Prepping Your Set
To get started, find a surface or a tabletop to set up LiteIgloo. We set up a desktop in our studio and we will shoot from the narrow end so we can get the lights as close as we want (figure 1).
Setting up the LiteIgloo
The LiteIgloo comes folded in its own carry bag. A great advantage of the LiteIgloo over some other shooting enclosures on the market is that it is collapsible, making storage and transporting very convenient.
Unzip the carry bag holding the LiteIgloo, then grip all the compressed rings of the product and remove it from the bag (figures 2 and 3).
For those of you that own or have used any of our LiteDiscs, the next step is easy. For those of you that have not be prepared.
The LiteIgloo will want to spring open from its folded state. Carefully with your free hand, grip one of the edges of the LiteIgloo and let go of the compressed rings and the product will pop open into a flat rectangle with rounded corners (figures 4 and 5).
Find the open end of the rectangle and lift one of the sides to form a right angle (figures 6 and 7).
Next, grab the corner that is tucked into the joint of the LiteIgloo and pull it out until the product pops into shape (figures 8 and 9).
Now flip over the LiteIgloo so that the opening doors face forward. The doors open from side to side so the opening should be vertical (figure 10).
To open up the access doors grip one of the sides and gently pull the Velcro tabs apart (figure 11).
To keep the doors out of your way while you're working inside the LiteIgloo we included Velcro tabs on the side of the product. Once you have the door entirely open, turn the LiteIgloo and attach the Velcro tab on the corner of the door to the tab on the side of the product (figure 12).
Installing the White Sweep
Another great feature of the LiteIgloo is that it comes with a white background sweep that fits in the enclosure and is secured with Velcro tabs. Since the white sweep section included with the product has been folded, it may need to be ironed or steamed. Be sure to use the lowest setting on your iron to prevent melting of the nylon fabric.
Once you have prepped the sweep, attach the Velcro tabs on the corners to the tabs at the top of the back panel inside the LiteIgloo. The sweep gives you a horizon-less background you can place your subjects on (figures 13 and 14).
Now we can place the camera and frame up our shot. We chose this old set of chrome spurs to help illustrate the benefits of the LiteIgloo for shooting highly reflective objects.
Once you have set your camera in place, reverse the steps we illustrated for opening the doors to seal the doors around the lens of your camera. Because we made the LiteIgloo with separate doors there is no restrictions to the placement of the camera.
Setting up the LiteStands
Before we set up our lights, we need to set up the LiteStands. This is very easy to do.
The first step is to loosen the knob on the leg collar (figure 15).
Pull the legs out away from the main tube of the stand and slide the leg collar down (figure 16).
Slide the leg collar into position spreading the legs out to stabilize the stand (figure 17).
Tighten the knob on the leg collar securing the legs in place (figure 18).
To raise and lower the stand, loosen the knob below the section you want to move (figure 19).
Pull the section up to the desired height (figure 20).
To secure the column section in place, re-tighten the knob (figure 21).
Setting up the FirstStar Reflector Lights
To assemble the FirstStar reflector lights, place the reflector and cord assembly face down on a surface, then slide the swivel assembly onto the yoke on the reflector (figures 22 and 23).
Secure the swivel to the reflector with the thumbscrew on the swivel assembly (figure 24).
Now attach the swivel and reflector light to the LiteStand by inserting the receiver on the swivel to the stud on the top of the LiteStand. Then secure the light to the stand with the thumbscrew on the receiver (figures 25 and 26).
Next we need to install the lamp into the light. Make sure the light is NOT plugged in. Since the lamp is in a glass envelope you can touch it with no worries, screw the lamp into the socket making sure it is seated all the way in (figure 27).
Operating the FirstStar lights is very simple. First, plug the lights into a standard household wall outlet and switch on the unit (figure 28).
To position the light simply twist the grip handle about 1/8 a turn to the left and you can freely move the light anywhere, side to side and up and down. Then to lock the light down twist 1/8 turn to the right and the light position holds securely (figure 29-31).
We are ready to start shooting. To make things as simple as possible and focus on the lighting in the lesson, we will set the camera to the program exposure mode. We set the White Balance to the indoor setting, the Image Quality to the large JPEG format, and the ISO to 200. Once the camera was set and our subject was framed up, we set to work on the lighting.
For our first set-up we placed the lights at 90 degrees from the LiteIgloo. Each light was centered, one on the right side panel and the other on the left and about 30 inches away (figure 32). In the following results comparison (figure 33-35) the right image is with only the right light on, the center image has both lights on and the left image is the left light only. We will follow this format as we go through the balance of this lesson.
In this first set of results we see sort of a flat image; it’s hard to see separation between the two spurs. And because the lights are illuminating the background as much as the subject, we are losing the edges of the spurs against the background. For this subject this is not the best choice for lighting.
For the next set up, we moved both lights to 45 degrees from the front to the right and left, and we raised them up about three inches. We checked our focus and fired off the series of results shots (figures 37-39).
For this set of results we start to see the subject much better. The light from the left is striking the right spur at an incident angle, reflecting a clean highlight. The light from the right is defining the edges of the wheel on the spurs. This works well and shows a good representation of the subject.
In our next set-up, we moved the light on the left to the back of the set so that it focused on the back left corner of the LiteIgloo. We did not move the light on the right side. Again, we checked our focus and shot the next set of results (figures 41-43).
The results from this setup show the light from the left is mainly lighting the background and adding some highlights to the top edges of the spurs. It is also helping to separate the subject from the background. Again the light from the right is adding highlights to the edges of the spurs. Together they work well showing the product well without the contrast of the hot incident reflection.
For the next setup, we moved the right light back to focus on the back right corner of the LiteIgloo, matching the angle of the light on the left side. We checked focus and shot our results images (figures 45-47).
In this result set we are using the front surfaces of the LiteIgloo as the fill for the shot since all the light is coming from the back. This setup gives us a clean background with good separation of the product and more dimension to the shot because we are picking up some grounding shadows under the spurs.
For the last setup we moved the left light back to front at a 45-degree angle. But this time we lowered the light so that it was level with the bottom edge of the LiteIgloo. We then tipped the light up about 15 to 20 degrees. For the right light, we left it in the same position, but we raised it up to about five feet and tipped it down to focus on the top back edge of the LiteIgloo (figures 49-51).
In our final results, we have arrived at the best solution for this subject. The light from the left is giving us much the same highlight we had in our second setup, yet with added control. By lowering the light down we have created a fall off of light on the spurs giving them more shape. And raising the back right light we have created a clean background with the bonus of creating a highlight on the top edge of both spurs adding to the depth and dimension of the subject.
Shooting for Background Knockouts
Included with the First Studio Product Kit is a chromakey blue sweep. When used in conjunction with specialized masking programs, subjects shot on the chromakey sweep can be easily extracted from the background and placed in other images or into a photomontage.
You install the chromakey sweep as you would the white sweep, again you may need to steam or press the sweep to remove the creases incurred in shipping.
Once we had the sweep prepped, we placed it in the LiteIgloo and set our new subject on the surface (figure 53).
For our first setup, we placed the lights at 90 degrees from the right and left with the lights centered on the side panels of the LiteIgloo. We checked our exposure, focused, and shot our results set (figures 54-56).
Our result set shows how each light creates an edge on either side of the bottle and gives the subject a sense of shape.
For our next setup, we moved the left light to the right side of the set and placed it so that it focused the light on the top and right panel. We moved the right light forward so that it focused on the front of the right panel. Again we checked our focus and shot a set of results (figures 58-60).
Here we see that with both the lights on the right side of the set, the shape of the bottle is better; it feels much more round. And we have carried the highlight all the way down the right side of the subject.
In figures 61 and 62 we show a couple examples of what can be done with the subject once you have applied a masking program.
To review our steps we will repeat the set shots and the final image for each set up with both lights on.
Both lights at 90 degrees with the light focused on the right and left side panels (figures 63 and 64).
Both lights at 45 degrees from the front with the light raised a few inches and focused on the right and left corners (figures 65 and 66).
The left light moved to the back focusing on the back left corner, and the right light remains in the same position (figures 67 and 68).
Both lights moved to the back of the LiteIgloo focused on the right and left corners (figures 69 and 70).
The left light moved to the front left corner, lowered and tipped up to allow the light fall off a little across the LiteIgloo. The right light lifted up to about five feet and tipped down to focus on the backside of the top panel (figures 71 and 72).
For our shot of the wine bottle, both lights at 90 degrees focused on the right and left panels of the LiteIgloo (figures 73 and 74).
Left light moved to the right, focused on the right and top panels, and the left light moved forward focused on the front of the right panel (figures 75 and 76).
As you can see taking great shots can be a snap when you can control the environment. The LiteIgloo gives you that control.
Set up and tear down take no time at all, we set up the First Studio Product Kit including the enclosure, the stands, the lights, and the camera in about five minutes. We spent about five minutes ironing the sweep and arranging the spurs. Then we spent about fifteen minutes shooting and arranging the lights for our examples and another ten minutes downloading and evaluating the shots we took. Then we packed up all the gear and were ready to go. The entire process took about 40 minutes.
So whether you have one or two shots to do, or you want to shoot a catalog or images for your web site, the First Studio Product Kit by Photoflex offers all the stuff you need and takes up very little space.