Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shooting Eggs

In the past week I have been shooting on a semi mad man pace to finish a project before November. Not sure I am going to make it because I am a little behind. My project is to photograph eggs in many different ways. I shot an egg that was cracked all across the surface of the egg. I did 3 standing and 3 that were dropped into some water. I have been happy on how they turned out and thought I would share some of what I did with anyone who would be interested.

I chose this project because of the challenge of lighting a white object on a white background. For the object to be seen you must have shadows and grey scales that need to be present on the egg, background or both. I also had to photograph my chosen subject in such a way that the viewer would be interested in the photo. That they could see it in as both functional, like stock work, and art that they could see hanging on the wall

The first shot I want to talk about used light painting with a hand held strobe to get the effect I wanted. The night before I hard boiled eggs and placed them into the fridge. The next day I took one egg and started to crack the egg and manipulated the shell to the way it is. Before I started to photograph the egg I looked at it and worked out how I wanted the features to be accented by light. Once I had a general idea where to start the experimenting began. Because I shoot digital I can do a few shots and then look at the results. After a dozen or so shots I came to my lighting formula that worked for me.

In lighting the egg I knew I needed to have a longer exposure so I put my neutral density filter on and turned the ISO to 100. Making sure that I was tack sharp on my focus I turned the modeling lights and basement lights off. Now looking at my subject I have a back light on my left and my second main light on my right. I open the shutter setting off the first round of lights. Next I take the small strobe and give the right side back of the egg 7 bursts of light. I then turn the flash to the right front part of the egg. I pointed the light just past the front so that the intense part of the burst was not on the very point of the egg. I gave this part 3 burst of light. Then a quick 3 burst of light on the back left and then 2 burst on the background. With all the light bursts I did I was fairly close to the subject, around the 5 to 6 inch mark.

Even though this all sounded very well planned out there were little nuances that happened from exposure to exposure that I saw. Because of that I had to do several different exposures until I got the one I liked. Now it was time for processing.

After tweaking the exposure in Bridge I placed it in to PhotoShop. Again tweaked some of the exposure to set it up for the black and white conversion. I convert all my images to black and white by selecting it in the layers menu. Once the filter menu comes up I started to select one that enhanced the cracks of the egg which turned out to be the blue filter. I moved the sliders here and there to get the best effect without too much destruction. Once I was set I clicked ok. I flatted the selection.

Now it looks black and white but for me it is not. I am a fan of the warm tones and when I had a wet lab I tended to use warm tone papers. So I turn the image to grey scale then duotone where I have a brown and black selected. Once it is switched then I switch back the image to RGB. The image wasn’t complete until I did a little dodging and burning to bring out the shadows and highlights of the egg. Size it and It was finished.

For the next post, the eggs in water. I have always wanted to try it and this project was the best excuse I had to just do it.