Critique Men's Fragrance Bottles

Joined
Jan 13, 2006
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Columbia, Maryland
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Walter Rowe
I've had these for quite some time and they are well past usable. That said, they are still attractive with the amber color of the contents. Being inspired by Mike Buckley's bottle and food photography I decided I would try my hand at this. I used my Hensel studio lights with small softboxes attached, turned them down as low as they will go, situated them well in front of the bottles so that they bottles would only get the edge of the light and the background would get as little as possible.

Here is the setup:
WPR-20181230-0792.jpg
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Here is the finished product:
WPR-20181230-0461.jpg
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Here is the "before adjustments":
WPR-20181230-0461-orig.jpg
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The adjustments were exposure (+), contrast (+), and levels (pulled in black point to darken background). I experimented with over a dozen shots – variations of lights a little further back and more directly on the bottles, lights turned up higher, different exposure shutter and aperture settings on the camera.

Exposure: 100 ISO, 1/50 shutter, f/4 aperture, 70mm focal length.
Camera: Nikon Z7 with Nikkor Z 24-70/4S lens in manual mode
Lights: Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500ws with Hensel radio remote trigger
Software: Capture One Pro 12

This was a fun exercise. Thank you Mike for inspiring me to try something new. I also have white seamless and may give that a try as well.
 
Joined
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Walter Rowe
While I had my lights out I replaced the black seamless with white seamless. I tried two different lighting scenarios. Scenario 1 illuminates the front of the bottles more directly. Scenario 2 illuminates the background and leaves the front of the bottles barely catching the back edge of the lights as is done in lots of product photography.

Here is the setup:
WPR-20181230-0793.jpg
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This image has the lights more forward and direct on the bottles:
WPR-20181230-0484.jpg
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This image has the lights more behind the bottles and direct on the background:
WPR-20181230-0493.jpg
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Seeing both of the scenarios side by side, I have a definite preference.

What is your preference and why?
 
Joined
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Walter Rowe
As an alternate exercise I also tried two SB-800 speedlights camera left and right at the same level as the bottles with Nikon diffuser and equal power on each. A different look than using the Hensel studio lights and softboxes. More directional lighting.

WPR-20181230-0441.jpg
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Oct 9, 2005
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Moscow, Idaho
Which one of my kids do I favor . . . .
I prefer the dark version (#1) it isolates the bottles well, enhances the shape of the bottles and their texture and makes the contents seem richer. That said, I like the way the last image (#3) brings to logos out a bit better than the others. And finally, I could easily live with any of the 3. Well done!
 
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Oct 17, 2007
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Orland Park, Illinois
I prefer the images with the black backgrounds, especially the very last image. Of the two with the brighter background, I prefer the second. In the top image, the logo and the liquid are quite bright IMO...and it's not nearly as easy to see the logo. I also would prefer if the bottle on the right wasn't brighter than the one on the left.

Glenn
 
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Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
Nice job, Walter! There is so much to like about these images, so much so that I look forward to more of this stuff coming from your camera. By the way, I especially admire that you were able to use the paper without wrinkling it; my ability to be a klutz without trying takes over and ends up with a mess of wrinkles.

I definitely prefer the first finished image best. That's because the detail in both the metal decoration on the front of the bottles and the embossing in the bottles themselves is most easily seen. The two bottles appear the most the same also in that image.

My next favorite is the third finished image for the same reasons I explained about the first image, though those strengths aren't quite as strong as in the first image.

For me, the second finished image doesn't come nearly as close to achieving the results I look for as the other two images. Even so, that image is far, far better than most people would accomplish. That's because photographing translucent glass and shiny, curved metal in the same scene is especially tricky. My biggest issue with that image is that it's so easy to see the shape of the soft boxes reflected in the top of the metal caps. And as implied by my praise of the other two images, this one lacks the detail displayed in them.

I wonder if there is bit of perspective distortion going on in all images that could probably be easily corrected during post-processing. Notice that the bottom of both bottles is farther away from the edge of the frame than at the top. Similarly, the inside bottoms of the bottles are closer to each other than at the top.
 
Joined
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Ahhhh, you've added a fourth finished image in your second post that I didn't see until just now. That last one is definitely my favorite. It has all the characteristics that I described in the first finished image, plus the curved transition between the tabletop and background displays a subtle band of light that nicely accentuates the subjects and adds a bit of very appealing drama.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2006
Messages
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Walter Rowe
I find it utterly fascinating that Nick, Glenn and Mike all three prefer the last image using the two speedlights vs all of the images with studio lights and softboxes. I happen to agree, and it surprises me that the smaller directional lights create the most appealing image. I am glad I kept it and presented it here for you all to include in your assessment.

Thanks!
 
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