Day 69 – 01/13/11 – Black

Technically black isn’t a color, it’s the absence of color.  At least according to a scientist.  Photographically speaking the answer is similar, black is the absence of light.  But ask a kid whether black is a color and they’ll give you a funny look as they pull their black crayon from the box.  Whether it’s technically a color or not, Black is the subject of what is likely the second to last image in my Colors theme.

I expected this image to be tricky to light.  I set out to create a nice even lighting with minimal shadows or reflections, and a nice depth of black in the background.  A diffused shop light low camera right aimed over the top of the subject, plus a shop light high camera left bounced back into the subject gave me just that – plus a nice strip catch light from the reflector on the milk glass.

A stack of Oreos next to their arch nemesis.

A stack of Oreos next to their arch nemesis.

I like this image, and it does present the Black tones I set out to show in today’s image.  After capturing this I played around with the lighting some more though, and it’s amazing how much a simple tweak changes the image.  For instance this next shot is the same basic setup, with the high left light pointed directly down rather than bounced off a reflector.  I’m amazed by how such a simple change makes this a completely different image.  I may be nearly done with the Colors theme, but I think I’ll be sticking with product style shots for the foreseeable future, there’s just so much depth to explore here.

Oreos under a harsh spot light.

Oreos under a harsh spot light.

One further note about today’s image.  Cleanup was delicious 😉

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16 Responses to Day 69 – 01/13/11 – Black

  1. bonniegunkel says:

    This shot is just…well…yummy! 🙂

    • Jim Reed says:

      Thanks Bonnie! I worked out of my home office today and took the opportunity to shoot before the little ones got home from school. I have a feeling I’d have had difficulty keeping the cookies on the board if they were around 😉

  2. Very nice setup and looks quite yummy.

    I prefer the first one over the second shot…I think the cream got a bit overexposed on your second shot.

    I like the arrangement of stacked cookies in this shot to compliment the tall glass. Besides that I do like the exposed cream in the Oreos..seems to go well the white milk.

    • Jim Reed says:

      Thanks Sasi! You’re right, definitely some blown highlights there in the second shot. I like the harshness of the light on the Oreos on that one though, it changes the feel of the image. I’ll definitely play with that style lighting a bit more in future shots to see what I can do!

  3. Definitely yummy. Need I say again… PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY. It’s your calling. The caption makes me smile, and your cookie-off-the-frosting skills astound me!

    • Jim Reed says:

      Thanks Whitney! I’m enjoying the set up for these shots more and more, I’d be ecstatic if I were to get paid to spend hours in the studio doing this type of work! Oh, and as for the cookie dissection, it’s all in the twist of the wrist! 😉

  4. Hmmm, tough call on which shot I like better. I think the second (by the way, when I viewed this page the second shot didn’t come up, had to go to your Flickr account for some reason) shot is a little more pleasing but agree that perhaps the Oreo filling/milk is a tad over exposed but that should be easily fixed in PS. The thing I like in the second is the light on the surface! Great job Jim, hope you didn’t eat too many of them (you did leave some for the kids right? 😛 )

    • Jim Reed says:

      Thanks David! The light directly on the surface is what I like about the second shot as well, it makes for a division between the cookies and the milk, and accents the lone leaning cookie. Not sure why I like that affect so much, but I do!

      Looking at the first shot on my monitor here at work it is nearly pitch black, as in the Oreo stacks are nearly indistinguishable from the background. I’m assuming that’s a monitor problem, but I’ve never noticed quite that much darkness on this screen before. Does the first shot look that dark to you?

      • Ahhhh yes, the age old problem…differences in colour/wb/gamma/contrast/brightness/etc/etc/etc when it comes to monitors! I too, am not at home and the monitor I am currently using does make the first picture rather dark. I don’t know if you have noticed, but lately I have been adding a link to my Flickr’s Lightbox as I believe the quality of the image (even though it’s the same image, I believe WP does compress) is better than what’s uploaded by WP. I know you post the images directly from Flickr, but it does appear the Lightbox version of your first image is a little “better” than what’s “posted” here. Man, sure hope that made sense! lol

        • Jim Reed says:

          That does make sense, thanks! I’ll take a look at the Flickr lightbox idea and may start posting those links, I have noticed you doing that and wasn’t sure why. This monitor calibration can really be a pain in the butt, I use three – two at home and one at work – and can never get them to agree. I keep meaning to invest in a colorimeter, but there’s always something more interesting to purchase first! 😉

  5. Great shot! I prefer the second one, even though the white is a bit overexposed, I like that with the spotlight you can see the details on the oreo cookies better!

    • Jim Reed says:

      Thanks Cassie! I’m definitely going to check out that first shot again, on my monitor at home you can see most of the details on the Oreos even though the overall shot is darker. That doesn’t appear to be coming through as well on the posted version, either as David says because WP compressed it or for some other reason I’m not sure.

  6. Duoae says:

    Nice work as usual, Jim!
    have a question though – do you ever do any post processing? Also are you shooting in .jpg or .raw formats?

    I ask because i know a lot of people are against post processing in all its forms, however, i’ve always been of the opinion that contrast, colour and levels are fair game as any photographer developing film in ‘the old days’ would have been able to play around with these too. I find that my pictures look a lot better with some contrast and balancing of the colours to what i remember them to be (as the camera always washes everything out). Just wondering because it’s possible you could have improved the lighting on the oreos in the first shot – allowing for differentiation between them and the background. Incidentally, on my really crappy laptop LCD monitor i can clearly see the background and oreos as separate.

    .raw format allows for better post processing than .jpg so it might be something to think about.

    • Jim Reed says:

      Thanks Duoae! I shoot in RAW, it just gives far more flexibility in post than with JPG. And I do do some post, though not a tremendous amount. I use Lightroom 3, and typically tweak white balance and a contrast if needed. I don’t adjust color much outside of white balance, but that’s not a philosophical choice as much as a practical one – I’m still learning all of the bells and whistles of Lightroom and Elements 😉 Generally I’m not against processing an image though. That being said, I do try to limit the amount of post I’m doing on these particular images to minor tweaks. Part of the Photos to 40 project is to improve my shooting skills, so I’m trying to force myself to get as much right in camera as I can.

  7. mindymilburn says:

    Fabulous, i love that it is “almost” b&w with just a hint of chocolate. Great composition as well Jim!

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