/Commercial Photography Blog/
22 08, 2017

Product Photos and Videos

2017-08-22T17:20:41+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Photography, Product, Video|

When Noraxon came to me with a request for product photos and videos of 40 items I knew I had to create a new workflow for maximum efficiency. The two services became one. I started with a strobe set on the left for the photos and a hot light set on the right to record the video clips. I made a turntable and painted it white so I could rotate the table top when it was important to see 2 or 3 sides of that product. Tests were done to match color with both sets and test the rotation. 4’ x 4’ sheets of foam core were placed on the turntable for the larger kits. These kits with up to 30 items were set up on the turntable where both the photo and video were captured with the same camera to become even more efficient. The video was recorded and played beck in slow motion to ensure smooth motion.

I created the simplified GIF below as a sample of the product videos.

Animated GIF.

When you need product photos and videos go to the photographer with years of experience in each medium.

21 08, 2017

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017


Three stages of the Eclipse, beginning, peak and near the end, as seen from Phoenix, AZ.

This solar eclipse was special to us here in the US because this was the only country that was able to view it. I’m in Phoenix so I didn’t see the total eclipse. Here we saw about 62% eclipse. I had my viewing glasses with an ISO rating of 12312 so I knew my eyes were protected. You can’t see a thing with them on except for the sun so I had to take them off to work my camera.

My Canon 5D Mk II was set to ISO 160 with a shutter speed of 1/100 – 1/250 at F 8. I used a filter with the equivalent of 16 stops! You cannot stack a few ND filters and get to 3 or 5 stops darker. You will burn out your sensor. I did not view the sun through the viewfinder. I set the camera for live view. Blew the image up to check focus on the sun and used a lens at about 240 mm.

The photos above show the change in exposure during the partial eclipse. The exposure was the same for both images.

The next blog on this topic for the Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017, will be Aril 8, 2024. See you then!

24 07, 2017

Large Product Photography

2017-07-24T19:13:22+00:00Photography, Product|

No matter what the challenge with large product photography, Trotto is up to it.

Assembling the sophisticated medical device.

The Cranial Imager, used to map the shape of an infants brain, required 30 photos on green screen. It was photographed on location at Atom in Scottsdale. Atom is the product development company for Cranial. To accomplish this Trotto and Frank Salle created a wide green screen studio using both cloth and paper materials. Then the set was carefully lit to allow the background mask to be cut.

Cisco provided Trotto with a lengthy 10 page document specifying the exact specs for the tonal range of the photos. Here’s the catch. They didn’t allow post processing. The RAW images were to be delivered with blacks and whites at a certain level. A test shoot was necessary to establish the camera settings. The final shoot was done at Avnet where they assembled the racks and servers. Frank Salle was technical adviser.

The 14” Pocket Digital Calibration Target by Photovision is normally used for color balance. For Cisco/Avnet it was used in the testing and the final shots to check that the black and the white values matched Cisco’s specifications for product photography.

When you have special challenges for large product photography give Trotto a call. No challenge is too great. He also has years of experience photographing large RV’s for Cruise America. Check out Trotto’s product photography.

7 02, 2017

4K Video and the Hybrid Photographer

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Photography, Video|

The obvious advantages to 4K video are the resolution and then the ability to zoom in or pan across the frame in the edit when working in the smaller 1080 HD timeline. However, when you combine 4K video and the hybrid photographer it opens the floodgates for more creativity. I can pull a single frame and open it in Photoshop and alter parts of the video clip while allowing the other section of the clip to play normally, creating a surreal look. A still frame from the GH4 has enough resolution to be manipulated in Photoshop like any photo from a DSLR like my Canon 5D MkIII.

While recording, locking down the camera has many advantages. It allows for more creativity round tripping a single frame to Photoshop and back to Premiere Pro. I am able to create more effects like freezing people or moving people in reverse. Then I bring that 4K video (3840 x 2160 Pixels) into a 1080 timeline (1920 x 1080 pixels) and add the motion of panning and zooming in or out to look like the camera was moving to follow the action in the scene. Here is a link to a video with some simple effects added. This is just one example of what can be done to the athletes in this video. Note that only some clips were shot in 4K and final output is 1080 HD. Watch the video.


27 01, 2017

The Grunge Look

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00Photography, Photography, People|

The grunge look is perfect for football photos. The original image was captured on a Canon 5D mkIII at ISO 25,600 at F5.6 with a shutter speed of about 1/640. A 150 – 500mm lens is my favorite for covering most of the field.

I start the process in camera raw by desaturating the image and then adding contrast. I open it in Photoshop. Working with 2 layers I add noise and mask out part of one layer so the athlete pops out of the photo.

8 11, 2016

Audio for Food and Beverage Videos

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Product, Video|

The sizzle helps you taste the food and just hearing a beer being poured into a glass can crank up your thirst. Most of the audio for food and beverage videos is recorded separately for the best quality and, keep in mind, there is no audio recorded with slow motion video. For the slow motion clips I formed the visuals in the timeline first. Then I knew how long the sound had to be to sync with the visuals. Watch the video.

A match ignites in a fraction of a second but in this video the match took 7 seconds to ignite (1/8 speed). I slowed the speed of the audio clip to 40% and duplicated it on 2 more audio tracks with some overlap to cover the 7 seconds. The beer pour was done in a similar way. The “plop” sound of the olives dropping into the martini glass required a speed of just 35% for the audio clip. Sound is important and audio for food and beverage videos has it’s own unique chalenges.

28 10, 2016

Slow Motion Food and Beverage Videos

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

“See what you can’t see”. slowing the action of a pour or food preparation can increase the viewer’s anticipation of what it’s going to taste like. Use this visual effect in your slow motion food and beverage videos. Watch the short video here.
martini-still004_650w120 frames per second is good for some slow motion shots. 240 frames per second renders amazing slow motion but may be too slow for your viewers. Here’s what I mean. At 240 fps pouring a beer that takes about 6 seconds will take 48 seconds to play back that clip,, or 8 times as long. Your viewers will fall off their bar stools waiting for their beer. Recording at 120fps will take 4 times as long to play back the clip. This is why I record with 2 cameras for my slow motion food and beverage videos. One camera records in normal speed and I cut between the 2 views (and 2 speeds). In post I may speed up the slow motion clip and slow down the clip recorded at normal speed.
strawberries-still001_650wThe shutter speed of at least 1/240 second will freeze the action when exporting a still frame as you see in the 2 images above. Slow motion enhances any production.

19 10, 2016

Lighting Food & Beverage Videos

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Product, Video|


Did you ever hear the term “You eat with your eyes”? Food should look good. You should see the texture of the food and want to taste it. Arguably, the most important part of production may be lighting food & beverage videos. First you backlight the food. Use a soft box to resemble window light coming from behind the table. Then add a kicker light at a low angle to add texture to the food. Use a spot light or barn doors to concentrate the light on the food first, then some light can spill onto the tabletop and other props if it adds to the ambiance. Here is a link to the video.

Glass and translucent beverages require backlighting to show the color of the beverage and make them glow.

I will color balance the cameras to the main light which will be white. Then I add gels to the kicker and side lights to add warmth to the food and/or the table top as I did from both sides of the beer set in the above image.  1/2 CTO or a full CTO filter works well to create the ambiance of a restaurant or amber lights in a home.

Cameras and lenses:
Selective focus is important to draw the attention to the food or drinks you are promoting. I will record with 2 cameras for 2 different angles for pouring beverages or when recording slow motion. I like to record the action in normal speed as well to have that option in post. In post I may also blur what is not important. I may soften some background props if they draw the viewers eye away from the featured item. Using the gaussian blur in post is important because I can match the look of the 2 cameras because the depth of field may differ according to the focal length of the lens or the distance from the product when recording.

5 10, 2016

Lighting Equipment

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00Photography, Photography, Architecture, Photography, People, Product|

Whether you have a microchip or a 30 foot RV we have the lighting equipment for your product photos. We have enough strobes to light almost any room or building.

A few of the different lighting options from diffused to spot.

A few of the different lighting options from diffused to spot.

I personally enjoy the challenge of lighting different subjects in various locations as well as in the studio, and it doesn’t matter if the product is reflective or translucent. We have photographed people in just about every place for business portraits, lifestyle and sports. Give us a challenge, we’re ready for it.

20 09, 2016

Editing Skills

2017-05-19T23:56:10+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

The cast and crew in Sedona Arizona

The cast and crew in Sedona Arizona

We had a lot of fun working on the productions you see in our capabilities video shooting action scenes of the UTVs on Schnebley Hill Road in Sedona, and meeting Michael Floyd, the wide receiver for the Cardinals, while filming the Vita Coco spot. You can view the demo video here.

Here is the technical stuff for editing this video:

3D Intro:
While assembling this demo video I added 3D graphics to my logo using After Effects. First, my logo was separated into 8 different layers in Photoshop. In After Effects I moved the different layers in 3D space and added a light to cast shadows and a camera with a pan motion across the text so the shadows would move. The logo layers all rotate together. I used parenting to link the logo layers to a null object that had rotation animation applied.

I used alpha channels to reveal video playing through the text during the three equipment segments. At many edit points I added lighting effects using light leaks clips (flashing, moving colors) with a screen blend mode to add some sparkle to transition points.

Green screen was used for two clips to composite a layer over background video. The editing skills used were mostly with the ultra key effect in Premiere Pro. Lens flare effect was added to the lighting equipment scene and it’s opacity (brightness) was keyframed as I passed in front of the light. We displayed most of the equipment we bring to the production including a 10″ Kessler Crane.
cc-crane-still-650wI used curves for color correction to match clips from three different cameras, Panasonic, Canon and GoPro.

Lets have some fun with your next video.