Home :: photo lessons :: C-8080 Shooting Reflective Holiday Spheres photo lessons   

That holiday time of year is just around the corner. On my last trip to the big city I saw the holiday decorations going up all over. This brought back memories of the early part of my photographic career, when it came time to shoot the holiday catalogs. Not only did we have to find holiday decorations in the middle of the summer, we had the challenge of lighting those silly things. This was one of the toughest assignments we got during the year.

In this lesson we will take the mystery out for shooting reflective spheres by using a new and innovative take on an old standard lighting tool.

(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Prepping the set
  • Installing a sweep in a LiteRoom
  • Suspending subjects in the LiteRoom
  • Controlling reflections on a sphere

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.


Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Starlite Large LiteRoom Kit 2

Background / Set

  • Sawhorses
  • 3x4' plywood tabletop
  • White seamless paper
  • 20x30" handmade paper
  • Small Velcro tabs

The light tent has been a photographic lighting solution for years, and recently with the advances in digital photography it has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. It is a great choice for those with little or no photographic experience to produce professional images for use on web or auction sites.

In this lesson we will use the new LiteRoom, a recently introduced light tent from Photoflex. The LiteRoom was developed with the best of the past and the best of the new technology all into one great light tool. This is something I wish I had back in my catalog shooting days.

Prepping the Set

To get started on the lesson, we set our sawhorses on the set and placed the plywood surface on them. Then we wrapped the plywood with the white seamless paper and taped it in place. We were then ready to assemble the LiteRoom. You will find included in the packaging some instructions to accomplish this set up, or go to www.photoflex.com and click through the products links to the LiteRoom product page to find on-line assembly instructions. Once we had the tent assembled, we placed it on the set.

With the basic set assembled we can attach our handmade paper to the Velcro tabs inside the LiteRoom. This was accomplished by attaching the small Velcro tabs to the corners of the paper then attaching them to the Velcro tabs sewn into the LiteRoom (figures 1 & 2).

Depending on the size of paper you chose you may need to trim the corners to get a clean fit (figures 3 & 4).

When you are finished you should have something that looks like figure 4.

One of the advantages that the LiteRoom has over the competition is that it is assembled with a soft box connector. For this lesson we used the connector to hang our ornaments from the top of the LiteRoom. To accomplish this we taped a pencil across the opening on top of the LiteRoom and attached the fishing line holding the ornaments to it (figures 5 – 8).

To add some interest to our shot, we stepped outside our studio and cut a few pine boughs to use in our shot. We trimmed these to fit in the LiteRoom and secured an A clamp to the bottom of the boughs. We then set this arrangement in the LiteRoom and nestled the pine needles around the ornament (figures 9 & 10).

With the set assembled, we were ready to start the lighting process. Included in the Medium LiteRoom MM Kit we chose for this lesson are two Medium Starlite Kits (included with the kits are assembly instructions or you can go to the web site listed above). Once we had set up one of the kits, we placed it on the set in back of the LiteRoom. (figures 11 & 12).

With the first light in place, we were ready to set up the camera. The camera was attached to the tripod and the height was adjusted to frame up the shot where we wanted. We then took a meter reading in the LiteRoom to check our exposure settings. The camera settings were then placed as follows; focus to manual, the ISO to 100 and the white balance to the tungsten preset or the light bulb icon. The exposure settings according to our meter were 1/60 @f 5.6. We then zipped up the LiteRoom, closed the lens port, and made our first exposure (figure 13).

Figure 13

Our result shot shows the backlight effects of the first light's placement. We have achieved the wintry look and feel we were going for.

The next step was to assemble the second Medium Starlite Kit and place it on the set. The position we chose was in the front of the LiteRoom to fill in the front of the subject. We were also conscious of the first light because we wanted to maintain the back lit look.

Both of the Starlites use 1000 watt lamps so we placed the second light about four inches farther away from the LiteRoom than the first to achieve a rough one stop ratio. What we mean by a one stop ratio is that the front light was about ½ as bright as the back or 2:1 ratio of light (figures 15 & 16).

Figure 16

With the second light in place, we were now ready to make another exposure. To illustrate the effects of the second light, we switched off the first light and took the shot (figure 16).

Our result shot shows the detail in the subject we were missing in the first shot. For the next shot we fired up both the lights and made an exposure (figure 17).

Figure 17

In a very short time and with only two lights, we made a shot that would have taken me several hours in the past. The LiteRoom controls the reflections and creates a soft clean lighting environment that will make any subject look like a million bucks.

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.


Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex Starlite Large LiteRoom Kit 2

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
  • For more tips and techniques on lighting and cameras, visit www.webphotoschool.com and sign
    up for access to the Member Lessons.

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