A Short Course Book
Digital Desktop Studio Photography
The Complete Guide To Lighting and Photographing Small Objects with your Digital Camera

Case Study—A Kodak Truck Bank

Some subjects require very accurate color reproduction, either because people already know what the colors should look like, or because you want them to have an accurate impression. Our goal is to render accurate colors because everyone knows the familiar Kodak colors. With our toy, one potential problem is the shiny surface of the truck that may create unwanted hot spots in the image and the recessed areas that may go black in shadow.

The Assignment

The assignment is to photograph a small toy truck bank for an online auction or catalog. The goals are to show the coin slot in the top of the truck so people know it's a bank and also show the Kodak logo on the side of the truck because that may enhance it's value. Finally we want to be sure we show the depth of the truck so it's seen as a 3D object.

1. Composition

The truck is set at a 45 degree angle to the camera to emphasize its depth and capture the highly detailed front end. The camera is positioned above the truck to show the coin slot in the top.

2. Lighting

The main light is placed behind the subject to light the edges, define shapes, and cast a shadow in front of the truck. The diffuser in front of the main light causes the light to wrap around the subject reducing dark shadows. A reflector positioned on the other side of the truck bounces main light back to illuminate the near side of the toy and fill in shadows. (The fill light is turned off and is only being used to hold up the diffuser).

3. Camera Settings

The on-camera flash is turned off and white balance is initially set to auto. Depth of field may be a problem so aperture-priority mode is used and a small aperture is selected. On cameras with just an automatic mode, focus would be set on the car about where the seat begins. If there isn't enough depth of field, you could focus on the closest head lamp and let the back of the truck go soft.

The lighting setup uses only one light along with a diffuser and fill card.

The final image accurately captures the colors and 3D qualities of the truck. The highlight on the top of the cab and the shadows below the car add interest and depth. The coin slot stands out clearly as does the Kodak logo.

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