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On The Shoot #1, macro photography on everyday assignments

In my position as Studio Manager for Bowstring Studios as well as in my macro specialty business at Six Visuals I shoot a wide variety of assignments.  As we have discussed on this blog in the past I try to add macro style images to any shoot I am on.   This concept is also one of the focuses of the site, including macro images in any type of photography you are doing.  In this, the first article in our occasional series “On The Shoot” we are going to look at how close-ups and macro images are included as part of everyday assignments.

Over the summer I spent a couple of weeks on the road working on a project for one of our clients.  The focus of the project was to show how their products and company are a part of sports culture and lifestyle.  Most of the photos had either the company’s products or marketing materials (signage, tents and the like) included as the subject, being used by the subject or as a part of the background.  Product branding is a great opportunity to play with close-up images and show a client something they may not have seen before.

This images was taken beneath a tent, recessed in a barrel.

This images was taken beneath a tent, recessed in a barrel.

Let’s take a look at three of the images produced as a part of this project.  The first image is of one of the products in a barrel full of ice.  There were several of these barrels or ice chests with product at every one of the events.  I covered them from every possible angle and concept I could think of.  One morning I made sure to arrive about a half hour before any athletes were scheduled to show up and spent some time with my macro lens experimenting with some different ideas.

I rearranged the containers in the barrel into several different configurations.  One of the things that made this shoot work was the kind of ice they had.  It was flat on one side and curved on the other.  This allowed me use it as a magnifying element.  By trying different arrangements with the ice and product I was able to come up with an interesting composition.  The various magnifications created by the ice gave the image a kind of depth different from what you usually get with macro and close-up work.

This images was taken in a shaded are with the sun just glancing off the edge of the left index finger.

This images was taken in a shaded are with the sun just glancing off the edge of the left index finger.

The second shot was produced while waiting for some players to come off the field during a baseball training session.  They were too far out on the field to be able to effectively shoot back into any branding.  It was one of those 100+ degree-days with all the humidity we get in the central Atlantic region.  I was looking around see what interesting things may be going on while trying to staying in the shade for a few moments.  I looked down the fence line to see a set of hands holding a cup produced by the company I was working with.

Hands make great macro subjects.  They show character and tell you something about the person.  With knuckles and fingerprints there is a lot of texture and detail to be brought out.  Hands also tend to have scars as well as scrapes and cuts adding interesting detail to your composition.

This image was taken in direct sunlight, sun to the front and left of the subject.

This image was taken in direct sunlight, sun to the front and left of the subject.

The final shot was the result of the evolution of trying to find a creative way to shoot the chews made by the company.  They are a gummy kind of square with a raised logo on the surface.  They come in a 5 pack, with the products in a plastics sleeve inside a box.  The plastic has a black logo on it over every one of the chews.

I tried uncountable ways over several days of shooting to get a creative shot with the chews.  In the package, half open, out of the packages and so on.  They were all good shots but none of them gave me the wow factor I was looking for.  I knew there was a macro shoot in there but just the product was not quite it.

The chew needed something more than just a stand-alone shot.  This is when I started playing with images I could use this color splash technique on.  I wanted to create the feel on a macro image sitting in a window of a larger photo.  To get the shot I was envisioning I took a hundreds in not thousands of close-ups of athletes eating the chews until I got one with the logo in the right position.  The end result was an image, which really makes the chew standout while providing context about the product.

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