Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Holidays Are Here!

Many of our prospective new clients are gearing up for the Holidays and I have been busily doing the salesmen routine explaining our service and what a use license is and why there are set-up fees. As often as I am explaining these aspects of the business I thought I would boil it down to the core concepts here.

First, use licenses.
Licensing can be a very complex and tortuous legal web with image use being highly restrictive as to when, how long, what geographical region use is restricted to (local or international), and even what media the images are used in (print, web, billboard, TV to name a few). This type of license are covered under a broad description of "Rights Managed". uses the simplest licensing scheme of all, "Stock License". The essentials are that you as the client can use the images in any media, in any location, for as long as you want. No recurrent fees or charges.
Next, set-up fees.
Set-up fees vary from job to job but generally cover the cost of dressing the studio for your job. It can include consumables (wear and tear on equipment, mounting wax, strobe bulbs), special order props( pink background paper?) and special equipment rentals(lenses, strobes, mannequins)  typically used only for one project.

Here are some Holiday decorations I just finished that didn't require much in special equipment but took considerable time in set-up. Everything had to be glued down and positioned exactly.

Group shot on a glass sheet.

Everything has been glued in place.


Friday, October 23, 2015


It's nice to see that the Tampa Bay area has a strong community of inventors and entrepreneurs. Local inventors produce everything from medical appliances to pet products which brings me to our new client, Smarter Reefs, who make specialized aquarium gear for exotic fish needs. His patented fish feeder is made of clear acrylic polymers making for a challenging set of photos,  pure white background hi-key photos for the up coming web site. Here are the mounting base and feed tubes final shots.

Problem: how to separate the transparent edges from the background
Solution:Use split lighting on the background and subject

The final shot

Friday, July 10, 2015

Really Cool Stuff from Kenya!

Welcome "Stuff from Kenya" to the ProdPhoto family! Stuff from Kenya imports upscale handcrafts directly from the craftsmen and craft-women. Unique leather goods, belts and handbags all one of a kind and a beautiful addition to any wardrobe. The website is not yet up  but you can visit them on Facebook at: and buy on-line through eBay.
Just started with the composition and lighting for the belts. Not complete yet but here is a sample.
Shot to Amazon's strict standards.

Close up detail of the deft hand work
securing each bead to the belt.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

More on Dixie Belle Paints

Dixie Belle Paint is expanding their offerings almost every quarter as the demand for unique craft colors explodes. This company offers the highest quality artisan chalk paints on the market. This month 5 new colors hi the catalog: Holy Guacamole, Colonel Mustard, Cobalt Blue, Buttercream, and Lucky Lavender. Good thing we document our set and lighting. We can go back to any client shoot and recreate the exact same photos using the new product keeping the continuity between shoots the same. The catalog photos all look as if they were shot in the same session.  As always the client can download both TIFF and JPG files immediately and we always send a DVD with both formats and supporting documents by US mail.

Full set ready for the website and catalog.

Dixie Belle Paint can be purchased on-line at

Out of my Wheelhouse

I don't as a rule do any portrait work. But when a friend asks (low or no fee) what are you gonna do... Call Loyce Hood a dear friend who is a pro baby and portrait photographer. Her web blog is here....

Not much to say about the shoot except Loyce is very good at posing people(even difficult subjects who have an incorrect preconceived idea of what a good portrait of them is...). Because of the subject, I chose butterfly lighting with a hard hair light from above camera left and a white bounce board from camera right. This lighting tends to be more forgiving to the subject and skills of the photographer (did I mention I don't do portraits?). The lighting became more of a loop style of lighting because of the hair light. The advantage is the best of both worlds, some shaping of the face and de-emphasizing of the lines.  We worked through several different poses. The client chose the 3 she liked best from the shoot. After choosing the one with the best all around feel my work in Photoshop began. Here is the final presented to the client.

After post

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Imported Jewelry and Imaging for Amazon

With the explosion of jewelry vendors vying for Amazon's attention has had to tighten up what is considered the primary product image rules for acceptable use. Hence the 20 page long Jewelry Style Guide. While Amazon has always had these guidelines in place, certification staff has really been towing the line and images that may have squeaked by in the past won't cut it anymore.
White means white period. Not RGB 254,254,254 but 255,255,255, and sharp as a tack front to back. Quite a challenge when we are working with macro distances. This means shooting at f/22 or higher and requiring gobs of quality light only possible with very powerful (and hot) continuous halogen lights or pricey studio quality strobes.  We choose strobes. The halogen lights are so hot they overpower the A/C and heat the studio to uncomfortable levels in about an hour.
Following are an example of some rejected images.
 Wrong layout, focus, and not on white.

Not on white and focus.

All of the above would be ok for Ebay, Craig's List and other auction sites, but they fall short because of some technical flaws. We noticed the colors on the failed images were a bit off which may  have caused customer satisfaction issues because the images don't actually reflect the products true colors.
Here are the approved shots the client had us do after the in-house method failed. (Please note: there is always some color shifting because of individual monitor/browser rendering.)

Following the style guide the background measures
255,255,255 and everything is in focus. Colors
are calibrated and 100% accurate.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Restoring an old photo

Restoring old photo prints is something I do just for Photoshop practice. There are far better re-touchers out there than me with my meager skills. Today a neighbor asked me if I could take an old photo print scan it into the computer and erase the background as she wanted to share the photo on Facebook but was not happy with the baked goods background. Here is the raw scan...

Raw scan of the 5x7 print after cropping.

After scanning the print at 300dpi, I spent about 20 minutes  extracting the background.

After removing the background,

Workable but my neighbor is a very nice person and deserves a better image for her Facebook avatar. Back to Photoshop...2 hours later, a new background, color correction and re-lighting...

Unfortunately some of the highlights  were blown out 
in the print a little beyond Photoshop's ability to recover

Sunday, March 1, 2015

and now for something completely different..

decals, and not just your everyday run of the mill standard flat bumper sticker types, these are 3D and look really special. The hard part is to make these look as good in a photo as they do in real-life. The task is to shoot the 4 colors on a neutral white  at several different angles to show off the raised texture unique to this product. The problem is to keep the background uniformly lit. 

Initial shot with minimal post processing. Notice the slight
color variation caused by a slight difference in the color
temperatures of the lights from left to right (cooler lamp
on the right). Something we'll fix in the finals.

The solution was to raise the decals on a glass sheet 6 inches above the background and light the subject and background separately. 2 lights for the product and 3 lights for the background. A mono-light with a 24 inch softbox from camera right to light the product and the right side of the background. A mono-light with a 2 inch snoot off camera left to provide hard shadows showing off the texture and spilling onto the left side of the background. Finally a speed light with a 12 inch softbox to smooth out any shadows on the background. 

The angles shots required a different approach. The background showed an annoying drop shadow from the samples so we placed the product directly on the white background material. This got rid of the drop shadow but required  more post processing in Photoshop.

The small shadow in this series helped bring out the 3D design.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We Love the Small Jobs

Small jobs usually afford much more creativity on the photographer's part because there is usually no creative director, art department or brand guides to follow. The budget just isn't there. These new entrepreneurs are usually a "one man band" doing all the work to launch a fledgling business. At some point the product needs to be photographed for the web, catalogs, and other advertising. These clients tend to rely on us for design and style choices unlike the more directed projects. These clients have a general idea for how the product should be presented but it falls on the photographer to bring the vision into focus. The job is to shoot the product and design a table stand graphic for use in various upscale salons.

Here the client supplied a photo of
where these displays will be used. 

The client vision was a silver toned image. We shot the product against a silk curtain leaving the folds in view  to give a slightly soft feel to a spartan design.

After a few trial product layouts, here is the final design.

The final display design.

Done in about a day, we had fun playing with the ideas and implementation.