The art of previsualising and converting a concept into a beautiful image
The concept and the behind-the-scenes of our creative photography shoot
The product we feature in this blog post is a perfect example of mixed techniques and difficulties. The Beats headset photographed are made of three different materials, and each one requires specific adjustments. We have the opaque plastic, the delicate yet detailed leather and the highly reflective metallic parts. Follow us in this in-depth analysis on one of our creative photography shoots.
The initial step is choosing the right background. Since we didn’t want to have colour casting, we picked a middle grey that helps to cut out the product without altering the contrast. Preparing the “floating” effect was rather easy, a boom arm and a a couple of clothes hangers solved our problems; we knew we have to retouch a little, but it’s an easy task. Alternatively, we could have used invisible thread, but we tend to avoid it when we are going to photostack; a small vibration can compromise the photoshoot, unnecessarily increasing our time behind the camera!
The lighting scheme
After placing the product, we start playing around with the lights. We have a frontal snoot-ed light that enphasise, with a sharp and direct light, the texture of the leather parts. The “cone” helps to concentrate the light solely in that area. Diffusing the right light with a frosted filter offers a nice, soft contrast on the product, without compromising the texturised effect on the leather. We softened the rim light, coming from the left, with the same Lee frost filter; we added also a polarising sheet, that aids to eliminate the reflection on the metal surfaces. With the help of an assistant, we started moving around black and white perspex sheets, trying to highlight or increase the shadows on some specific areas.
The final step – once we were happy with the lighting scheme, was photo-stacking, obtaining a perfectly focused product. The entire photoshoot took us roughly one hour.
The creative editing and the final touch
We ended up with 15 images we photostacked and imported again in Capture One for refining the RAW stacked photo.
You can see the before and after in the photo comparison on the right (below on mobile).
In the first step, we created a clipping path to isolate the subject from the background. After this, we cleaned all the small imperfections (cracks on the leather, dust, hair and minor scratches that you can find easily even on a new product!) using the clone/healing tools and some advanced techniques such as frequency separation. In the third step, we refined the metallic parts, creating interesting highlights and gradients (see how lively and shiny the “b” logo appears in the final image). Some areas, in particular the folding mechanism on the right side, were quite complicated, so we recreated them in Photoshop. In the fourth step, we matched the colours with the product; despite the fact we calibrated the camera at the beginning of the photoshoot, some colours were altered. We neutralised the green casting on the white inside and then matched the blush/sand pink.
The creative input
At this point the product was almost ready; we applied some contrast curves (carefully balanced to affect only specific areas) in “luminosity” blending mode to preserve the saturation. In the final step, we used a photo of metallic-ink underwater that we included within the product. Changing the contrast and applying a shadow on the product, we made the scene perfectly credible and realistic.
The entire retouching process lasted two to three hours and we are happy with the final result. The importance of photographing with a specific concept in mind minimises the chance of error and helps to achieve an outstanding result. The creative photography process that leads to this final image is the sum of the experience of the two creative directors of Sage Studio, Alessio and Trista, both involved along the process of any high-end project.