Red Paddle Co: Shooting Large Products
Several months ago I was approached by Red Paddle Co and asked to take a quick e- commerce product image of there 10ft 6 inflatable paddle board that would be used for e-commerce purposes. Only sending one item and requiring one image was a relatively straight forward task and using a lighting setup I had used previously for other large items I had photographed I provided the paddleboard manufacturer a result I was extremely happy with.
Fast forward a few months and I was contacted again by Red Paddle Co and asked to take e-commerce images for their whole paddleboard and accessories range, including paddles, bags, fins and leashes to name some of the products that arrived in Plymouth and were delivered to the Clash and Clash Photography studio.
I had obviously provided Red Paddle Co with an image that made them confident enough to entrust me with the paddle board manufacturers whole range. A total of 16 boards arrived at my photography studio and roughly fifty paddles, fins, leashes and bags. Time to get started. The first 12 paddle boards went off without a hitch and the photography was going well. I suspended the boards from the high ceilings in my photography studio. The boards ranged from being roughly 8 foot up to 14 ft, seeming the most sensible thing to do I started with the smaller paddle boards. Everything was going well and the e-commerce product photography was looking good until… the ceiling in my photography studio was no longer tall enough to hang the boards.
The smaller boards and accessories photographed without a hitch now trying to capture the required e-commerce images in our photography studio was becoming a problem. Although the ceiling in the studio I consider to be very high it still wasn’t quite enough.
My first attempt to capture the paddle boards was to photograph the behemoth sized products propped up as high as they could go and to use perspective transform in photoshop to make the boards the relative size, this however just created bizarre converging lines.
Round two, the studio being longer than it is high, I placed the boards on the floor and placed my 3 metre tall stepladder over the middle of the paddle board and ascended to the top of the ladder to photograph each half and merge the 2 images together to create one single e-commerce product shot. The problem with this was when using my Canon 24-70 f2.8 L series lens that I was having to shoot the images with the zoom at its widest. After capturing the two images I opened them in photoshop and began to merge them together.
It should have been obvious, but trying to finish the job within the required time frame I was looking for the most efficient solution. Because the lens being at its widest, the images had resulted with the frame being affected by barrel distortion and when merged together looked like an elephant seals physique sunning itself in the antarctic. The rails of the boards did not line up and resulted in not providing the client with the quality and honest representation of their products they required and deserve. Back to the drawing board.
To the rescue, my Canon TS 24mm L series lens, an absolute hero of a lens, not just with its optical quality but the beauty of this lens was that it provided the use of a shift function (typically used in architectural photography). The plan was to use the shift function in terms of capturing a panoramic, capturing 3 images, 1 shifted fully left, 1 central and 1 shifted fully right. Now the only problem I had was placing the camera at a height that would allow the Canon TS 24m L lens to capture the product images directly above the board.
After some deliberation and scepticism I had to finally come to the decision of placing my salon stand on top of 2 very large solid wooden speakers at its full height extension, by not much of a margin when the lens was shifted to both left and right the board was finally all within the shot. The lighting was relatively straight forward, lighting each frame individually with 4 Elinchrom BRX 500w heads ( 2 on each side of the board) and moving them along to match the Lens shifted positions. The light provided was fantastic as always from these flash heads, showing on the LCD screen little sign of inconsistent exposure.
After Merging all 3 images, the sections of the paddle boards lined up seamlessly and provided outstanding results in lighting, image sharpness and colour representation. Not that I would like to have my camera as precariously placed as necessary for this shot and being in fear of getting knocked out by a falling salon stand, the results for the e-commerce product images were exceptional in quality. Submitting the images I awaited to hear any feedback. Red Paddle Co must have been happy as I have already been booked for in a few months when the new ranges are out.
It’s better to persevere with wanting the best for your clients than it is to settle for anything less…