Catalog photograph shoot
July 12, 2006 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Our art department is shooting its own photographs for our catalog this year and we are facing the challenge of taking high-res shots of beach towels and tapestry blankets.

We had played with the idea of building a giant light tent after having little success with using flash umbrellas. We want as much detail as possible, down to the loops on the terry cloth. Any tips? Are we on the right track with the giant light tent? Any ideas for building a cheap light tent? We are all kind of photography-challenged so ANY help is appreciated. Thank you!
posted by bristolcat to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
Where are you shooting these? And instead of diffuse lighting, I'd recommend trying to light from very nearly level, which should make the loops etc. stand out more (same as how you can get evvery blade of grass at sundown and sunup).
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: We would prefer to shoot them inside. We had tried several outdoor, but the colors were washed out. We'll shoot anywhere we need to get it to work, though.

Good suggestion on the level lighting. Thanks!

More information: these photos will ultimately be clipped and placed into a background. All products must lie flat, not folded or draped or anything.
posted by bristolcat at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2006

Try two lights bounced into umbrellas, one at either end of the piece and positioned so that the light crosses and the piece is evenly lit. Use a smaller aperture (F11-F16) for greater depth of field. Good luck.
posted by landis at 11:59 AM on July 12, 2006

I used to shoot LOTS and LOTS of towels and carpets for department store catalogues. Yuck.
However, start with what landis said, then add in what klanst...etc said. You want as even a light as possible, very slightly underexposed, then add in the raking light to pick up the texture and give it a little zip. If you have subltle waves in the towels and blankets that can be nice, but be sure to add cotton batting behind the waves to make them softer. Spend a lot of time getting everything perfectly smooth, all the nap going the same way, etc. If you can get a painters scaffold it will allow you to clamp the camera perfectly straight down onto the subject and will be more comfortable for the photographer to lie down on. Ladders suck for this stuff.
posted by johngumbo at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2006

What sort of camera are you using? ith the smaller apertures suggested above, a long exposure and tripod may be needed. If so, then you may be able to use existing light and avoid the hassles of flash. If color is important use an 18% gray card to set your white balance.
posted by TedW at 1:33 PM on July 12, 2006

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