Photography first, tea second

My new ingenuiTEA teapot arrived in the post today, which means I can finally dig into my bags of loose-leaf tea again. It also means an excellent opportunity to practice photographing a transparent, shiny, plastic teapot. Making tea will just have to wait.

I usually do shots like this against a white background, but I doubt the white text on the pot would show up very well that way, so I picked up a sheet of black cardboard on the way back from the post office.

Test shot 1

At home I set up my usual studio — just a simple infinity sweep using said black cardboard — and shot a couple of test shots. I have a single flash (at whatever settings it was on since my last shoot) bouncing off the ceiling, a macro lens (which happened to be attached to my camera from last shoot), and I’m using the camera hand-held.

Right away, this confirms a couple of my suspicions:

  1. A single light from above looks weird for this, and
  2. Auto-focus can’t handle this at all.

Time to break out the tripod, the lightstand, and all the other goodies that turn our tiny living room into an obstacle course.

Test shot 2

For the second test shot, I have one flash with an umbrella off to the left, a second flash bouncing off the ceiling, and I’ve switched to my 35mm prime lens.

I’m liking this shot a lot better. The handle is disappearing against the background, so I put up a reflector to get some light in from the right. The two flashes need to be balanced better, so I experiment with that. There’s a harsh reflection of the umbrella in the teapot, but I soften that a bit by moving the flash further to the side and turning down the power a bit.

As I’m getting closer to a shot I like, the image just seems to be begging for a dramatic, high-contrast look, so that’s the treatment I give the final candidate.

Final image

I quite like the result. It’s not perfect, but I’m craving tea and running out of patience.

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