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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Still Life critique, please.

    Hi everybody -

    Even though I'm very new to DSLR's, I somehow landed a job as product photographer to a California winery. They are shipping me out an example of every bottle they release this year, and I get money plus the bottle for every shot they accept.

    I just got my first shipment last week, with instructions that they wanted a low key photo of the label, close up. I took a quick test photo of one bottle and sent it off to them asking it my composition was ok. They said it was, and liked it enough to put it up in their web catalog immediately (I would have preferred they didn't, because I noticed the bottom of the label was slightly ragged and I wanted to fix it. You can see it here: Davis Family Vineyards - 2016 Zinfandel, Old Vine, Russian River Valley ).

    After accepting that photo I got another email requesting an additional creative shot for each bottle. These will be blown up for posters and glossy handouts. The first one they asked be a still life, but after that I'm being left to my own creative devices.

    This is the composition I came up with the other day, using ingredients I already had on hand. As I mentioned, I'm new to DSLR's and have virtually no experience post processing. I only just purchased Lightroom a few days ago, and am still in the "what the hell is this??" phase. So this, like all my other pictures, has just the minimal automatic processing that my default computer viewer allows: "Auto Sharpen", "Auto Exposure", and "Auto Contrast".

    Please give me some honest criticism, with an eye towards the rules of Product Photography (if there are any). As a newbie I don't own much equipment yet, just a handful of mostly kit lenses, a pair of softbox lights, and a light tent for my wife's macro product work. But any suggestions regarding technique will be gratefully accepted. Thanks!

    Still Life critique, please.-zin-still-life-2.jpg


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                          • #2
                            Staff
                            Super Mod
                            hark's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            I'll be honest - the composition just doesn't do anything for me. It's too cluttered and too much cut off of every item in the image. Have you searched on flickr or 500px to get composition ideas? Do you get to open the bottle and photograph wine in a glass, or does it need to be returned to them unopened? If they don't allow you to open it, my suggestion is when you make a sale and they comp you a bottle, take some photos with the wine poured into glasses along with the bottle. Then show them what you came up with. Maybe it will generate additional sales.

                            Nice job on their web site label image.
                            Thanks/Like Dangerspouse, Moab Man, Marcel Thanks/liked this post
                             
                            Cindy
                            Flickr
                            and My 2019 Thread

                            Where the Spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art
                            -- Leonardo da Vinci



                          • #3
                            Senior Member
                            Dangerspouse's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            Quote Originally Posted by hark View Post
                            I'll be honest - the composition just doesn't do anything for me. It's too cluttered and too much cut off of every item in the image. Have you searched on flickr or 500px to get composition ideas? Do you get to open the bottle and photograph wine in a glass, or does it need to be returned to them unopened? If they don't allow you to open it, my suggestion is when you make a sale and they comp you a bottle, take some photos with the wine poured into glasses along with the bottle. Then show them what you came up with. Maybe it will generate additional sales.

                            Nice job on their web site label image.
                            Thank you very much for that, I appreciate you taking the time to give me your thoughts.

                            I'm not familiar with flickr (is it "flicker"?) or 500px, but when I get out of work later I'll do a search for them at home. Thanks!

                            I should have made it clear in my OP that I get to keep all the bottles they send me regardless. So I'm free to open them at my discretion. I'd be hesitant to do so however, because if I do take a picture and they don't like it, I wouldn't be able to do a re-take with a full bottle if needed. However I was thinking of asking their permission to try a few open bottle shots, and if they don't like them perhaps they could send me a replacement bottle. We'll see. (I could also take a pic of glasses with wine in them, but crop the shot so the neck of the bottle is not visible. They'll have no way of seeing the bottle hasn't been opened, and the wine in the glasses is from elsewhere.)

                            Thank you again for the critique of my composition. And I'm glad you liked the label image. Whew!

                          • #4
                            Senior Member
                            FredKingston's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            I would have included a long shot of the bottle with a nice stem crystal glass of the wine and the other stuff behind that… Other than the partially obscured label, it’s difficult to tell what exactly is the product in that picture.

                            I’d also ask them, when they send you the wine bottles, to also send you some(a) labels by itself so you can photograph it in a flat plain for their web site… rather than a closeup of a label on a bottle.
                            Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
                             

                          • #5
                            Senior Member
                            Dangerspouse's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            Quote Originally Posted by FredKingston View Post
                            I would have included a long shot of the bottle with a nice stem crystal glass of the wine and the other stuff behind that… Other than the partially obscured label, it’s difficult to tell what exactly is the product in that picture.

                            I’d also ask them, when they send you the wine bottles, to also send you some(a) labels by itself so you can photograph it in a flat plain for their web site… rather than a closeup of a label on a bottle.
                            Great idea - ideas - Fred. Thank you very much for all that. I'll see if they can send me out labels. You're right, that would certainly be easier to shoot.

                          • #6
                            Senior Member
                            nikonpup's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            IMO IMAGE IS NOT SHARP, (front of bread in focus, back out of focus).
                            Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
                             

                            https://www.flickr.com/photos/pups_pleasure/


                          • #7
                            Senior Member
                            Dangerspouse's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            Quote Originally Posted by nikonpup View Post
                            IMO IMAGE IS NOT SHARP, (front of bread in focus, back out of focus).
                            Hi Nikonpup - yeah, but I have to admit that was intentional. Kinda like a portrait shot, you know? The whole "wide aperture and blur the background with shallow DOF" thing. I guess it didn't work here though, huh? I did send a second picture along with even shallower depth of field, but I thought it was too much:

                            Still Life critique, please.-dfw-still-life-shallow-dof.jpg

                            Ah well, I'm still learning. That's why I'm glad I'm here - to learn from you guys. Thanks much for the comment!

                          • #8
                            Staff
                            Super Mod
                            hark's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            These are the 2 sites I referenced. Lots of great ideas for composition. Good luck!

                            flickr: https://www.flickr.com/

                            500px: https://500px.com/popular
                            Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
                             
                            Cindy
                            Flickr
                            and My 2019 Thread

                            Where the Spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art
                            -- Leonardo da Vinci



                          • #9
                            Senior Member
                            Dangerspouse's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            Quote Originally Posted by hark View Post
                            These are the 2 sites I referenced. Lots of great ideas for composition. Good luck!

                            flickr: https://www.flickr.com/

                            500px: https://500px.com/popular
                            Thank you so much, I'll check them out!


                          • #10
                            Senior Member
                            Moab Man's Avatar

                            Re: Still Life critique, please.

                            Too cluttered and busy for me. I'm not sure what the point is. When I say that, I don't mean it out of sarcasm, I mean what am I supposed to be drawn into? Which goes back to being too busy.
                            Thanks/Like Dangerspouse Thanks/liked this post
                             
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