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A Ping from Ming on the Bling Lighting Thing

So, to look at Ming Thein's watch photos below, you'd think he was working in some sophisticated studio environment with lots of cool lighting gear, right?

He sent me a note (from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) with this photo today after waking up to find he had fifty new friend requests after yesterday's post.

I love this setup shot as it shows just how accessible this kind of high-quality light is for macro shooting. He's using Nikon's CLS to control his flashes, but this could easily be done with manual flashes if you do not have CLS-capable gear.

To be honest, this is an area where Nikon's CLS (or Canon's eTTL) is ideally suited. The synching is taken care of, and the exposure will certainly be in the ball park, even though you are doing a fairly complex arrangement of multi-flashes and a highly reflective subject. Just shoot and chimp, and adjust the lighting angles and relative TTL levels as you go. Shooting manually, I would start out with my flashes set at 1/16th power on manual and do just about the same thing.

Special thanks to Ming for synching the flashes on the setup shot, too. It shows exactly how he is creating those soft-edged specular highlights which are making such cool reflections in the glass and metal of the watch. As you can see, he is creating hot spots on the diffusers that do not take up the whole panel, and using the edges of the hot spots.

Don't think you can just jump right in to shooting complex stuff like this though. Ming has been photographing watches for over 40 years, which is how he has slowly discovered all of these techniques. No big surprise there, huh?

Except that I totally made that last part up to echo what your brain was left with as an excuse for why you couldn't do this, too. Ming just turned twenty one yesterday.

(Thanks or the setup shot, Ming. And happy late birthday!)


UPDATE: Ming has been answering questions about his techniques in the comments section of the photo above. Click on it for more info.


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Blogger Jon Rouston said...

The first link is borken!

July 18, 2007 12:14 PM  
Blogger David said...

That's the problem wih HTML. Doesn't do what you want. Does wat you tell it to do.Totally forgot to insert it.

Fixed. Thanks for the heads-up.

~Doofus Dave

July 18, 2007 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent - thks for this. My wife loves both watches and photography. I might have to try some of this myself!

Dave Wodos

July 18, 2007 1:39 PM  
Blogger Photonomikon said...

Forgive my ignorance but what exactly are those translucent white boards made of?
Awesome technique BTW.

July 18, 2007 1:49 PM  
Blogger Sean Fenzl said...

Photonomikon - I believe the white translucent material is "perspex" -- it's great stuff to have around for product photography!

Ming is producing some FINE images! Great shots!

July 18, 2007 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats with the title, r u turning into a the new eminem? nice rhymeing BTW

July 18, 2007 9:19 PM  
Blogger Peter & Linda said...

Perspex AKA: Plexiglas, R-Cast, Perspex, Plazcryl, Limacryl, Acrylex, Acrylite, Acrylplast, Altuglas, Polycast and Lucite and is commonly called acrylic glass or simply acrylic

Comes in many colors and finishes.
Most useful for photography includes white, clear, mirror and black mirror
You can find sheets of clear, white and sometimes mirror at the local home depot.

July 18, 2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger Rafa Barberá said...

Wow!, talking about difficult to translate phrases, this title is the winer (by now, surely). :-)

You are really devilish... when I read about 40 years shooting clocks I was relieved... only until the next sentence. ;-)

July 19, 2007 2:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the material sold by Ikea is polyethylene, it probably doesn't matter. This material is softer than acrylic so it makes a better cutting board.

It's probably thicker, so it might transmit a little less light. Still, for $2 it's worth a try!

August 03, 2007 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet you could even use a five gallon white plastic bucket! Add some bricks in the bottom for a nice look...

August 03, 2007 8:26 PM  
Blogger Lawrence Ho said...

David, I have been following your blog diligently but somehow missed this post until today. Yet I "discovered" Ming Thein through some other way last month. Both you and Ming are awesome bloggers.

But isn't he a bit too young to be able to shoot watches over 40 years 8>?

January 21, 2014 12:54 PM  

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