UPDATE, JUNE 2024: Strobist was archived in 2021. Here is what I am up to now. -DH


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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