In truth one could argue that any business purchases in a year like we’ve just had might seem reckless, and no, I’m not going to pretend it’s been hunky-dory, it’s been anything but. However, I’ve started so I’ll finish.

So what business purchases excited me about 2020?

New Mac

Well it has to be said that the new Mac has to be up there, it will make things run smoother and once I’d managed to get Migration Assistant to work the transfer from old to new all went surprisingly smoothly. But the new Mac came with some issues to deal with namely the move from Thunderbolt-2 to Thunderbolt-3. Doing the research, which I glean little excitement from, the CalDigit hub was the way to go. It means that when I leave home there are a bunch of drives to eject and one plug to remove. The hub delivers enough power to run the Mac and when I visit the studio I have a smaller Satechi hub which allows me to tether the USB3 Nikon and run an HDMI to my (Covid) monitor. I actually ran a headshot session and forgot to turn the power adapter on, it all worked fine, running USB to the Nikon and a long HDMI to the monitor, as well as Lightroom the Mac was bringing music in to the studio, WiFi and comms; it all worked, eventually the Mac asked for a bit of power but I was reassured!

In case you are wondering the MacBook Pro is an up-specced 16″. The 2015 is still ‘doing a job’ and I’ve actually just bought a new battery pack for the 2009 one!

Basic Pleasures

But it has to be said that the things that excite me might not float everyone’s boat. I have amassed a fair amount of unbleached muslin and, having found Erica – The Exeter Seamstress who I now think of ‘my seamstress’ we navigated the various lockdowns and I have ended up with a range of muslin drapes as well as a pair of floppy cutters. I tested the muslin earlier in the summer, see more here.

What I hear you say? Well, in 2019 I picked up a pair of Matthews 48″ frames with what is known as single (net) covering, they are generally used to cut down light from a scene. Aimed more at movie sets I decided they were too cheap to miss and with a bit of thought, black cloth and hook and loop I could turn them into floppy cutters, large black flags to fully block out the light. All I needed was a lovely seamstress.

Studio Photography in and Out of Lockdown

The great thing about a small and isolated studio is that it is indeed isolated. The great thing about product photography is that the products can be delivered safely, quarantined and then photographed. Clients can receive ‘rushes’ as the shoot proceeds (typically via WeTransfer) and this is where this ramble all comes together.

We were previously asked to photograph some framed artwork, however recently the we were asked to undertake a related task but frames were to be shot empty so that the artworks can be Photoshopped in.

Whereas previously I shot the images upright in this instance a low acrylic table was set up with a Translum table cloth for diffusion, the picture-frames were sat on some shot glasses to avoid shadow, and the scene was lit from underneath and then side lit again with double-diffused light. The camera was positioned directly above the glass which intuitively was going to create a reflection.

Hey, remember those 48″ frames? Yep, put one above the camera and hey-presto no reflection. My client had supplied some frames with glass and some without but hard as we tried there was no obvious difference between the shots with or without glass which in this instance was exactly what we were looking for. I ran a quick down and dirty test photoshopping in one of my Christmas walk photos – yay – looks great!

This looks good for the frontal shot, exactly what I need – square on so easy to drop in the actual artwork on the website thumbnails.

This is the one with glass? Very surprising and impressed :)

So yes, I am hugely thankful for the huge investment in tech but, never forget that the simple stuff is important too, a few bits of cloth and the Inverse Square Law covers a lot of ground.