I don’t get overly excited by ‘gear’ but I’m loving this Translum, a sheet of it is the backdrop in these images. The neat thing about it is that light can either be shone through it from behind or reflected off the front as one would light a bit of seamless paper. The really neat thing is that it will take light both ways, at once.

These images are a variety of simple tabletop scenes.

Glass Shots

Glass photographs best backlit so for these shots I initially placed the glass on some black acrylic and lit the backdrop from behind. I have a very old Bowens 1000DX which came to me as a ‘throwaway’, someone had set fire to it by leaving the foam it the tube cover. Anyway, it cleaned up with some vodka, has the punch to deliver and is remotely controlled!

So the table top is black, the glass has clear water and the images are un-retouched.

The yellow liquid colour is from a gelled strobe on the floor behind and shining through the background, masked to not bleed over the horizon of the table edge, the red is from a gelled snoot above the glass and firing back at the Translum. Two small strip softboxes to the sides of the table highlight the glass edges.

This is Lightroom only, no added work other than crops and basic treatment. The colour comes from the Rosco gells, the table colour is simply a refection of the backdrop.

Coke Tin Shots

I then wanted to try the Translum for some shadowless product tests. I’ve written about this technique previously here.

The product sits on a large sheet of cast acrylic (cast is fairly colour free) and the Translum is pulled under it, again back-lit. This can be done with front-lit paper but it seemed easier and smoother using the Translum. Also front lighting paper means the strobe is normally sat under the table.

Once the lighting is set multiple products can be shot without the need to retouch and clean up shadows.

I then revisited the black acrylic shots with the same product to get a different look. Lit softly from the right with a strip softbox diffused further with some Translum in a frame, hard lighting was introduced from the left to define the water droplets with a gelled gridded reflector.

With these shots the orange is reflected from the from and the red is coming through the background.

The Coke tin came from New York a couple of years ago, no reason, grabbed it from the shelf as I left in the morning!

I guess I’d like to mention that the Translum came from AJ’s over in Somerset, it’s nice to be able to deal with someone reasonably local, nope I’m not getting paid for this endorsement.

YSL Shot

Karin came back from Switzerland and brought me a pressie!

This is the most challenging so far, the main issue is that the glass is thick and dark but the text light. It looks neat lit purely from the back but the text goes black, yes Johnny (BLACK!).

For this one a Heath Robinson mask was created with two G-clamps and a couple of barn doors. I needed a really narrow light behind the glass to shine through but not blow out the surrounding area. The main light was a simple diffuser above with a strobe firing through it. The whole setup was masked with black card and cloth to avoid unwanted reflections.

Samsung Drive

A ‘go-to’ solution for shots is a roll of seamless paper lit from the front. One can avoid shadows this way but in this instance I wanted to add interest with shadow. I bought the drive when we went to Cuba a couple of years ago and they really are fantastic. Tiny and wonderfully speedy this was an essential backup in country with limited Internet – as a rule everything that comes into my computer immediately gets a Dropbox backup.

This is diminutive drive lit with three Bowens strobes (above, left and right), two firing through gridded reflectors and the Translum diffusion panels that I made. The final strobe to the left is a firing through snoot and grid combo to give the hightlight detail on the left of the drive, I deliberately aimed both the left and right strobes upwards to add a bit of top-down lighting gradient. The drive is sitting on a Translum sheet.

Shot with the #D850 and the 85mm f/1.4, probably not the ideal combo for this size of subject but I was trying to avoid a whacky skyscraper angles shot. I retouched some dust but other than that this is what the camera saw.

Prada Amber

I took Karin’s Prada into the studio, this is the first of two proposed images with different looks. It’s actually a part used bottle so I had the choice of laying it flat to shoot or retouch the liquid line, I chose the former to start with.

I used four bits of black A4 card laid over perspex to make a rectangular mask so that I could shine light up through the centre of the bottle. Doing it like this I could change the size if the mask if needed, Obviously the ideal is just to cut a whole in a sheet of card. A piece of Translum was laid over the top of the hole to add difusion and the bottle was laid flat on the sandwich with the rectangle lining up with the centre of the bottle. This sandwich was place between two apple boxes, the small Bowens 400RX strobe fitted neatly underneath the rig and the one-light test showed promise.

As with the YSL bottle the text looked neat black when backlit but needed light on the top to bring out the correct gold text colour. A snoot firing at a #Translum scrim overhead allowed the text to be lit and the area of illumination to be controlled. It’s literally millimetres difference between shiny text and black text.

Two strobes with grids left and right added light to the bottle, and were fired through Translum scrims and gells (pink Rosco colour correction). On the right I scrunched the gel into a ball to achieve the uneven effect. A final light added a touch of detail to the top of the bottle.

A bit more time and I could have taken the further but this will do for now.

It was edited to clean some dust but as with the others this is pretty much what the camera saw.

Setup Phone-Shots

The Translum was sourced from A-J’s up in Somerset. It’s genuinely leasing to be able to source professional photography products locally, and no, I’m not getting paid for this endorsement but I ordered it, paid and it arrived next-day, which is all we want really isn’t it?