We needed to create a field of wheat that would be used as part of a logo for a local bakery. How do you shoot a wheat field in the studio in the middle of winter? Fortunately, we knew where to go to get the materials.
The first thing was to buy as much wheat as we could (fortunately most craft stores have plenty of it year-round). Next, we used several Styrofoam blocks, the same kind florists use in vases to hold flower arrangements, and stuck our wheat stalks into them. By spreading out the Styrofoam blocks, both sideways and front to back, we created an illusion of depth—even if it was only 2 feet deep. Next, I positioned the camera so that I was looking slightly up at the wheat field, and behind the set I placed a golden fabric that kind of sparkled in the light.
TOP Here is the image without Knoll Light Factory.
ISO 50, 1/160 sec, f/8, 90mm lens on Sinar P3
BOTTOM The image with Knoll Light Factory applied. Notice how much more depth the lens flare creates.
Power settings (watts per second): A=95, B=95
To illuminate the fabric, I placed a single light with an 8" standard reflector about 6 feet away. Behind the fabric and slightly above it was another light with an 8" standard reflector aimed directly at the wheat—and by proxy, the camera lens. For fill light, I placed a 2′ × 3′ piece of foamcore above the camera.
This backlight created a way for me to shoot into the sun and flare my lens, which in turn might make it feel as if the wheat field were much larger than it was.
This image didn’t require much in the way of post-production. Even though the image felt backlit and the light was shining into the lens, the result didn’t have the dramatic lens flare I was hoping for. So I used Knoll Light Factory to create it.
Knoll Light Factory is an Adobe Photoshop plug-in that allows you to create your own amazing lens flare. You can see the before-and-after images on the previous page for the wheat field project.
It’s not an amazing comparison, but it doesn’t need to be. We’re talking about really good shots becoming amazing ones—and that difference is usually found in the details and in the extra effort.