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It’s always good to challenge yourself. It helps shake the cobwebs out, get you thinking.

On a recommendation I purchased a cologne; it came as a set. When I looked at the bottle, I knew that I wanted to photograph it, and I wanted to shoot it as a set with multiple objects in the shot. This adds to the challenge, but not as much as a glossy black bottle with a chrome top. And I wanted to shoot it tone-on-tone.

The challenge with glossy objects, especially chrome, is that they reflect their surroundings. So everything gets in the shot. Shooting anything tone-on-tone means getting your exposure right (so black remains black and white white). Multiple objects means the lighting has to account for them, as well as depth of field.

I’m not going to tell you that I nailed this in one exposure. I didn’t. Although I shot it as a group, I did need several images to perfect the final image, so there is some compositing (although the base images come from a single exposure).  And glossy anything means lots of retouching – the reflective base included (it’s black glass, so no scratches, but even after cleaning and handling with linen gloves there is still dust present which you don’t see (or don’t want to see) until you view the image large on screen.

And glossy images require lots of equipment. 4 strobes, 2 scrims, a background, and stands to support them all. A mad scientists lair if there ever was one.

This is the final image after post production:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I decided it might be cool to give it some context, so I created an “ad” from it with inspiration from the cologne’s packaging:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

This shoot was definitely a lot of work but gave a much needed kick-in-the-pants to my product photography. This is, after all, what personal projects are suppose to do.

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