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Wild Shine

I’ve wanted to do more work with cosmetics. They offer interesting textures and colors, and have the ability to easily group multiple items in a shot. Working with liquids is something that I’ve also been doing more of. A nail polish shot seemed to combine both elements.

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

Admittedly, this isn’t high end polish. In a  sense this makes it even more challenging – how to make the packaging appealing (without substituting something that wasn’t there). I would like to do another shot with a higher end product, though, with nicer packaging.

A little something about technique. Backlighting is almost always a starting point for still life photography, particularly transparent objects. I used what’s called “bright field” lighting (both it and “dark field” are designed to highlight the edge of glass – in bright field the glass itself is lit, with dark edges. The opposite is true for dark field).

I shot this on a piece of black glass (actually, clear glass with a black backing); the cool thing about glossy black surfaces is that they provide a mirror-like surface (without the double reflection that can occur with a mirror). As a mirror, the surface will be white as it reflects the backlight, or black if unlit). Even cleanup afterwards was a breeze – I let the polish dry, and then scraped it off with a razor blade. Glass is the bomb; I gave up on acrylic long ago – it’s expensive and scratches way too easily.

I liked the high key nature of the shot. In addition to bringing out the pink tones, it also enabled me to show a tone-on-tone with the white polish while simultaneously demonstrating properly exposure for the black as well.

Commercial photography is all about problem solving. This includes lighting, removal of defects created during the manufacturing process, composition, and advertising goals of making the product desirable through a 2 dimensional image. Doing shoots like this enables me to flex both technical and artistic muscle.

More technical detail on this shot can be found on flickr

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