All Images can be enlarged by clicking on them.

The Pacific Cookie Company is located in Santa Cruz, California, and as the name implies, they sell cookies. Very good cookies! In addition to their local business, they have recently been gearing up to offer their product nation-wide via the Internet. In order to do this, they needed to take photos of their cookies and gift packs and put them in their on-line store. Additionally, they wanted to produce window posters, counter cards and menus for their retail store. They felt that they would have to contract this work outside the company, and after getting quotes from ad agencies and photographers they couldn't see how they could afford it. They didn't have a digital camera and felt that one with enough quality for their needs would be too expensive and complicated to operate. They also didn't have any experience with photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, etc...

EQUIPMENT LIST

    CAMERAS

  • Olympus C-3030z ( 225160)
  • Olympus C-2020 (for set-up shots)

    MEMORY

  • OlympusSmartMedia cards ( 200556)
  • Olympus USB Smart Media Reader (201018)

    LIGHTING EQUIPMENT

  • Quantum Qflash head
  • Quantum Turbo batteries
  • 1 Quantum Radio Slave transmitter
  • 1 Quantum Radio Slave receiver
  • Photoflex Medium SilverDome ( FV-SD2M)
  • Photoflex Small SilverDome ( FV-SD1S)
  • Photoflex 39"x39" Litepanel Frame (LP-A3939FR)
  • Photoflex 39"x39" Litepanel (LP-3939WT)
  • Photoflex Litedisc Holder ( DL-HOLDER)
  • Manfrotto Light Boom

    SOFTWARE , DIGITAL AND PRINTING EQUIPMENT

  • Apple G3 350mhz
  • Adobe Photoshop (Win 23101335/Mac 13101332 )
  • Olympus Camedia 4.5
  • Epson Stylus Photo 1280 Printer

    TRIPOD

  • Bogen 3021 w/ 3047 head

    BACKGROUND

  • Superior Seamless paper

    MISCELLANEOUS

  • Translucent light table
  • Miscellaneous props

Fig 1

We told them we could demonstrate how to do all of these things in 4 to 6 hours with the three gift items they wanted to produce. So the following week, Larry and Shelly (the two owners), John (the general manager), and Ann (a freelance stylist), all came to the Web Photo School photo to see if this could be done. Initially, they were very skeptical that we could solve all of these problems, let alone in one day. To start off, we placed one of their new gift packs (called "The Tower of Yum") on a translucent light table and showed them a simple way of arranging and lighting them (fig 1, 2 & 3).

We explained some basic approaches to lighting and digital cameras, and how easy they both can be to operate and achieve high quality results. We showed them how the Olympus 3030 could be turned on to real time view mode, so that they could see everything on the viewfinder on the back of the camera as it was happening (like watching a video) (fig 4 & 5).

They had never seen this feature, and liked it very much. They realized that this feature alone made the process much easier then shooting with film, because what you see is what you get. Their skepticism began to diminish.

We started with the hardest of the three shots first. We worked with Ann to arrange the set of the gift pack "Don't Mind If I Do" on our light table. This photo had to be arranged carefully to see every product in the large gift basket, and yet avoid reflections from the plastic packaging

Fig 6

We positioned a medium Starlite kit (medium SilverDome soft box, Starlite body and swivel, 500-watt bulb and Litestand) with louvers to the left as our main light, another medium Starlite kit with louvers on the opposite side to fill in the shadows, and a small Starlite kit with a boom overhead to light just the basket. (Louvers help to keep the light directional.) (fig 6, 7 & 8).

Fig 9

We took our first shot of the set-up, removed the SmartMedia card from the camera, and placed it into a USB reader to download it onto the computer. This allowed the whole shooting team to see the shot on screen (fig 9). 

Before editing the image in any way, we discussed positioning and lighting improvements that were needed and then took a second and third shot. They were amazed at the process, particularly the ability too see the results instantly, and be able to make the lighting changes so quickly and easily. Once the elements were in place, we decided to fine-tune the image in Adobe Photoshop.

Once the image was opened, we decided to adjust the contrast slightly to better control the highlights, middle tones, and shadows of the image. Under Image>Adjust>Curves, we made a slight S-curve with two points to bend the line (fig 10 & 11).

Fig 12

Once the contrast looked good to everyone, we chose the Crop tool from the tool bar, and cropped it to where we wanted it (fig 12).

In most cases, a little sharpening of a raw digital file makes an image crisper and more defined. Under Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask, we dialed in these numbers: Amount>75%, Radius>1.0 pixels, Threshold>0 pixels (These numbers will vary depending on the size and texture of the image.) (fig 13, 14 & 15).

Fig 13

Fig 14

Fig 15

Fig 16

This first shot took about an hour and a half to complete from start to finish. Next we decided to switch positions: they would now be shooting and making edits on the computer, while we would be the helpers.
While Ann arranged the next set for a gift box called "The Red Box" (fig 16), we showed John the lighting set-up we would need for this shot (fig 17). For simplicity's sake, we kept the same basic set-up we used for the first shot. We moved the overhead light laterally to minimize reflections into the plastic packaging. This adjustment allowed us to better see what's behind the packaging. However, reflections do show the protective packaging (which keeps the product fresh), so it is important to show it a little. How much to show depends on personal preference, and how much time it takes to rearrange the light or the product to reduce the reflections (fig 18).

Fig 17

Fig 18

Next we guided John with operating the Olympus camera to capture his first image. In order to control our aperture settings, we worked in the manual mode (fig 19). This being a product shot, we wanted everything in sharp focus. So we adjusted the aperture down to f-16 and our shutter speed to 1/125th of a second (fig 20).

When we pushed the shutter button halfway down, the camera's light meter flashed orange, indicating that the exposure was underexposed (fig 21). We kept the same aperture setting to ensure sharp focus, and adjusted the shutter to 1/60th of a second. This time the light meter flashed green, letting us that the exposure level was good (fig 22).

We then took a shot. We showed John how to change the mode dial to play back the image we had just captured on the LCD screen (fig 23). When we looked at the photo on the back of the camera, it seemed a little dark, even though the meter read correctly. We saved the photo (fig 24), adjusted the exposure to f16 at 1/30th of a second, and took another shot. We again reviewed it on the LCD, and confirmed that the exposure was now correct. We then removed the memory card from the camera, inserted it into the USB reader, and downloaded it to the computer desktop.

John took the computer reins this time and sharpened, cropped and made color corrections in Photoshop, and then had the whole team gather around to view and critique the shot. When the Pacific Cookie team said that they wanted the photo brighter here and darker there, we looked on while John moved the SilverDomes closer in or farther away to accomplish their requests. This second photo was taken mostly by them (with a little guidance from us) and took about an hour (fig 25).

Fig 25

Fig 26

The third photo was a fun shot of "The Tower of Yum" again, with a little twist. We put a Litedisc Holder on a Litestand and tied some fishing line to it so we could suspend one of the cookie tubes. This is an old photographer's trick that is very effective in placing the product in just the right spot (even in the age of digital manipulation). The line can be shortened or lengthened quickly by using tape (fig 26).

We again used the basic lighting set-up that we used in the first two shots with some modification. We set up a 39" x 39" Litepanel frame with a translucent fabric on it to further diffuse the back half of the product (fig 27).

Fig 27

Fig 28

We put a small piece of white foam core on the left side of the set to bounce some light into the tube and the label. This did not prove to be enough, so we put some aluminum foil over the foam core to increase the reflection (The alternative would have been to move the white card in closer, but then it would have been in the photo.) (fig 28).

We kept the same settings on the camera, took a shot, and took the results to the computer to refine (fig 29). We asked John if there was anything in the process that he felt that he couldn't do. He said that he initially felt somewhat nervous, but by the third shot he had the procedure down and was comfortable. We asked him if he felt comfortable with the lighting, and he said that because he was able see results on the LCD of the camera, the lighting part was fun and creative. He said that he was very excited to get a system set up at Pacific Cookie and begin shooting the rest of their product line in-house.

Fig 29

Another extremely good use for the digital image by a small businessman is in- store product advertising. Larry wanted to make an area in his store that he could bring weekly special promotions on his cookie products to the attention of his customers.

Fig 31

Now we had a number of digital images of the cookies to put up on Pacific Cookies web site. However, another basic retail need is to advertise in-store promotions and special items to their customers. We wanted to show Larry that he would now be able to easily do this on a weekly or monthly schedule to market his cookies and gifts more effectively. So, using Photoshop 6.0, we put together this sample poster for a weekly special on the Tower of Yum in his store. This only took us about 20 minutes.

We set up our epson printer using these settings. Under File, we first chose Print Options… (fig 32). 

Fig 32

Fig 33

This brought up a window with a preview box showing us how the image would print out on the page. Note: If the image were too large, the preview box would reveal a cropped image (fig 33).

We then selected File>Page Setup… which pulled up this dialog box. We made sure the Paper Size was set to Letter and that the Orientation was set to Portrait (as the image was vertical). Remember, there are a multitude of settings within these dialog boxes. Here we have highlighted the most critical settings (fig 34).

Fig 34

Fig 35

We then chose File>Print and another dialog box appeared. We made sure the ink was set to Color, set the Media Type to the type of paper we were using (in this case Photo Quality Glossy), clicked the custom button to be able to set the resolution to our preferences, and clicked the Advanced… button (fig 35).

This brought up another dialog box where we could set the printing resolution in the Print Quality options. We chose the highest resolution 2880 dots per inch (because we could), left the Printing Mode on Automatic and hit OK (fig 37 fig 38).

Fig 37

Fig 38

Fig 39

Within a few minutes our print was ready (fig 39).

The poster was printed on 13x19 poster High Gloss Paper (fig 40).

Fig 40

Pacific Cookie Company is located on a busy main street in Santa Cruz and walk-in traffic accounts for a lot of customers. In the past, producing weekly posters that would tell their story, or call attention to a special promotion was impossible for this small business. They would have had to rely on an outside advertising agency, which they can't afford, to produce these marketing tool for them. Being able to easily and affordably photograph their products and put them on their web site, and in displays in their store will completely change how they are able to market and merchandise cookies in the future. This is a tremendous competitive advantage over the way they were able to market in the past.

 

Larry decided to set up the display area right inside his the front door to his store to take advantage of this walk-in traffic.

Other product photos from the web site on line store are also prominently displayed on the wall so that customers will know that they can order products from home.

In our never-ending desire to show you set up shots of how we did the photo, we produced this mini-lesson. We only had a few minutes before the store opened in the morning so we knew that we had to do the photo quickly so as not to be interrupted by customers walking in through the front door.

Fig 44

We set up a Quantum Q Flash powered by a Q Pak battery in a Photoflex WhiteDome on a Photoflex Koo3 LiteStand with casters on it so that we could roll the kit around easily (fig 43). His set up allow us to put out a very soft diffused light which is similar to the light at 8:30 in the morning. Taking advantage of the high ceilings we put the light up high going down. This eliminated reflections on the high gloss photo paper in the camera. (fig 44)

The Q flash has a color temperature of 5500 degrees kelvin which matches the light coming in from the front windows. We used the Olympus E-10 camera and put the Quantum Radio Slave on it to fire off the Q flash to take the photos. We took these set-up shots with the Olympus 3030.
We lowered the WhiteDome for the second shot of just the display and the door. This position helped us to reduce the shadow under the shelf of the display (fig 45).

Fig 45

Fig 46

A new poster announcing the weeks specials can now be made up and printed every week right in the Pacific Cookie Company's office as well as put on their web site. (fig 46)

After the shoot, which began at 10:30 and ended at 2:30, we asked the Pacific Cookie team if they were going to do their own shooting in the future. Larry, the owner, asked me how much the whole set-up would cost him. I told him that the camera, tripod, lights, soft boxes, stands, etc. would cost him less than $3,000 retail. The computer and software was up to him. He couldn't believe that he could get these high quality results so fast for so little. That figure was the same as the quote from the outside photographer for this job alone. He owned a computer, but he might need a better monitor for more accurate color correction, a printer for proofing, and photo-editing software. This would cost him less around $1,000 more. So for $4,000, The Pacific Cookie Company could own their digital photo studio and use it to produce photos for their web site, catalogs, newspaper ads, in-store counter cards, and window displays. Larry said that he paid more than that for his fax machine. Larry and Shelly are now in the planning stages of purchasing and setting up their digital studio.

To check out how they are doing, go to  http://www.pacificcookie.com

 

EQUIPMENT LIST

    CAMERAS

  • Olympus C-3030z ( 225160)
  • Olympus C-2020 (for set-up shots)

    MEMORY

  • OlympusSmartMedia cards ( 200556)
  • Olympus USB Smart Media Reader (201018)

    LIGHTING EQUIPMENT

  • Quantum Qflash head
  • Quantum Turbo batteries
  • 1 Quantum Radio Slave transmitter
  • 1 Quantum Radio Slave receiver
  • Photoflex Medium SilverDome ( FV-SD2M)
  • Photoflex Small SilverDome ( FV-SD1S)
  • Photoflex 39"x39" Litepanel Frame (LP-A3939FR)
  • Photoflex 39"x39" Litepanel (LP-3939WT)
  • Photoflex Litedisc Holder ( DL-HOLDER)
  • Manfrotto Light Boom

    SOFTWARE , DIGITAL AND PRINTING EQUIPMENT

  • Apple G3 350mhz
  • Adobe Photoshop (Win 23101335/Mac 13101332 )
  • Olympus Camedia 4.5
  • Epson Stylus Photo 1280 Printer

    TRIPOD

  • Bogen 3021 w/ 3047 head

    BACKGROUND

  • Superior Seamless paper

    MISCELLANEOUS

  • Translucent light table
  • Miscellaneous props

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