Product Advertising Shoot

15 01 2010

One Poison Apple


Over the summer, Douglas Little hired me to shoot a campaign to launch one of his new extravagant products. If you can remember Mr. Little from this previous post, he creates curious but gorgeous goods. He’s mainly famous for his decadent candles, and this new product was surely going to top the list of all things sinful and delightful. Douglas’s new candle was a Swarovski crystal layered candle that retails for a cool $420 bucks! Since the name of the candle is Poison Apple, he wanted to play with the Snow White theme. He sent me one comp, that’s it. He wanted one single image to promote the product with, but the image was well thought out and planned. He wanted to use his girlfriend, the illustrious burlesque dream girl Leila as our model since she naturally has a Snow White essence to her. With her jet black hair and snow white skin, she really was the perfect choice for our model.

The interesting thing about this shoot is that I was able to test out the PhaseOne P40+ camera. While I was picking up some gear at Samy’s for the shoot, Jim up in the pro department offered to let me take the PhaseOne  P40+ out and give it a whirl. Normally I won’t “test” equipment out on a job, but my plan was to use my Nikon for most of the shoot and test out the PhaseOne once I knew I had the shot in the can with the Nikon. I am in the market for a medium format camera but I’m really leaning towards going back to film cameras and using  digital backs with them. If you recall, I used a Hasselblad on the beach shoot and was fairly impressed with it but not impressed enough to shell out the kind of money it costs to buy one. I’ve always veered towards Mamiyas for fashion any way and my inclination is to go back to them. At any rate, I happily took the PhaseOne home and did my research on it the night before the shoot!

phaseone618Taken with a Phase One P40+
(Click here to Enlarge)

I did use both cameras on the shoot and ended up shooting about the same amount of images on both cameras. To be totally honest, I have to say I didn’t see much difference in image quality.  And in fact, the client chose the shot that was taken with my Nikon. Second place was a shot taken with the PhaseOne. There was definitely  more detail on the PhaseOne shots, with 28 more pixels there should be! Perhaps it’s hard to tell a huge difference because of the retouching, but honestly, the raw files on the PhaseOne didn’t blow my mind. And I have to also say that I preferred the way the Hasselblad felt in my hands while shooting with it over the PhaseOne. To each their own, I always say.

nikon618Taken with a Nikon D2x
(Click here to Enlarge)

We created a snowy bank on the floor of the studio, piling blankets on top of one another to add a plush soft ground and then poured fake snow on top of the pile. We had our model lying on top of our “snow” and I used one light with a medium chimera soft box as my key light. I then had my assistant hold a light parallel to the models head. Since she was lying on the floor, the light was low. I used a 20 degree grid with his fingers spread over the grid to create a pattern of light to hit areas of her face and the apple. I needed to pick up the highlights on the Swarovski crystals since the apple was really the “Star” of the shoot! I decided that the light my assistant held needed to be undiffused so it could pick up the dazzling little sparkles that the crystals on the apple create when light hits them.


I’m not going to break off any mind bending tech information here on the camera that you can’t easily find on the internet, but I’ll point you in the right direction. The PhaseOne site has all the info you need to understand the camera a little better. Their site is pretty cool because it has plenty of pdf’s you can download and get all the tech information you could ever need! I can say that it was pretty easy to figure out, I mean, I’ve worked with all types of cameras in the past and the PhaseOne was fairly simple to work with. It was fast on the capture rate: 1.8 fps, which was nice. Although I didn’t take full advantage of that because the model was lying on the floor, so there wasn’t much movement to capture. But I do appreciate a fast camera! You can choose between 10 and 40 megapixels depending on your needs. I chose 40 megapixels because I wanted the detail and image quality.

On the PhaseOne P40+ image:

  • Lens: 80mm
  • F14 at 1/80 of a second
  • ISO:  100

On the Nikon D2x image:

  • Lens: 24mm (shot close to the model.)
  • F14 at 1/80 of a second
  • ISO: 100

Overall, the PhaseOne P40+ is a decent camera and the day was a success because Douglas Little loved the images I produced. That to me is a successful shoot, when the client is happy. What are your thoughts on the difference between the image taken with the Nikon and the image taken with the PhaseOne P40+? I’d love to hear your input.





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