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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Need advice photographing piano
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Showing posts 1 - 18 of 18, (reverse)
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06/09/2008 01:01:24 AM · #1
Hi guys,
I need to photograph a full-size grand piano... unfortunately it's in a piano shop which has no natural light, is crowded and doesn't have appealling surroundings.
The piano is brown and highly reflective!
I was thinking of buying loads of white paper to put around the walls, but this could be a huge task... what I need is a giant piano sized light tent!
Can anyone offer any advice on how to fix the background and reflections... and how to light the damn thing? I need to make it look really good.
06/09/2008 01:45:43 AM · #2
Originally posted by BobsterLobster:

Hi guys,
I need to photograph a full-size grand piano... unfortunately it's in a piano shop which has no natural light, is crowded and doesn't have appealling surroundings.
The piano is brown and highly reflective!
I was thinking of buying loads of white paper to put around the walls, but this could be a huge task... what I need is a giant piano sized light tent!
Can anyone offer any advice on how to fix the background and reflections... and how to light the damn thing? I need to make it look really good.


Why not capture the background as well, rather than trying to hide it? Use a wide aperture to throw it generally out of focus.

It might look nice if you could get another two pianos in the background, throwing a strobe on each of them like spotlights. The primary piano, of course, would need to remain prominent.

Just watch your reflections (if the surface is glossy, it will be like a mirror), and try to light the edges to separate the piano from the background.
06/09/2008 02:09:13 AM · #3
Originally posted by BobsterLobster:


I was thinking of buying loads of white paper to put around the walls, but this could be a huge task... what I need is a giant piano sized light tent!


I actually think it would be easier and not that expensive to build a giant light tent. Buy some PVC pipe and some cheap sheets or white shower curtains and you could light it with work lights. You could get a dark sheet and have a black background if you wanted.
06/09/2008 02:11:48 AM · #4
The background really isn't good, and like I said it's crowded... but not in a good way. A wide aperture?!? This is an enormous grand piano we're talking about here. Even with a narrow aperture, I still need the whole piano in focus, DOF is not going to solve the background problems. I'm after suggestions on exactly how to solve the reflection problems... I'm contemplating how I build an enormous light tent cheaply and quickly.
Can anyone give me useful advice on how to use 1 or 2 strobes to effectively light a very shiny and reflective brown grand piano?
06/09/2008 02:13:49 AM · #5
Originally posted by jdannels:

Originally posted by BobsterLobster:


I was thinking of buying loads of white paper to put around the walls, but this could be a huge task... what I need is a giant piano sized light tent!


I actually think it would be easier and not that expensive to build a giant light tent. Buy some PVC pipe and some cheap sheets or white shower curtains and you could light it with work lights. You could get a dark sheet and have a black background if you wanted.


White shower curtains... nice idea... I'll need loads though, this piano is huge. Could end up being quite expensive. I may need to pay a trip to the fabric market.
06/09/2008 02:39:18 AM · #6
Okay.. this might sound a bit crazy, but it just might work. It's only $70 US... but shipping would be cost-prohibitve. Might be able to find something similar in the UK.
White Canopy/gazebo tent designed for catering events. 10'x20' with white side walls.

' . substr('//www.dcsl.com/golf/10x20ptcombo400.jpg', strrpos('//www.dcsl.com/golf/10x20ptcombo400.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

If it's too big, you may be able to modify it.
06/09/2008 02:50:55 AM · #7
Here's the same thing in a smaller (10' x 10') version.
06/09/2008 03:01:46 AM · #8
Originally posted by BobsterLobster:

A wide aperture?!? This is an enormous grand piano we're talking about here. Even with a narrow aperture, I still need the whole piano in focus, DOF is not going to solve the background problems.

A wide aperture (i.e. f/2.8) shot from a distance or with a short focal length would have sufficient depth-of-field to capture a grand piano in focus, so that's not a problem.

Originally posted by BobsterLobster:

I'm after suggestions on exactly how to solve the reflection problems.

Just watch your field of angles. Have you read Light: Science & Magic yet?

Originally posted by BobsterLobster:

Can anyone give me useful advice on how to use 1 or 2 strobes to effectively light a very shiny and reflective brown grand piano?

Are you looking to use one, or two? Because what you're capable of doing will change quite a bit by adding another strobe.

With one, what do you plan to use for fill? Are you shooting bare, or through a modifier? What kind of effect are you looking for?

With two, are you planning on using them for key and fill, or is one a backlight? You said you had low ambient light: how low?
06/09/2008 12:37:22 PM · #9
bump for the day crowd... any other ideas for Bobster?
06/09/2008 12:44:53 PM · #10
Originally posted by roba:

bump for the day crowd... any other ideas for Bobster?


Mad Photoshop Skilz?
06/09/2008 01:27:57 PM · #11
It would help if you could tell us whatthe photo is to be used for. Like an advertisemnet or something.
I also agree that using a wide apature and short focus distance shold do the trick. and to keep down on reflections and get color right put a white posterboard on the piano and photo it only. then use that to set your white balance. for the room. then shoot the panio with no strobes flash etc to get a clean shot. use a tripod and long exp if you have to
06/09/2008 01:34:54 PM · #12
I think the cheapest way is to go get some translucent plastic sheeting. DIY places should sell this stuff in rolls - wide rolls. It is used for dust control when renovating houses etc, especially when isolating plaster and rub down work. It is easy to stick to walls and ceilings using masking tape or scotch tape. It also makes a useful light tent. Nature photographers often use this stuff to make light tents on the go in the wild. You can use it to contain light and to create a soft box effect. Flag it with darker material where you want to obstruct light flow. I think this is much easier to handle than paper and should be much cheaper too.
06/09/2008 01:36:12 PM · #13
Your description of the setting is rather unhelpful at best tho, I do know that a concert grand is a rather large piece of equipment. What I'd do, and this is me only, is take a bunch of snaps showing setting etc and then go to my local rental company to see if they could help me out. In most cities in the US and probably the UK, rental companies rent just about anything you can think of and a lot more. If they don't have it they usually know how to get it. An alternative, if acceptable to the client, would be to take the necessary photos and PS the hell out of it to get what the client wants.
06/09/2008 01:42:34 PM · #14
How is the natural light scenario? Could you kill the lights entirely and lightpaint? You could control your reflections that way with an assist and a movable reflector card (or that white paper). If you can figure out your angles one section at a time, then light it in pieces in a dark room you might be able to pull off environment control in a confined area like that.
06/09/2008 03:35:25 PM · #15
I hate to state something that may be obvious (or just plain dumb), but nobody has mentioned the use of a circular polarizer to cut reflections. They work for things other than outdoor sunlight control. When I was selling a lot of cameras on eBay the reflections on the black bodies was terrible, even in a light tent. With a CP I was able to cut nearly all unwanted reflections. Just a thought. Could be an item in addition to the light tent suggestion.

Good luck!
06/09/2008 03:46:47 PM · #16
Originally posted by glad2badad:

I hate to state something that may be obvious (or just plain dumb), but nobody has mentioned the use of a circular polarizer to cut reflections. They work for things other than outdoor sunlight control. When I was selling a lot of cameras on eBay the reflections on the black bodies was terrible, even in a light tent. With a CP I was able to cut nearly all unwanted reflections. Just a thought. Could be an item in addition to the light tent suggestion.

Good luck!

Thats a good point the Grand is prolly laqured which a Cp will work on real well
06/09/2008 04:15:20 PM · #17
Originally posted by nemesise1977:

Originally posted by glad2badad:

I hate to state something that may be obvious (or just plain dumb), but nobody has mentioned the use of a circular polarizer to cut reflections. They work for things other than outdoor sunlight control. When I was selling a lot of cameras on eBay the reflections on the black bodies was terrible, even in a light tent. With a CP I was able to cut nearly all unwanted reflections. Just a thought. Could be an item in addition to the light tent suggestion.

Good luck!

Thats a good point the Grand is prolly laqured which a Cp will work on real well


Is a brolly box actually called a brobably box?
06/09/2008 05:10:43 PM · #18
I don't have any ideas for you, but if you went and took a normal photo of it in place and posted it here people would get a better idea of what you have to work with (or against).
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