The idea came right away. I had the tray, glass, and shaker, but it took almost 3 days to get everything else right. For the sky I thought I'd just use one of my many, many sky images and print it out. But it would have been way too small for the effect I wanted. Then I thought cloud wrapping paper would do the trick, but I couldn't find any. Frustrated, I decided to make a sky, using blue tissue paper and cotton balls mounted on foamcore. I wasn't even sure it would be realistic or convincing...
As the bottom of the tray is brushed metal, I didn't think it would be reflective enough, so I cut out aluminum foil and pasted it to the bottom, then added a thin layer of water over the top and set the glass and shaker on it. I also floated a foil circle on the top of the water in the glass for the same reason. Then came the really hard part, which was getting the angle of the sky just right, as it not only required suspending it, but raising, lowering, and angling it for maximum reflection on both the tray surface and in the glass.
Once that was in place, I set two strobes (one left, one right) aimed at the sky. Both had narrow grids to minimize spill onto the bg and the tray and its contents. Then it was just a matter of shooting until I got the right angle, dof, etc. I did three different shoots. It wasn't until the second shoot that I realized the foil wasn't working and removed it. Then I shot again with just the water in the bottom of the tray and the glass. The reflection, as it turns out, was better without the foil.
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