This Week At BLUSH: January 17th, 2022•
Posted on January 24 2022
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This week at BLUSH has been an exciting one! I recently got some studio lighting and a new camera lens which has really upped my photography game for BLUSH. As you might remember from our last 'This Week At BLUSH' post, I do have a background in photography and worked in the field for a few years before stumbling around to other artistic endeavors. (See 'Ask BLUSH: The Story Of BLUSH Lacquers'). I quit doing photography for a while because I got burnt out on it in my 20's while working at a commercial photography studio with the most absurd hours. But, now that I've had some time off and pursued other things, I've really enjoyed shooting again and doing everything on my terms.
This week, I finally got to set up our new in house photography studio! I've been wanting to do this for a while now, but I was either lacking space or equipment. Last year my husband and I moved to a family farmhouse and we decided that we'd make one of the upstairs bedrooms a studio and gaming room. It was mostly his computer room for quite some time, but now that I've got the lighting equipment, it's officially our studio!
I got a lighting kit on Amazon and I love it! It's perfect for photographing nail polish and nails. (You can see the kit I purchased here.) There were a lot of things in the kit, but the items I used the most were the actual lights. Here are photos of 1 of the softbox lights and 1 of the umbrella lights (2 of each came in the kit).
Softbox without the diffuser:
Softbox with the diffuser:
While my husband and I were setting up the studio it reminded me of when I first got out of college. I had studied photography and that was always the end game for me, I wanted to be a photographer and do photoshoots for magazines (hey, they were still popular then! lol). After I left college, I wanted to start my own freelance photography business (mostly portraiture) and I was looking for lighting equipment online. At the time, Amazon was still only selling books and to purchase photography equipment, you basically had to buy from actual photography equipment sites or maybe something like eBay. What I'm trying to say is, there was not much choice in where to purchase equipment and it was EXPENSIVE. For a similar kit that I have in my studio now, it would have costed me a minimum of $1,000 back then, which for a kid straight out of college with student loans up to her eyeballs was pretty much out of the question. So, I didn't do it, but I did end up working at the photography studio I mentioned earlier. And in case you're wondering, this kit that I have in my studio now was only $150 and it has made such a HUGE difference in the quality of my photos.
Here is the initial set up I did, however, as I was shooting I moved lights and tripods around quite a bit:
Here is a link to the light box I'm using. The box itself is nice and a good quality, but the lights that came with it were terrible. I've actually had this lightbox for a couple of years now, but I got so frustrated with it that I stopped using it until I got actual studio lights.
I'm in love with my new in house studio and lights, but the real star of the show is the new lens I got. I have a Nikon D3200 camera and had been shooting with the kit lens that came on it. To be honest, it was a pretty good lens. The photos we took in October all came from using that lens. It's really a pretty good overall, everyday catch all lens. I was happy with it especially for the more editorial style photos we were doing, but when I needed to do studio photos of single bottles of polish or even close up photos of my nails, it just wasn't adequate. Complex flakie or shimmer polishes just looked like creme polishes. It couldn't focus close enough to pick up any of the detail.
So, I found this baby, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G lens. If you shoot Nikon and photograph your nails, you NEED this lens! My nail polishes really came to life with this lens, I mean, just take a look:
Pictured: 'Confetti Countdown'
And that's how those photos came out of the camera! Looking all gorgeous like that! To say I'm impressed is an understatement. It is a pricey lens, but if you are serious about photographing nails, nail polish or other small objects, it's going to totally rock your world. You will not be disappointed.
So, after spending a day in the new studio, I went to work doing a bit of light retouching. When I worked at the photography studio in my 20's, retouching was my main job. And I'll be honest, I love to do it. Here's a fun fact for you: When I was in college I was doing a photo series on old Hollywood glamour photography. I shot with a 4x5 camera on film that replicated what they used in the 1940's. I hand developed the photos and even retouched the negatives. I did a lot of research on this because I wanted to try to do it exactly as they did it in the 1940's. So, what they used to retouch photos back then was a machine called an Adams Retouching Machine. It's basically a big lightbox machine that vibrates. You turn it on, the light shines through the negative and vibrates it. Then you can draw on the negative with different pencils and brushes to retouch and smooth out imperfections. It's pretty cool, but definitely takes some getting used to!
Thankfully, I don't have to use one of those machines to retouch photos anymore. I actually use an online program called Photopea. It's nearly identical to Photoshop, but you can use it free online. Mostly, my retouching consists of cropping and resizing photos for our website and social media. My cuticles were not great for this photoshoot, so I did smooth them out a little bit. My wonderful husband not only found but also set up my Wacom tablet, which made retouching dry cuticles so easy! Lastly, I did a little levels adjustments to adjust the light and dark areas of the photos.
That about sums it up for this week at BLUSH! We'll be releasing quite a few blog posts over the next 2-3 weeks with some really fun how-to's and more stories about BLUSH's early days!
P.S. You can see more behind the scenes photos from this week on our Instagram, @blushlacquers. Just click the BTS story highlight!
Read more of our 'This Week At BLUSH' series:
This Week At BLUSH: October 11th, 2021