Most of you know my love for this industry is about the business and marketing aspect of professional photography. I don't make a living as a photographer. However, after a lifetime in the industry and working with some of the finest artists in imaging, I know more than I let on. At the very least I'll match my passion with a camera in my hands against just about anybody.
My career in photography started at Polaroid. I was there for almost eighteen years, leaving to take over as president of Hasselblad USA. Even though Polaroid has changed dramatically from the 20,000+ employee powerhouse it was over thirty years ago; I still have a soft spot for the company. When I got a press release a few months ago about their portable softbox studio, I had to contact them for a test drive.
It arrived a few days later, and for an inexpensive product like this, it's pretty respectable. The upgraded pro version comes with: two daylight LED lights with small light stands, four colored backdrops, a tripod stand, the 20x20 softbox "tent" and its own nylon kit case.
It sets up in a minute or two, and the whole thing only weighs 6 pounds! I've got a good friend who sells estate jewelry online, and it's perfect for small-scale eCommerce projects. I've used it several times for blog posts and experimenting with a few items here at home.
Remember, I've got virtually no experience in tabletop work, and to a pro, I know it shows. But here's my point: I needed a shot of the GH4 with a lens for a blog post, the Polaroid softbox studio was perfect for the job. I set it up in my office and just shot it.
To do the job right, I really need to learn some of the techniques for solid table top work. However, we're talking about a $99 product ($89.99 at B&H this morning).
But the most fun experimenting was this ring of Sheila's. I shot it in the softbox with a LUMIX GX85 and the 30mm macro lens. The ring is on an upside down shot glass on Polaroid's black background. There's minimal manipulation. I brought down the exposure to darken the base of the glass and then cloned out the base's reflection.
Like everything in my life there's a story behind the ring that's fun to share. My Dad bought me the ring when I was twelve in New Mexico on a cross-country family trip. I thought I'd lost it over the years, and found it recently in a box of old photographs and letters.
Building a tree house with friends when I was a kid, I slipped off the ladder and caught my ring on a nail. I came close to losing a finger, and the ring had to be cut off. Fast forward fifty+ years later and I found it recently. Kay Jewelers cleaned it up and fixed it for me, and Sheila's having fun wearing it as a pinky ring.
In terms of a more complete product review - There are only a couple of things I'm not crazy about - first, the background material is a lint magnet and you want to be careful how you store them. They need to be rolled to avoid creasing which will show in your final images. Also, I wanted the lights a little lower and for the ring shot I wound up laying them on their side. They're LEDs so there was nothing to worry about, but it would have been nice if I could have just lowered them on the stands.
While I know many of you are working pros, and might look at this as a more amateur product, this little kit does the job. It's inexpensive with a lot of bang for the buck. It's perfect for photographing small objects and imagine how much better my images would look if I took the time to perfect my table top technique.
Interesting in checking out other fun products from Polaroid? Just click the thumbnail below:
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.