Sharp PN-K321 4x1 setup mars wallpaper-gray-2000

Gavin’s Device Photography Highlights

The best way to experience a device is to see it in person: to hold it, to touch it, and to use it.

But what if you don’t have access to the device? Imagery can be a powerful way to experience devices vicariously through the eye of the lens. I enjoy the challenge of bringing devices to life by means of photography. I enjoy studio product photography and the corresponding meticulous post-production in Photoshop. Removing individual dust particles from the image at 400% magnification- I could do it for hours, and have many times.

I want to share with you some of my favorite device pictures from my portfolio, and describe what I was thinking or doing related to each of these shots.

ASUS Republic Of Gamers (ROG)

ASUS ROG Hero1-2000Click image to enlarge

From the Extreme Windows Blog post: ASUS ROG G750 Gaming Laptop Hands-On

This was one of those tricky shots- how to expose the dark areas of the laptop, and not blow out the screen. For this shot I relied on a technique I use frequently when photographing devices with screens, I like to call it “manual selective HDR”. It works like this:

  1. Carefully orient the screen to minimize reflections, compose shot with camera on tripod
  2. Dial in exposure for screen (rest of scene typically will be under-exposed), take image 1
  3. Re-light scene for all-but-screen, take image 2
  4. Run each image through RAW workflow separately, cut out screen area from image 1, merge down with image 2

It takes some practice, but the result is a very true-to-life image (always my goal) that looks much better than what you can get with a single exposure.

16K-Wide Desktop with Sharp PN-K321 4K Displays

Sharp PN-K321 4x1 setup mars wallpaper-gray-2000 Click image to enlarge

From the Extreme Windows Blog post: 16K-Wide Windows 8 Multi-Mon Desktop with the Sharp PN-K321 4K Display

This shot was really all about “going extreme” with multi-mon, and using scale to tell a story. The only thing I changed in this image was to make the wall behind the monitors gray instead of an ugly taupe. I later painted the same wall gray.

Take a look at the keyboard, mouse, and Coke can- YES- this setup really was that big. The screen resolution was so high I had to go to NASA to find desktop wallpaper big enough to span this desktop without stretching the image to fit. AWESOME. At the time, this was about $25,000 worth of displays.

Some Times You Don’t Need Photoshop

Yes, I’m a bit obsessive about realism and authenticity- and that means I’m always looking for ways to avoid “Photoshopping”. If you are careful about lighting and composition, *sometimes* you can get really nice device shots showing screen content without the “manual selective HDR” method I described above, or other “tricks”.

Razer Edge Holding Start Screen Crop-2000Click image to enlarge

From the Extreme Windows Blog post: Razer Edge: A Gaming Tablet with Extreme Horsepower

What I like about this picture is how clean the Windows 8 Start Screen looks, but not too clean. Where the “Start” text appears in the upper left hand corner of the screen area, you see a real gradient (not photoshopped) which adds to the realism of the image. I could have re-composed the image to remove this glare, but I think that would have made the image look more sterile and less life-like.

Texture and Color is GOOD

The use of color is a great way to add to the intensity of an image. I personally like to use both texture and color together for a dramatic effect as shown here:

y500 lid closeup crop-2000Click image to enlarge

From the Extreme Windows Blog Post: Hands-On With the Dual-GPU Lenovo Y500 Gaming Laptop

It’s amazing what you can do with lighting to control the appearance of texture on a device. Some of my favorite shots are of brushed metal as shown in this picture of the Lenovo Y500 laptop.

Highlighting Great Industrial Design

I have really high expectations when it comes to design. Why not design like you give a damn? Given this passion, when I see a machine or device that’s beautifully designed, I want to take pictures of it. RED Digital Cinema is known for their form-follows-function design. I absolutely LOVE what they do.

RED EPIC brain box crop-2000Click image to enlarge

I took the above image when I had a RED EPIC 5K digital cinema camera on loan from RED for about two months. That was a really cool experience!

Highlighting the Exotic and Unique

Automtotive enthusiasts enjoy exotic cars and custom cars because these cars are different. In the same way, tech enthusiasts are drawn to custom-built PCs and high-end hardware. The more exclusive the more fascinating!

White-Lightning-Anthony-Lackey-Inside-2000Click to enlarge

From the Extreme Windows Blog post: Oculus Rift VR, Custom PCs, IE11 Atari Arcade and more at PAX Prime 2013

It’s always fun to see how custom PC builders will find a way to express themselves with enclosures, fans, motherboards, GPUs, and attention to the fine details. Wire routing, custom lighting, and custom paint jobs are the norm here. Custom PCs are a prime opportunity for photography- to find the perfect angle and lighting to bring the custom PC to life.

Clean Design

Some things are beautiful because of their simplicity. This can be especially true for things (such as laptops) where clean design has been more of the exception rather than the rule historically.

M3800-back-lid-hero-2000Click to enlarge

From the Extreme Windows Blog post: Dell Precision M3800: Ultra-High Resolution Touch Laptop that’s also a Workstation

A great example of clean design is Dell’s M3800 workstation laptop. Almost as slim as an Ultrabook, this PC is one of the cleanest workstation laptops I’ve seen. When I photographed this PC, I was careful to capture the simple clean design and finishes.

Looking Forward

So what’s next? I’m looking forward to a lot of the same kinds of studio product photography, and I’m also planning on how I can take things to the next level. Some of the ideas I have involve more action, motion, and out-of-studio shooting with strobes. Ultimately it’s about having an idea, and then going and executing that idea or concept. We’ll see where that leads!


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