Whether you are a hater, or a hardcore apple fanboy, there is one thing we can all agree on, Apple’s products are the epitome of sleek, style and elegance. If you do disagree on that, then your definition of style and elegance is wrong…. just kidding. As if their product’s sheer beauty isn’t a powerful enough marketing tool, their marketing is so aggressive as well. Look at their signature style of clean and minimalistic billboards, go online and see those ad-banners of their vibrant and rich Retina display LCD Screens and you will understand what I mean.
With the recent release of their iPhone 7 Plus, their marketing campaign is more aggressive than ever before. Looking at all those images, it makes me wonder whether Apple’s advertorial photos are created by photography, or rendered using CGI (Computer Graphic Image). With the advent of technology, it is no secret that photography is being pushed away in favour of image rendering by CGI. It is simply cleaner, more convenient and cost effective compared to the traditional method of photography. It is almost certain that Apple utilises CGI for their advertorial images. But as a photographer trying to keep the dying art of product photography alive, I challenged myself to see whether it is possible to recreate the same iPhone 7 Plus Rose Gold advertorial photo used by Apple, using a camera. And so, me and my assistant set out to produce three images, two replicating Apple’s product advertorial image, and the final one, our own rendition of the iPhone 7 Plus.
Getting our gloves on the new iPhone 7 plus Rose Gold proved to be quite a feat, it had been out of stock for many months in Singapore. When we finally got one, it was vital that we took precautionary measures to prevent fingerprints and scratches, hence, the gloves. Sure there is photoshop clone function, but why go through the hassle, right?
*Technicality warning, do not proceed if technical information and know-hows bores you.*
We used our standard product photography camera set-up, a Canon 5D Mark III paired with the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro lens. For the lights, we used three lights - two Canon 600EX-RT and a Profoto B1. One of the 600EX-RT is attached to a 60cm x 60cm Lastolite Softbox with Warm Pink Gels. This light is to create the nice gradient rose gold backdrop. The second 600EX-RT was fitted with a small 22cm x 22cm Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite which acted as the key light. The Profoto B1 is mounted with a OCF 1' x 3' Softbox to create a nice streak of highlight on the edge of the iPhone. With lights comes the inevitability of light spills and reflection, especially with the shiny camera glass. We used some Lee Filter Blackfoil to cut the light spill, tracing paper to diffuse the light and white paper to act as a reflector to fill up some of the shadows. After many trials, we managed to achieve a satisfactory shot.
With every product photoshoot, there definitely will be post processing. Heck, with every photoshoot there will be post-processing. There was the usual focus stacking, and even though we took many precautionary measures, some dust still ended up on the camera. It wasn’t easy using focus stacking to obtain a uniformed sharpness just like in the advertorial images by Apple, but eventually, we did it.
*End of Technicality*
Reference From Apple's website
Reference from Apple's website
Here is our own rendition of a new perspective:
In the end, our conclusion from the painstaking photography process is that we highly believe Apple uses CGI to render their advertorial photos. One good example why we would think so was because of the iPhone 7 Plus Camera. On the image reference you are able to see the camera parts clearly but on the real product itself, it is extremely hard to see those parts.
Furthermore, rendering is able to achieve a shot of your product that incorporates a unique perspective which is tedious to create with a camera. By rendering, you are able to make changes to them quickly with maximum efficiency and minimum cost. This would definitely be ideal for a company such as Apple especially when they have multiple colours, sizes and types of products.
Nonetheless, we took home many skills from our trials, and besides, practise makes perfect. Let us triumph over CGI and uplift the authenticity of photography.
You can watch behind the scenes of the photoshoot here: