Between the devil and the deep blue sea

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

I’ve no idea where that expression came from but it sums up my feelings, with a shot like this. By using photoshop to create a 3d diamond shape, I’m going against all my thoughts on photography.

I’ve decided, even at my great age 🙂  that we must enhance our knowledge of the new tools, we have at our disposition, my first effort using 3d on a commercial job, as you see here, could of course be better but let’s face it the bottle is the most important part of the image and not the 3D diamond.

Here we have a client  who needs photography of quality, although she has no finished product, the whole thing is half 3D and half photography, the background is simply a color layer, the reflections totally fake. The label is added with text on photoshop and the diamond in the bottle……. Yes that’s right a real diamond was added later as well.(This is a top quality product by the way).  I had a badly fitting metal grill , a good bottle with nothing in and impossible to fill, as everything had been glued together,  scratched top etc. This is often the case with prototype products of course. You spend most of the shoot telling yourself “don’t drop it, don’t drop it”

Budget and timing restrictions meant that a brief on a Friday night and a delivery date of Monday morning, meant, I had to produce the whole thing myself.

I’ve not worked commercially on a project like this for 15 years and is certainly the first advertising job with digital, although in no way perfect , given the problems it’s not so bad. In the old days I’d have had a model maker build me a wooden pyramid, a stylist prepare the product, I would certainly have had the back of the metal grill cut off, so that it wouldn’t confuse the image. It would have taken about two days plus retouching, by my old friend Stuart Everson, ( I wonder where he is now).

So, is this the way that advertising photography is going? To be honest I think so, the new techniques must be used and we must learn them. We must accept them, like a tool, similar to any other piece of equipment we own.

Staying ahead of the game is no longer expensive, 12 years ago, digital was changing at such a rate, that enormous investments were required , only to realise that 6 months later your investment was out of date. That was the reason I retired, I could see no justification in spending large sums, when my career was ending anyway.

The thing that surprised me, was the simplicity of building a 3D model, at 9 in the morning I had no idea where to start , trial and error for an hour (never been much good with instructions) I then had this result, the added advantage is, that it can now be turned to any angle through 360° in any direction.

Now that brings me to the next step, horrifying as it seems at first. In the near future will we (sorry you !)   have 3D scanners, scan the subject then turn it to any angle we want? The answer is yes! and it’s not so far away, in fact we are there now. car manufacturers can supply a photographer with a 3d file, then the photographer, if that’s what he will be called, will light the car by adding reflections and density and reflections where he wants, something I predicted 15 years ago.

Is this as bad as we might think?  Probably not  as I think it will give, the good and great photographers a big advantage over the average man with a cam.  Why ? because a sense of light is paramount to creating a good result, the good photographer knows more about how light reflects, refracts and reacts, he knows about angles of reflection etc. Probably more than any other profession. This will give the expert  a big advantage.

Of course while this makes perfect sense for still life, it might be a bit more difficult putting a wedding group in a scanner .



Retired advertising photographer, now living in the Gers France and having a great time.


  1. Hi Phil

    Great article.

    I’m with you on the mindset of needing to embrace the technology that allows us to have improved images whether it be commercial or personal. I, like you am at an age where, having gotten into photography late in life (about 4 years ago) I am pretty much self taught on PS and Lightroom and am constantly learning about my photography, style likes, dislikes etc. I am also suffering with the GAS syndrome you mentioned in another article. This I believe stems from my perception of the amount of time available to me as life pushes on and the need to play ‘catch up’ on my knowledge gap.

    I appreciate the work you put into passing on your knowledge and have found you one the few people on the internet who does not patronise the end user with your videos etc.

    Keep up the great work


    Stuart Kenney

    • Thanks Stuart 🙂 I see have seen that I’m eventually getting the site sorted out bit by bit. It’s always a problem with so little expertise in building websites. I’ve just found out that the password recovery hasn’t been working for several months . That took me two days to solve ! So if per chance you notice anything not working please let me know. No uploads to the gallery since 24 hours , so I’ll upload one and see if that’s working. The rest of the day I’ll be working on the forums that aren’t working well either :)) I’ll have a rest during the Grans Prix Qualif though 🙂

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