Product Photography With A Bang: Photographing The BAR Machine Gun
A few weeks ago, the South Carolina Military Museum offered me the chance photograph some of their massive collection of World War II firearms, shooting for the excellent Curio and Relic Firearms website C&Rsenal, and I jumped at the chance. I’ve always been fascinated by antique firearms not because of their destructive capabilities, but because they are incredibly elegant machines that are very, very simple. So needless to say I was very excited to get the opportunity to “shoot” them.
They’re also, as you would expect, very rugged. Throughout the shoot, I was carrying these guns from their storage area to where I was photographing them and I guess I looked like I was being overly careful, considering that afterall, the BAR is worth in excess of $50,000, because the curator had to remind me that they were guns and could take a few light knocks.
The lighting set up for these was actually quite simple, I started with a medium softbox boomed over the gun to give it a nice contrasty top light.
Following this I used a very large rectangular softbox at a 45 degree angle below and in front of the gun. this filled in all of the dark places (such as the dark wood) on the gun while still allowing for some contrast.
I also added a small backlight to separate the gun from the background. The gun would be completely separated from the background in photoshop, but it makes my life a lot easier when there’s a clean line of separation.
Finally I added a fill light on the far left hand side to give just a bit more fill in the shadows. This was actually a bit of a mistake because it created some weird color casts that I had to deal with in post, but it all worked in the end.
This is the final image, color wise it hasn’t really been touched with the exception of the odd magenta highlights that the final light added but it was separated from the background in photoshop and the contrast was bumped up just a little.
Also, not pictured was a big white reflector on the right hand side. Here’s a few pictures of the entire set up.
So, if you want to recreate this shot, all you need is 4 lights a big white reflector and 50 grand in guns. That’s easy to redo right? Check out some of the other images from this shoot below.
If you’d like to see more of my work, you can see my facebook page HERE and my website at www.CharlestonsWeddingPhotograper.com. If you’re at all interested in the history of this gun or dozens of other curio and relic firearms, check out the excellent website www.C&Rsenal.com.
Just as a little note though, I know that recently there remains a lot of controversy about guns and their place in society. While this is a fully automatic machine gun, it’s sitting in a museum as a historical artifact and outside of any political arguments that might be happening at this time. So, that being said, I’d really like to keep all discussion photography based. Outside of that, let me know what you think! If you guys are interested I’m planning on doing a post on how I do composite POV shots down the sites of these beautiful guns, so let me know what you think and if you want to see more!