Taking photos of a pen

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Thread: Taking photos of a pen

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan morrison View Post
    Derek, do you use a tripod or what way do you steady the camera?

    Alan
    Sometimes I will depending on how bright it is.

    "The only people who never fail are those that never try"


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  3. #12
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    Background is important, so that the pen is the main feature, and doesn't get confused or overwhelmed by what is surrounding it. It preferably needs to be plain, (or graduated if you're prepared to spend money on one) and both Derek's and Peter's photos above show good examples of what's called an infinity background - a plain sheet that is curved up behind the subject from underneath it, so there are no seams or joints to distract.

    It doesn't need to be elaborate. Peter uses plain copier paper. Derek hasn't said what he uses. I use wall lining paper from a roll I bought from somewhere like Homebase. You can prop the background up against the back of a chair, or a pile of books or something.

    I do also have a small collection of graduated backgrounds, that I paid good money for. I use them quite rarely theses days, but I've only ever used them because I have an online shop which needs to have half descent catalogue shots on it. The point of a graduated infinity background is that you get a gradual change of colour behind the subject, which you can alter depending in where you position the background. I made a stand for it from bathroom basin plastic waste pipes, and I fix the background to it with clamps from a DIY store.

    This is the setup

    RP1.jpg


    And this is the result after a bit of cropping on the computer

    rp1-lg.jpg
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  5. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Dart View Post
    It doesn't need to be elaborate. Peter uses plain copier paper. Derek hasn't said what he uses. I use wall lining paper from a roll I bought from somewhere like Homebase. You can prop the background up against the back of a chair, or a pile of books or something.
    Mine is a roll of white photographic background paper which started out 10' long cut up to fit on a cut-down clothes rail. Each piece last for ages as if it gets dirty I just unroll a bit more and cut off the dirty piece.
    "The only people who never fail are those that never try"


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  7. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Dart View Post
    I'm sure lots of people will have something to say about lighting and backgrounds and light tents and software and photo editing and......
    Phil I have learned now more about backgrounds and would appreciate more info regarding lighting, if possible. I suppose that, if I want to produce a better photograph, I should learn about software and editing etc etc as well. Many thanks.
    Alan

     
     
  8. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan morrison View Post
    Phil I have learned now more about backgrounds and would appreciate more info regarding lighting, if possible. I suppose that, if I want to produce a better photograph, I should learn about software and editing etc etc as well. Many thanks.
    Alan
    Lighting is a dark art in my opinion Alan. The perceived wisdom is that you light the subject from 3 points - one from above and one from each side. Having said that, I've seen very successful photos taken using just one lighting point, and also using natural light, with no artificial lighting involved at all.

    Which ever route you go down, there are two or three things that it's handy to know.

    Firstly, photos of a pen always look better in my opinion if there is a bit of a shadow. A bit though, not strong shadow, unless the shadow is for a specific artistic purpose. A strong light of any type will cast a strong shadow, so the trick is to diffuse the light in some way, either by putting a piece of tissue or muslin between the lighting source and the subject, of by putting the subject in a light tent - which you can buy quite cheaply from places like eBay. They often come packaged with some lights too, but you could easily make your own out of an old box and some tissue parer or some fabric - it doesn't actually need to be a tent, a box will do just as well. Diffusing the light will soften the shadow. That goes for natural light too. Direct sunlight will cast a harsh shadow, so that needs to be diffused too, of make sure it's not direct. The best looking photos always have a little bit of diffused shadow beneath the pen, unless it's for something like a catalogue shot where you don't want any shadow at all - there are ways of achieving that too, but that's a different topic.

    Secondly, the distance of the light from the subject has a direct bearing on the amount of light falling on the subject. Light is measured in Lux, but it's not necessary to get involved in all the science and technical terms - suffice to say that a light that is say 30cm from the subject will produce certain amount of light on the subject. If you double the distance of the light from the subject, the amount of light falling on it will be halved. If you half the distance between the light and the subject, the amount of light falling on the subject will be doubled. Distance is inversely proportionate to lux. Once you know that, it's possible to move lights around, both to get the best direction without harsh highlights or without underlit lowlights, and to get enough light falling on the subject in the first place.

    Thirdly, different types of lights have different colours. Daylight is very white, and an incandescent light bulb is very yellow for instance. The colour is referred to as Colour Temperature - daylight has a colour temperature of 5500K (kelvin) or thereabouts, and the lower the number the more yellow the light, the higher the number, the more blue the light. Lots of light bulbs and tubes have their colour temperature noted in the box these days. Eyes and brains are capable of compensating for different colour temperatures without us realising it, but cameras, phones and tablets are not. Many cameras though, have the ability to alter the White Balance, so that the photo comes out looking the right colour. A photo taken under an incandescent bulb, without any compensation on the camera for white balance, will actually come out looking blue. Phones and tablets though, don't usually have the ability to adjust the white balance, but fortunately, most photo editing software allows you to do it on your PC - so that's another reason to run your photo through a photo editor before publishing it - not only to make sure its the correct way up, and to crop it etc, but you can adjust the white balance, and tweak how bright or dark it is.

    This is an ancient picture of my light tent, which I bought years ago on eBay, and is still going strong. Ignore all the plumbing behind it - that's a stand I use for hanging backgrounds on if I'm not using the light tent.

    171113e.jpg
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  10. #16
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    Another little tip for when you're editing a photo. All this software malarkey has so many buttons on it, no-one knows what half of them do, me included, but here's one that's really handy.

    When you mess around with a piccie in photo editing software, especially of you're re-sizing it or brightening it up, the image can begin to look a bit out of focus, or pixilated, even though you know it was nice and sharp when you took the photo. Somewhere on your software, even usually on the free versions, is a button called "Unsharp Mask". Click on that last job, and it re-focuses the image, which looks as good as new again.

    There is often a "Sharpen" button too, but I find using that is prone to over-egging the cake, and makes it look, well, artificially sharpened. Unsharp Mask however, is the bees knees.

    (You're welcome)
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  11. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Dart View Post
    Somewhere on your software, even usually on the free versions, is a button called "Unsharp Mask".
    Thanks for the update Phil. I've never seen an "Unsharp Mask" button but will certainly look a lot closer next time.
    Alan

     
     
  12. #18
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    A recent posting 7 minutes from taking to posting using three lights on a fixed set up I have shown innumerable times. It suits me to have repeatability and 24 hr access located in my living room in a quiet corner.

    Peter.
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  13. #19
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    Does it matter?

    Unless you are advertising them on a website or social media for sale?

    Many of us just want to have fun making stuff and are not into photography but are put off by being criticised for photography skills...

    Put it on a plain background and take a snap with your phone...

    Kevin
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  14. #20
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    A simple question I like my simple answer you only have to do it once properly. As a trained whatever its best to establish a short cut that suits you.

    Peter.
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