Advice Needed On How To Photograph Small Objects Using Digital Camera, Strobe/Flash

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Michael Humle, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    I need advice on photographing small objects, specifically knives! I am using the Olympus Evolt E-300 with a Zuiko 14-45mm lens(equal to a 28-105mm). Flash equipment consists of a 150w strobe, 16"X16" soft box, generic zoom flash with small soft box attached to flash. Both lighting sources are mobile. I am interested in knife placement, lighting placement, and background. ANY help will be appreciated!! ANY HELP AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  2. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I would find a natural background like a wooden cutting board, or a nice piece of slate for the knives. Light the scene from above with your softbox for a nice even, virtually shadowless light. You may get a nice catch light from the softbox in the shiny blade of the knife, depending on how you angle it. You definitely want the blade to appear very shiny. This is the selling point. It will make it seem sharp, and high quality. If need be, to get more highlight on the blade, you can use the small flash directionally on the blade for added punch. I would angle it very obliquely to the blade to draw out shape and form.

    I would use the long end of your lens, (45mm) and try and stop down to around f/8 or f/11, to get a nice sharp image. You can try isolating parts of the knife with closeups to show the detail. For these you might require a set of extension tubes to bring the minimum focus distance of the lens closer. A closeup filter is also an option.
     
  3. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    THANKS FOR THE INPUT DM...I WILL GIVE IT A SHOT (PARDON THE PUN)
     
  4. kilgtfish

    kilgtfish TPF Noob!

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    I might add that when shooting objects which have very reflective surfaces, like the blade of the knife, then a translucent tent with a hole in it for the lens of your camera is a great way to shoot those types of objects. It reduces the reflections of the umbrella or softbox from the shiny surfaces of the object being photographed. Articles have been printed showing the construction of this type of small tent. Google 'Light diffusion tent' and you will see how they are used. The flash will light up the exterior of the tent and provide a diffused and omnidirectional light inside the tent for a virtually shadowless and non reflective image.
     
  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The light tent is the easiest way to shoot knife blades. I agree with Kilgtfish. The tent provides shadowless light and prevents any reflections from the blade back to the lens. Here is an example of a pocket knife I shot with a light tent. It doesn't have a polished blade but, without the light tent, the blade might turn dark depending on the angle of the light source or, worse, a fireball as it reflects back to the lens. The bolsters are polished and you can see that in the shot as well. The light tent makes a fairly "calm" issue of the whole thing. Here's the example.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    When I decided to start taking my own knife photos, I considered the tent and you are right about the dispersion of light! Your photograph is fantastic! My knives will be shot using more of a flat, neutral background. I went with light boxes because of the different positioning the knifes will be placed in. I also have to crank out up to 200 photographs every two weeks! So, I need to be able to mobilize my lights quickly in order to highlight specific areas of the knives. Each knife will consist of 4 to 5 images, each requiring a different light pattern. I would love to able to shoot my knives in the same way you did with your example. It is truly one of the best I have seen. I will try the light tent. They are very inexpensive and the your point is well put reenforced by that beautiful image!
    If you have anything regarding my concern about highlighted areas of the knive, please let me know!
     
  7. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Glad you like the shot. I appreciate the comment. The light tent works just as well with neutral backgrounds as it does with a more complex set like the one I posted. Highlighting areas of a small product with light inside a set is difficult without the right equipment and that equipment is pretty expensive (fiber optic studio lighting.) It might be easier to make selections in photoshop and brighten those or adjust the color in some way to make the selections stand out - or even magnify them so the selection is larger than the background image. Some things are easy to do at shooting time and others are easier after the fact. Let us know how you do.
     
  8. Michael Humle

    Michael Humle TPF Noob!

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    I absolutely will let you know...thank you for your help. I have more ammunition to work with now!
     

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