How best to photograph black objects?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by fishugly, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. fishugly

    fishugly TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    I'm attempting to photograph a few black wooden sculptures that are roughly 42" tall. Here's a little about me and my equipment...errr...if you wanna call it that:

    -I know very, very little about photography but am crafty otherwise and willing to improvise as needed
    -using a Sony CD Mavica 3.2 Mega Pixel camera w/ 3x optical zoom
    -nice tripod
    -a few white sheets, drop cloths & lighter colored sheets (as a backdrop & on sides)
    -a small shop w/ a little natural light (south & east)
    -3 auto shades (trying to reflect sunlight coming through shop window)
    -2 500 watt halogen shop lights
    -4 25 watt fluorescent lights

    Armed with that, I have had gotten good results (well, good enough for my needs:er:) photographing everything but the black objects. I can get decent results shining the halogens on the black objects but the color isn't true (turns out more brown than black). Otherwise, the objects are way too dark and don't show much detail. I have tried taking the photos outside on bright sunny days and overcast days with no luck.

    I'm sure spending a heap of money could get me better results but I'm a cheap ba$tard and actually enjoy a challenge of "making do".

    Any pointers?
     
  2. Peacemaker636

    Peacemaker636 TPF Noob!

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    If you're using auto, turn it off, and read up a little about exposure (just google aperture or shutter speed). If your camera supports spot metering (it decides whether the picture's under or over exposed by looking at the exact center), turn it on. Otherwise, overexpose the shot by two to three stops (increments of aperture and shutter speed, each stop is twice as bright as the one before). If you're camera doesn't have a manual mode, hold a peice of dark paper in front of it, and press the button halfway, this'll trick it into overexposing the shot. Then move the paper and take the picture.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. fishugly

    fishugly TPF Noob!

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    Peacemaker636,

    Yes, that does help. Thanks! :wink:I'll play around with these tips tomorrow.

    A couple questions though. When you say "...hold a piece of dark paper in front of it...", how close should that paper be; touching the camera, 6" away, 12"? Also, does it have to be paper or will anything dark or black do?

    Thanks again.
     
  4. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    If you are going to expect good color, don't use the mixture of halogen and fluorescent lights - the white balance will be completely off.

    Try natural light at an angle to get shadows of light and dark on the piece. - late in the day or early morning.

    Take several exposures of each setup at varying degrees of over-exposure.
     
  5. Peacemaker636

    Peacemaker636 TPF Noob!

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    Anything dark should do. It depends though on how far away to hold it. If the pictures are coming out dark, then use a darker object or hold it closer. If they are too light, use a lighter object or hold it farther away. Anyway, it would be much better to use the manual mode if the camera has one...
     
  6. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    Overexpose the shot by two to three stops.

    I believe that camera has EV control and you can set it to +2, spot metering and set the ISO to 100 or 200, not auto for the greatest sharpness.

    You can adjust brightness after you take the picture, but then, it's better to have it as close as you want to start with.

    First try adjusting the EV to +2 and see if that helps.
     

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