A brief photo tutorial
By John Lucas
It's not that hard to improve your photography. I won't talk about cameras in this article because there are so many. I'll try to do something on that later. What I'm going to do here is to show a simply way to light your pieces for better photography.
First off is to buy some lights that are color correct for Daylight photography. You can't buy bulbs that just say Daylight. They have to have the words 5000 degrees Kelvin on them. That matches the daylight setting on your camera and will make the photography easier.
You'll notice I used a medium gray back ground. This also helps your photography because it lets the cameras meter work better. White or Black will also work but will take more work on your part to get a decent exposure. You do need to have a clean, unwrinkled, non distracting background.
When I first retired and didn't have access to all my photo gear I shot my work on my dining room table using the window as the light source. I would use a reflector on the other side of the piece to bounce light back into the shadow side. This worked but I had 2 problems. The color of the light changes depending on the weather and the time of day. Also I could not move the light source to improve the look of the piece or to show off texture, etc. It was also difficult shooting over my couch.
The first thing I did was research inexpensive lighting. I found some reflector lights for $24. A larger more powerful light for $39 and a soft box for $79. These are all properly color balanced. I will gladly send you a list of the various lights and gadgets I use if you'll e-mail me at email@example.com and ask for the lights and lighting accessories handout.
Then I had to set up a place. I used an unused bedroom after my son move out. Before that it was the dining room table but still had to shoot over the couch for that spot. I set up a table and then hung my back ground from it.
In the first photo I simulated the window. I clamped a panel made from PVC pipe and white clothl to a light stand. Moved it where I thought the light would make the piece look nice. Then I put a light behind it. I put a white piece of Foam core on the right side to fill in the shadow. That's all it takes to light the piece. Now it's just learning to use your camera, and please use a tripod or prop It on a chair or whatever so you get a good sharp photo.
In the second photo I used a soft box in place of the panel. I purchased a more powerful bulb for this light to make it easier to work with. This is much easier to move around to properly position the light and it also won't bounce light all over the room or back into your camera. It gives you a lot more options on lighting. I placed a fill card on the right side also just like in the photo 1. The downside of the panel or the soft box is they may not be the best way to light really glossy work. If you do a lot of that write me for my handout on shooting really glossy things.
In the last photo I show my photo booth. I seldom use this any more but it is a good option for beginners. What it does is simulate a cloudy day. You won't have any harsh shadows so it's easy to light. However it is also not the best thing for really glossy work. If you look closely you'll notice the light on the right is not pointing at the booth. Both lights are the same power and this looks bad in a photo. We only have one sun so ideally you need to make it look like there is one light source. You do this by placing the first light up high like our sun would be. Then if it needs a second light you make the second light dimmer. I don't have room to move the light back which is how you usually make a light dimmer, so instead I simply aim it less directly at the panel.
The last photo is a shot of the piece showing that the photo booth works.