Lighting is a subject that takes a backseat for most people as it becomes " this is what I have to work with". Even in this case it can be managed. Preferred is to have one light source with reflectors to fill in the shadows. The color temperature of the light source must be balanced and for this you can use the WB on your camera or use a grayscale card to set it based on the light you use. What this does is eliminate or strongly dilute the colors that the camera sees but your eye does not. Fluorescent light can be balanced with special color corrected bulbs, Tungston gives a warmer color. Led can also be used and would allow less heat buildup while you are in session.
This photo was done with white balance (WB) set for flourescent and lighting was incandescent photo bulb. Note the reds on the background which is colored from white (bottom) to dark gray (top.
This is the same light setup with WB changed to tungsten . light is not covered and is bounced off ceiling at the 4 oclock position. Note the heavy shadows.
This shot has a tshirt cover over light to reduce harsh shadows.
Lights can be "bounced" to give softer lighting. To bounce the light is not directly on the subject, but is aimed at the ceiling or wall giving reflected light to the subject. Remember that the color of this light is affected by the object it is reflected off of.
The objective of lighting is not to totally eliminate shadows, but to highlight areas and leave some shadow line which will create depth in the picture. The source can be to either side from the 4 or 8 o'clock position. Tents can be used to soften and spread the lighting and you can make your own As Has Been Done Here . Reflectors can fill in light on the opposite side to fill in dark areas and for this use white fabric or Mylar reflector. These are simple to build also.
A good point about lighting is do not lock yourself into one method. Be willing to experiment. Do not use internal flash, but do try changing settings which we will cover in other posts. While you are set up make more than one picture and try turning the piece to get shots from different angles as this will change the effect of lighting.
All that leads to this is the set up I have. I use a plastic gradient background. The lights are either halogen worklights or a photo bulb I have had for years and dug out recently. The lights are aimed at the ceiling either over the subject or 110 degrees away from the subject. Photo space is limited for my set up so camera is 3-4 feet from subject on tripod . I just bought a remote switch I will use or you could use the time delay feature. I have 2 shop windows and I cover one to reduce the glare spot caused by external light, also turn off all other shop lighting.
Here you will see the setup for the light. The swing arm allows me to change position of the light easily.
This is a Brief Tutorial by John Lucas. John is a retired professional photographer and wood turner. We have invited him to participate with us as he has many helpful tips
This is another tutorial on Photographing Your Work by Neal Addy.