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Photography

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Lets talk Photography 2- Lighting

Gerald

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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.

VASE CFL SET.JPG

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.

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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.

VASE cover light.JPG

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.

 

setup.JPGThis is my setup for the photo itself . With gradient backgrounds you will hereHhave the dark end at the top.

 

 

 

 

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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.



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Gerald,  obviously, the set up doesn't have to be anything spectacular, but the right color combinations make setting up easier. What are generally, good sources to  purchase the lighting  and the grey colored plastic or fabric used for background, without necessarily having to head to a photo shop where prices will likely be higher because the items are considered photo equipment. Thanks  

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I would prefer something to get rid of the bright reflections left, right, and bottom center.... but that's just me.   I'd get to the color correctness later after measuring the light from the sources...  pretty piece of wood there!

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3 hours ago, It Was Al B said:

Gerald,  obviously, the set up doesn't have to be anything spectacular, but the right color combinations make setting up easier. What are generally, good sources to  purchase the lighting  and the grey colored plastic or fabric used for background, without necessarily having to head to a photo shop where prices will likely be higher because the items are considered photo equipment. Thanks  

This is one place to get roll paper. Here is another . B&H is also a good place. Then there are many others.

 

3 hours ago, p_toad said:

I would prefer something to get rid of the bright reflections left, right, and bottom center.... but that's just me.   I'd get to the color correctness later after measuring the light from the sources...  pretty piece of wood there!

Getting rid of reflections is one of the problems with this photo and they can be altered with editing , but it is easier to set lighting to reduce them. Unfortunately with a gloss finish it is very hard to totally eliminate. The thing is to then reduce and use the reflection as a feature in a small area.

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Gerald, I have an observation in my own shop and taking pictures, some of the best pictures I have taken are on my bench, late afternoon, with the natural light filtering through the obscured windows in my garage door. The best photos are taken in late afternoon or just before the sun is setting as it shines through, filtered at the windows, and illuminating my work bench. The garage door windows are similar to a shower door obscured glass. I have taken some of the most beautiful images at late afternoon or before sunset, on my bench. Earlier in the day when the sun is it's brightest, I can't get good images like I do late in the day.

Do you know why?

 

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In addition to that John, you can go outside and use all natural lighting , in the shade. You can move your background outside also. Another way you can do outside is to blur the background and we can discuss that in a later installment.

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I have been reading with interest.  I don't see myself getting into camera settings but can see where lighting improvements can easily be made.  I will have to work on that.  This is my photo station I have been using located on my pool table.

006.JPG

 

I have a removable rack I can hang ornaments etc on.

 

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And two lights with GE Reveal incandescent 65W indoor flood lights on roller stands. 

 

009.JPG

 

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I can see where bouncing the light will help reduce bulb reflections.  What else might you suggest?

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2 hours ago, HandyDan said:

I have been reading with interest.  I don't see myself getting into camera settings but can see where lighting improvements can easily be made.  I will have to work on that.  This is my photo station I have been using located on my pool table.

006.JPG

 

I have a removable rack I can hang ornaments etc on.

 

007.JPG

 

And two lights with GE Reveal incandescent 65W indoor flood lights on roller stands. 

 

009.JPG

 

010.JPG

 

I can see where bouncing the light will help reduce bulb reflections.  What else might you suggest?

Dan, I like your recycled chair stands. That is a very good idea for the light stands. To improve light reflections make a screen to go over the light of tshirt material or cheesecloth. Be careful as to proximity as incandescent get hot. You could also experiment with moving the light and using one light only. Also look at trying different light bulbs, you can get leds now for less than $5. I may have to try your light stand idea. Where did you get the chair bases? The flatness of your cloth background should work well. You could also try airbrushing the upper part of background with a dark color to give you a gradient.

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38 minutes ago, Gerald said:

Dan, I like your recycled chair stands. That is a very good idea for the light stands. To improve light reflections make a screen to go over the light of tshirt material or cheesecloth. Be careful as to proximity as incandescent get hot. You could also experiment with moving the light and using one light only. Also look at trying different light bulbs, you can get leds now for less than $5. I may have to try your light stand idea. Where did you get the chair bases? The flatness of your cloth background should work well. You could also try airbrushing the upper part of background with a dark color to give you a gradient.

I just watch for the errant broken desk chair set out for the trash.  Another good base would be a floor lamp base.  They usually have a cast iron weight hidden in the base but then they don't have wheels.  I have some GE LED soft white indoor flood lamps that I have adapted to the arms for the lathes.  Would these be a better choice?

 

007.JPG

 

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On ‎9‎/‎28‎/‎2016 at 2:01 PM, Gerald said:

Yes those may work. Just see what the color comes out as. I have z couple iron display bases and put one on wheels and turntable. 

 

 

Whatever works for a base works.  It sure is nice to be able to position the lights and other things where you want them.

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@Gerald, this is a great resource, I came back to this today as I am going to jump into the world of photographing my work for digital display (website).

I read this again with great interest. I have very little time to make my own light diffusing accessories, so I am looking at ready to go lighting kits as seen here https://www.amazon.com/HSA/pages/default?pageId=56A4202B-4D7E-4D68-B43A-310402725072

 

I also read another great article about the differences between soft-boxes and umbrella's. I read this article at https://www.adorama.com/alc/0013566/article/Softbox-vs-Umbrella-Which-One-Should-You-Use

 

Again, I don't want to build my lighting accessories, I want to purchase them and be done with it, and start photographing my work. Given the links I have displayed above, can you assist me in making a good decision in what to start with or purchase? I am working with a budget around 150 to 200 bucks, and it looks like I can get a decent kit of lighting and backdrops within that budget.

Feedback please?

 

The set below comes with three muslin backdrops, green, black, white, I would not use the green perhaps, but the white and black most definitely.

41xzMYdGDiL.jpg

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@John Morris I presume you are wanting to do shoots of chairs or furniture so I would say the UL9004 . Simply because you would have a larger backdrop stand. Some reviewers say backdrops are cheap and I prefer gradient for backdrop and then you can replace that or buy in different color. Price looks right but I am kind of a build your own type, but I can see that being more difficult shooting furniture. Also remember the bulbs can be changed if you so desire.. 

   The only photo lighting I ever bought was a light bulb (giant thing) over 30 years ago and yes it still works. Changing white balance in modern cameras is easy so color temperature is not was critical as it used to be.

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Hey Gerald, thanks so much. The size of the backdrop would be better if bigger no doubt for chair shots.

Reading your blog the idea is to not use flash correct? As it's better to use stable lighting, and set the camera on a stand to avoid shaking, and perhaps set the camera on timer? So I an hit the button, and stand back.

 

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Sometimes just a clean background and your flash bounced off a white ceiling will work...and shooting up close with a shallow depth of field.

 

For a lot of us, that is easier said than done. An uncluttered background is difficult for me to achieve when I am working on a project. So, I try to shoot tight and crop tighter. And if possible, add a vignette to darken the surrounding area so the subject stands out. I do all of my post processing in Adobe Lightroom. It is left over from my high school sport shooting days.

 

 

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I just noticed this thread and thought I'd chime in with my two cents... When my son moved out in early 2017 I set his room up as a lightweight photo studio.  It's nothing fancy but the advantage is that is stays set up and ready to use.  I can walk in with an item, flip on any combination of lights and natural light from the window, snap the shot and walk out.  In and out in a couple of minutes.  When I need to I move the lights to the kitchen for cutting boards, out into the shop for certain things, etc.  Exposure in the shot below is set more to show the lights than the cutting board.  Most of my photos are for posting on forums and for Etsy so I don't spend a ton of time on them.

 

5acbe5864e8fd_Photostudiosetup-3-26-18.JPG.ac3a89a4413e83ca46605e9bf396760a.JPG

 

5acbe5d92fe11_007-Guitarinlayboard.JPG.79f94d3b22e51675e48618fe5c23991c.JPG

 

David

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David I see you like the umbrellas. I am kinda a cheapskate and go with cloth filters and cannot leave all that setup. Have now been looking at using LED lighting. At the AAW Symposium in 2016 there was a session on photo and they recommended LED lights. The same reflection problems as other lights but less heat and more color temps available. 

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These are fluorescent and don't get very warm, Gerald.  And to me they were pretty inexpensive.  My daughter spent about $80 for the backdrop cloth, stands, umbrellas and stands, and all the related gear to stow it away in a neat and tidy carry bag.  When she moved out few years ago she didn't want to take it with her so she gave it to me.  It's always hers to me and if she wants it I'll package it up but she used it once and I've used it hundreds of times.  The lights aren't very bright but the setup is nice for shadow-free photography.

 

David

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