Photographing Turned Wood Work – How do YOU do this?

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Photographing Turned Wood Work – How do YOU do this?

Postby stephanmoll » Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:15 am

General Comment
I think WGNC’s Lars Nyland, Carrboro, deserves a big thank you for his nice photography of the turned wood pieces that we WGNC members bring to the monthly meetings, and for posting them online in the “Meeting Gallery” section. I have observed his patient photographic activities in the back of the meeting room. I know that he uses a Canon Power Shot camera, but I don’t know what details he pays attention to when setting up the “photo studio” and when taking the photos; what settings on the camera he uses; how he arranges the lighting; what angle of photography he prefers; what background drop the club has and whether it is considered to be the best solution. I’ll pay more attention next time. But I would also be very interested to hear more from Lars himself about his experience with and thoughts about optimization of photography of turned objects.

Photographing Turned Objects
I am new to woodturning, and also to photographing turned wooden objects. The 4 challenges I see are:
a) getting the whole bowl (front and back) into focus; a low camera lens aperture should do that;
b) arranging the lights optimally;
c) getting the background right and knowing how to use a graduated color backdrop;
d) struggling with the big backdrop paper roll and trying to set it up.

I recently bought a backdrop, a thick paper roll, graduated ultramarine, from Flotone. Very difficult to handle – rolls up by itself, doesn’t have any holding mechanism. Also: sometimes the background color is a graduated blue-graygray, sometimes a graduated gray, sometimes a non-graduated, uniform gray or even uniform light blue. How to get consistency? I heard one person mention that he uses a “light box” that comes with several different colored backdrops, but that’s all I know about that.

It would be great - for anybody's sake, but particularly for the newcomer to woodworking - to hear/read what others do. What equipment they use, what they pay attention to, what has worked for them and what has not, what challenges they encountered and what solutions they found for creating optimal images? How do YOU photograph your bowls and other turned objects? Thank you very much.

Stephan Moll
Chapel Hill
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Re: Photographing Turned Wood Work – How do YOU do this?

Postby normcloutier » Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:33 pm

Hi Stephan;

I will make sure Lars gets wind of your praise. He is indeed a pro and great asset to the club.

In a previous life I was a news photographer (editor, writer, etc) so I have some experience. In fact I wrote a blog post about shooting artwork a year or so back that you might find helpful.

http://weekendturner.com/2012/06/photog ... your_work/

Most modern cameras will automate exposure and aperture settings, so the only jobs left to us are a ensuring a few basics and just having a good eye. The basics -- lighting, background and stability -- are explained in that blog post. If those are done right, everything else tends to fall right into place. Also, it's important to experiment with several shots at different angles. We're no longer burdened by the cost and effort of film production so we can try any number of different setups to learn what works best. The key is remembering what you did that worked well.
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Re: Photographing Turned Wood Work – How do YOU do this?

Postby stephanmoll » Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:26 pm

Norm,
Thank you very much. I particularly like the very illustrative photo in the article of your complete photographic set-up. Seems like I it would be best to build a photography studio room addition (to my just finished workshop garage addition), so that the photographic set-up can be a more permanent installation. :-) Then I wouldn't have to fight with the stiff background roll every time. Still interested to hear from other woodturners what solutions for good photography they have found. Thanks.
Regards,
Stephan
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Re: Photographing Turned Wood Work – How do YOU do this?

Postby stephengdriggers » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:50 am

Stephan--

A really good solution is the one described by the photographer for the AAW journal at the Symposium in Richmond a few years ago. She said that she shoots most of her pictures for the Journal with natural light from a window. She uses reflectors (aluminum foil, white cardboard, etc.) to soften the shadows. She uses a backdrop like the one you say you have.

This is a good solution for me because I do not have a good place for a light box/studio. I bought a graduated backdrop from a local photo store and some 4 x 8 sheets of foil-backed foam insulation from Lowe's. I cut those to make a large "L" shape that would fit the backdrop, and I hinged the pieces with duct tape.

When it was time to take pictures, I put a card table against a wall beside a window, put the hinged arrangement on the table, used big office-style paper clips to clip the backdrop to the foam board, and used leftover pieces of foam board as reflectors.

When I first started doing it this way, I used my film camera on a tripod, which let me set the f-stop for good depth of field. Now I use a cheaper digital camera that doesn't have f-stop adjustments, so I have to do without it.

Tear down is simple. All of the pieces fit under a bed.

I think the results are pretty good. For some reason I can't attach a photo to this message, but I have a couple on my facebook page that you might be able to see.

Hope this is useful.

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Re: Photographing Turned Wood Work – How do YOU do this?

Postby stephanmoll » Sun Dec 14, 2014 11:05 am

Thank you, Steve. Too bad there is not a picture of your set-up and the images you get with it.
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Re: Photographing Turned Wood Work – How do YOU do this?

Postby stephanmoll » Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:31 pm

Photographing the wood pieces WGNC members bring in to the monthly meeting: Lars Nyland, Carrboro, documenting for the "Meeting gallery" images for the WGNC website. Thank you very much.

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