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A question of lighting.

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Chrissy Downunder says:

As this group is based on learning photography, I thought this would be the most logical place to post this question in the hopes that the more experienced and knowledgeble members may be able help.

I need to photograph a lot of hairdressers scissors. 33 to be exact. They all slightly differ in design, and I need to capture the finer details of each one seperately. I also need to have the cutting edge of the scissor looking sharp without any light bouncing back off it. I have tried may times to take photos of them and all without success.

Time is running out and I have to get them up on my ebay site this week, but don't want to use the crappy looking photos I have already taken.

My questions are:

What is the best lighting situation to use without having any glare and light bouncing off? Taking into consideration that I don't have any lighting equipment.

What is the best background colour to have the scissor against. I have tried several different colours .. red, black, blue and green but it just doesn't look right?

The information and imput may also benefit other less experienced photographers of the group too I'm sure. As it would also cover the aspects of photographing metallic or shiny objects which I seem to always have trouble with.

Any imput, suggestions and comments will be gratefully recieved ☺
Originally posted at 3:11PM, 6 July 2008 PDT (permalink)
Chrissy Downunder edited this topic ages ago.

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neilcreek is a group administrator neilcreek says:

Shooting metal is one of the trickier tasks in photography. I have an outstanding book on lighting - Light Science and Magic - which has a whole chapter dedicated to shooting reflective metal. Because of the complexity it's a bit difficult to answer your question in one reply, but I'll try and boil it down.

The key is reflections. You need to manage your reflections when shooting metals. Reflective metal takes on the colour/brightness of whatever is reflected in it. My suggestion would be to make yourself a light tent - neil.creek.name/blog/2007/05/23/p365-may23-light-tent/ This will let you have white reflections from most surfaces. Then, with your camera ideally on a tripod, get a A5-A4 size black card and move it around, while looking through the camera, untill you see reflections from the black card that show the detail you want to capture.

I did something similar when shooting the NZ coins, surround the thing with white, then put a black object nearby to reflect on the detailed surface, so that you can see the contours - neil.creek.name/blog/2008/02/18/macros-of-new-zealand-coi... In that case I didn't use a light tent, because the coins were so small a stip of white paper did the trick. Scissors might be small enough for a similar technique to work.

Note that I used off-camera flashes in both setups. This isn't essential, because diffusions material (the light tent or strip of paper) will work in natural light. You will probably, however, find a tripod to be very helpful. That way if there isn't a lot of natural light, you can stillget the shot with a longer exposure. It also means you don't have to be holding too many things at once. You can even use one of those small 30cm collapsable tripods if you're shooting on a tabletop, they're only a few dollars.

As for the background colour, since it will only reflect from the bottom edges, it doesn't really have a huge impact on the shot, so just choose what you think looks good. I'd personally be chosing white.
ages ago (permalink)

gigantic rock [deleted] says:

Neil's answer far surpasses mine, but I'll add it anyway.

I would use a some sort of diffused light on a white background and use longer exposures (2-4 seconds etc) rather than risk reflection from the flash.
ages ago (permalink)

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Chrissy Downunder says:

Cool .. hey thanks guys for the info .. I have just finished making a light tent .. copying the one you posted on your blog Neil. Don't know how I missed it as I was looking for that exact info .. but then you have so much in your blog to read and learn about .. so due to time factors sometimes I tend to skim over things and if it doesn't fall into my lap I miss it.

I decided to go with the white background too. I'll post a pic after I've taken the shots. Luckily I do have a large adjustable tripod too. .. only one of the many things I need for photography .. slowly building up my equipment and now I have a brand spanking new light tent :) and very inexpensive .. 6 sheets of A4 whilte paper, masking tape and I think a dozen bottles of red wine came in the cardboard box I used .. most appropriate I thought .. lol
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
Chrissy Downunder edited this topic ages ago.

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neilcreek is a group administrator neilcreek says:

Best of luck Chrissy! If you run into any problems, just post a reply here and we'll see if we can help :) One thing I didn't mention is that you can also use desk lamps for light, if you're using a tripod. Use a couple of them from opposite directions to fill in the shadows. They'll have a colour cast from the light, but you can fix that in photoshop. Just don't mix light types. So use tungsten with tungstan, not fluro with tungstan. They have different colours, so you can't correct for both simultaneously.
ages ago (permalink)

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Rishi S says:

Hey, I'd just written a post on photographing reflective surfaces. You might find it useful. I wasn't clicking scissors, but a knife is close enough, right?

You can view the post here

Do let me know if it was of any use...
ages ago (permalink)

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Chrissy Downunder says:

OK .. After a crash course in lighting techniques ... here is my first attempt. It didn't go tooo well .. explanation on photo.

flickr.com/photos/mystic-venus/2651525016/

Thankyou all for your great advise and I am still reading up and trying different angles etc.

Will post an updated pic soon and hopefully with better results.

Sooooo much to learn .... So little time ☺
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
Chrissy Downunder edited this topic ages ago.

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Chrissy Downunder says:

Thought I'd wait until my new camera arrived and has:
flickr.com/groups/neilcreek/discuss/72157606219463855/

So will update with photos soon. ☺
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
Chrissy Downunder edited this topic ages ago.

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