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how I shoot photos of ceramics on my kitchen table! | by Brian Searle
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how I shoot photos of ceramics on my kitchen table!

Edit: I have an update here!


Some people have asked me how I take photos of my pots, so the notes in this picture should cover everything I know! The light setup and backdrop cost me less than $100. I shoot with a Nikon D80 using either a Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens or the Tamron 90mm 2.8 macro, but you could shoot with anything that you can mount to a tripod. I keep the F/stop at F/13 to get the biggest field of depth without worrying about sensor size diffraction.


Getting a decent backdrop is pretty critical. Pots don't look right unless they're against a gradient backdrop. If a pot is on a flat color then it looks like it's floating in the air. A gradient grounds the pot. I shoot against a "thunder gray" Flotone backdrop from B&H. The smaller backdrop will barely accommodate my larger platters. The Flotone backdrop is beautiful, but it scratches easily. I figure I can get away with taking photos of thirty or forty pots before I need to replace the backdrop.


I intentionally use harsh lighting-- you may want to soften yours. An easy (but flammable) way is to tape sheets of white copy paper over the lamp shells. I've done this for brief stints, but I wouldn't do this for extended periods of time. I use harsh lighting because my pots are often very shiny in areas and very matte others. I like to bring this out by emphasizing the light reflection on the shiny parts. I used to shoot in a light tent and I found the resulting photos rather boring.


The final result is: My setup is always changing as I need to photograph new and different pots!


Good luck, and if you try this technique, let me know!


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Taken on December 23, 2007