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Thread: Photographing shiny things

  1. #1
    Out of tune HappyPickin's Avatar
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    Default Photographing shiny things

    I'm getting ready to sell a few instruments but I'm finding it difficult to get good pictures of the glossy ones. I'm getting too many reflections. Can any of y'all give me a tip or three on getting good pics?
    Out of tune and out of time.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    It's best if you use natural lighting. Is there somewhere you can take them outdoors? Then make sure the glossy area you want to photograph is not facing directly to the sun. Or take them in a shady area outside
    Best, Stevo

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    To photograph shiny things, you don't shine light on the thing. You light the environment, which is reflected in the thing. A sheet with a light source aimed at it, placed as close to your object as possible, is a good softbox.
    Ideally, your light source should be aimed at a big piece of cloth, poster board, or wall. Then, experiment with angles to get the smooth highlight you want.
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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Natural light (if possible) and/or camera angles are key. When photographing indoors, avoiding harsh direct light with little tricks like covering overhead lights with a sheet or paper, or even holding a light colored umbrella overhead can go a long way in getting desired quality.

    In short - be patient, experiment and don't get too crazy with minute details. All of the pictures in my Mandolin Cafe photo album were done indoors with a simple cell phone, and I like to think that they aren't half bad.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/a...p?albumid=1982

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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things


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  10. #6
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Take your mandolins and some posterboard, cloth, or something you can make smooth and is typically all one colour, then go out in the sun, work the angles so that the sun fills the environment, and it makes even the worst mandolins look great. Pictures can be deceiving.

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  12. #7
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    I use 2 light stands, one to each side of the instrument, two lights per stand, all shining on the instrument at about a 45 degree angle. The height, spacing and angle of the lights can be adjusted to minimize reflections. (Hint: a trace of reflection shows that the finish is high gloss. No reflections a all and it might as well be a mat finish.)

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  14. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Diffusion lighting, like a white sheet stretched over a frame and lighting it from behind is part of movie making magic..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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  16. #9

    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Polarized filter.
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

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  18. #10

    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Quote Originally Posted by ColdBeerGoCubs View Post
    Polarized filter.
    A circular polarizer is useful in studio/tabletop work. It can let you dial back reflections to get the color/drama you want while getting the even illumination you want.

    What a polarizer won't do is give you good lighting to start with. Some good suggestions above. Open shade is good, it's diffuse enough that you won't get harsh shadows, but enough sheer volume of photons that your cell phone or other small camera will work to give you a sharp image.

  19. #11
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    I tend to photograph figure in wood if at all possible in the AM and PM before too much sunlight is coming straight in. I love the just over the horizon afternoon light on a clear day.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  20. #12
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Lights? Filters? Before you do that, just take the mandolin outside on a bright cloudy day and lean it up against a big tree.

    You're selling a mandolin, not trying to gain a spot in the Smithsonian.
    David Hopkins

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  22. #13
    Registered User John Van Zandt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Daytime, and indoors. A bright, sunlit room with no lightbulbs on.

    Find an angle that has fewer reflections- no part of the camera or other objects in the reflection. Patience, and 20 or more photos should do the trick.
    Kentucky KM-380

  23. #14
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Quote Originally Posted by DHopkins View Post
    Lights? Filters? Before you do that, just take the mandolin outside on a bright cloudy day and lean it up against a big tree.

    You're selling a mandolin, not trying to gain a spot in the Smithsonian.
    You took the words right out of my fingers. Exactly what I do!

    bratsche
    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

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  24. #15
    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    I usually photograph stuff outside in the early morning or late evening when the angle of the sun is low and the light is a little softer and warmer. Maybe place the instrument at a 45 degree angle or so from the direction of the sun. Also sunny outside photos really show the figure in wood (plus all the warts and blemishes of what I'm selling so there are not complaints). I used soft boxes inside when I was working on my vintage instrument book, but that is a lot of trouble unless you routinely sell stuff and want to set up a mini-photography studio.

  25. #16
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing shiny things

    Outside in the shade on a cloudy day is easiest, as it gives you lots of well-diffused light. I got tired of depending on the weather, though, so I now take photos inside, but reflections can definitely be a hassle. Like John said, some reflections are good, especially with archtop instruments, as they highlight the contours. As an example, you can compare these two examples that I took yesterday, one with a reflection and one without. To me, the reflection adds a lot of depth and life to the photo. You can also see an unwanted, un-diffused reflection on the scroll from my shop lights, compared to the big, diffused reflection from bouncing a flash off of a white sheet. My photos aren't nearly as good as Marty's or John's, but I'm trying to learn A trick that Marty taught me is that you can get inexpensive wireless transmitters for your flash so you can move the flash away from the camera and easily bounce it off of other surfaces, like the ceiling, a sheet, etc. I use these little guys, which work great:

    https://www.amazon.com/YONGNUO-RF-60...8652005&sr=8-3

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