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Tutorials >> Tutorials - Custom Thread Art (Weaving) >> How to photograph your thread art
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Message started by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:24pm

Title: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:24pm
So you've just spent days or weeks completing your latest rod.  It's got a great weave, some marbling, hand made wooden grips or whatever rings your bell.
Now you want to show the world how good it looks, so out to the back yard we go, digital camera in hand.
You snap away a hundred shots and load them up on your computer to find that the don't look anywhere near as good as the real thing.
The big problem area is that the epoxy is so reflective, you get lines, flares and all sorts of problems.
Not to mention old Mrs Smith's bloomers on the washing line in the background.  :-/
What to do???

After trying all sorts of angles and naturl lighting conditions, I decided I need help, so I got onto a photography forum and asked some questions.

The suggestions were
1:  Use a polarising filter on the lens to cut reflection.  (Good idea, but my camera is very basic and doesn't accept filters).
2:  Use a light box.  .... OK... What the hell's that?

A light box is a box into which you place the object you wish to photograph.
In the sides are "windows" which are covered with white cloth.  You shine a bright light through the cloth and it diffuses the light throughout the box, thus illuminating the object you which to photgraph very evenly, thus stopping reflections, shadows etc.
Inside the box you also place some white card which must curve from the vertical rear wall to the bottom of the box.
Because it has no corners, it appears to be a solid white background when you take your shot.

I decided to construct one using "Corflute" which is like corrigated cardboard only made from an opaque white plastic which I felt would also diffuse light from the outside and reflect it on the inside.
Taking my trusty stanley knife, I scared one side to allow me to fold the box into shape.
I decided to only use masking tape to hold it all together so I could easily collapse it for storage.
Once the box was mide I cut some windows o the top and sides and taped white cloth over them.
On the front I cut a "viewing" port through whichI would take the shots and on top I made a flap that would allow me to place objects inside and through which I could place the cardboard sheet.
I also cut some slots on the ends like a star so I could slide a rod through without letting too much unfiltered light inside.

For light sources I visited my local hardware and found some 500W halogen work lamps on special for $9.95 each.
These give off a very white light.  I also bought a twin lamp that is mounted on a tripod to shine through the top of the box.

The results were quite promising as can be seen in the photos below.
In hindsight I think I will cut two more light ports in the front of the box and illuminate these as well.  This should stop the reflection when you can actually see the camera in the epoxy.
I also belive much better results would come from a digital SLR camera as mine has to be very close to the object to get clear shots which makes it harder to avoid reflections.
An added bonus of the white card background is that the autofocus on the camera doesn't pick it up, so it's easier to get a crisp focus on your object.

Give it a go!
You'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.


First Pic:  The parts
parts.jpg ( 40 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:26pm
Cut to size and scored on one side for easy folding.
light_box_pre_assembly.jpg ( 40 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:27pm
Ready for the cloth to go over the windows.
Your wife's best white linen is great for this.... trust me  ;)
lightbox2.jpg ( 42 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:30pm
Viewing port in front for camera access.  Notice it can be folded back up if photographing through the top.

I'm going to put two more windows in the front to cut reflections of the camera by shining lights through these on an angle.
light_box1.jpg ( 53 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:31pm
Cut star shaped slots in the ends for long objects like rods.  You can also pass a dowel through to suspend other items like grips etc.
hole_in_box.jpg ( 40 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:32pm
This reel seat was suspended on a dowel
reel_seat.jpg ( 38 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:33pm
This wooden grip was simply placed on the white card.
Not the very slight shadow underneath... Just like in the catalogs ;)
grip.jpg ( 39 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:35pm
If you look closely, you can see the reflection of the camera in the epoxy because I have to have my cheap unit so close.
I think the extra lighting ports will help this, but an SLR camera with a better lens which allows you to move away a bit and still work in macro would be better.

eagle1.jpg ( 43 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:37pm
The problem with clear photos is you can see every detail of your weave.
Look at those crooked threads!
Never noticed them by eye  :(
barra.jpg ( 39 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:38pm
The uniform lighting makes it so much easier to do a composite of several shots on weaves that go too far around the rod to capture in one photo.


composite.jpg ( 6 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:40pm
Final pic is a basic drawing of the layout.

So there you go!

If there are any photographers out there that can add further insight, please do!

These pics were taken on a Nikon Coolpix 4300 point & shoot digital worth only a couple of hundred dollars.
They were not retouched other than to crop them.

cheers,
Owen
drawing.GIF ( 7 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Jan 10th, 2008 at 7:47am
After playing around some more I've also found that you can improve your results even further by adjusting the white balance on your digital camera.
As you can see, the photos above have a blue hue to them, probably due to the halogen lighting.
By adjusting the white balance I was able to get the white background to be a brilliant white.

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Raymond Adams on Jan 22nd, 2008 at 9:41am
Awesome tutorial Owen!
I will be refering guys & gals here to see it often I'm sure. This is an area that lots of builders have
trouble with. Myself included. THANKS!

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Jan 30th, 2008 at 6:18pm
I took a couple of more shots just to show the results using different colour card.
As I said, this is done with a camera worth only a few hundred dollars.

First is some general rod building stuff with a white background.

components-wht-bkg.jpg ( 19 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Jan 30th, 2008 at 6:19pm
A minute later and a change of card we have this
components-blu-bkg.jpg ( 27 KB | Downloads )

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Boofa on Jan 31st, 2008 at 9:38pm
Owen
Great results. from the course in digital photgraphy I learned that depending on the make white balance is quite different recomended play with all best part about digital can always delet. Another tip with macro is to use the timer will take out any hand shack from. I have found that different cameras have better macro mine will only come as cloase as 10 cm my sons has super macro 1 cm big difference
the white box is great will be building one of those in the future. a good background and the right exposure will help if you dont want to build the box though you need to play with the camera  on manual to achieve results. Most new cameras on manual will tell you what exspure to use by a graph displayed on LCD screen being in the middle is good. Most takes in this case do not need flash if exsposure  is set right only time flash is really needed is in the middle of the day when yiu can not have the subject look into the sun to take the shadow of the face sounds stupid but true. sorry cant put all into words but can advise good course if get oppertunity to do taught me how to read a manual better if nothing else

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Feb 1st, 2008 at 7:29am
I was wondering how your course is going.
I'm planning to pick up a decent digi camera when we go to the US.
The one we have is fine for happy snaps and in the boat, but he who dies with the most toys wins ;)

The pics above have been severely reduced in quality to reduce the file size to something web friendly.
That's why the slight blurred edges etc.

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by ryansrods on Feb 7th, 2008 at 5:00pm
thanks for the info owen im runnin to the shed to put one of these light boxes together right now ill be retaking shots of the dragon weave i have posted on this site will repost the results thanks again  ryan

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Jerry_Poindexter on Feb 11th, 2008 at 11:14am
Great info, Owen! I need to make one for sure. How many lights were you using in the last pics in the series - 1 for each window? Thanks,  Jerry

Title: Re: How to photograph your thread art
Post by Owen Dare on Feb 11th, 2008 at 12:12pm
Jerry,
I used a twin floodlight from above and another from each end aimed through the front ports.
If I had two more I would have used them though.

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