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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) How to photograph your thread art (Read 15019 times)
Owen Dare
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How to photograph your thread art
Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:24pm
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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.  Undecided
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
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #1 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:26pm
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Cut to size and scored on one side for easy folding.
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #2 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:27pm
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Ready for the cloth to go over the windows.
Your wife's best white linen is great for this.... trust me  Wink
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #3 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:30pm
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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.
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #4 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:31pm
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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.
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #5 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:32pm
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This reel seat was suspended on a dowel
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #6 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:33pm
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This wooden grip was simply placed on the white card.
Not the very slight shadow underneath... Just like in the catalogs Wink
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #7 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:35pm
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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.
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #8 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:37pm
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The problem with clear photos is you can see every detail of your weave.
Look at those crooked threads!
Never noticed them by eye  Sad
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #9 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:38pm
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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.

  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #10 - Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:40pm
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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
« Last Edit: Dec 30th, 2007 at 8:54pm by Owen Dare »  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #11 - Jan 10th, 2008 at 7:47am
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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.
  
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Raymond Adams
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #12 - Jan 22nd, 2008 at 9:41am
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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!
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #13 - Jan 30th, 2008 at 6:18pm
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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.
  
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Owen Dare
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Re: How to photograph your thread art
Reply #14 - Jan 30th, 2008 at 6:19pm
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A minute later and a change of card we have this
  
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