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#129317 - 07/02/15 09:34 PM How to Improve Your Knife Photos **
Buck Buchanan Offline
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 07/25/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: Fayetteville NC
--An Invitation--


Subject: An Invitation to contribute & share your photography expertise.

I invite you to help folks on the Forum to improve their photographic skills. This will be a “sticky” thread to stay as a reference in the Picture gallery, called “How to Improve Your Knife Photos”.

The format is simple: Two or more photos & your set-up description

1. Brief description of your “studio” set-up
2. Image(s) #1(or more) will be photo(s) of your “studio” set-up with or without the knife.
3. Last image will be the finished photo of a Randall knife you photographed using your set-up.

1. Description of the “studio” set-up & 2. Photo(s) of “studio” set-up

Describe any major hand-made items, like a light-box. Tony offered a link to a website to construct one. If you are describing factory-made equipment, like a light-box/tent, or lighting, indicate manufacturer, model, and mfg stock number & source. For example, “ I use the Lastolite Outdoor Cubelite, 3’, Mfg #LL LR3687, from B & H Photo” or “I use 400 watt incandescent bulbs with clamp-on fixtures from Wal-Mart”. It also can be as simple as saying, “I shot this outdoors on an overcast day, eliminating shadows from the knife & sheath in the photo.

Camera description (Optional):
If you are using a SLR, make, model, and lens. Example: Canon 5D MKII, Canon 100mm macro f/2.8 lens. If a zoom lens is used, indicate the focal length for the shot. For example, Canon 70-200 f/4 lens@ 100mm. If not a SLR, indicate camera make & model, and focal length used for the shot. If you are using a “smartphone”, indicate make and model. They are getting better and better.

3. Indicate with the last image of the knife, the camera settings. (Knife Photo)

If the camera setting information is available, indicate the following with the knife photo:
ISO, shutter speed, & aperture. An alternative location would be in the File Caption Block of knife image in the File Manager. For example, Randall Model 1-7: ISO 100, 1/5 sec @ f/22.

Lastly, indicate photo-editing app you are using, if any. Example: Photoshop Elements, Version 12 or on my iPad & iPhone, I use “Snapseed”, a free app from Google.

I want to see both the simple set-up, costing less than $100, and the semi-pro set-up with light stands, and light tent/box like Captain Chris uses, and everything in between, including “smartphone” photography.

Your contribution will be beneficial to readers who would like to refine their posting entries.
As images improve, the KTF improves as well. I hope you will join me in this educational endeavor by providing your expertise to help enhance our website.

I’ve asked Mitchell Harrison to start by showing one example of how to proceed. Some of our regulars have been ask to contribute their set-up.

I appreciate your efforts in gathering images and descriptions to make this a success.
_________________________
Buck Buchanan, RKCC #CM-16, RKS #1003
NRA LIFE
NMLRA LIFE
Authorized Randall Dealer
buck100_10x@icloud.com



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#129326 - 07/03/15 10:36 AM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: Buck Buchanan]
tunefink Offline
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 09/13/05
Posts: 4006
Loc: Bambalam
My camera is a Nikon D700. I use a Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8 lens for most of my shots. It is tack sharp and fast. I used a cable shutter release.... you can use a timer as well.

My camera settings are:

Large Jpeg Format

Spot focus - I always try to get the logo or the hilt in the spot for a sharp picture.

Aperture Priority - usually f8 to f11. This provides good depth of field. Adjust shutter to control exposure.

ISO is 200

White Balance is 3000k which matches the lighting

I use Lightroom photo software



I used to set up and take down my studio which included three lights on stands and a tripod for the camera..... and a table for the light tent. It took up a lot of room and was a pain in the ass. Here is a picture of my old rig:




So, I decided to make something I could leave around all the time. It is smaller in footprint and is on wheels, so I can roll it to a corner when not in use.

Starting at the bottom - It was an old cart that came from Sam's I think. I cut the height down and attached a wood top. Any rolling table will work.

Any light tent will work.... Mine is 24" x 24" x 36"

Instead of a tripod, I bought a computer monitor mounting arm from Amazon and attached a tripod ball head to it. It swings in and out of the light tent opening and is pretty steady.

I attached a second arm to hols my PC. I shoot "tethered" which means the camera is connected to the PC and the pictures appear on the monitor right after you take them. It allows for easy review.

I use 3 Cree LED flood lights. They are 18W, 3000K. I mounted them to three bar clamps I bought at Lowes. The bar clamps made it easy to attach the lights to the wood top and made for a very narrow footprint.

I added a power strip to the table so all the cords are zip tied and there is only one plug that needs to go to the wall.










Here is a shot I took at these settings:




Let me know if you have any questions.......thanks for starting this Buck!!!
_________________________
Always, buying, selling and trading.
www.randallmadeknife.com

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#129330 - 07/03/15 11:39 AM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: tunefink]
Buck Buchanan Offline
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 07/25/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: Fayetteville NC
Excellent post, Mitchell. I am going to use your method to reduce my light tent set-up.

See how ideas help each other to improve. It's already doing what it intended to do.

Thanks,

Buck
_________________________
Buck Buchanan, RKCC #CM-16, RKS #1003
NRA LIFE
NMLRA LIFE
Authorized Randall Dealer
buck100_10x@icloud.com



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#129340 - 07/03/15 09:55 PM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: Buck Buchanan]
TonyLaPetri Online
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 6669
Loc: Glen Head NY
Here is a link to a cool site ...

http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-make-a-inexpensive-light-tent/

It shows how to make an inexpensive light box/tent from a big box.
I did this using a box that a TV came in.
And I not only use a light (just a desk/drawing table lamp) on top but often use
two others, one on the left and one on the right to bring in some directional light
that can give more definition to the blade grind lines.
I have a tripod and use just a digital point and shoot ... a little Canon or a small Sony...
but just a point and shoot. Also you can add different color papers or fabric for the backgrounds.
Here are some photos I took using this inexpensive/homemade set up and a simple point and shoot digital camera.

Oh ... The fabric I used on the light box was not fabric but cut up white plastic trash bags.


Attachments
------#1-wcatalog.jpg

------#5-6.jpg

------#10-3'.jpg




Edited by TonyLaPetri (07/03/15 10:24 PM)
_________________________
Tony LaPetri
RKS#1885
RKCC CM-022

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#129341 - 07/03/15 10:07 PM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: tunefink]
TonyLaPetri Online
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 6669
Loc: Glen Head NY
Hey Tune,
Great idea with the rolling cart!
I may incorporate it with my set up!
_________________________
Tony LaPetri
RKS#1885
RKCC CM-022

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#129342 - 07/03/15 10:17 PM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: TonyLaPetri]
TonyLaPetri Online
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 6669
Loc: Glen Head NY
Guys,
I'm also a big fan of taking photos in natural light ... outdoors.
I find the best light is when it's cloudy ... no hot spots / reflections from the bright sun.
Or ...
On a sunny day, set up the photo subject in shadow but literally just a few inches to a foot away
from the sun. this way you get the nice flat light of the shadow and the effect of the sun,
just several inches away.

Here is a shot I took on a cloudy day with some play sand and sea shells on my patio.


Attachments
------#10s-Red-Micarta.jpg


_________________________
Tony LaPetri
RKS#1885
RKCC CM-022

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#129344 - 07/03/15 11:22 PM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: TonyLaPetri]
Buck Buchanan Offline
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 07/25/10
Posts: 1007
Loc: Fayetteville NC
Great photos, Tony. They look professional. This is an excellent lesson for anyone using a "point & shoot" camera (and an inexpensive set-up). I am looking forward to seeing more examples of outdoor shooting on an overcast day, even with a "smartphone".

It's a common result for folks to take a reflective item such as a knife and shoot indoors with a "smarthone" or a "point & shoot" camera, many times, unconsciously, with the flash mode on, washing out details in the subject.

This flash washout gets worse when one lays the knife and sheath on a shiny wood surface, and they can't understand why it's overexposed.

"Take It Outside On An Overcast Day"! Look at the detail in Tony's outdoor image.

Alternative backgrounds are wood decks, trees stumps, and an 18" square of linoleum tile with a textured or "wood" or "granite" pattern. The tile background make it appear as if the knife were shot inside on the floor. Outdoor overcast lighting will make a photo more acceptable & professional looking. This lighting IS hard to beat (& cheap, too).

To get really sharp images with a camera, set the aperture at f/8 or f/11 ( if you camera permits) and put the camera on a tripod. It doesn't matter whether the tripod cost $25 or $250, the camera becomes rock-solid. If you don't have a remote shutter release, use the camera's self-timer feature and set it for 5 or 10 seconds. This allows the camera to "settle" after your hand pushed the shutter button.

You will be amazed at the improvements in your images from just taking the advice given in these few posts. There are more ideas to come. If you have a winning photo set-up, bring it on! Just use the initial post as your guide.

Remember, now, "film" is cheap. grin
_________________________
Buck Buchanan, RKCC #CM-16, RKS #1003
NRA LIFE
NMLRA LIFE
Authorized Randall Dealer
buck100_10x@icloud.com



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#129356 - 07/04/15 03:47 PM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: Buck Buchanan]
Holzinger258 Offline
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 09/14/05
Posts: 1522
Loc: The Desert Southwest
I don’t use an SLR.
I almost never make settings on my camera.
I don’t use flash.
I don’t use a tripod.
I don’t use a light box.
I don’t have a studio.
After many years becoming tired of lugging bags of SLR bodies, lenses, flash equipment, and tripods, I gave them all away several years ago. My son now happily takes pictures of my grandchildren with them. I own only one tiny pocket-size point-and-shoot camera (plus the camera on my iPhone). All my photos are taken hand-held. All the knife photos that I can remember were taken on the “Auto” setting. My “studio” is mostly outdoors on the patio, or the top of a block wall, as shown below. If it’s raining, I sometimes use a rug or bedspread indoors as my background. Here is a picture of my “studio” and a knife picture I just now took there.


Attachments
------studio2.jpg

------knife.jpg


_________________________
-Steve
RKCC CM-066
RKS #258

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#129357 - 07/04/15 03:48 PM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: Holzinger258]
Holzinger258 Offline
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 09/14/05
Posts: 1522
Loc: The Desert Southwest
My camera is a Sony RX100 II. It measures only 1-1/2 x 2-1/4 x 4 inches. Two big advantages of this camera are: the size of its sensor, which is four times the size of the sensor in most point-and-shoot cameras; and its fast lens, which can open to f1.8 when not zoomed. You can get an idea of its size from the photo below.
BTW, since it is my only camera, I took the photo below with my iPhone in my other "studio"--the patio. I think it’s a pretty good photo for a phone camera, certainly good enough for posting to the forum.


Attachments
------camera.jpg


_________________________
-Steve
RKCC CM-066
RKS #258

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#129358 - 07/04/15 03:51 PM Re: How to Improve Your Knife Photos [Re: Holzinger258]
Holzinger258 Offline
Knife Enthusiast

Registered: 09/14/05
Posts: 1522
Loc: The Desert Southwest
Though I haven’t been using a light box, I do have one, and am considering trying it out. I have a “Digital Concepts Portable Lighting Studio” which seems like it could do the job. It costs $59.00 on Amazon, includes two lights, a blue & gray background cloth, and some diffuser screens that can be configured with their velcro strips, and folds to 17 x 17 inches. Here are some pictures.


Attachments
------dig con.JPG

------light-box.jpg

------light-box2.jpg

------light-box3.jpg


_________________________
-Steve
RKCC CM-066
RKS #258

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