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Thread: 'No Frills' $75.00 home studio tent/lightbox

  1. #561
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
    An effective set up for an additional cost of $1!!!

    For years I've admired knife photography - but also realized when I tried it myself that there was a lot more involved -
    especially in lighting....

    My main difficulty was in mirror polished blades - as the name suggests they are like mirrors so would reflect - even the photographer.
    So it's always been a challenge.

    I tried things like light tent/boxes - although they did give soft even lighting -
    the problem was mirror finish inevitably would reflect the seams of the box,
    or the photographer - since they had a restrictive opening....

    Recently I managed to get a relatively effective lighting set up -
    for the additional cost of $1!
    It was simply a white foam art board that I bought from a dollar store.

    It normally stands as a background so that it's reflect light back onto the scene -
    but for mirror finish I tilt it forward so that it would lean on either the two desk lamps, or literally on my camera, or forehead.
    I came to the same solution, even posted about it in this very thread two years ago.

    There's a reflection (of the photographer?) on the dark blade. A quick fix is to strategically hold a piece of white board in the blade's reflection. I shoot with a tripod and timer or remote, so I simply hold the board in my hand tilted and positioned so that the knife blade is reflecting the board. Even a piece of plain notebook paper can work.



    Not my best picture, but a good example. These blades are very shiny and, if given the chance, would reflect a flyspeck on the opposite wall.

  2. #562

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob W View Post
    I came to the same solution, even posted about it in this very thread two years ago.
    Very cool! Thanks Bob.

    I've seen pros use white cards
    but more for fill in light -
    I guess their set up is usually for soft light
    and to eliminate those dreaded reflections.

    Using a moveable white card to eliminate reflections is real inventive.

    I also kind of do that by using a white board in front of myself
    and shooting through the gap between that and the tilting back board.
    But now I mostly don't - since it is cumbersome
    and reflections can be eliminated using just the tilting back board.
    (I shoot mostly hand-held dSLR
    as I find it easier and more flexible to find the best angles through the viewfinder)

    But like Coop, I can't seem to be able to shoot straight-on
    since mirror finishes will reflect the photographer/camera.

    Thanks,

    --
    Vincent

    http://picasaweb.com/UnknownVincent?showall=true
    http://UnknownVincent.Shutterfly.com
    http://UnknownVT.Shutterfly.com

  3. #563
    Join Date
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    Today I was using a BLACK board to lose some light for a hamon.

    Bob's usage is different from Vincent's: Bob is using the board from to reflect from the camera's trajectory, and Vincent's is using his method as an alternative for the overhead diffuser or core lighting.

    BOTH serve an intentional purpose and do so cheaply.

    I have 5-7 mirrors in various sizes to also help me throw light. It's all good.
    Jim Cooper - Capturing the Artistry and Significance of Handmade Knives. • Makers & Clients: Read Post 815
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  4. #564
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
    (I shoot mostly hand-held dSLR as I find it easier and more flexible to find the best angles through the viewfinder)
    Interesting. I have the camera on a tripod and shoot with an IR remote, while holding a board.

    Bob's usage is different from Vincent's: Bob is using the board from to reflect from the camera's trajectory, and Vincent's is using his method as an alternative for the overhead diffuser or core lighting.
    A more precise description of what I do, the knife blade is aimed away from the camera, while a white board or paper is held in the blade surface's trajectory.

    But yeah, guess I misunderstood exactly what UnknownVT was using the white board for.

    I can't even easily explain how I set up boards for the reflecting light because it's always different - it's usually quite a mess with boards (black or white) propped up all over the place.

  5. #565

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by SharpByCoop View Post
    Bob's usage is different from Vincent's: Bob is using the board from to reflect from the camera's trajectory, and Vincent's is using his method as an alternative for the overhead diffuser or core lighting.

    BOTH serve an intentional purpose and do so cheaply.

    I have 5-7 mirrors in various sizes to also help me throw light. It's all good.
    Thanks Coop for that very succinct clarification.

    I forgot all about seeing the use of mirrors to add more (fill) light.
    Use of black cards to reduce light is also a great idea.

    Sometimes I have to do post processing to cope with high contrast -
    the reflective white board already helps with softer diffused light -
    but when one has mirror polished blades and darker handles like some woods -
    then to be able to show both well can be difficult -
    that's when I have to use curves/tone mapping to pin/peg the white and black points
    and raise the lower mid-tones.

    The lights I use are simple household daylight CFL (compact fluorescent spiral light)
    6500K (this is the CIE official white illuminant - D65) equivalent of 100watts each,
    but occasionally I still get incorrect color balance -
    then I have to use the white or gray eye dropper balance correction -
    I feel for my purposes (review) colors need to be pretty accurate.

    Thanks,


    --
    Vincent

    http://picasaweb.com/UnknownVincent?showall=true
    http://UnknownVincent.Shutterfly.com
    http://UnknownVT.Shutterfly.com

  6. #566
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
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    582
    I'm still not happy with my photos, so I re made the tent for a 3rd time, this time instead of pvc tubes I used angle iron, made two tents, one with tracing paper and the other with milky acrilyc. Also using an old netbook I managed to tether my Pentax Kx so I can see an almost live image of the photos I take.

    Here are the tent photos:





    And some photos I took:




    and same photo with photoshop auto-tone


    These three were auto toned too





    The lights I used are 18w Daylights

    My first impression is that the photos are dark and flat, I wasn't able to capture that ironwood handle at all, I will appreciate some pointers.

    Thanks a lot in advance.


    Pablo
    Last edited by PEU; 08-11-2014 at 05:29 PM.

  7. #567
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Waynesboro, GA
    Posts
    7

    'No Frills' $75.00 home studio tent/lightbox

    Tons of useful information to be found in this thread! Thank you for all the advice Coop, I can already see where I need to apply it in my own work.

  8. #568
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Dirty Durm, North Cakalacky
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    3,264
    WOW! Happy 10th Anniversary to this thread! Amazing, and so much great info, thanks Coop and thanks for sticking around 10 years following up!

  9. #569

    Arrow

    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
    An effective set up for an additional cost of $1!!!


    board tilted leaning against the lamps - but often rests either on my camera, or lens barrel, or extended finger, or even head.......
    vary the tilt angle to get the best modelling on the knife.

    That white art foam board cost all of $1 from a dollar store.....
    A follow up -
    I am still using this cheapo $1 set up -
    but thought I'd discuss the camera I am now using.

    For years I used a dSLR -
    it seems the obvious choice and I didn't think much more than that.

    I mean, it has a view through the lens, metering and focusing are also through the taking lens -
    so it should give the most accurate view, exposure and focusing.

    That is until I tried out a mirrorless ILC (Interchangeable Len Camera) -
    then gradually things came into focus.... (operative word**, see later)

    Backup a little.
    Fuji X-Trans has a reputation of some of the best image quality (IQ) of APS-C sized sensors,
    so a while back I decided to try one -
    literally the entry level/cheapest model the Fuji X-M1 (circa ~$360 like new used):

    shown next to my current dSLR the Pentax K-5
    (note: the Fuji X-A1 and X-A2 are in the X-series but they are based on regular Bayer sensors and not the Fuji X-Trans)

    However I "detest" using the rear LCD screen for a "viewfinder" -
    it just does not seem (to me) precise enough.

    I had seen many people use a LCD hood/viewfinder for shooting video, and thought this might help me with the viewfinder aspect -


    The viewfinder/hood attaches to the rear LCD screen by strong magnets to a stick on metal frame -




    The viewfinder hood costs as low as $8 off eBay (mine is a V2 which fits 3:2 aspect ratio LCD screens)
    has a magnification of 2.8x - so makes the rear LCD screen view ginormous -
    yes, it does emphasis the LCD dots but it is acceptable for such a large "precise" view without having to squint through an eye-level viewfinder.

    For years I only used optical eye-level viewfinders and found electronic viewfinders inadequate - they were grainy/low resolution and had noticeable lag.
    Of course things have improved a great deal since then - 2.4 to 2.7 million dot viewfinders are high enough resolution that I find acceptable for everyday usage, and the lag has been minimized enough that I no longer notice it.
    A huge advantage to electronic viewfinders is one can "preview" any exposure adjustments - whereas an optical viewfinder view remains the same.

    Using the Fuji X-M1 LCD screen with LCD viewfinder/hood -
    although has the objection of being grainy (it's only 921k dots) and lag-gy -
    it is still somewhat better than the view through my dSLR - mainly because of the huge size/view and the ability to preview the effects of any adjustments.

    So for less than $375 I now have an inexpensive view camera for photographing my knives.

    **Focus - one thing I had not thought about is focusing with a dSLR.
    I mean it's through the lens (TTL) so it's intrinsically accurate -

    Not so fast -
    what does the lens image focus on?
    it's via a secondary mirror which diverts the image on to a focusing sensor -
    it is NOT the actual taking image sensor.

    So when it comes to critical focusing - either large/bright apertures, or close focus - and light color can cause inaccuracies.

    With high resolution/pixel count images this may not matter too much
    as we shrink the image for web usage - so this kind of mitigates any slight imprecision in focusing -
    and this has been the case for me for years (without question)

    However mirrorless cameras have their focusing sensors on the actual taking image sensor itself - so there is no error.

    Cheapo Fuji X-M1 with kit lens the XC 16-50mm zoom - closest focusing distance full-frame -


    Crop of actual 100% pixel level -


    Look how clear and sharp it is...... for a $365 camera with $10 viewfinder attachment....

    --
    Vincent

    http://picasaweb.com/UnknownVincent?showall=true
    https://Youtube.com/user/vtVincent
    http://UnknownVincent.Shutterfly.com
    http://UnknownVT.Shutterfly.com
    Last edited by UnknownVT; 07-06-2015 at 04:53 PM.

  10. #570
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Either Eatonville or Longview, WA
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    Let me add my thanks to Coop! Here's my 20 minute version:

    and my first pic of a WIP using all automatic settings on my cheap camera:

  11. #571
    Thank you Coop. I am based in South Africa, and we have a small knife making community here. We just had a very successful knife show and I really want to start photographing blades. I have tried to photograph knives before, and when I saw your work I thought you would keep your cards very close to your chest. Yet here you are sharing your ideas and helping others take better pictures. That is indeed rare. I have just acquired an axe, and I am going to attempt my best SharpByCoop impersonation using a setup similar to what you describe here. Thank you for sharing.

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