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Beautify your Busses!!

Discussion in 'Busse Combat Knives' started by RokJok, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. RokJok


    Oct 6, 2000
    Lately I've noticed some gorgeous Busses caught in less-than-flattering pictures. :( You know the shots I'm referring to -- the ones with hotspots caused by using the on-camera flash for lighting, out-of-focus fuzziness, splotchy shadows obscuring details or even whole parts of the knife, and overly bright washed-out (or alternatively too dark) pics hiding all that Busselicious beauty.

    So in the selfish interest of having nicer looking photos to drool over, I compiled the following links to knife photography threads and webpages. With very little effort or cash outlay, you can create pics that will do your blades proud. :) The example pictures, information, and links in the following threads should serve as a starting point for improving pics of your bladed beauties. The next step is then, of course, "Practice, practice, practice!!"


    "No Frills $75.00 home studio tent/lightbox" thread on Bladeforums.com

    "No Frills $75.00 home studio tent/lightbox" thread on KnifeNetwork.com

    "No Frills Lighting"

    Improvised lighting setups that are simple & inexpensive

    "how-to take awesome digital pics of your knives?"

    A $5 Rubbermaid light diffusion setup from Target

    "Bali photography"

    "Different light and background photo setup"

    Some nice pics in this one.

    "How to Take a Good Knife Picture"

    "Nice picture"

    "Tutorial - Common Knife Photography Mistakes and How to Avoid Them" (547 kb of pics)

    "Need some help with picture taking please"

    "Camera info for pics???"

    "Simple setup for photographing knives"

    "Photographing Knives"

    Late edit to add these further webpages of photographic techniques from Bobcat over at Knifeforums.com thread here.

    Shooting Jewelry in a light tent (applicable also to knives):

    Getting sharpest image possible ideas & techniques:

    Some lightbox techniques:

    Homemade lightbox construction instructions:

    [size=+1]Knife photography forums:[/size]

    Knifenetwork.com (formerly Custom Knife Directory (CKD))


    [size=+1]Add-on tutorials and information:[/size]
    This is where I will post links to other webpages of photo-improving information as I discover them.

    A tutorial from a woodworker's viewpoint of shooting pics of hand tools:

    Another thread on photography from a woodworking perspective:

    The tutorial site that Bobcat linked the jewelry lesson from:

    An informative thread initiated by Murray White here on BFC:

    Table of contents page for tutorials on digital image structure and post production manipulation:

    Quick tutorials on photography principles and the operation of your digital camera:

    Setting up a photo studio on-the-cheap:

    Cheap lightbox made of tagboard & tape by Steve Korn:

    Thread with some home studio setups from a couple of people who get very good results:

    Under $10.00 knife photography setup by Bruce Jensky:

    Photo composition tutorial (two pages long) using Japanese swords as subject. Recommended reading!

    Technical tutorial on photographing hamon accurately:

    Light diffusion tent improvised from a white kitchen garbage bag and two desk lamps.

    Setup of 3 worklights and a sheet.

    Mirrored paper background tip:

    Very quick 'n dirty (and CHEAP!) photo lightbox:

    Jim Cooper (SharpByCoop) photo thread with lots of great pics in it for inspiration:

    Andy Wayne's super-easy cardboard box diffusion setup on Swamp Rat forum:

    Knife World article on knife photography (PDF file format):

    Beyond the camera itself, the next-most-critical pieces of gear for knife photography seem to be:

    Diffuser: A light diffuser like a lightbox or light tent is the BEST and cheapest improvement to your knife photography you can make. If you've got something as simple as a white trash bag (or any other translucent container/sheet), you've got the makings for a light diffuser. Look around for other, more unusual materials to use -- there are lots of options. Think outside the (translucent) box. Adding reflectors to your setup makes the diffuser an even more powerful and versatile tool for knife photography.

    Tripod: Use a tripod to compensate for the slow shutter speeds that can be induced by using indirect diffused light. Even a lightweight tripod can make a huge difference in eliminating camera movement blurring your photos. Thrift stores (Goodwill, St Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, etc), garage/yard sales, and flea markets can be sources for a workable tripod on the cheap. Insure that the tripod's lock-up is tight, so it will retain the camera where you position it.

    Another tip for eliminating motion blurring is to use the camera's timer to trip the shutter. This removes camera jiggle caused by your finger mechanically pressing the button as you take the shot.

    Controllable lighting: Photographic quality is largely about composing the light striking the subject of your shot. As shown in some of the links above, even very rudimentary fixtures can be used to achieve good results.

    If you use artificial lighting, get daylight temp (about 5000-6500 degrees Kelvin) bulbs. This eliminates the color shift caused by photographing under regular incandescent (makes yellowish pictures) or flourescent (makes greenish pictures) bulbs.

    These daylight temp bulbs can be found at home centers (Home Depot, Lowe's, etc) and a bazillion vendors online, among other places. Daylight bulbs are available in both incandescent and flourescent formats. The flourescent daylight bulbs come in both tube and screw-in (like a house lamp) type bulbs. This allows lots of options for lighting your knife photography setup.


    For beginning knife photographers, here are a few basic tips to help you along. Note that these are general suggestions that *usually* help create pleasing informative knife pictures. They are not dictums from on high carved in stone. :)

    1. Fill up the frame with the knife. We want to see the beauty of your knife. By filling the frame with the knife, we can see it easier. If the knife covers only a small percentage of the frame's area (i.e. itty-bitty knife stranded on a wide sea of background) or is surrounded by a lot of distracting props, it gets lost visually. By filling the frame with your knife, it has more impact on the viewer and details of the knife are easier to see.

      You can do a couple of things to get the knife to fill the frame. One way is to zoom in on the knife, assuming your camera has zoom capability. The second way is simply to place the camera closer to the knife (effecting a mechanical zoom) before focusing the lens on the knife.

    2. Compose the picture with diagonal lines or curves. There are two reasons for doing this.
      • The first reason is that a diagonal line or a curve is more dynamic to the human eye than a strictly horizontal or vertical line.
      • The second reason is that the dimension of the frame from corner-to-diagonally-opposing-corner is longer than from one side to the other (think of how the hypotenuse of a triangle is longer than the other sides). By placing your knife along this longer dimension and zooming in, you help fulfill #1 above (fill the frame with the knife).

    3. Show a side profile of the knife. Straight-on side views of your knife quickly provide the most essential design information for the knife -- its profile shape. That profile shape conveys quicker than other views the shapes of the blade and handle, plus their size proportional to each other. If you want to add artistic distorting perspective shots that emphasize individual features of the knife, that's your choice. But don't get tricky before providing the basic straight-on side shot of the knife to show its profile shape.

      Distorting perspective shots or macro zoom shots can be effective if there is a particular feature or detail of your knife that makes it noteworthy and that you want to highlight in the viewer's mind, i.e. engraving, spectacular steel or handle material patterning, unusual contruction technique, etc.

      Another technique that can be effective is to use multiple pictures (or multiple exposures of the knife in a single picture) to show various aspects of your knife (engraved bolsters, handle material patterning, etc). The easiest way to put multiple exposures in a single picture is to use a digital graphics program. Adobe's Photoshop is the current standard for such consumer graphics editing program, although other similar programs exist.

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
    Eric Isaacson likes this.
  2. randucci

    randucci Flipper folder collector Platinum Member

    Oct 10, 2002
    O.K., I take crappy pictures, at least I post pictures of my knives! Besides, you get to see and feel them inperson once a month! I promise to look at the threads and try and improve!
  3. Andrew Lynch

    Andrew Lynch

    Feb 6, 2000
    Rok is da man with da plan! I'll have to do some reading.
  4. Dark Nemesis

    Dark Nemesis

    Mar 20, 1999

    If you'd send me that Off Duty I'll get you some good pics of it :cool:
  5. Trumby


    Aug 12, 2004
    Thanks for doing that. I’m always trying to improve my skills at picture taking. :D I love the outdoors shots

    I’m usually fighting a loosing battle with myself though. :D
  6. Josh Muller

    Josh Muller

    Jun 22, 2003
    even with piss poor contrastic direct sun lighting, composition and angle can do wonders


    if you have a digital, fill the card to the max with different angles, each at a different exposure/apeture setting. if you see one you like, go back and fill the card up with that angle with different exposures/ apeture settings...

    while it does help to have an idea of what you want to get out of the photo before hand, practice wont necessarily make perfect, but it will always make improvements.
  7. Jerry Busse

    Jerry Busse Moderator Moderator

    Aug 20, 1999
    Rok! Thanks!!! You Da Man!!!! :cool:

    SKUNK!!!! You paying attention to this???? :confused:

    Follow those links he posted "Captain Lights-Too-Bright"!!!! :eek: ;)
  8. murray


    Oct 5, 1998
    Wow thanks for the info ;)
  9. cgd160


    Jul 22, 2002
    Thanks Rok :cool: .

    Can this post be made into a sticky ?
  10. idahoskunk


    Mar 10, 2002
    that does it you bastid, i'm throwing the damned camera away :grumpy: :grumpy:

    AND part of the fun of my pics is guessing what the hell model of knife is in the damned picture :confused:

    sheeeeeeesh :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  11. frogfish

    frogfish Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 4, 2002
    Great info :D :D
  12. thatmguy

    thatmguy Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Actually last night I started deciding on what to add to the Busse Info Page.

    Tunzo help fo shizzle
  13. idahoskunk


    Mar 10, 2002
    bttt great info!
  14. RokJok


    Oct 6, 2000
    Popping this thread back up to point you Busseholics to an example of what is IMHO a good picture of a knife.

    Sorry, it's not a Busse blade, but I think it is a good photo. Note how evenly the entire frame is lit, without eliminating the shadows needed to indicate texture and contours. The reflections in the guard help show where the lights were placed relative to the knife.

  15. RokJok


    Oct 6, 2000
    Quick bump back to the top. Shoot 'em if ya got 'em, then post the pics. :D
  16. Jerry Busse

    Jerry Busse Moderator Moderator

    Aug 20, 1999
    Good bump Pork Jok!!! Those links really help out!!! :cool: :D

  17. RokJok


    Oct 6, 2000
    Quick BTTT after adding a few more links from a forumite over on one of the photo forums linked originally.
  18. ERdept

    ERdept Banned by Moderators

    May 17, 2005
    I've asked people about their cameras and set-up in the main forum and was asked to keep myself on topic. Well, having camera information does keep all of us on topic. We all need to take pix and everyone wants to see good quality pics of the things they talk about.

    Thanks again, good post. I'm getting a Canon Rebel XT soon and have seen in Digital photo magazines a light box for $150. This is the same for much cheaper.

  19. RokJok


    Oct 6, 2000
    Yeah, the lightbox setup at the link below totals somewhere in the $60 range, even less if you have a couple of clip-on, desk, or other available & usable lamps already in your house or shop. Pretty affordable control for lighting.
  20. nick681

    nick681 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Nov 22, 1999
    OK...OK..already.....sheesh! I admit my photo-fu is weak. I will attempt to follow some of these tips when I have time. Should be around the middle of December, after we send the privates home for Christmas.

    Till then y'all will have to put up with my lousy snap shots :p :p :eek: :eek:

    Yours in bad HOG photos


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