Attention BIG CHANGES: New Shop, New Website, New Fiddleback Friday, New Team Members

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by Fiddleback, May 1, 2018.

  1. Odaon

    Odaon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 13, 2009
    Just so the powers that be know there are other people who share the opinions of @pertinux @Warrior108 and others.

    I agree with pretty much everything that has been said. It made me think of some of the foraging stuff that I do... I often get asked for identification help for various plants and mushrooms, and I'm always saying that I need as much information and detail as possible in pictures. Without that information I can't accurately help someone learn about this new plant or mushroom that they've found. Sometimes I won't even bother trying if the pictures aren't good or don't show the proper features/traits for identification.

    I'm not saying these pictures aren't good, they're awesome, and I appreciate the artistic value of them, but as a consumer I have a hard time understanding the nuances of each of these custom knives from them. I think they have their place as marketing tools on social media, or show off, eye catchers in an online store. But for sales of such unique knives I think there needs to be as much information as possible to help us make educated purchases.

    I also partly agree with P about Instagram in that I miss seeing the old shop pictures and various BTS stuff. If we could get a separate IG account for the website marketing, and the actual Forge shenanigans that would be awesome. Or just tone down the marketing.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
    Tekton, NoRest, fatboyclone and 3 others like this.
  2. Lee Tigner

    Lee Tigner

    Jul 19, 2017
    I can add a little insight to these comments from Olde Towne Cutlery. Melissa and I were not expert photographers when we started this business, but we could take a picture. We had no idea how hard that was going to be. Ten billion images later, we started to get the hang of it. The challenges are too long to list in this post, but the main ones (stills a long list) are as follows:

    Knives are very reflective. You have to massage the light conditions greatly in order to get a photo with high resolution that shows color accurately without being washed out or too dark. This is actually hard as hell.

    Getting a long skinny object in a two dimensional plane is really hard to represent. A persons face is easy to fill a frame, but a knife often has to be turned diagonal or shot lengthwise in order to see enough detail. We have three different lenses on a very high quality Nikon and it is a serious challenge to show enough detail in the Burl of a handle if the knife is straight on. And if it seems like the answer is “just take it from farther away”, let me assure you that this doesn’t work. If you shoot a Fiddleback camp knife or a TM Hunt M18 and it only takes up 30% of the frame in a horizontal image, leaving 80% dead space above and below the knife, the consumer will think those are the size of a Case Toothpick. Seriously. Proportion is everything. And that starts with then knife in as much of the frame as possible; especially on a big knife.

    The straight on shots are definitely important, and we always shoot a couple when doing each knife. But often the straight on does not come out right and looks terrible. Depth of field (F-stop) is often the impediment. The image doesn’t like a “half flat, half reflective” surface and it will often throw the whole depth of field in the wrong place and or just make a bad image. That’s why you will often see good pictures with the knife at a slight angle running toward or away from the lense. Because the f-stop and shutter work together to make somewhere on that knife in really sharp focus. If the knife were flat to the lense, about 75% of the time it doesn’t come out. But I assure you that we try for this image! Whether you manually focus or use the auto function makes no difference. The spot in sharpest focus is never exactly where you think it is. And if it’s a flat image, there is no margin of error for the camera. Yet if the knife is coming toward or away from the lense, it’s ok because it will have something you want in the sharpest focus. This way, the customer gets to see the highest resolution of at least something, rather than a slightly blurry image of a whole knife.

    As for color, I think we get this one right but I know a lot of people struggle. My advice is, outdoor photos in natural light on a cloudy day is ALWAYS best. But if you need to shoot indoors, (and we usually do), then LED daylight hue bulbs in a can light filtered through plain white fabric works best.( Just trust me here - lots of experimentation). Lighting is hard, but we think it’s really important to get a good photograph with accurate colors. More on white balance below.

    Regarding background, this might be a revalation for some. But shooting a knife on a plain background is even harder. The reason is because the knife surfaces are usually smooth a polished. Cameras hate this. See, human skin or nature has “texture” and the lense can detect the surface of the image. A polished surface is MUCH harder for the lense to see. So you need a background with texture. We use pea gravel a lot and we use straw, ferns, leaves etc. This texture gives the lense something to “register” the smooth shiny image against. Trust me, if you try to photograph a super curly koa handle knife with a polished blade on a smooth background, it will not work. Not unless you’re a magician. But take that same curly koa and put it on some pea gravel and voila!

    Backgrounds also give the camera what they call “white balance”. The camera needs to see other colors in the spectrum so that it can get the colors correct. We find that pea gravel, leaves, old boards and things like that enable the white balance monitor to get the color of the handle right and therefore we do not ever do any color modification. We want a true-to-life color representation every time out of the gate.

    Finally, we try to get every angle and every feature of a knife. Left, right, tapered tang, underside of the handle, makers mark, grind features and pinout or other feature. So with a single knife, this is about 12 raw images. Now imagine you just bought 20 knives and need to get them up for sale. That’s 240 pictures. And you can’t load a raw image on a website. Plus, EVERY FRIGGIN PICTURE HAS A TERRIBLE BLOB OF LINT THAT YOU DIDNT BLOW OFF BEFORE SHOOTING THE GOD DAMN PICTURE. So you gotta fix that with your photo editing software, and then shrink the image. One photo shoot and editing session on 20 Knives is about three hours of work. Granted, for knife geeks like me; it’s not exactly like cleaning septic tanks. There could be worse jobs than playing with knives!!! (By the way, I did cut the shit out of myself on a Southern Longbeards I was shooting tonight. So there are job hazards!!! Damn his knives are sharp!)

    Anyway, the learning curve on taking good knife pictures is STEEP. But we do try really hard to get a good image for you.

    As a final thought, we are knife geeks too. If you aren’t happy with the knife then we aren’t happy. PLEASE return it for a full refund. I am a collector for over 30 years and I struggle too to buy on-line sometimes. Pictures can only tell you so much. (This is the real reason we opened Olde Towne Cutlery. But it is a bit like Al Pacino in Scarface. I get high on my own supply a little too often and sometimes when I’m in my office with hundreds of my personal knives, I feel like that scene at the end of the movie where he has that giant pile of cocaine on his desk.) Anyway, whoever you buy from, do business with people who are knife enthusiasts like you. They care about your happiness and satisfaction. We do. That means something and it’s not just a business and a widget running through a cash register.

    In conclusion, you have our commitment to take the best and most accurate pictures possible. But if it’s not what you expected, we don’t ever want you to hesitate to return it. When we started this business, Melissa and I said we would create a place where we would want to shop. And as a fellow knife geek, you have our commitment at Olde Towne Cutlery.

    Here are a few photos we like. Enjoy and thanks for reading my ramble! Lee






  3. Lady1911

    Lady1911 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 31, 2018
    I can’t explain it any better than @Warrior108 @pertinux @Choppaman and @wildmanh already did.

    The Scorpion, in particular, is one of the knives that’s been on my list for a long time. It’s not common to see one up for grabs on a Friday sale, so I was considering going for it yesterday. I struggled to discern certain features from the pics in the preview, however, and decided against it. In the case of a pattern which I am not very familiar with - like the Scorpion - I want to see details, perspective, un-glamoured shots, etc before I commit.

    [In all fairness, I did notice that a quick video was posted of said Scorpion on IG, which I didn’t see until much later, so that would have helped me if I was inclined to check IG for the knife preview, which I’m not accustomed to doing since we’ve previously been able to see useful comparison pics in the previews here.]

    I’m appreciative that the feedback about the new FBF sale process is being accepted and considered. We know that it’s a work in progress, and the changes will take a little while to get used to. On that note, perhaps some tweaking can be made to the CBW knife descriptions as well. Although I am not the PC police by any means, the language does seem to be a departure from what I’d consider professional and useful for determining the intended use. I love the CBW Trailmaster and Utility models, but I’m not interested in boosting my testosterone levels or making people pee down their legs. Just a thought. If marketing to that particular demographic works to sell more knives, then by all means, carry on. It probably isn’t necessary, though. :)
  4. RobbieB

    RobbieB Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 13, 2017
    A little off topic, but since this came up...

    For accurate color representation, your white balance has to be spot on. Today's digital cameras do a pretty good job under reasonable lighting conditions, particularly if there is a variety of natural colors in the shot. But sometimes, they just don't get it right. If you are using photo editing software to post-process your images and it has a white balance tool like PhotoShop's Camera Raw does, you can take pictures under any kind of light and still have accurate colors in your final image. The key is to take one shot that includes a color calibration card like this one:

    These come in different sizes, and for knife-sized subjects, you'll want one of the smaller ones like the Mini ColorChecker (above) from GretagMacbeth (3.25" x2.25"). The way you use these is as follows:
    1. Take one picture that includes the calibration card
    2. Take remaining pictures as normal without changing the lighting
    3. In your photo editing software, open the image with the card
    4. Select the software's white balance tool
    5. Click on the area of the image over the white box of the calibration card
    Now you have a color calibrated image. You'll need to take whatever steps your software needs to apply that correction to all other images from that photo session.

    If you're having difficulty getting all of the knife in focus, use a larger depth of field (i.e. a smaller f-stop; note because f-stop is expressed as a fraction, f/4 is larger than f/8). The closer the lens is to the subject, the smaller f-stop you'll need to use to get more of the image in focus. Sometimes you want to use f/4 or larger to isolate the subject and blur the background, but if you are trying to get the entire subject in focus, particularly if it isn't all in the same plane, you need to stop down the aperture more and use f/8, f/16 or whatever does the job. I've had to use f/32 with a macro lens to get enough of an image in focus before. Keep in mind that a smaller aperture lets less light through the lens, so your exposure time will increase. Use a tripod. Many tripod heads have bubble levels that help you get the camera perfectly horizontal, which is useful if you are taking that straight on shot.

    Related to this, don't shoot with your camera in full auto mode. Use aperture priority and choose the f-stop manually.

    Also related to focus, if using auto-focus, give the camera an area of the shot that has sufficient detail and contrast. It won't be able to focus on a smooth or shiny area of the blade, but it should be able to focus on most handle material just fine.

    As for undesirables finding their way into your shot (dust or whatever), this is something all photographers constantly battle, but carefully look over your subject before taking the picture to limit the amount of image clean up needed during post-processing. I've found it helpful to take one shot and examine it on the computer before continuing with the rest. For whatever reason, I seem to notice things more quickly there than when snapping the shot. If you're taking a lot of photos in one session, it may be helpful to tether your camera to your computer so the images are transferred in real-time.
  5. Lee Tigner

    Lee Tigner

    Jul 19, 2017
    Awesome detail and great explanation. Sounds like you have done this a good bit! Yes, we use the color calibration cards and always shoot in at least aperture priority. Sometimes in full manual. Bottom line, whipping out a camera and putting it in auto mode definitely does not work as you say. Lol.

    Great post Robbie!
  6. Lee Tigner

    Lee Tigner

    Jul 19, 2017
    Oh and I mean to add, curly woods and Burl has what they call chatoyancy. This is the characteristic where the wood reflects light at different angles. When it is really sanded out, you almost can’t tell where the air starts and the wood stops. It’s beautiful. But cameras hate it. Here is a good example. Sorry, Knife sold already!!!
    hasco likes this.
  7. wildmanh

    wildmanh Part time Leather Bender/Sheath maker

    Jul 9, 2000
    Beautiful knife, who made it? I really like that design.
  8. Odaon

    Odaon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 13, 2009
    Chris at Osprey Knife and Tool. His work is amazing, I highly recommend checking his knives out.

    Edit: that one was a one-off. Not a model he regularly makes.
    wildmanh likes this.
  9. Panthera tigris

    Panthera tigris Street Samurai Gold Member

    Apr 21, 2012
    Andy and Outpost will work out the right knives and the right presentation.
    Fiddleback Outpost likes this.
  10. Lee Tigner

    Lee Tigner

    Jul 19, 2017
    Yes. That’s Chris Linton of Osprey Knife and Tool. That particular knife was a custom one-off ad is not a regular pattern. Many more coming from him so stay tuned!!
  11. wildmanh

    wildmanh Part time Leather Bender/Sheath maker

    Jul 9, 2000
    Thanks for the info everyone!
  12. Nate87420


    May 31, 2018
  13. Nate87420


    May 31, 2018
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] Can anybody help identify this knife and possibly it’s value?
  14. Odaon

    Odaon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 13, 2009
    Your pictures are not showing up for me.
  15. Nate87420


    May 31, 2018
    I’m new and trying to figure out how to post pictures any advice would surely help. Thank you for your time and consideration
  16. Odaon

    Odaon Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 13, 2009
    I use Imgur myself. Make an account, upload pictures, copy an inage's direct link, paste it into the 'Image' section using the button to the right of the smiley face.

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