Three - dimensional objects will be well served by the methods described
before, such as overhead diffuse lighting, fill card and mirror use. For
flat things (like prints) use copy set - ups which primarily consist of
extremely even light on the object and the camera centered properly on
the work. Shiny things will need tents. We did, however, ask a number
of craftspeople and artists whether there were any special considerations
they felt were associated with different media. The following is derived
from their comments.
Paper and flat art
Sue Archer and Georgia Deal made these points: It is important in dealing
with paper to retain some sense of relief and surface texture. This could
be accomplished by varying the light distances a bit or adding a side
lighting source to the copy set - up. Color saturation is a tricky one
and you will just have to experiment. Try Kodachrome to see if you like
it any better than the tungsten films. In large objects in order to shoot
the whole thing you may lose a sense of detail and so have to provide
both a global shot of the object and several detailed shots as well. You
will have to choose a compromise: color, bold graphic quality versus a
sense of detail.
Layne Goldsmith and Akemi Nakano Cohn contributed some thoughts. For textiles
and quilts that are flat the considerations are similar. A sense of texture
is very important and so side lighting helps. A raking light at about
30 degrees, from one side with a fill card on the shadow side can produce
good results with a quilt (Collins, p 96). Lyn Pflueger, a Calgary fiber
artist, says that because textiles, unlike metal, are non - reflective,
they tend to 'suck up' light, so lighting is a problem. It's very easy
to get an image that is too dark, or not sharp and clear enough. This
can be remedied by lighting the surface strongly, using a gray card and
bracketing. Presentation and display for the photograph is also a concern;
hanging textile pieces on the wall is often convenient, but is not always
the best solution because then you lose the sense of three - dimensionality
that some pieces have. Tapestries can have relief parts in otherwise flat
work. Again, some cross lighting can be helpful. Here's where mirrors
are useful with their ability to spotlight specific areas on a piece.
In regard to baskets Lissa Hunter and Crys Harse had the following comments.
Depth of field is important, especially for larger pieces needing some
12 - 15" depth of field. One may need to increase the general lighting
levels or begin to use longer exposures than 1 second. If you are getting
a camera for such objects then you might want a camera that has settings
for longer time periods than a second. Depth of field is important for
woven pieces where specific weaves matter. This is because structure is
very important to basket makers. Therefore with baskets it is important
to take good detail shots of the surfaces and structures occurring. There
is some concern about trying to convey the intimate, tactile, close understanding
of the material and process experienced by the maker.
Harse also wants a background light enough to translate well into both
black and white slides and prints or even black and white laser prints.
My suggestion would be to try a white shooting surface and work with the
lighting to obtain a drop shadow effect. Texture and its subtleties are
of importance as well. It would therefore be good to use side lighting
and miniature spotlighting with mirrors and perhaps judicious projector
use as well. Fill lighting is very important to lighten shadowed areas.
Be careful of what shadows are doing on the object and background.
Another theme very important to basket makers (and to many people who
make vessels) is the play of inside and out and what that means. Therefore
position the camera so you can see some of the inside of the object to
better describe it (a vertical shot for instance at 45 degrees downwards
towards the object).
In regard to ceramics we asked Barbara Tipton and Peter Beasecker for
some comments. As someone who publishes a ceramicists magazine, Tipton
finds that most problems with submitted photos stem from ceramists hiring
photographers who are versed primarily in 2 - dimensional objects, when
specialized product photographers would be more familiar with 3-D work.
Depth of field is important, and the ability to show surface textures.
So, side lighting, long exposures, mirrors. The degree of glare and reflection
is very important in indicating a particular quality of surface or glaze.
This means side lighting and spotlighting to reveal those qualities. Watch
out for hot spots. Beasecker tones down a hot spot by blotting the surface
with beeswax (I'd avoid this on some porous or textured surfaces). Broad
soft box lighting from above along with fill cards works well with many
ceramics so that one is reflecting light back upwards against the object
from the sides. Dealing with portraying the scale of work: its size can
be a difficult thing and a concern. Inserting a penny or a ruler to indicate
scale is simply not done any more. An additional shot of the artist at
work in the studio along with the object can be a good way to indicate
scale. Tipton had some concern about people using the correct film types.
Regarding composition of photos sent in for publication: for technical
reasons, leave enough background space around the object.
Because jewelry is the focus of most of my own photography, the approaches
I've said I use personally throughout the text work well for most jewelry
objects. Coins work well with side lighting of various kinds; experiment
also with altering various lights distance from the coin.
Henry Schlosser was our consultant for wood. He emphasized documentary,
rather than 'artistic' photographs (it's that 'neutral background is better'
again). Magazines like an unobtrusive background so the object itself
is the focus of the picture. He noted problems with hot spots and fill
lighting. Good lighting is very important because colors tend to be very
subtle, and you want to be able to make out different colors. You might
experiment again with film types here. An issue he noted too is one that
sometimes occurs when photographing paintings: 'false color.' The film
records a different color than you see: i.e. a white wood appears green
in the photograph. Collins suggests that using a UV and/or an Infrared
filter or even UV filter material over the lights may help this as the
color differences are caused by the material fluorescing under excitation
of the UV or infrared light being emitted by the photofloods. He has filter
suggestions to compensate for this as well but notes it is a very complex
subject (Collins, pp 66 - 67). For reproduction, Schlosser notes that
magazines want fairly high contrast photos - sharp and 'crisp.'
We asked Morgan B. Turney, the editor of Canadian Railway Modeller, for
some comments. His largest concern in model photography is depth of field
- specifically, what type of lens to use with an SLR camera to get good
depth of field. Again we generally get greater depth of field by playing
with lighting levels, small f-stops and long exposures. Mirrors for modeling
light on the objects would be useful. Detail, texture and color are of
Mr. Turney himself uses a 28 mm lens with 2x extenders to make an f-stop
of 22 into one of 45, then cuts the exposure time in half to produce a
good close - up with good depth of field. Hmm, sounds like he knows what
he's doing - I refer model makers with further questions not answered
in this book to your respective journals.
Many professional photographers cringe when someone brings them a glass
object to shoot.
Transparency, hot spots, reflection, color are all special issues with
glass. Plexiglas L's provide some good options for glass. Glass seems
to work well when lit from below, from the sides or above through a diffusion
screen or translucent white Plexiglas or frosted glass. You might try
a tent. Defining edges with thin light streaks would come from fill cards
and side lighting. One can cut out translucent Mylar® or white paper
in the shape of the object and place it behind the glass to deal with
the transparency problem as long as it doesn't distort the understanding
of your object. A couple of set - ups that have been used for glass follow
(from Bomback, p 160).
A similar approach produces quite different effects when
the glass is lit from the sides (and possibly from below as well) in front
of a black background (Meltzer, p 69). This lights the edges and any details
within the glass. I don't use this approach but there may be a time when
this will be a good solution for you, perhaps with paper - weights or