The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
Okay, forgive me for the discussion title .... but I was asked the camera I was using to take photos of my knives. First off, I am not .... nor will I ever consider myself to be a photographer. I basically take pictures, plain and simple. I have absolutely NO creative or artistic ability. Therefore, rather than trying to compose artistic pictures of my knives, I just try to make them look as closely to how they look to the naked eye as possible. To achieve this, often takes much trial and error (thank goodness we are in the digital age!!)
Lighting (most often my nemesis) is, in my mind, far more important than any other aspect of capturing a good image of your knife. But understanding lighting (and exposure) is only half the battle ... the other half is being able to control it. I don't have a lot of space in which to take pictures .... so for me, controlling lighting involves a bunch of lights (not all used at any given time), many mirrors, and finally hand held light diffusers (to eliminate unwanted glare).
Next, a sturdy tripod is essential. Even very light cameras (or phone cameras) often can't be held steady enough to eliminate movement which results in some degree of blurring. A tripod will let you get much better pictures.
As far as cameras go, having a good camera and lens can't hurt ... and can definitely help. But, it isn't as critical as other things. What is important, is that you know your camera/lens well and how to use it! My camera of choice is my Nikon D300S (a real workhorse) with a Nikon 105mm micro lens. Problem is, the 105 mm (in my opinion) really isn't suited perfectly for taking pictures of my knives. Prior to it, I used the Nikon 18-200. It was great, but I got tired of lens creep when taking some pictures where I had to have a free hand to hold a light diffuser!! With practice and experimenting, I've learned what settings/lighting work best with that 105mm using my homemade light box.
Speaking of the light box. My house is nightmare when it comes to using available natural lighting ... so had to resort to a light box. I first bought one of those portable ones. Didn't like it so a year or so ago, built my own. Here are some pictures of it as I was making the box:
As for lighting, I use a total of 7 hot lights - 85W 5500K bulbs. Three from the top and two on each side. The bulbs on top bounce off a piece of white board down through the bed linen into the box. Whether I have all of the lights on or just specific ones depends on the particular knife I am trying to photograph. I also use a bunch of mirrors to direct the lighting onto specific areas of the knife as well as a large hand held diffuser (made from a small white board frame with vellum as the diffuser). I keep moving the mirrors and diffuser until I think I have acceptable lighting on the knife. I then take a few (or, most often, quite a bit more than a few) pics in hope that some of them are satisfactory!! Here are a couple shots of how the box is set up to use:
Hope this helps.
Nice set up, I know I struggle with getting good pics and use mostly outdoor lighting. Alot of good info is also within the knife photography group
Thanks Jan ..... I don't know how I missed that group! Then again, there are times I can't find my keys ... when they are right in front of me!!!
LOL, how about those where are my glasses moments when they are on your face :)
Wow lots of lites but super fine results!
Thanks Brian. Like I said, I don't have all of them on at any given time. Depends on the knife and the angle at which I am trying to shoot as to which are on and which are off. Much like a knife or gun .... better to have what you need, and not need it, than not have what you need and .... you know!
I know exactly what you mean. I like your photo box, very similar to my own. I just started using LED bulbs and I love the light. Very even, white and clean. I need to add a few more, and grab a couple more mirrors!
As you know, shooting photos of shiny metal objects is not always the easiest! Your work is really nice. Kudos!