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Patti Moss

photgraphing pottery

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I've been using a couple of these for larger work, and hanging a single overhead for smaller stuff. They are cheap and work well, they use a high output 5500k CFL bulb that is rated for ~10,000 hours and doesn't heat up like old tungsten. They're easy to white balance for and with either a veritone or seamless grey backdrop, easy to shoot good images with... With the increased availability of photo lights and the decrease in their cost, there is almost no reason not to have a modest photo setup. If you're serious about documenting, applying to shows, schools, or for publication, there is no other way to go.

 

 

Those are really nice shots of equally nice work! I'm really excited about those lights! They come with the baffle, the bulb AND the stand?? Is that a graduated-color backdrop or have you achieved that effect with light positioning? It's very dramatic without being distracting. What type of camera equipment are you using? I noticed that those lights are about 20"x27". Do they come apart and collapse for storage? And are you just using a naked bulb overhead? If so, what type -- daylight or full spectrum or....?

 

 

Oops, sorry. I just read the reviews for the light set and saw that they do collapse for storage. Are you using a light cube as well, or just the lights and a backdrop? Or is the light cube unnecessary? Do you extinguish other lights and rely soley on the lightsets from Adorama?

 

 

 

 

To answer your questions in order

-They come with the softbox ("baffle"), tripod, and lamp

 

-The backdrop I am using is not gradated like a varitone backdrop, its thunder grey backdrop paper on a roll.. It is what I learned to shoot with, but Ill be moving to varitone for small work in the near future as its easier to get that gradation without adjusting the paper position/lighting position.

 

-I shoot with an olympus e300, its not state of the art, but it takes fine images and I use it almost exclusively for shooting work. It probably goes without saying that a tripod is a must. I get as close to the work as I physically can so that I can minimize things like lens distortion that happen when using optical zoom--its also easier to shoot in low light this way. I shoot with my camera in full manual mode, I set the f-stop, exposure, and focus and adjust them to taste... My camera (and many digital cameras) allows me to control it from a laptop so I can see in somewhat real time the results of my shooting on a reasonably sized screen... I don't always do this, but its a nice feature.

 

-I shoot my small work (cups, bowls, plates, jars, basically anything under 24" in any direction) using a single softbox suspended over the work. All other light sources are extinguished as my camera is white balanced for the lights in the soft-boxes--introducing light of another temperature can throw this off and give you an undesired "tint" on your photos.

Anything larger I shoot with one overhead and one or two front facing soft boxes depending on the situation and scale of the piece... I always use a remote to trigger the camera so as not to jar it, if you don't have a remote or a cable release on your camera, use the timer setting...

I do not use a lightcube, a light cube is essentially a softbox that your work goes inside of--if you are using reasonably well diffused softboxes, I cant see what the benefit of a lightcube would be. If you have the extra cash (and its really not that much more...) a couple lights, soft boxes, and tripods will be MUCH more versatile than the lightcube, in my opinion.

 

Hope that this was helpful

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yOU GUYS ARE GOING TO LAUGH, BUT I HAVE BEEN EXPERIMENTING WITH MIRRORS, CUSTOMERS THINK IS IS COOL

 

opps sorry caps. just had surgery and still on percoset...frikin hernia....lift with your legs friends ---oh wait that wouldnt help, make your friends lift for you.... yeah thats it

 

 

I laugh not. Where it is important to show the bottom of the piece and the inside, this makes sense. It would be nicer if you could control the contrast and glare a little better. Is Photoshop viable for pictures of work for shows? I know that when working with brochures and other media where I had to show student work in printed format that the Photoshop or Gimp images helped me add more POP to the image. Thoughts?

 

 

I think honestly in most situations it is less distracting and more effective to shoot separate images of the foot and interior of an object than to try to shoot both with a mirror... The mirror itself is really distracting, its too easy to have things like fingerprints and smudges show up on it, and most juried events allow for a detail or secondary view of an object to begin with...

As to using post processing to enhance images, I don't personally do that. I white balance my camera, focus it, shoot multiple images bracketed up and down, view them and re-shoot if I don't have what I want... I want to document the work, not make an image of what I wish I had made. There is clearly a fine line--is punching up the color too much? How about white balancing out of camera? Its really up to the person, I mostly just try to keep myself honest with that stuff because its so easy to make fairly drastic changes to an image in software.

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Isculpt    96

Thank you so much for all the information. I will use it as a guide to proceed! Jayne

 

I've been using a couple of these for larger work, and hanging a single overhead for smaller stuff. They are cheap and work well, they use a high output 5500k CFL bulb that is rated for ~10,000 hours and doesn't heat up like old tungsten. They're easy to white balance for and with either a veritone or seamless grey backdrop, easy to shoot good images with... With the increased availability of photo lights and the decrease in their cost, there is almost no reason not to have a modest photo setup. If you're serious about documenting, applying to shows, schools, or for publication, there is no other way to go.

 

 

Those are really nice shots of equally nice work! I'm really excited about those lights! They come with the baffle, the bulb AND the stand?? Is that a graduated-color backdrop or have you achieved that effect with light positioning? It's very dramatic without being distracting. What type of camera equipment are you using? I noticed that those lights are about 20"x27". Do they come apart and collapse for storage? And are you just using a naked bulb overhead? If so, what type -- daylight or full spectrum or....?

 

 

Oops, sorry. I just read the reviews for the light set and saw that they do collapse for storage. Are you using a light cube as well, or just the lights and a backdrop? Or is the light cube unnecessary? Do you extinguish other lights and rely soley on the lightsets from Adorama?

 

 

 

 

To answer your questions in order

-They come with the softbox ("baffle"), tripod, and lamp

 

-The backdrop I am using is not gradated like a varitone backdrop, its thunder grey backdrop paper on a roll.. It is what I learned to shoot with, but Ill be moving to varitone for small work in the near future as its easier to get that gradation without adjusting the paper position/lighting position.

 

-I shoot with an olympus e300, its not state of the art, but it takes fine images and I use it almost exclusively for shooting work. It probably goes without saying that a tripod is a must. I get as close to the work as I physically can so that I can minimize things like lens distortion that happen when using optical zoom--its also easier to shoot in low light this way. I shoot with my camera in full manual mode, I set the f-stop, exposure, and focus and adjust them to taste... My camera (and many digital cameras) allows me to control it from a laptop so I can see in somewhat real time the results of my shooting on a reasonably sized screen... I don't always do this, but its a nice feature.

 

-I shoot my small work (cups, bowls, plates, jars, basically anything under 24" in any direction) using a single softbox suspended over the work. All other light sources are extinguished as my camera is white balanced for the lights in the soft-boxes--introducing light of another temperature can throw this off and give you an undesired "tint" on your photos.

Anything larger I shoot with one overhead and one or two front facing soft boxes depending on the situation and scale of the piece... I always use a remote to trigger the camera so as not to jar it, if you don't have a remote or a cable release on your camera, use the timer setting...

I do not use a lightcube, a light cube is essentially a softbox that your work goes inside of--if you are using reasonably well diffused softboxes, I cant see what the benefit of a lightcube would be. If you have the extra cash (and its really not that much more...) a couple lights, soft boxes, and tripods will be MUCH more versatile than the lightcube, in my opinion.

 

Hope that this was helpful

 

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OffCenter    82

Photo cubes are too confining for me. I use one of those cheap 10x20 carports with white tarps for roof and sides. Even on cloudy days (not heavy clouds) sunlight comes through nice and even and I have room for large anagama jars and big bowls and plenty of room for a model holding a mug, etc. and I can change angles get distance and manipulate light with ease.

 

Jim

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Natania    6

Attached is a pic of my set up - I made a "light box" -type thing from foam core and white "fabric" shower curtain liner (and lots of white duct tape). The photos I take of my work look good, but the one I took of the set up is a little dark because of being back-lit from the windows (I was in a hurry). The cost of the whole thing was only for the photo floods, long-armed lamps and of course the camera...

 

 

Bianca, I love your images, not to mention your work! The backdrop color is great. Can you tell me what you're using for the backdrop? How do you avoid the bluish cast that so many images seem to have? Do you actually shoot in front of the window without the outdoor light affecting your image exposure? And lastly, what type of camera are you using to produce such a professional product shot? Sorry for so many questions, but I'm just really impressed with your pottery image!

 

 

So sorry I didn't see your questions until now. Hopefully you will look back at this thread again even though it has been a few weeks.. I use ua cannon powershot G12, which was a tip from a friend who writes a food blog. I love it! The backdrop is your average variegated vinyl one used by many as mentioned above (I forget the website where I got it). Strangely, I found that the pics looked better when I didn't block out the outside light from the windows behind. This goes against everything I've read, but it seems to work. I've since revamped the light box thingy to have shorter sides so that they are perpendicular to the top. I used the light setting for tungsten film with EIko photo flood lights. I think this helps avoid the blueish cast. It is an organic process, as each time i take photos they turn out better.I try to really notice which pics I respond to and why. Glad you liked them!

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Isculpt    96

Attached is a pic of my set up - I made a "light box" -type thing from foam core and white "fabric" shower curtain liner (and lots of white duct tape). The photos I take of my work look good, but the one I took of the set up is a little dark because of being back-lit from the windows (I was in a hurry). The cost of the whole thing was only for the photo floods, long-armed lamps and of course the camera...

 

 

Bianca, I love your images, not to mention your work! The backdrop color is great. Can you tell me what you're using for the backdrop? How do you avoid the bluish cast that so many images seem to have? Do you actually shoot in front of the window without the outdoor light affecting your image exposure? And lastly, what type of camera are you using to produce such a professional product shot? Sorry for so many questions, but I'm just really impressed with your pottery image!

 

 

So sorry I didn't see your questions until now. Hopefully you will look back at this thread again even though it has been a few weeks.. I use ua cannon powershot G12, which was a tip from a friend who writes a food blog. I love it! The backdrop is your average variegated vinyl one used by many as mentioned above (I forget the website where I got it). Strangely, I found that the pics looked better when I didn't block out the outside light from the windows behind. This goes against everything I've read, but it seems to work. I've since revamped the light box thingy to have shorter sides so that they are perpendicular to the top. I used the light setting for tungsten film with EIko photo flood lights. I think this helps avoid the blueish cast. It is an organic process, as each time i take photos they turn out better.I try to really notice which pics I respond to and why. Glad you liked them!

 

 

Thanks, Bianca!

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Natania    6

I actually realized that for the picture I posted, I used the "florescent light" setting on the camera, and not the tungston light setting. doing this definitely makes the colors in the photos warmer.

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JBaymore    1,432

I actually realized that for the picture I posted, I used the "florescent light" setting on the camera, and not the tungston light setting. doing this definitely makes the colors in the photos warmer.

 

 

One of the core steps before I shoot is to place a clean, bright white sheet of paper into the warmed up (I use CF photo flood lights) field of view of the photo lights at the eventual location of the object being photographed, have it cover the entire frame of the camera imagefinder, and then hit the "white balance" function on the camera.

 

The goal for most purposes (maybe advertising design aside) is to have the colors accurate to the original work. White balancing accomplishes this no matter what the blend of light sources. It adjusts to the color temperature of the light bouncing off of the piece.

 

best,

 

......................john

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Nancy S.    21

This might seem like it has an obvious answer, but I'm curious...

 

How do you get plates, platters, and other dishes to stand up on end so that you can photograph them?

 

I've been looking into a Varitone background, but am wondering how durable they are when it comes to the unfinished bottoms of pottery.

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Lucille Oka    16

You can get clear plexiglas plate stands or wire plate hangers or prop something behind the plate and use display putty. Museum's use it as well as many art owners in earthquake territories. It is a little pricy but sure to do the trick.

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GEP    863

This might seem like it has an obvious answer, but I'm curious...

 

How do you get plates, platters, and other dishes to stand up on end so that you can photograph them?

 

I've been looking into a Varitone background, but am wondering how durable they are when it comes to the unfinished bottoms of pottery.

 

 

 

I have some plate stands that I think are attractive enough to be seen in the photo. You can see it by going to my gallery in this forum, in the photo titled "oval platter with bamboo." I get those stands at http://displayyourart.com

 

When I have a plate or platter that does not work with that stand, I will tape just about anything to the back of the plate (with masking tape) that will make it stand up, being careful that the makeshift stand can't be seen.

 

My varitone is about 6 years old. It has held up pretty well, but it definitely showing some scratches now from the unglazed pot bottoms. I think I'll need a new one soon.

 

Mea

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Mark C.    1,798

I use weighted bags to prop the ware -they are heavy and you do not see them.Diver ankle and sport bag weights from a thrift store work well. Or quality stands as GEP refers to above also work.

The coated varitone backgrounds have a tough matt surface that does not get injured very easy.They hold up for years.

Mark

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JBaymore    1,432

Make sure to get the actual VARITONE brand for these sheets. I've seen cheap imitations on places like EBay that do NOT stand up at ALL. They get advertised there using the actual Varitone name...... but they are cheap crappy knockoffs. I tried one once.... never again.

 

You get what you pay for.

 

best,

 

.................john

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robin jack    0

Well I am not much experienced in this photography field But I want to improve my skills in this. I mostly capture my scales picture for my out city customers, and send all the picture trough the social website or mail and some time in hard copy. I think I am not fully expert in this so guys I want to know that about some capturing tips which help me to improve my skill.
 

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Biglou13    202

Well I am not much experienced in this photography field But I want to improve my skills in this. I mostly capture my scales picture for my out city customers, and send all the picture trough the social website or mail and some time in hard copy. I think I am not fully expert in this so guys I want to know that about some capturing tips which help me to improve my skill.

 

 

 

While I am new to pottery, I am not new to photography!

 

I'll be glad to help. But will need a little,more info. Camera lens focal length, lighting source, distance from source, light modifiers.

A picture is worth a thousand words...... Post one with some info on what you did and well go,from there.

 

It's a lot of work to make a set, light it, shoot your work, up,load to computer, edit, color correct, retouch, resize, catalog, file, print, upload. It takes some work but it isin't rocket science....

But if you want professional looking images it takes a professional effort. I'm guilty of it frequently using I phone or I pad which equals substandard results.

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