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Photography Isn't Just Pressing A Button


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#1 Kevinharr

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 01:28 PM

Hello. I have spent 3 half days taking photos and the remainder of those days concluding that my photos are weak. Any basic tips on backgrounds would be welcome . Thanks 



#2 bciskepottery

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 02:06 PM

Could you describe your current set up, maybe attach a photo or two for folks to look at? Think we'd be able to offer better suggestions if you could do that.

#3 Kevinharr

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 02:26 PM

Its a basic but decent camera , I have lights and background material . I have recently posted a few pics in the gallery but sculptures take differently to vases . I will  post a couple of pics . Thanks 



#4 JBaymore

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 03:10 PM

Kevin,

 

I just (and only) looked at the two photos you just uploaded.

 

The conventions for art photography in this day and age are typically a seamless backdrop (background).  So the black tabletop and the white wall you are using are not helping you to start with.  Plus the huge dynamic range of those two values are wreaking hell with your camera's optics / processing.

 

Get something like a large sheet of Varitone graduated backdrop to make your life easier.  It gets supported in a gently bending curve from the foreground to the background........ making it fade from white to grey/black... and from in focus to out of focus.

 

Use the f stops and aperature to get the pot in focus and the background fading out. You usually do NOT want a huge depth of field. 

 

Next... your light sources seem kinda' "harsh".  Like bulbs aimed at the work.  Are you using diffusers between the lights and the pieces?  You can also use sheets of white foamcore or the like to bounce the light off of on its way to the pieces.  Unless you have a diffuser, don't point the lights right at the pieces.  Bounce the light.  Also....... look up the terrm "light tent".

 

Generally you want one dominant light and one fill light.  That captures 3 dimensionallity and surface texture. Change light positions and take test shots.  Delete the poor ones.  Digital is great. 

 

Even with digital, bracket your exposures a bit.  Shoot the largest files that your camera allows. 

 

Also you can use smaller pieces of white foamcore to bounce a small amount of light into places that there are objectionable shodows.  They usually are positioned JUST out of frame in the final photographs.

 

Quality lenses are the key to good photos.  DSLRs are the tool to use here for pro shots, with good optics as well as high pixels.

 

Hope that stuff helps.

 

best,

 

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


John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#5 Kevinharr

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 03:20 PM

Thanks John. You clearly know your stuff, although I think I should of high lighted the words " basic tips " . Cheers for responding tho doodle



#6 JBaymore

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 03:29 PM

Kevin,

 

What do you need said more basically?

 

best,

 

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


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Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#7 Kevinharr

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 03:49 PM

Charming ! Maybe I should of said quick fixes that don't require a lot of money spent on extra equipment and even more time spent on learning how to use them . Again tho thanks for your time 



#8 Pres

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 06:08 PM

A few tips for cheaper set up. Works for me in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Get a piece of solid, flexible plain white paper(thick). Find an area outside around the house where in morning or later afternoon you get diffused light. Place the paper so that it is attached at the top to a wall or support, let it drape to natural curve. Place the work in view and check to see that shadows are minimal or non existent. If your camera has white balance use that on the backdrop. Use a tripod or similar, and take shots from different angles. Use different setting on camera. Most have a program mode (P), an aperture mode (A), and a Shutter speed mode (S). The first two are those of most use to you here.  Take sets using these modes, and compare.

This may help, but be aware taking shots of your artwork is as much an art as the artwork itself. Trading favors with a photographer may pay off in the long run big time!


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#9 Kevinharr

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 06:49 PM

Cheers Pres . Much more helpful and without the condescending, arrogant  "tone" . I will give it a whirl . Much appreciated 



#10 Mark C.

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 07:05 PM

There has been a lot written here on this topic-it's one thing to make  ceramic work and yet another to great shots of it

so happens I have been shooting all week-not pottery but camera  lens and dive gear

I have had this setup for a long time now and they are mainstream now-as John says get a Varitone backdrop-this is an easy cube the lights need to be color balanced-I have nice ones but you can buy them on Amazon UK

They are these ones I use 5000 kelvin

http://www.amazon.co...1?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I use 4 lights on one side and one on the other and front light it with one

Get the right light on the pots and the right backdrop-B&H photo in US or a large London camera supply house  online sells all this as well.

You can do some on the cheap but you will need the basics

 

The photos can look like this potters cactus pot (not Mine) but I shot it without care as to reflections-that takes more time.

Go look at the Member GEP s website she has a nice setup thats very cheap to set up

You can find her posts easy and she moderates (her name is Mea) this business section.

Mark

Attached Files


Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#11 GEP

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 07:27 PM

Thanks for the plug Mark!

Here is my blog post about my photo setup, cheap and easy:
http://www.goodeleph...hoto-stand.html


For the record, I don't think John B. said anything condescending or arrogant. As always, he provided thorough and expert-level information.
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#12 Babs

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 07:37 PM

Cheers Pres . Much more helpful and without the condescending, arrogant  "tone" . I will give it a whirl . Much appreciated 

Think you took the clear ,objective advice in John's post in the wrong way.

He reads, he thinks, he writes, nothing personal in there.

We're all fortunate that he takes the time to do this.

Babs



#13 Bob Coyle

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 07:50 PM

I'm not sure you can get "professional" like photos without maybe spending a little money on setup and a little time and experimentation how to use it.



#14 JBaymore

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:07 PM

Kevin,

 

Sorry you thought anything there was said as condescending or arrogant.  It was intended as far from that as possible. You asked for some basic help.  I thought I gave you some.  You said it wasn't basic enough.  I asked what points I could clarify.  End of story.

 

best,

 

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


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#15 Kevinharr

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:29 PM

Thanks Mark C, that does help and it is appreciated. Although GEEZER, I didn't use the word ""professional" but thanks anyway. Also I did not say it wasn't " basic enough " but you are the man John so end of story it is . Regards 



#16 RuthB

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 09:52 AM

I have found that a gray tone roll up window shade also makes a great background. You can mount it to a wall and it rolls

up safely out of the way when not being used. Be careful when selecting the material. The really cheap ones can

can crinkle... impossible to smooth them out. 

 

Ruth



#17 Mark C.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 05:11 PM

You can to geat photos on the cheap but the backdrop and color balanced lights are still needed or shoot with diffused natural light.

Lights are cheap now and backdrops can be homemade.

 

Since I have done so much simipro photo work mostly underwater past 35 years (topside with ceramics) its hard for me to think about cheap with photo gear

Mark


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#18 Chris Campbell

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 08:38 PM

Kevinharr ...

Today the impact of images is incredibly important, so your attention to the images you choose to show is crucial. Every image you present is telling everyone who sees it more about you and your work than you might imagine.

You might think some advice is too harsh, but not nearly as harsh as a juror or gallery owner making choices on what to select for a show or for purchase ... Trust me on that. Most of the time you only have a couple seconds before they go on to the next image.

A potters images ... NOTE* I said images not the actual artwork ... have to reflect not just talent, but the ability to present your work to the public. A lot of galleries and shows do not want to have to re-shoot ... They want to use your images so they will gravitate to artists who have great photos.

Now you can spend time learning photography or maybe you have a young photographer nearby who is just starting out and might barter with you ... Pots for shots?

A simple investment in a light tent with matching lights and a graded background will get you through your whole career. You learn your settings and get a run of photos done in as long as it takes you to move them in and out of the tent. The photos always look the same so you can mix and match over the years with ease. You have the perfect images to send to shows, galleries and publications. I highly recommend the EZ Cube system ... Their people will advise you over the phone and they are very friendly and knowledgeable.

Photos of your work are just as important as the work itself if you want to sell through others.

Chris Campbell
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http://www.ccpottery.com/

https://www.facebook...88317932?ref=hl

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#19 Mark C.

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 09:17 PM

(A simple investment in a light tent with matching lights and a graded background will get you through your whole career. You learn your settings and get a run of photos done in as long as it takes you to move them in and out of the tent. The photos always look the same so you can mix and match over the years with ease. You have the perfect images to send to shows, galleries and publications. I highly recommend the EZ Cube system ... Their people will advise you over the phone and they are very friendly and knowledgeable.

Photos of your work are just as important as the work itself if you want to sell through others.)

 

Spot on Chris-I got mine years ago from E-Z cube tabletop studios long ago-they now sell on amazon

The owner is pro photographer who does photo work for artists in Cal and elsewhere.

You can by these at many outlets-B%H photo has them

EZ cube can sell you the whole kit with great light stands-

The thing Chris said is if you always shoot your work with the same backdrop its always the same over the years-this will make a huge difference as she said you can mix or match as time goes buy.

I leaned this the hard way myself as I'm from a pre cube era. (maybe caveman fits)

So when I share my early cave drawings with fellow nethanderals the backgrounds are all different- and in the fire light my fellow cavers get upset.

but for the past 15 years they are the same thanks to this system (I started off with just a varitone backdrop)

Mark


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#20 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 09:03 AM

I agree with Mea, John, Mark and Chris. I used a large Thunder Gray back drop for large pieces. The roll lasted a very long time. Then I went with the easy cube for table top sizes. That also has lasted years. I have two Varitone backdrops. One is large for large work. The other fits inside the easy cube.It is worth the investment and it lasts a long time.

Marcia




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