Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cheap Lighting, part 3

This is my "dime sculpture" - an arrangement of dimes in an S shape with more dimes in bowls of the S.

Not as easy as it looks. I was trying to fill a certain amount of real estate, but I was also having to constantly move dimes around in order to get reasonably round smooth curves. Also, while the camera was looking straight down at the arrangement, I was not. So I had to keep checking my work against a series of test shots. And of course dust is always polluting the background.

The blue color comes from setting the white balance for a warm bulb and lighting with a cooler bulb. To the naked eye it would look pretty colorless.

The variation in tone for the background and the various levels of shine on the dimes are by products of a technique called axial lighting, often used to photograph proof coins. Basically you put the camera and lighting source at 90 degrees to each other with an intervening sheet of glass (acrylic in my case) angled at 45 degrees to both, and an obstruction to shadow the subject from the being lit directly by the lighting source. Instead, it is lit from reflection off the glass. See the link for a better explanation.

Coins can be a great subject when creatively lit. So can many other household objects. it just takes patience (a camera and tripod also help).

You can find product designs based on my dime shots and other object photos in my zazzle store. If you have a product in mind but don't see it, just contact me or leave a message on the store wall or product page and maybe I'll design it for you!

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