How to take better pictures of your work?

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Blog entry by Hacksaw007 posted 11-04-2009 03:53 AM 1605 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was wondering if anyone on Lumberjocks would share their knoledge on how to take good pictures of our projects. I just have not got to the point where they look very good. Most of my projects are smaller, and require more detail to see what is going on. I have a camera but lack the right stuff or finances to buy great lighting. Just wondering…....

-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

9 comments so far

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3869 days

#1 posted 11-04-2009 04:08 AM

Here’s a very simple approach. I still use this method today:

Just make sure you have lots of light, and play with the lighting and “white balance” settings of your camera if it has any. Then enhance your photos in one of many free and easy to use photo programs (such as Picasa).

-- Happy woodworking!

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4173 posts in 3159 days

#2 posted 11-04-2009 04:27 AM

I turn on all the lights in the area, both incandescent and fluorescent, mixing the colors of the light. Daylight is the best, however, so if you can take your picture outside, that might be the best. I usually find my camera gives better pictures without the flash, although I usually I try both.

Be sure to get close enough that the object fills the viewfinder.

Then use Blake’s method, one of the photo programs, to alter both the color balance and the contrast and brightness settings. I usually crop the photo and adjust its resolution(called resampling), but I am sure most photo programs can do that too.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4082 days

#3 posted 11-04-2009 04:30 AM

Well, here’s a start

I’ve made one. I have some picture framing equipment and had some left over foam board so I made a few modifications to make the box more rigid.
Got all the muslin needed at the local linen store for less than $4. The box was free. While the foam board originally cost a few pennies most was left over from some other framing project. A lite fixture from Lowe’s cost $7.
However, I have not yet used it. I’m in the midst of making 75 pens and stuff is spread around. I will use it to take photos of the pens.

As you can tell from the link, this works great for small projects.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View lew's profile


12055 posts in 3750 days

#4 posted 11-04-2009 05:04 AM

Here’s another post from the LJ site

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3175 days

#5 posted 11-04-2009 05:13 AM

First off, your pictures so far are pretty good! Watch what’s in the background. Try not to use your flash. Set the camera up on a tripod or bag of rice. Use the “timer” feature so you don’t shake it when you push the button. DON’T hold your camera! The following is for a little more advanced: If you use photo editing programs at all use a white piece of paper (ulitmately an 18% grey card) in one picture to balance the color then use the editing software to change other pictures. Try to fill the frame with most of your item and leave a little surrounding. Don’t let the surroundings take away from what you’re trying to show. On a point-and-shoot camera a “portrait” setting is best or “macro”. These settings use the “fastest” or lowest f-stop to blur out the back ground (keep the focus on what you’re highlighting). A tripod and the timer feature go a long way.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View Aaron Taylor's profile

Aaron Taylor

37 posts in 3144 days

#6 posted 11-04-2009 05:42 PM

I agree with all the above comments. Buy a lightweight tripod (if you catch the right sales they can be as cheap as $10). Use indirect light and not your flash. Unless you have the proper (read expensive) flash they usually over expose what you are trying to shoot. Indirect light the best way. A couple of those portable work lights work really well. You can point the light at the wall or have it shining through a hanging sheet. As mentioned in one of the posts above sunlight is great for showing off projects. Remember that if what you are working on is movable then move it to a place that looks nice or stage things under and around them; never underestimate the value of a quickly thrown towel or sheet to help show off your piece. The nice thing with digital is that you can take a ton of pictures and then only keep the ones you like; don’t be afraid to take lots of pictures. Always take multiple shots from the same position; you never know when one might blur and the other looks good. If you have the capability then move your f-stop to it’s lowest setting. Since your objects are stationary use your timer while the camera is on a tripod (a pillow case or bag filled with rice or beans works in a pinch) this will reduce any shake from your hand and even what little shake that comes from pushing the shutter release. Hope this helps.


-- "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops."--Cary Grant from the movie Arsenic and Old Lace

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 3704 days

#7 posted 11-04-2009 06:24 PM

I think that you photos look pretty good. I would try to use a plain background. If you do just that your photos will improve 1000%

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3169 days

#8 posted 11-04-2009 06:49 PM

The only thing I can add to all of the above—excellent—points is …

Remember: if you’re using digital, then film is free.

Shoot. Change settings. Shoot more. Change distance and angle. Shoot more. Change lighting. Shoot some more.

Shoot 100 pictures (or … whatever). Pick your favorites.

Again: film is free.

That’s a real paradigm shift from the “old days” of roll film….

-- -- Neil

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3887 days

#9 posted 11-05-2009 02:59 AM

The important thing is to have a decent camera, decent lights, and Adobe Photo Shop Elements. I can fix just about any “less than ideal” picture with Photo Shop. It’s more than worth the $99 cost. I also recommend Google’s Picasa 3. It’s not as powerful as Photo Shop, but it’s free and very simple to operate.

I use a Nikon D70 and studio lights with umbrellas.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

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