Photographing your works

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Ethan Sincox posted 03-12-2007 05:11 AM 1815 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4167 days

03-12-2007 05:11 AM

There are how many hundred projects posted on LumberJocks already? Obviously, people are photographing their work.

I know some of the basics, but I’d like to get better. So what methods do you use? And how successful are you (or do you think you are)?

Maybe if we can get enough tips and advice together, we can all benefit.

Unfortunately, all I know is that you can cut down on shadow by having more than one light source and if you difuse those light sources you can get more even lighting and better results (depending upon your desired effect, of course).

Do you have a dedicated space? Do you take your pictures on the fly? What do you use for backgrounds? Anything and everything about photographing your works should be open to discussion here!

-- Ethan,

16 replies so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#1 posted 03-12-2007 02:01 PM

At this point I have 3 spaces that I take pictures:
1) a little end table with a book support to hold objects. It is away from direct light and has a plain, light-coloured wall behind it.
2) the kitchen table: far enough away from the kitchen window so the light isn’t too bright and the table is wood so it’s a nice base
3) the carpetted floor

I then save it with a height/width no greater than 600 whatchyahmacallits.
I post the pix at Picassa

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4307 days

#2 posted 03-12-2007 05:03 PM

Thanks Ethan I’m interested in this topic and hope to get some good input. I’ve had a hard time photographing objects in my house with out a flash. I don’t want to use a flash because of the glare on the furniture surfaces. So I need a lot of light. I can get good pictures outside. In my shop I can drape a large canvass for a back drop. I’ve got a lot to learn about photography. I’m hoping to enter some of my stuff in a show so I figured I’d call up and get some prices from a professional photographer. $50.00 just for a digital file which is all I needed so last time I gave that a try. I was pretty happy. I’ve heard of $200.00 to $300.00 for photos and could not justify that. Anyway his setup was basically just a canvas back drop but it was a colored canvas. Almost tie died. You can see the backdrop in one of my projects. That could be done in a shop setting.

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4304 days

#3 posted 03-12-2007 05:19 PM

It depends on what I photographing. I try to have a plain wall behind the object. If no flash is wanted, then you have to take the picture outside in full sun, unless you can slow down your shutter speed which is something I haven’t seen on digital cameras, at least not any that I can afford.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4293 days

#4 posted 03-12-2007 05:29 PM

I know that when taking pictures of carvings, especially relief carvings you can’t use a flash. I usually setup with a light from the side, & another light farther away from behind, so you can get a shadow. Also I set my camera to macro. it seems to give a sharper image. A tripod also helps.
I’ve also been cutting out the object in my images of my carvings, & pasting them to a black background. I think it makes the wood stand out better. I have Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006 for doing this. You can take a tour of it to see how it works.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4154 days

#5 posted 03-12-2007 06:12 PM

I have not been sophisticated in taking my pictures so far (as it probably shows). I use my digital camera with flash. I take the pictures with as little in the background as possible. I use the natural light in the room, but add the flash to light up the object.

I am sure there is a lot I can learn from everyone else on how to take pictures of my projects.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4118 days

#6 posted 03-13-2007 02:11 AM

The alternative to a flash is a tripod, which I strongly recommend (not that my pictures are any great shakes). Most digital cameras will actually work in fairly low light if you give ‘em a steady thing to stand on and use the timer mode so that your hands don’t shake the camera.

I’m no product photographer, but using a window for diffuse light is a good thing.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4188 days

#7 posted 03-13-2007 05:58 PM

I posted a small project of mine to illustrate the usefulness of a photoshop program if you use a digital camera to take pics of your work. There’s a before and after where I cropped, enhanced the tone, and took out the distracting background. I find this really cool, as I can add/subtract good/bad stuff. As an example, I once added a really great head of hair to my head so I could remember the good old days when I didn’t need a cap in the winter to keep warm. The program isn’t all that hard to learn. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4086 days

#8 posted 03-13-2007 07:08 PM

I think it is great that there is such interest in photographing work well. I constantly see so many great pieces that are just shot in the garage or dragged out into the back yard and never do justice to the hundreds of hours and gallons of sweat that went into them.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4320 days

#9 posted 03-13-2007 09:52 PM

Use a tripod whenever you can. This will help solve lots of problems with indoor lighting, as well as framing.

For product shots, take a few at different angles so you can choose the best ones, generally speaking, you want to see at least a little bit of three different sides to help give a sense of dimension.

Multiple light sources are important to avoid the strong black shadows from the flash.
Lately for small projects, I’ve been putting them on the dining room table under (the chandelier – but off to the side, not directly underneath. I’ll stand with the light between the camera and the object.

A dropcloth or some sort of neutral background is necc only to reduce the clutter, and not take focus away from the subject. Unless your house is ready for an openhouse, use a backdrop. (Todd and Dusty’s project postings are good exceptions to the backdrop rule.)

The most imporant rule for taking good pictures I was taught (way back in high school) If you want to take 1 good picture, shoot a whole roll of film. (much easier said now with digital, since I didn’t like spending so much on processing, but you have more options to choose from, and can try different shutterspeeds, apertures and pick the best for reprints.

If you need good pictures, (for promotional materials, the book your writing…) hire a professional. Newspapers are a good resource to find someone who can do a small freelance job for a reasonable price. Working at a newspaper, i’ve seen so many bad photos of homes for sale come in from the realtors. I don’t know if they are all home-owner supplied or not. But I’ve seen my share of photos taken of homes costing a few to several hundred thousand dollars taken from inside the car. Not professional to see a rear-view mirror, raindrops on the windows, etc…

Just take your time, move the clutter, kids toys, etc, out of the way. Make the room as bright as you possibly can, and take several pictures from different angles, to give yourself some options.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4320 days

#10 posted 03-13-2007 10:39 PM

Oh, and if you can have two or three light sources shining on the piece (one for a different face) try to have each side illuminated at a different level of brightness.

a small light in back (blocked by the project) will help to minimize the shadow of the flash – also does wonders for taking pictures of people, highlights hair, keeps the background from becoming a dark shadow that swallows everyone up.

If you do use a backdrop, try to make sure it isn’t distracting from the piece. A good frame and matte for a picture/paining should compliment and show the piece to it’s best advantage, not call attention to itself, whether by color, pattern, or being all wrinkled. There is a difference between creatively draped, and a wrinkled mess.
Also try different color backgrounds, perhaps a lighter or darker one (or a different color) would look better – In that it’ll make the piece look better.

Trust your eye, look around to see what others are doing, copy set ups that you like. You’ll get the hang of it with practice.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4154 days

#11 posted 03-14-2007 02:12 PM

and don’t forget to get a close-up of the features that you want to highlight.

and if you really want to get fancy, the background can really set the mood (or break it). If you have built something rustic, a rustic background is much better than putting the object on/in something modern. (if that makes sense).

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4093 days

#12 posted 03-14-2007 03:19 PM

I use a tripod as much as possible and no flash. All of the Cooper Project photos were taken on a tripod with no flash and a slow shutter speed. The Domino photos were taken under shop fluorescent lighting and about 1/40th second. Too slow to hold. The shaker bench photos with a back drop were taken on the tripod with about 10 parabolic reflector lights from various angles. The backdrop was a couple of new painter’s tarps from Home Depot. I have a couple set aside just for photos, and I set up a photo studio in my shop. The light bulbs are the “daylight” corrected ones that have the blue tint.

One of my favorite tools on my MacBook is the photo program it came with to crop, straighten, and correct images. I can get rid of the green overtones of fluorescent lighting, cool images that are too warm from incandescent lights, and perform a variety of other adjustments with ease.

I would like to add that I am just creative with it – not professional, and you can do it too.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4087 days

#13 posted 03-14-2007 07:01 PM

I agree with all the comments about the use of a tripod. They can save you lots of headaches. There is one trick to consider when using the tripod and a slow shutter speed or a digital camera that will ‘take its time’. Use the timer option. Even though you have the tripod you will get some shake in your photos just from pushing the button unless the button is very sensative. I have both traditional SLRs and digitals and this trick has proven useful. The timer will give the camera time to ‘settle’ after you release your finger and makes for crisper shots.

If you use an older traditional SLR, a cable release is another option. They are inexpensive and screw right into the button on the camera.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4086 days

#14 posted 03-14-2007 07:56 PM

Art stores sell stuff called FoamCore. It’s a 1/4” plastic white board that comes in all sizes even up to 4’ x 8’ and it’s fairly cheap.

You can use it as a backdrop or cut smaller pieces and use it around the woodworking piece you’re shooting to “diffuse” or “reflect” the light source (professional photographers use this stuff all the time). This evens out the light on your piece or allows you to control shadowing, etc and even makes the shot a bit crisper.

If you really want to take your photographs up a notch and you do large pieces, you can buy different color paper on rolls called “seamless”. It comes in all different sizes, colors and textures. Hang it along a wall in the garage up by the ceiling, all rolled up (as if we have space there right?). When it comes time to shoot the piece, unroll it down to and along the floor, set the piece on it and shoot away. Nice continuous background, nice shadows… nice shot. Gotta be careful though because it crimps easily. If that happens just cut away wrinkled part and unroll some more.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4093 days

#15 posted 03-14-2007 10:17 PM

Jeff is right about the self timer, that is the key to success with the slow shutter speed.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics