I want to start taking photos of projects I've done. The camera flash isn't
the best way to go. Any recommendations + or - on lighting kits? I'm
looking at buying from http://www.skaeser.com /. They seem to have a broad
Yeah -- I've done the websearch / google thing.
I don't know your experience level but if you are new, the first thing
you should buy is a good primary on Lighting. Lighting is tricky and if
not used right the sun will not provide the proper lighting for a project.
Unless you have the space, your best light is diffused light from the
sun. With a 3D object you may need some reflectors to get every thing
lit properly. But a reflector does not need to be anything more than a
white piece of cardboard.
Remember, most of the photo equipment is designed for portrait and
similar work, not for photographing a china cabinet, which will present
a completely different set of lighting problems.
I'm assuming you are using a digital camera. If so, I wouldn't be
considering speedlights (strobe/flash) because of probable syncronization
problems. That leaves continuous light which could be incandescent,
halogen or flourescent. Flourescent is deficient in red light but if your
camera can correct for that it is a viable possibility.
If you plan on photographing inside, you need at least two lights: one to
create the highlights and shadows to delineate the object's shape, the
other to lighten the shadows created by the first. The fill light - the
second one - should have as large a light emitting surface as possible so
it doesn't create shadows of its own. Best position for it is as close to
the camera axis as possible.
Additional lights can be useful to accent whatever,
You're right; on-camera flash sucks. But why does it suck? It's mostly
because we don't as a rule walk around in the dark wearing miner's
helmets. One small light source located on your forehead, bright enough
to overpower any other light in the room, produces an effect that looks
very unnatural to us. The first lesson then is that almost any other
kind of lighting looks better.
What do intend to do with the photos? Will they be promotional product
shots? Or will you just use them for LumberJocks posts or something like
Assuming the latter (or even if "pro-quality" is your goal) the first
thing you'll need is a tripod. I suggest making that your first
purchase. And in my inexpert opinion, it doesn't need to be a fancy one.
You won't be doing video, so you don't need smooth panning.
A tripod will immobilize the camera long enough to take photos with
longer shutter speeds; long enough that a piece of furniture that looks
nice in your living room may look nice (enough) in the photo. Rearrange
the lamps in your room, add a clip-light or two, maybe facing the
ceiling. Experiment. You should be able to get much better results
without spending much money. I think this is a worthwhile course even if
you eventually decide that you want professional lights. You'll learn a
lot doing it. And you may want to take some time getting to know your
way around photo-editing software. A little lighting an contrast
enhancement can make a big difference.
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You need a couple of decent lights, and some diffusers/reflectors. Easy
to build a light box from white paper and a cardboard box. Or build a
If you can profile your camera for the editing software you'll be
using, then pick up a white and neutral target. Make that your first
picture in each session, and you'll have the right values to adjust the
For lights, I use the halogen worklights I have, along with a couple
for synced flashes with reflectors to act as fills. I'm shooting a
Canon 7D, and doing most of my correction in Aperture on the Mac.
But the above advice will work with your phone camera, too.
And I agree with the advice others are offering, too. Good lighting
primer, and an OK tripod.
The biggest shoot I've ever worked on was in a hanger, shooting 4WD
articulated tractors. We had between 10,000 and 15,000 watts of lights,
and a LOT of seamless backdrop paper. Almost all the light we used was
reflected or diffused, not direct. We were shooting a 4x5 view camera
with a Polaroid back for testing. Great job, and I learned a LOT about
³Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness
sobered, but stupid lasts forever.² -- Aristophanes
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