violin photos


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Forgive my ignorance, but what does 'inside a ligthbox' mean? Also, what is a 'photospot'?

I want to improve my violin photography, but the cost of studio lights is too much for me, so I am investigating more budget friendly alternatives.

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A lightbox is like a tent made from white nylon,it folds flat .It has spring steel inside so that it can hold its shape .Its also known as a light cube. You put the object your photographing inside and focus the lights on the outside of the box.It disfuses reflections making it useful for shiny surfaces. I found that i didnt like the detail i got when using one,it seemed to over diffuse and soften everything.They are useful for small objects like antique pottery ,etc.(though you can get light tents in several sizes ,some will fit furniture inside).But i dont like them for instrument photography.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
fiddlecollector

A lightbox is like a tent made from white nylon,it folds flat .It has spring steel inside so that it can hold its shape .Its also known as a light cube. You put the object your photographing inside and focus the lights on the outside of the box.It disfuses reflections making it useful for shiny surfaces. I found that i didnt like the detail i got when using one,it seemed to over diffuse and soften everything.They are useful for small objects like antique pottery ,etc.(though you can get light tents in several sizes ,some will fit furniture inside).But i dont like them for instrument photography.


Actually, I've had some pretty good results using a cube. The lights are critcal (placement and strength) and I use cards to prevent unwanted reflections... Once the setup is refined, detail doesn't seem to be an issue.

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Hi Jeffrey, i suppose its a matter of opinion,i havent that much experience using them ,maybe my lights arent powerful enough,i only use 275 watt photofloods.They do help to make pretty photos,and i think flatter an instrument.Do you use the cube totally enclosed,ie use the flap at the front to poke the lense through?? I found this impossible with the Nikon macro lense i use.I used it with the front removed and the lights to the side.

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The photos and lighting are nice, but the background isn't as white as I thought it would be.

I used this setup when I wanted pics of my last violins. I had to adjust the lighting for the Front, Back, Side & Scroll shots. I used a sheet for the background that almost faded out to pure white, I think a piece of art store paper will help next time.

I recently made a light box to take photos of some things and the results turned out VERY well, I would have to modify it and make it much larger to work for a violin.

setup1.jpg

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here is the set up I use. Let me say that normally when I am actually taking photos of the violin the violin actually sit in a glass jar not a cardboard box. Also I had just put the umbrellas on the photo spots and I did not want to take them off for this photo. You can see the tripod in the foreground, without the camera of course. I always use a tripod.

photosetup600x459od9.th.jpg

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Barry,

To being... cool looking violin.

Your photograph of the scroll is very successful. The contrast seems just right -- all of the elements are playing nicely together. Look at the rim lights in just the right spots; they really help pop the violin off of the background.

The photograph of the top is nice as well, but is lacking something. If you squint at the image, the edge of the top plate disappears on the bottom right. A rim in that area would help define the form of the plate a bit more, and pulled the violin out of the gray. The color and contrast of the whole image is milky, but only slightly.

I have to admit that the gray background seems a little dull. I played around in Photoshop and found that a super white, or much darker colored backdrop (almost black value of desaturated blue, red or green), contrasted nicely with your varnish. If you want to get a super white background, you'll need a lot of lights. If you want to go dark... it may sound tacky to mention using velvet as a backdrop, but it would really soak up the light, and make your violin sing... high contrast... super crisp edges.

Also, it might be worth trying to reflect colors (colored cards?) onto your instrument. With the current setup, the light seems very artificial and cool. A bit of warmth might help out.

Again, this is an awesome looking violin.

Have you ever photographed outside?

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iburkard, thank you for your advice. I agree the photo of the top is lacking some pop! I photo shopped out some wrinkles in the lightbox and that makes the background very mushy.

Here is the same violin using a black background. Please tell me if this is an improvement??

http://img509.imageshack.us/im.../front1405x600op4.jpg

http://img206.imageshack.us/im...apr09004411x600ot2.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Barry,

Sorry for the slow response... and for resurrecting the old light box/new instrument photo thread.

The first thing that I noticed is that there is no defined key light in most of the photos. The first scroll image seems to have the best/hottest key light. In your current setup, it seems like you have two soft fill lights only. Check out this link concerning basic three point lighting principles. The example is for people/portraits, but applies to objects as well: http://ispeakfilm.dpblogs.com/...three-point-lighting/

I noticed that the contrast within your photos could stand to be increased every-so-slightly. Since you have photoShop, try using the Image|Adjust|Auto Levels to get an idea of what a contrast adjustment could do. The Auto Level adjustment will give you extreme results, but will at least point out where darks might not be dark enough, and lights aren't bright enough.

The dark background is a step in the right direction as far as value contrast is concerned, but also a very dark color (not just a plain black) is a good idea (like super dark red, or blue, or green) to help get your violin to pop a bit. In most of the photos you seem to use a cool gray/black background, with cool reflected silver light, which results in a cool wash of light on your warm instrument, which results in everything feeling soft, flat, and cold. The big thing for me is kicking up your key light a bit, and getting warm color into your lighting.

Some natural light isn't a bad thing.

Again, cool violin... have fun snapping photos!

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quote:


Originally posted by:
iburkard

The first thing that I noticed is that there is no defined key light in most of the photos. The first scroll image seems to have the best/hottest key light. In your current setup, it seems like you have two soft fill lights only. Check out this link concerning basic three point lighting principles. The example is for people/portraits, but applies to objects as well.

I noticed that the contrast within your photos could stand to be increased every-so-slightly. Since you have photoShop, try using the Image|Adjust|Auto Levels to get an idea of what a contrast adjustment could do. The Auto Level adjustment will give you extreme results, but will at least point out where darks might not be dark enough, and lights aren't bright enough.

The dark background is a step in the right direction as far as value contrast is concerned, but also a very dark color (not just a plain black) is a good idea (like super dark red, or blue, or green) to help get your violin to pop a bit. In most of the photos you seem to use a cool gray/black background, with cool reflected silver light, which results in a cool wash of light on your warm instrument, which results in everything feeling soft, flat, and cold. The big thing for me is kicking up your key light a bit, and getting warm color into your lighting.

Since this came back, I'll make a couple small suggestions/observations as well.

Not that any of this comes easy for me... and I think my photos are far from perfect, but I'm lucky to have a couple friends that I consider pretty darn good at photographing fiddles... and they help me through the rough spots. The product I get is workable for my archives and seems to print well. Y'all can tell me what you think.

I believe the 3 point system iburkard is probably an excellent way to go if one is shooting "glamor shots" (angled details, bits of the fiddle) as Barry looks like he was attempting in his first set. The primary light will help give the subject some "life" and depth. In addition, it may be a bit easier to eliminate some of the tent's reflections back onto the surface of the fiddle.

I can't get a 3 point system to work for me when shooting standard reference shots (straight on the plates, scroll profile, etc.), however. Lighting needs to be a bit more even for this type of photograph, although the direction the light flows can help bring out detail,wood figure & definition. It takes the use of four lights for me to get things looking right... the primary pair placed from a high angle downward and the fill pair lower on the sides. As I mentioned, it also requires some "cards" (reflection baffles) and, especially if using a tent, a liner in front, on the floor of the cube, to keep light from bouncing around. If you get light bouncing around in that cube, you'll lose definition. The battle for me, cube or not, is to get enough light on the subject and get enough depth of field without blowing the edges out completely.

I agree about the darker, but not too dark, background. I find black or dark gray very difficult to deal with when processing digital shots. I've tried colors, but I find a "photo gray" (about 18%) or a "dove" gray background (see below: a little lighter than the 18% gray card used to set your white balance) seems to work well and doesn't shift the color balance.

I believe I use the same camera as Barry does (D80? IF so, Barry, I find the default sharpness settings for the camera a little "soft")... although I'm not sure what lens you're using. I like the 60 mm Micro (macro). This was shot in a cube. There is minimal processing, but I did crop off the neck (it was a full length shot originally) so it was easier to get more of the body on the page. The second image is simply a section of the first photo, but represented in actual pixel size (not reduced). I consider this an average photo, for me. Workable, but there are things I feel I might have done a tad better (I think I mentioned I'm alway wrestling with depth of field, right?).

My 2 cents.

DSC%5F0010.jpg

detail1.jpg

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  • 9 years later...

I opted to post in this thread rather than start a new one.  I would like to make a light tent big enough to photograph violins and violas.  Any recommendations on size?  I plan to use PVC tubing as a frame to facilitate storage of the unit when not in use.  In Darnton's photography article he mentions keeping the backdrop 16" behind the instrument.  What about sides and front?  Here is a photo of my general idea, and mine will probably be a variation on the theme.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

5a0f289817dba_pvclighttentforphotos.jpg.b152eddeb67711e653880e833c7dc88a.jpg

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