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Simple Photos as 2 page pdf



There have been several articles published lately on how you can take ďalmostĒ professional photographs of your turnings.  This isnít that sort of article.  If you need professional photographs because your living depends on getting into a prestigious gallery or craft show then you should actually hire a pro, not read another article.  But if you need photographs for your web site or to illustrate a magazine article you probably canít justify hiring a pro, but want something better than a flash picture with a point and shoot camera.  This article describes two easy and inexpensive ways to get photographs of turnings that are only a step or two down from professional.

Flatbed Scanner

To get an image of small articles that donít have a lot of height you can just plop them on a Flatbed Scanner and scan them.  This technique is great for such things pens, refrigerator magnets, lace bobbins, or in my case, tatting accessories.  The lid of the Scanner will usually lie at an angle so youíll get a nice graduated gray background.  You may find you get better results by turning up the resolution (dpi) for your scan and then reducing the image size to the quality you need with software.


You canít control shadows, and you may get some reflections from the inside of the scanner, but this is so easy you should try if first.  It seems almost criminal to get images this effortlessly.  Figure 1 shows a scan of a couple of tatting accessories.  Yes, I know you probably donít know what tatting accessories are, but you can visit my web siteÖ

Two tatting accessories.  This image was obtained by simply scanning with a Flatbed Scanner.

Dining Room Light Box

Bowls and Vessels wonít balance very well on a Scanner, so unless youíre unduly proud of the bottoms youíll need another technique for larger articles.  Iíve had very good luck with my Dining Room Light Box.  It produces a seamless background and diffuse lighting, with just enough shadow to give definition.


You donít need much equipment.  You need a room with more or less neutral colored walls that has a large window.  White walls and a South facing window would be ideal, but not essential.  Most of the light comes from the window, not off the walls, so anything but hot purple would probably work.  Besides a room you need a camera, a tripod, a sheet of poster board, and something to prop the poster board up.


Dining Room Light Box.  An easy set-up to get photographs with a seamless background and diffuse light.

Figure 2 shows my set-up to photograph a vessel.  Iíve set it on the dining room table so I donít have to crouch.  It faces the patio doors for plenty of indirect light.  As itís somewhere near noon, I donít get harsh light direct from the sun.  The vessel sits on the front of a sheet of poster board.  The back edge is propped up with a two liter Pepsi bottle.  As Iím not getting a placement fee, I must point out that Coke, juice, or any heavy article thatís a foot high or so will work.  Use poster board.  Paper, even heavy white Kraft paper, will wrinkle instead of curving gently and may look mottled if backlit at all.  The camera is mounted on a tripod to reduce motion.  You can increase your odds of a sharp picture by using a cable release or timer. The kind of results you can expect is shown in Figure 3. 

The photograph produced by the set-up in Figure 2.  This is a Red Oak Vessel about 11 inches high and 9 inches in diameter.


Three more photos using the Dining Room Light Box.  The first vessel is maple, the other two are cherry.