Carving in Maine – Part 4: "Home studio" and photographing my boards
After I turned, painted, and finished the handles, I found some beautiful scraps of wood such as birch, walnut, and ash, and mounted the handles onto them using epoxy adhesive. After branding them and finishing the boards with organic flaxseed oil I was ready for the photo shoot.
Shooting great pictures doesn't mean that you necessarily have to invest in expensive equipment. A graduated background, two lamps, some tracing paper, and a simple digital camera is all that you need. First though, lets talk about the graduated background. This is by far the most important item in your toolbox. An item that will allow you to achieve impressive photographs. A graduated background creates the illusion that the object you shoot is placed in a professional setting, where the background is under-light, which helps, literally, to high-light your object.
Background: This is a plastic sheet, painted black at the top, a color that "fades" away gradually into gray then into white at the bottom of the sheet. This is why it is mostly known as a "graduated background".
Lights: I like to use two sources of light. One is located above the object and one on the right (or left) of it, depending on what side you would like to emphasize. In most cases either the right or the left light need to be higher then the objects. I bought inexpensive clip-on-lamps and installed them with florescent bulbs. I then cut some tracing paper and affixed it to the rim of the lamp with metal clips. Do not use paper with incandescent bulbs as the heat from the bulbs will burn the paper.
Reflecting panel (fill light): By adding a side reflecting panel (a white cardboard or foam core board) you will add some light to the opposite side of the object where the side lamp's light can't reach. In the picture below you can see the white cardboard I used which was supported by a Lee Valley brass mallet.
Camera: As I said earlier, you will be surprised how a simple digital camera or even a cell phone camera can produce great pictures.
Studio: As you can see in the picture below, my studio setting is quite modest. I used a trunk as the stage for the background. A shelf on the wall acted as a boom for the top light; a chair at the left became a post for the side light.
And here are the pictures of my new boards, as taken in my "Chi-chi" NYC studio…