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How To My setup for Knife Photography - (Lightbox/tent)

Discussion in 'The Gallery' started by KamSingh, May 24, 2019.

  1. KamSingh

    KamSingh

    721
    Jan 9, 2006
    I would like to share my ridiculously simple setup for shooting knives.

    Not only is this cheap, easy to make, quick to setup, a pleasure to use and extremely portable it also produces fantastic results.

    First you will need an A3 or larger 1/8" sheet of clear frosted perspex acrylic.

    [​IMG]

    That's it!

    Well....almost, you still need something to prop it up.

    [​IMG]

    Couple of these wooden dowel rods should work, drill two holes in the top corners of your perspex sheet slightly smaller the the rod diameter, then taper the ends of the rods and cut to size according to the size of your sheet, you want it at about a 45° angle.

    Now you could use 3 or 4 large daylight bulbs to light this thing but I have a solution that provides more light, fits in your pocket and doesn't require mains electricity to run, meaning you could set this up literally anywhere.

    What I prefer to use is known as a speedlite/strobe or a flash. Yes a flash, similar to the one you have on your camera but many times more powerful, adjustable output and a totally separate portable unit.

    The key to operating the flash is a wireless trigger, meaning when you press the shutter on your camera the flash fires at the exact same time all while being 10ft away and totally detached from the camera, allowing you to ditch your tripod shoot naturally and not have to worry about camera shake.

    Sounds great doesn't it but your probably thinking equipment like that must be expensive, well not too long ago it was but in recent years prices have come down dramatically due to more third party manufacturers making these products.

    Now this does require you have a DSLR or at least a camera with a hot shoe for external flash but you should be able to pickup an older model for a very reasonable price, lenses can be upgraded as you go.

    Some prices from Amazon
    Canon Digital Rebel XTi 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Black Body Only) $84
    YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8 Standard Prime Lens $52
    SanDisk Ultra 16GB Compact Flash Memory Card $16
    Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite $31
    Neewer 16 Channel Wireless Remote FM Flash Speedlite Radio Trigger $23
    12" x 18" - 1/8" (0.118") DP9 - Two-Sided Frosted Finish- Clear SatinMatte Finish Acrylic Sheet $12
    Dowel Rod - Wood - 1/4 x 12 inches - 10 pieces $3

    So for a little over $200 you can have a complete setup for shooting knives including the DSLR camera, lens and lighting equipment!

    [​IMG]

    Some extra tips:
    - Wrap a folded envelope around the strobe head to further diffuse the light as shown in the image above, you can also point the head upwards, note I mostly shoot with the unit on half it's power output, you'll be surprised how powerful it is.
    - If you do decide to buy the above suggested camera, you can purchase a CF/SD adapter which allows to you use SD cards (much cheaper).
    - The flash trigger actually comes with two receivers so if you plan on shooting larger knives you can pick up an extra flash unit to more evenly distribute the light.
    - Manually set the camera shutter speed to 1/250 second to keep it in sync with the flash, keep ISO at its lowest setting and use the aperture to control the exposure, the larger the F stop number the more of the frame will be in focus.
     
    Gary W. Graley and Sergeua like this.
  2. Dogdrawz

    Dogdrawz Gold Member Gold Member

    895
    Aug 15, 2016
    Beats my setup.
    [​IMG] +
    [​IMG]

    Can't complain w/ the results though...
    [​IMG]
     
    James Wayne Lamb and RayseM like this.
  3. KamSingh

    KamSingh

    721
    Jan 9, 2006
    The results certainly do speak for themselves. :)
     
    James Wayne Lamb likes this.
  4. KamSingh

    KamSingh

    721
    Jan 9, 2006
    Few more knives photographed with this setup.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    Gary W. Graley likes this.
  5. Dogdrawz

    Dogdrawz Gold Member Gold Member

    895
    Aug 15, 2016
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
    KamSingh likes this.
  6. RayseM

    RayseM Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    I like it :thumbsup:

    Ray
     
    KamSingh likes this.
  7. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Nice, neat and concise ;) well done sir! One other thing I would recommend would be to use a folded sheet of paper set at an angle to the 'dark side' of the object, so when the light goes off, there will be a moderate amount of light being reflected back but not so much as to over power the main light, just adds a hint of light to fill in those very dark areas, unless they are intentional as sometimes that is a great effect as well.

    Similar to how I shot this small folder, main light from behind and a sheet of paper to throw back some light along the handle;

    [​IMG]Untitled by GaryWGraley, on Flickr

    I need to pick up one of those triggers, a strobe would be a much handier solution !

    G2
     
    Scott J. and KamSingh like this.
  8. Dogdrawz

    Dogdrawz Gold Member Gold Member

    895
    Aug 15, 2016
    Now I'm looking into better gear for better photos. *sigh* :thumbsup:
     
    KamSingh likes this.
  9. KamSingh

    KamSingh

    721
    Jan 9, 2006
    Great example of a brilliant image! Very sharp, well lit and with a warm background that perfectly compliments the knife.

    Yes absolutely that's a great way to add some fill light. I have found silver reflective mirror card to work very well for this but you can also just wrap some alu foil over a standard A4 sheet of card and fold it in half to provide the same effect.
     
    Gary W. Graley likes this.
  10. Bensbites

    Bensbites

    2
    May 20, 2019
    Thanks for sharing. I have been working on my knife/handle photography. I spend years enjoying nature/landscape photography, so I had some equipment and knowledge. My recent upgrade is a $80 24x24x24inch led lit softbox.

    ESDDI Photo Studio Light Box 24"/60cm Adjustable Brightness Portable Folding Hook & Loop Professional Booth Table Top Photography Lighting Kit 120 LED https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L9895XQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apip_VeC366cAqOdLd

    Before: https://www.instagram.com/p/BqmhayJhMCU/?igshid=wgbqfavnkuve

    Now: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxk5xX9HXOl/?igshid=1guyfz5bycf6y
     
    KamSingh likes this.
  11. KamSingh

    KamSingh

    721
    Jan 9, 2006
    Welcome to the forum Ben!

    The off the shelf light box is a route we all go down, I have one tucked away somewhere too, while they do offer some improvements over no light box at all they are really not designed for knives. To take your images to the next level and really make them pop the strobe setup is hard to beat IMO and since it sounds like you already have a DSLR it should cost you very little to make the switch if you so choose.

    Beautiful knives btw!
     

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