Guitar Photography Tutorial

scottatgc

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i took this, just with the ceiling fan light and setting a really shallow field of depth and the cameras internal flash. the bass was on my couch. i was not trying to get a lot if detail though. the following one, i use and external flash, with an umbrella, and i think i set my ISO around 100, and my sink speed at around 250th of a second, sort of created a tunnel of light down on my kid and my guitar. I had a lot off room to do it in though, so he was really far from the backdrop.

 

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xroadie_jim

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Shadows - they can be used to draw the eye to points of interest. Also play around with image orientation, sometimes the image looks better with a changed perspective. This picture was originally upright on a stand, it was rotated 90 degrees.
 

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pinefd

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Shadows - they can be used to draw the eye to points of interest. Also play around with image orientation, sometimes the image looks better with a changed perspective. This picture was originally upright on a stand, it was rotated 90 degrees.
Good point with regard to image orientation. The following photo was originally taken horizontally, but I've posted it vertically on a few occasions, just to give a different perspective:





The same applies to these photos. Original was taken horizontally, but I think I may like the vertical version better:






Frank
 

Lowcaster

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Depth Of Field: That is one of the most important and basic things to understand in photography. But it's simple.

If you want everything in focus, you set the aperture to a hig number (f:16 for example) which means a small aperture of the lens. OK that may seem counterintuitive, but that's the way it works. As a consequence of the small aperture, the exposure time will be longer and you may need to secure the camera on a tripod.

If you want a more graphic effect you can play with a reduced Depth of field. You set the aperture to a small number (f:2 for example), which means a wide aperture of the lens. It is a way to highlight the part that is in focus, or to hide the background (or foreground) being out of focus. As a secondary benefit of the wide aperture you are more likely to use the camera handheld whithout problem.

Example of reduced Depth of field with a 50mm Lens set at f:2 handheld in natural light.
 

Campbell

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Very great tips and advice. I really appreciate the effort you’ve presented here.

My question for you:
A few of my guitars have a Faded Cherry Burst finish. I notice when I try taking pix of them, they end up looking REALLY red and REALLY yellow, as apposed to their natural subtle tones. I’ve tried natural light, flash, indoor light…still, they usually come out all Ronald McDonald on me. The one rare exception can be seen on my avatar picture, but even that I had to doctor the tone with my computer graphic software. I should add I only have a “not too fancy” digital camera.

Any suggestions?
 

Lowcaster

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You need a good light source, and double check it: natural light or quality flash or bulbs set.

Then you must set the "White Balance" on your camera for each shooting session (at least). This means having a neutral white card ( plain white paper is not perfectly white for that matter) and understanding how your camera works.

Now, the picture taken with correct light and white balance, has to be handled through a computer. And the computer, the screen and the photo software must be calibrated and set to the right parameters in order to not alter the whole colour and contrast of the picture. Honestly, this is the tricky part.

In the end you will have to manually adjust the light and the colour of any pics for some reason. For your concern, some cameras are more sensible to one part of the color spectrum or have a "dominant colour. My Nikon is higly sensible to red and when there is red in the picture I allways have to lower the saturation on that colour, and a good software comes handy.
 

Skyjerk

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What is the best way to shoot the entire guitar and minimize the lens distortion and perspective issues?

I have a Nikon D3300 and I've had decent results using a 55-200mm zoom and shooting from fairly far back and zoomed in. then I use camera raw to remove the distortion
and dick around with other details like exposure, contrast, and a crap-load of other things you can tweak in camera raw

If I use my 50mm and shoot from much closer I get perspective issues like when you can see the top edge of the body and the bottom edge of the headstock
(if that makes sense)

Its not perfect, but it looks pretty good.

Only issue then is the image starts to look pretty grainy....

I end up with this, which looks pretty good, but its not as good as I'd like. Particularly the fact that body is in pretty sharp focus, but the headstock is not.

Obviously this is an unfinished build, but I like to take progress shots as well as the finished guitars

 

WavMixer

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Well this is a really great thread with some really great tips! I am a product photographer specializing in jewelry for my day job. Some of these tips and many more can be found in a book called Light Science and Magic. It's an inexpensive book and with a little bit of research you can even find a free download for the complete book. Photography is all about lighting. Reflection, shadows, diffusion and the family of angles all play into getting the shot you desire. I must admit I don't have any professional experience shooting guitars, but some of the tips I've just read here will be used for my future shoots.
 

Lowcaster

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What is the best way to shoot the entire guitar and minimize the lens distortion and perspective issues?

I have a Nikon D3300 and I've had decent results using a 55-200mm zoom and shooting from fairly far back and zoomed in. then I use camera raw to remove the distortion
and dick around with other details like exposure, contrast, and a crap-load of other things you can tweak in camera raw

If I use my 50mm and shoot from much closer I get perspective issues like when you can see the top edge of the body and the bottom edge of the headstock
(if that makes sense)

Its not perfect, but it looks pretty good.

Only issue then is the image starts to look pretty grainy....

I end up with this, which looks pretty good, but its not as good as I'd like. Particularly the fact that body is in pretty sharp focus, but the headstock is not.

Obviously this is an unfinished build, but I like to take progress shots as well as the finished guitars
Assume any lens produces some kind of distortion of its own, and software treatment will raise grain while enhancing something else.

Zoom lenses are more prone to distortion.

Fixed scale lenses might be better.

Now, in order to minimize the perspective distortion you mention with the 50mm, you could try a longer scale lens. A 100mm macro lens...

If you want everything sharp, check these points:
-make sure the guitar/subject is parallel to the camera.
-set a small aperture (f:8 should be good) and use tripod.
-check your lens (making pics) for I have seen blurredness caused by the lens.

Photography is not all about technique, you'll have to find what works for you, and make compromises. Light is the tricky part.
 

garyoule

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What a great thread! Thaks for your advice I can't wait to try these methods.
 

mgenet

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Yes. Yes it is. Pinned or not...
 

deed_poll

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I was just thinking about this thread when I was doing my last run of renders, and it struck me that there's a big difference between the two!

In photography you want to keep all your light temps the same and avoid stray reflections - whereas I find if you do this with renders the image ends up looking too sterile and computer-generated!

I'm not the best at rendering by any means, bit I prefer to use a natural HDRI skybox and if reflections are too distracting I might adjust the F-Stop to put them out of focus. The problem is, rendering with a plain light box it isn't always obvious reflective surfaces are really shiny or if they're just black, white or grey. That doesn't seem to be such a problem with real photography.

Here are some renders for reference just in case you're interested! Please forgive the texture mapping continuity issues





 
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pshupe

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I was just thinking about this thread when I was doing my last run of renders, and it struck me that there's a big difference between the two!

In photography you want to keep all your light temps the same and avoid stray reflections - whereas I find if you do this with renders the image ends up looking too sterile and computer-generated!

I'm not the best at rendering by any means, bit I prefer to use a natural lightbox and if reflections are too distracting I might adjust the F-Stop to put them out of focus. The problem is, rendering with a plain light box it isn't always obvious reflective surfaces are really shiny or if they're just black, white or grey. That doesn't seem to be such a problem with real photography.

Here are some renders for reference just in case you're interested! Please forgive the texture mapping continuity issues





Have you ever tried using HDRI as a background for your renders? Then you do not have to worry about reflecting nothing. I used to do a lot of architectural renders and this is a common way of really livening up something that is really sitting alone in space.

Here is a really quick architectural rendering using an HDRI image of a dusky background.
Capture.JPG

There is not much going on in this image but having the background in the reflections adds some interest.

Cheers Peter.
 

deed_poll

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Hi Peter!

Yes my apologies, that's what I meant when I said 'natural lightbox', very confusing error to make!

I've edited it to say 'HDRI skybox'. I guess my approach is to take something photographic to inject some realistic reflections in there, and then attenuate that down to look more like a controlled setup. That's just what gets me the best results! I'm sure more experienced users will have better ways of making the virtual photographer's lightbox settings work better for them.

Cheers
 




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