Guitar Photography

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by khm, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. khm

    khm SS.org Regular

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    I am getting my new guitar this week, and wanted to do some nice photos when it arrives (as well as my older guitars that I will be selling) and was wondering if there where any budding photographers here that could give me a few tips when taking photos.

    Never been great with a camera, so hopefully a few of you may be able to point me in the right direction of what I should be looking for, or paying attention to when taking the pictures.

    Thanks in advance

    ~KHM
     
  2. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    For me it is always first about getting the lighting right (ideally well illuminated by natural light) then second the composition (clear liter out of the pic, etc). IMO it is mainly about setup and timing (if you are working with natural light timing can be everything). Last step is the finishing- you probably want at least a very basic image editing software to do things like crop the images and add finishing touches.

    Rondo music has some great standard guitar photo shoot angles that they use in their hundreds of listings.
     
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  3. High Plains Drifter

    High Plains Drifter SS.org Regular

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    Borrow one of Pondman's blankets and it's gonna look like it was plucked from the Queen's hands herself!

    I'm no photographer but I've taken a few shots that have come out okay. Main things are lighting, composition, and angle imo. To avoid overexposed-looking lifeless shots, avoid the dead-on symmetrical shot in direct light. Experiment around with shooting close-up with wide-setting as well as a bit further away with the zoom. Try natural indirect light as well as incandescent lighting. A nice solid-colored blanket makes a good background. Avoid a busy or multi-colored backdrop if possible. Also regarding composition, consider what you're trying to emphasize in the picture... the color of the finish, the grain, the hardware, etc and concentrate on making that subject matter as in-focus as possible. Shooting at certain angles can really accentuate various aesthetics so just play around with that. Also don't be apprehensive to experiment with coming in at different directions, using different light sources, etc.
     
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  4. khm

    khm SS.org Regular

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    Thanks guys the tips are appreciated (although not sure Pondman will send me his blankets of the gods haha )

    Will definitely take all your comments on board (and hope for some sun as opposed the miserable grey we seem to have at the moment )

    Cheers!
     
  5. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User Contributor

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    Pay attention to reflections if shooting glossy finishes, a CPL can really help cut unwanted reflection down quite a bit. A clean shooting area is helpful; though you can shoot outdoors if you're mindful of how/what/where you're shooting.

    Shoot RAW if possible and if you're using multiple light sources (incandescent and natural) be prepared for mixed color situations if they're roughly the same intensity. A tripod is helpful if you cannot get the light how you'd like with the amount of DOF you're after.
     
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  6. takotakumi

    takotakumi SS.org Regular

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    Are you going to be using a dslr? If so what lens?
    50mm are my to go to normally since they have better lowlight capabilities and provide more details.
    Another +1 for natural light, I've gotten some of my best pictures when its sunny outside and let some
    of that in.
     
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  7. vansinn

    vansinn ShredNeck into Beck

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    If you have a camera with threads for filters, buy a polarizer filter.
    It has two pieces of glass, one of which (the outer ring) can be turned.

    This allows you to control reflections so they're 'just' there or you can virtually kill them.
    Think of taking a picture through a window or into water. Never allows 'seeing' trough the surface.

    A polarizer allows you to do just that, obtaining full or partial transparency, or ending up with more or less fully saturated colors.
    Same thing when shooting various gloss surfaces, like your new übercool guitar.
    Good luck dude!

    Man, do I miss photography. Will shop gear when finance allows again, and go shoot guitars with too many strings. And girls with G-strings, hahaha :spock:
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
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  8. takotakumi

    takotakumi SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for this, doing it next time I got to a museum or aquarium
    reflections were being a bitch
     
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  9. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User Contributor

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    This is a gross oversimplification; a 50mm f/1.8D on a D300 isn't going to perform as well in lowlight as the same lens on a D5. For detailed shots you'll quickly run into minimum focus distance problems if you're trying to shoot macro with a typical 50mm.
     
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  10. takotakumi

    takotakumi SS.org Regular

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    Can't argue with full vs crop point.
    My point was somewhat "assuming" him using one of the stock lenses vs using a 50mm on a crop.
    It's somewhat hard but doable though!
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
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  11. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User Contributor

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    Well a D2 vs a D5 to eliminate the FF vs Crop sensor debate; regardless, the lens is only one piece of the pie for low light performance. For static guitar shots, the only lens issue you'd fight in low light is focus hunting, which is easily overcome with manual focus. All is moot unless there's actually a camera with interchangeable lenses and full manual control available :lol:
     
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  12. mpexus

    mpexus SS.org Regular

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    You dont need a top of the line DSLR to take nice Photos.

    Like already said the trick to great Photos is the Light.

    - Dont take pics inside your room with just the ceiling light.

    - NEVER EVER photograph anything by Flashing it directly, this is the nº1 rookies mistake and why 99% of the people have total SHIT Photos of the items they want to sell. Makes everything look lifeless and like a total piece of shit crap.

    - Try you best to have a neutral or same color background, A Bed sheet and some Tape is more than enough to fix it to the wall as a backdrop or ask two friends to hold it while you take a Photo.

    - If possible try to have at least 2 Light sources, one on each side. Reflections will love you ;)

    - Dont take Photos in plain mid day Sun, Light is too strong and shadows will be too Harsh, cameras (all of them) cant deal with the latitude of Light to Dark as our eyes can. Best time is early mornings or when Sun is lower and Light is warm. Overcast cloudy days are some of the Best days for any photography since the Light is even and the Shadows are super smooth.
     
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  13. Samark

    Samark SS.org Regular

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  14. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Ha, I'm not sure I deserve mention in this thread, but I'll at least mention my unconventional guitar shooting technique that I just sort of figured out through trial and error with a few troublesome tops:

    [​IMG]

    If you like this style you might be surprised to know that it was shot in almost complete darkness. For tops that are very flat and high gloss, but have a lot of figure in the top I want to show off, I use this approach to reduce glare and get the figure to pop more like it does in real life, kind of a polarizing effect, and the shadows become less sharp and interesting. Just turn on a light somewhere far off, this is actually a naturally colored night-light with a piece of paper in front of it (for even less real light!), high aperture (1.2), long shutter speed, handheld.

    Because I handhold I have to discard like 2 out of 3 photos and sometimes don't realize I didn't get a single sharp shot at a particular angle until I'm already fixing exposures in post. I don't care thaaat much to go back, so I'll just post the sharpest I have from each set.

    But my intention is always to accurately capture what the guitar looks like, so my post stuff is usually just white balance and exposure, and a bit of an S-curve to move it into the HDR direction, but just slightly because my shots always seem to artifact quickly (like +- 5-10% in lightroom on any slider).
     
  15. vansinn

    vansinn ShredNeck into Beck

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    @narad: Interesting technique you've adopted, starting with removing any distracting light, then adding just what you need/want.
    The paper in front of the light acts as a diffuser, helping at producing more even, non-focused light.

    This of course requiring long exposures - but it has been found that long exposure times tends to make the camera sensor render colors with deeper intensity (while faster setting can the opposite). I noticed this from an article on dp (IIRC).


    Commenting on using more light sources, instead, simply setup some large white panels, like cardboards, to function as reflectors.
    this is particularly useful when using flash, and not having access to two or three such devices.

    Likewise, for producing deeper shadow when such is wanted, simply us a black panel to one side of the subject, for sucking away light there.

    Bright reflective panels is called additive lighting (or filtering), while dark panels, removing light, is called subtractive lighting/filtering.
     
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  16. khm

    khm SS.org Regular

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    Lovely top and lovely photo! Thanks for the tips, one of the guitars I want to sell has a dark quilted top, so these tips are invaluable!

    And thank you to everyone else in the thread, so many great ideas, so hopefully it has helped out more than just me!
     
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  17. Ludgate

    Ludgate SS.org Regular

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    @narad I remember seeing this in one of your NGDs (Koa Regius IIRC). Kinda ingenious really, helped to capture how this top looks in person which I was having trouble with in natural lighting conditions.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    One more tip : I've found guitars look best shot from about 45 degrees off from straight on, rotated about the centerline. Especially carved tops. That's just about the shape, not the lighting.
     
  19. mpexus

    mpexus SS.org Regular

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    Interesting technique Narad :)

    The way you used the Light placement is basically how Food Photographers place them as well. Casting the shadow towards us give the Item tri dimensionality and softness
    If you have a DSLR and a Tripod (or a sturdy camera placement) its one way to do it for sure, your results speak for itself.

    If you dont have a DSLR or a camera that you can control the Exposure time then you need Lights (at least 2 ideally 3). Large windows can be the main Light source and then use another to Fill in for the dark parts (usually called Fill Light)

    Just googled if there was something more easy to illustrate and found this (long) video that explains it a lot better than i would ever do:


     
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  20. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User Contributor

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    Without a camera that can control for exposure, it's going to be tough (but not impossible) to balance hotlights appropriately (especially with window light as a key). External flash units, including studio strobes shown in the video, need a PC Sync port or hotshoe to fire them, most cameras that do not allow for exposure control will most likely not have these features either.

    It's actually all about how the light hits the carves.

    I too can vouch for the "no" light technique. I took these in a fairly dark room with heavily diffused window light.

    ISO200, 5s, f/4
    [​IMG]

    ISO100, 8s, f/8
    [​IMG]
     

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