Author Topic: Figuring out my camera setup  (Read 783 times)

Offline AAAndrew

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1009
  • Karma: 115
    • View Profile
    • The Steel Pen Blog
Figuring out my camera setup
« on: June 12, 2020, 10:08:37 PM »
I think I'm getting close to a standard setup for photographing my vintage steel pens. I think adding the scale really helps.

@AnasaziWrites  the first one is for you.
Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline Estefa

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1495
  • Karma: 120
    • View Profile
    • Federflug
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2020, 05:32:01 AM »
That's a great way to photograph nibs! These are cm an mm, right?
Stefanie :: Website :: Blog :: Instagram

Offline AnasaziWrites

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1928
  • Karma: 150
  • Ad astra, per aspera
    • View Profile
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2020, 06:42:15 AM »
I think I'm getting close to a standard setup for photographing my vintage steel pens. I think adding the scale really helps.

@AnasaziWrites  the first one is for you.
Very nice indeed.
Let us know the details--camera, lens, exposure, speed, etc.

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6115
  • Karma: 325
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2020, 08:30:35 AM »
Wow - they look gorgeous. Well done!
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline AAAndrew

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1009
  • Karma: 115
    • View Profile
    • The Steel Pen Blog
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2020, 05:01:52 PM »
Yes, they are mm and cm. I have another scale in inches, but it only shows down to 1/8" and that's not very small, so metric it is!

Here's my setup. I found this great copy stand that's the right size for this closeup work. I can get right in there, as well as pull back if needed.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/COPY-STAND-Mini-300-w-Floating-Magnet-USA-Made-A-Tool-for-Digitizing-Old-Photos/373015890629

I purchased a couple of inexpensive LED lights that can stay plugged in via USB. They can also be mounted on a small tripod if I need some kind of awkward positioning. Mostly they stay flat and help illuminate the imprinted letters. I also have an inexpensive ring light on the end of the lens.

The stand has a mat on which magnetic strips can hold the paper. (they came with the stand)  I printed out a scale ruler, cut it to size and hold it down with the magnetic strips. .

The camera is a Nikon D7100, lens is a Micro Nikkor 40 mm f/2.8. It has a very close focusing distance. 

Because one of the major difficulties is depth of field on these small, rounded items, I need a very small aperture.
I use a timer (my remote is not working at the moment)
Aperture Priority
1/40
f/29
ISO 250 (Auto, with all of the lights)
I bump up the exposure by +1 on the bronze pens as they tend to be underexposed if I don't. I've tried different colored backgrounds to compensate for this, but white just works best all around.

Because the lens is getting close to a fisheye, on long pens I need to compensate for a very slight curve. I can do this in Lightroom. I first do lens correction, then use Transform/Guided, and draw lines along the horizontal and vertical ruler lines in the picture. This gets me the tiny bit of correction I need.  Most people wouldn't even notice it, but now that I see it, I can't un-see it.

Ideally, I'd have a longer macro lens and zoom in, but this is the one macro lens I have.

Hope that was enough detail for you.  ;)

andrew
Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline AnasaziWrites

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1928
  • Karma: 150
  • Ad astra, per aspera
    • View Profile
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2020, 05:50:09 PM »

Hope that was enough detail for you.  ;)

andrew
   
@AAAndrew
Oh, yes. Just what I wanted to see.
Here's one of our old friends for you.
(on first glance at this photo, I thought it was cushioning, but not so--the ruler is straight. I looked at the nib under a loupe and placed the nib right against the ruler, and the nib does indeed have a bow in the middle. I checked a few others and they do too)

Offline AAAndrew

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1009
  • Karma: 115
    • View Profile
    • The Steel Pen Blog
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2020, 09:27:36 PM »
Interesting. I've not seen an English Pansy. The Pansy is not a common pen.

Interesting they have a curve. What are you using for a black background, fabric? Solid surface? It's nice and non-reflective.
Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline AnasaziWrites

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1928
  • Karma: 150
  • Ad astra, per aspera
    • View Profile
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2020, 09:57:42 AM »
Interesting. I've not seen an English Pansy. The Pansy is not a common pen.

Interesting they have a curve. What are you using for a black background, fabric? Solid surface? It's nice and non-reflective.
@AAAndrew
The background is black velvet.  Normally, I would elevate the nib an inch or so above the velvet to completely eliminate the dust specs you can see if you enlarge the photo, but didn't take the time for this shot.  The hardest part for me of taking nib photos is eliminating the reflections from the lights.  A light box helps.

I thought I sent you a Pansy in February in connection with the Esterbrook Project. Did you not receive it?

Offline AAAndrew

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1009
  • Karma: 115
    • View Profile
    • The Steel Pen Blog
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2020, 11:44:37 AM »
Interesting. I've also used the spun "cotton" that comes in boxes for storing jewelry and it both keeps the nibs elevated as well as is difficult to see in the background. But I haven't figured out how to apply a scale to this soft surface.

I know you sent me a Pansy, but I couldn't remember if it was English, sorry. It could very well have been. It's not in my inventory list because I've been so behind in my cataloging, but I'm working on it during quarantine. Home a few more months and I may well be near caught up.
Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/

Offline AnasaziWrites

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1928
  • Karma: 150
  • Ad astra, per aspera
    • View Profile
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2020, 11:53:31 AM »
Interesting. I've also used the spun "cotton" that comes in boxes for storing jewelry and it both keeps the nibs elevated as well as is difficult to see in the background. But I haven't figured out how to apply a scale to this soft surface.


@AAAndrew
Perhaps you could lay a ruler or print of a ruler next to the nib. Using a steel ruler, as I did, made it tricky to get the exposure right, because the ruler is reflective.  If I were doing a lot of these, I'd print a ruler or scale on matte paper and place it next to the nib.

Offline AAAndrew

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1009
  • Karma: 115
    • View Profile
    • The Steel Pen Blog
Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2020, 09:38:39 AM »
I didn't have a good, matte ruler, so that's what a did. I printed a ruler on thick, white paper. It's a "square", so the ruler goes across and up. I got it here. https://www.printablerulers.net/  Just make sure you print it at 100% scale, and not let your computer or printer scale-to-size.

To use this and the spun jeweler's cotton, I'd have a make a bed of it large enough to support the printed ruler, or create a bed of solid material with an opening for the "cotton." (I think it's actually polyester) I need the ruler and the pen to be on the same level to get an accurate measurement.

One advantage I found for the spun material is for barrel pens. They don't roll around and so you can just place them there without worrying about it rolling, like it does on a hard surface.

It's all about continuous experimentation and improvement. Right? If we got it perfect the first time, maybe it wouldn't be so much fun.  ;D



Check out my steel pen history blog
https://thesteelpen.com/