View Full Version : Taking nice knife pictures

05-03-2011, 12:41 PM
So after many years of apologizing for taking crappy pictures, I'm finally going to ask you guys how you do it right. I realize that I should probably be doing these outside when it's nice and light out, but what else am I missing? Is it my camera or camera settings? I've got a Canon SX100 that I just leave on "Auto" when snapping pics. Should I be setting it to something else?

Any advice would be appreciated.

05-03-2011, 12:53 PM
If you dont really know what you are doing, then auto will usually do a better job than you would. If you are trying to get up close detailed shots, putting it on a macro setting will help.

You dont necessarily need to take pictures while outside, if you have a room that is very bright during the day, that will usually work. anywhere with lots of indirect natural light is good.

There was a similar thread started a couple months ago, pretty sure it was here, but it could have been on another board.

05-03-2011, 02:58 PM
you can take pics in a light box , but I think the camera is important too.
You need to be able to adjust the aperture settings as well as ISO and exposure compensation.

Your camera allows for those adjustments, you just need to play with them a bit to get the feel what works for you.

Eamon Burke
05-03-2011, 05:10 PM
Unless you want to get into the science/discipline of photography, "auto" or "macro" is going to take the best pictures for you. I learned how to use a high end SLR a few years back, and then carefully produced the most faithful reproductions of several different subjects possible, and then took pictures on auto. The auto pictures were exactly the same and required zero time and effort.

It's called a point-and-shoot because that's what you do with it!

05-03-2011, 06:29 PM
So "Auto" is fine, but try to get natural indirect light. Well, that will have to be outside, as my place is dark as hell.

Thanks for the advice guys.

Pensacola Tiger
05-03-2011, 06:33 PM
A nice overcast day, with no distinct shadows, is perfect.

05-03-2011, 10:08 PM
+1 thats what I try for when I get pictures.

l r harner
05-03-2011, 10:35 PM
i have a light box, tripod and a prime macro lens but you dont need all that
its all about light and how you control it
you want lots of light but you dont want it to come from a point source (thats how you get the shadows and glare)
most the time i set auto but depending on my need i do full man. setting and max out my depth of field

05-03-2011, 10:49 PM
Well I'll have to play around with taking photos outdoors. Our place is an old 1910 bungalow, and the only lights are via lamp, making it generally dark, except for right by the lamp. But that's probably a point source which is why I get also sorts of glints and reflections and such. Thanks for the handy tips guys, I really appreciate it.

05-03-2011, 11:13 PM
I'd like to see a pic of your house! I love that 'Arts & Crafts' style. Ours is only a few years younger than yours.

I also agree that point n' shoot is the way to go. Pretty much the only thing you need is a stable base of some sort...tripod, beanbag, whatever.

05-07-2011, 11:59 AM
Your particular camera does have the ability to adjust settings manually, as well as an aperture priority and shutter priority mode. This is great if you want to start to experiment. Aperture and shutter priority are nice because you only set one thing, and the camera figures out the other setting for you so you get a proper exposure. Another setting to try to adjust every time you take a picture, is ISO. Your camera goes down to 80, and that setting will get you the best pictures. You may not be able to manually set the ISO unless you're in a manual setting, something other than auto. Keep in mind that at that ISO setting it will seem as though the camera gets less light, so it is important to have plenty of light available. You also need a tripod of some sort to really get the most out of your camera settings. Without a tripod you're generally limited to a shutter speed of no less than 1/60 of a second, or you'll have blurry pictures.

For lighting, unless you're purposely trying to show scratches and other imperfections of your knives, indirect lighting is best. On a sunny day you'd photograph in the shade. On a cloudy day you can photograph about anywhere. Get a piece of white posterboard to reflect light off of and put it near your knife. By moving it around you can see the effect it has as more or less light is reflected on your knife. Sometimes you need a little extra "kick" into the shadows to lighten things up and get the nice even look. Don't use the flash!

I often see photographs that use a cutting board as the background and that is certainly fitting, but you can also try using fabric of different types to great effect. Discount stores offer cheap fabric for a couple of bucks a yard. For knives, I would stick to dark fabrics and mostly black. If you can get an assitant to help, they're also great for holding above shiny knives to get that glossy black shadow instead of bright shiny reflection.

Getting a good picture has a lot more to do with the technique than the camera or even camera settings. Take a lot of pictures, and then just throw out the bad ones. With digital photography it doesn't cost you any more money to take 100 pictures vs 10, but the number of great pictures you'll get out of 100 will be much higher. Experiment with different camera angles and close ups. Try and show some detail through the camera that you notice with your eye and want others to see too.

So here are the bullet points;
- Use a tripod
- Indirect lighting
- Good background
- Interesting camera angles
- Fill in shadows with additional light
- Low ISO (80 is lowest for your camera)
- Take LOTS of pictures and plan to throw a lot of them out

Salty dog
05-07-2011, 06:31 PM
+1 what Potato said. Editing them after is big also. MS has basic photo editing. And don't use a flash.

05-09-2011, 06:09 AM
Finally, a thread where I can contribute. Here are some pictures I just took of my Fujiwara 210 gyuto.





The key is having good lighting. I'm using a nikon sb28 flash, with a westcott shoot through umbrella. The big surface of the umbrella gives nice soft light, which makes the knife look good. I then edited the pictures in adobe lightroom, adjusting overall exposure, and selectively underexposing parts of the picture for extra drama.

The flash on your camera isn't going to work for this. The rule is the larger the light source, the softer the light. On camera flashes are small light sources and they produce very hard light. Soft light makes everything look good, while hard light casts harsh shadows. This is why many knife pics do not look so good.

If you don't have any lighting equipment, try shooting through light that diffuses in through any window. This will be softer than shooting under direct light. Better yet, if you have a white (translucent) curtain, use that as a light source.

Hope I helped.