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A super inexpensive yet excellent photo taking technique

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George
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« on: March 28, 2011, 01:44:19 am »

Saw this phot taking technique today for the first time..

Check out the video

The only adjustment we might have to make is to adjust the whole set up so the bottle can stand up on the glass base.

I have never used a tripod. Although it can not hurt.

I might just have to hit the hardware store and give this a whirl !
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Pat - 查尚杰
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2011, 02:17:37 am »

Wow.. looks too good to be true.  We need to try this.  Thanks for the tip and link George!
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Best Regards

Pat
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 07:24:50 am »

Hadn't thought about the glass globe. Excellent idea. I'm anxious to try this as well.

Bill
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Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2011, 09:07:52 am »


Hey  ... that's    really  COOOOOOL !

I do like the  globe idea  !  I am  wondering  how to  use it

BTW  :  was  advised  by one professional that  you  should  not  photo the  bottle  with the camera  horizontal  ( which is  what  I had always been  doing  in the past) . The  camera  should  be   above the    centre-line   of bottle,   pointing down  at about  20 - 30  deg. 

Some   thoughts about the  video  are that :

a)  rings and  jewellry     look  better  with  sparkle  so some  reflected  light  from the  front  spot light  is  a  big  plus. But   for  bottles   which  have a  wide   refleective  front   face,  reflections from any light source  are   death , especially front  light  source  reflections 

b)     with this   technque  you cannot    get that  sexy   light to  dark grey  backgound ( unless you  put a   shaded  background   paper  on the   glass plate , in which  case   you  can    simply  use     stiff cardboard  instead of  glass)

Cheers  Peter  @ HK

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forestman
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2017, 08:43:25 am »

I was surprised that no-one had tried this so I thought I would.

I bought a cheap light from Ikea which gave me a glass globe with a large enough hole in and cut a rectangular piece of plexi glass to sit the bottles on. I sanded this down so it's opaque and I use an anglepoise light so I can move the light source. I have bought a table tripod which I will use but need to raise the globe to the right height.

It's early days yet so I haven't perfected anything or tried different backgrounds but it warrants more time to perfect it.

The bottle is modern and was described by the auctioneers as Peking glass but it's not. As with these modern shadow agates it is very well hollowed.

Regards, Adrian.


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* P1010469.jpg (33.25 KB, 335x480 - viewed 36 times.)

* P1010470.jpg (50.69 KB, 356x480 - viewed 45 times.)
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Joey Silver / Si Zhouyi 義周司
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2017, 10:08:06 am »

Dear Adrian,

    Did you do these three photos with the system George described above?
Are you a professional photographer? They are amazing! Especially the last one.
WOW!
Best,
Shabbat Shalom,
Joey
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Joey Silver (Si Zhouyi 義周司), collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2017, 09:56:32 am »

Thanks for sharing this video.  Look forward to trying this!   Jo
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2017, 01:07:32 pm »

Dear Joey,

Thank you for the kind comments although I feel there is a way to go to perfect it so they may actually look professional at some point.

It will come as a surprise having seen my previous bottle pictures that I did some professional photography but it was over 20 years ago and I have forgotten more than I learnt. I did some studio work with a 5" x 4" sheet negative camera amongst other things.

I have kept meaning to take up serious photography again and perhaps photographing snuff bottles may be a good excuse. It might even encourage me to buy a bottle worthy of some effort in photographing it.  Embarrassed

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2017, 01:37:09 pm »

Dear George,

      I just watched the under 3 min. video. It is amazing. thank you.

Dear Adrian,

      While I was told by someone on the Forum who shall remain nameless, that I had no right to use my Aspergers to justify any behavior, we are sort of hard-wired to tell the truth.
 
      Even to the point that I confessed to a cop in Israel that I'd gone over 120 km/hr, when he said I'd done 108 (max then was 95), 30 years ago. He was so shocked by my honesty, he told me to be careful and not go over 100 from then on, but let me off with a warning.
     
     I'm paying a pro photographer here in Jerusalem, Zeev Radovan, to photograph my bottles, and I think those were better than his. And his are very good.

    One thing I was not clear about. Did you mean that the modern shadow agates ARE well hollowed or are NOT well hollowed? I assumed the latter, but I don't collect Agate any more, and when I did, I only collected antique bottles. 

    I guess that makes me 'elitist'.
    Some idiot was 'reviewing' the wonderful Bob Stevens book from 1976, and she or he made the moronic comment that the late Bob Stevens, one of the greatest snuff bottle collectors from the 1960s to his untimely death in Aug.1980, was 'elitist', since he 'only' collected or documented antique snuff bottles.

   Which is actually wrong as well as stupid, since he did feature modern (1950- 1976) IPSBs.  But in the 1960s/1970s, one could easily buy quite good quality genuine antique SBs for US$20 - US$100 in USA/Canada, and I understand in the UK as well.

    Best Wishes,
Joey
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Joey Silver (Si Zhouyi 義周司), collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2017, 03:15:34 pm »

Dear Joey,

Thank you again for your kind words. My photographers eye sees room for improvement, the large pile of books on snuff bottles, Chinese art, Inro and Japanese lacquer that recently arrived mean the improvements may have to wait.

The 2 modern agates I have are well hollowed which is what allowed me to take the third photograph. They could go further but they are far lighter in weight than other modern bottles I have and I have a few to compare them to.

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2017, 03:52:25 pm »

Dear Adrian,

      That's very interesting. I did not realise that any modern hardstone bottles were well hollowed, except for those made for the modern Manchurian and Mongolian market to be used.
Thank you,
Joey
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2017, 10:44:13 pm »

Hi All,

Thanks for  reviving this very early correspondence   topic.

I went back to the video and indeed found it very useful (I had completely forgotten about  it)

Adrian : those  pics  are reallygood ! Well done !

The "Ikea  light globe" method certainly works for things like jewelry, which are  small  and  multi-faceted.
And to a  certain extent  works  for  SBs. It also  obviously works for your agates

There's  two big problems with SB  photographs, as I see  it :

1.  The "traditional" way to present a SB  pic is with a  graduated white-to-black  background.

     (See attached pic from me,  but look in any SB book or auction catalog and you  will see the
      same standard  background :  I  think because  it makes the  background "neutral")

      I (purely)  personally prefer that neutral  background and  I have  been experimenting for  ages  as  to
      how to  achieve  it  with minimal photographic equipment, set-up photo-box, and expertise

2.  SBs  are  "big" (at least big compared to jewellery) and they have large, flat surfaces which reflect light

     IPBs are even more difficult because not only do the front surfaces reflect light, but the true colours do not
     show up unless under direct light (which of course conflicts with reflections) 

     To make it even worse,  IPBs  differ  according to  whether they are primarily  light  paintings or
     dark  paintings  (e.g.  VMIPB  copies  of original  oil paintings )   so  there's "no  size fits all"  as regards
     photographing IPBs

I guess that  bottom line : "just be happy  with the  best pics  you  can make" of your  bottles  using the  minimum  amount of  time and  equipment

I did have all my  bottles  professionally  photographed a  couple  of  years  ago, but  I was not pleased with the result

Cheers
Peter

     


* IPB with white-to-dark background.JPG (78.8 KB, 690x1024 - viewed 35 times.)
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2017, 12:23:40 am »

Thanks George for reviving this topic.

Adrian, I think your photos are very good - especially that last shot.

But I agree with Peter. The globe technique works well with jewelry, gemstones and 'gemmy' rocks / minerals, where added sparkle is wanted. It is generally less successful with snuff bottles for the reasons mentioned by Peter. He also gets to the crux of the problem in his comment about conflicting needs when photographing inside painted bottles.

The bottom line is that you need different lighting arrangements for each different kind of bottle, not just IP bottles. A soft-sheen white nephrite bottle needs different lighting from a shiny black jet one, and a carved overlay needs different lighting form a clear plain transparent bottle. Of the many books on snuff bottles only a very few have consistently good photography across all types.

Best,
Tom   
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2017, 12:54:10 am »

Hi Tom, All

It's  certainly  true that "one size does not  fit all" - at least as  concerns  IPBs

I once (briefly)  owned a Bloch collection WXS  IPB,   which of course  had  been super-professionally  photographed  by  Hugh Moss's nephew  (Nick Moss) for the  Bloch  collection  books .

I corresponded  at length with Nick Moss  on how  he  photographed  bottles for the  Bloch books  and  two points came across:

1.  Nick's photographic  set-up  was very  big, expensive and  elaborate  -  certainly not  something  one  could  easily  put together cheaply and in just  5  minutes  on a home dining table

2.  It was  basically  "one  size  fits  all "  i.e  the  same set-up and  technique for  every  bottle,  which  explains the  consistency of the  pics in the  Bloch books  (lighting, reflections, background  etc)

Using various  lighting tricks, custom-adapted to the  WXS  bottle while  it was  in my  possession, I managed to achieve somewhat  better pics  than  Nick Moss did - at least as  far as  lighting  up the internal  colors  of the  inside painting in a way which normally  one can only  see by the  naked  eye. 

(The naked eye  tends to automatically cancel out reflections and only focuses  on what  "the eye wants to see" , as opposed the camera  "which never lies")

But it  took a  LOT of  work and  experiments !

Bottom line - unless  you  are professional photographer and/or  have a  lot of  time  -  go  for  a  simple   method which  gives satisfactory results  and  be happy  with them .

Bill  Patrick once shared with me his  technique and  it was simple  in the extreme, but  I'm sure  no-one  would argue  with the  good results he got  as  evidenced  by the pics of  his bottles on  his website
www.snuffbottlecollector.com.

However -  and this  is   really  interesting  -  I once  bought a Sun Zhende  landscape  bottle  from Bill  that  he  had  photographed  twice:  once  for  his website  and  then later for sale  on e-bay.  The  colors  were completely different and I had to  do a  point-by-point  comparison  of  both pics to  convince  myself  they were the same  bottle. (see  pics  attached)

I think that  IPBs  are particularly  sensitive to  lighting conditions.

Opaque  SBs  ( e.g  agate as  in Adrian's pics) are  much less  sensitive,  so jewelry-photographic methods should  and  obviously  do  work well

Cheers
Peter

PS:  There are several other long threads on photography within this  section of the  Forum  that  interested  readers  may wish to  check out.

 


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* Sun Zhende@ ebay 4.2011 (A).jpg (66.54 KB, 429x480 - viewed 24 times.)
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2017, 02:57:43 am »

The problem with snuff bottles coming in all sorts of materials, colours etc means a "catch all" method will suit some types more than others.

This opaque globe method I will develop because it offers a lot of different possibilities. The beauty of the globe is in it diffuses the light and cuts down highlights and reflections.

I'm getting some highlighting but the light source is almost touching the globe so can be reduced.

The globe I'm using has a shiny inside surface which helps in reflecting light evenly over the subject but can produce highlights behind the bottles on the globe surface so light position is important.

I'm standing the globe on a mirror which reflects light up through the globe giving a workable shutter speed and I will look at replacing the mirror with a sort of bowl mirror that sits under the globe to reflect the light better.

The globe lets me point a direct light source through it from behind to show the transparency of the hollowing of the agate bottle.

Because the globe reflects light all over the inside it also allows light behind the bottle which can help highlight a shape and make a bottle stand out more.

I can introduce a graduated background to give the white turning to grey/black background.

Having worked with photographing jewellery and food with very reflective sauces and melted cheese etc I saw this method and immediately saw it's potential.

Some different types of bottles added below as experiments but without playing with anything other than the simplest set up yet.

I'll add more when I get the chance to play around a bit as it is an easy method for anyone to use.

Regards, Adrian.


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« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2017, 03:19:00 am »

Dear Peter,
I agree on everything you said in your last post above, except the last point, about IP bottles being more sensitive than other bottles regarding the quality of light. That is not true in my opinion; it is certainly true that on IP bottles it is much easier to note color alteration because we practically know how the colors should be, while in the picture of a stone we do not have an idea of the true colors of the stone. Your last two pictures are an excellent example of what is a mystery to me: I don’t understand why the so called WB, the White Balance, which is the more important advantage of digital photography, so simple to understand, simple to set up in ANY camera, even the more simplest one, why all this is ignored by almost all people. I think that I have repeated this thing many times here, and in innumerable times on Gotheborg, but for some obscure reason people continue ignoring that, or finding that simple, yet so important procedure, so difficult.  Your last two pics are an excellent example; the first picture has been taken under warm light source, typically an incandescent bulb light, about 3000 degrees Kelvin of color temperature, the most common domestic light before the fluorescent and LED lamps eras. The second picture has been taken under a cold light source, the so called daylight lamps, 5000 – 6000 degrees Kelvin, surely a fluorescent or LED lamp. In both cases the picture would be the same, if simply the photographer were less lazy or obtuse, and has spent a few seconds to read the manual of the camera if he doesn’t know what is the WB setting, and other few seconds to set it. This is the real advantage of digital cameras! Before that, one had to change the film type and / or add optical filters, quite complicate.
Anyway, to me the only big problem in taking pictures of SBs of any type is how to avoid light reflections, which is almost impossible because the subject is similar to a sphere, hence reflecting light from any angle of provenance.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2017, 05:32:23 am »

Hi Adrian, Giovanni, All,

Adrian : Those new pics  are really  good ! I look  forward to see  how  far you can  develop  this technique and whether  it's possible to   change the  background  to the   traditional  white-to-dark grey (for those, who like  me, have a  personal  preference  for that  kind  of  background)

Bottom line :  any technique which is simple to set up  and  does  not require  advanced  photography skills and  equipment  will be a  blessing for  collectors  who want to  make  good pics of their  SBs.

In  my own way  I got  as close  as I think I can get in my small  home using a cardboard  box set up, as I have explained  in another thread under this  topic of photography ( "The Holy Grail of photographing IPBs ?!")  . This  is  a  variation of the  way  most  VMIPB artists   photograph their bottles. Have a  look at the  pic  of the Jiang Hongliang  bottle in that thread, which is   95% +  as  close to    what one sees  when holding the  bottle  in one's own hand .

Giovanni :  You  are   100% correct  about  WB in that :
   -  very few people  even know what  WB is (except professional  photographers)
   -  even fewer people adjust the  WB to get better  pics

My guess is that  Bill did indeed  use a  warm light  source for the first pic and  then used  a cold  light  source  for the 2nd pic for e-bay.  The  2nd  pic  is much  more  realistic  compared to the  actual  bottle.

I myself  bought a set of   2 x professional  small  Tokina cold light  boxes , each about   6 inches square,   very early on while experimenting  with photography. I could easily get the colors correct, and then eventually I  found a way to get the graduated  white-to-grey background. But finally I still have to  battle with reflections because IPBs (even more than any other kind of  SBs)   only  really show their true  colors with front lighting  and of course   front lighting  means  REFLECTIONS .

So  I end  up  using a top cold  light source (Tokina light  box)  as I describe  in  "The Holy Grail of photographing IPBs ?!" and then I hold another  cold  light  source ( Tokina  light  box)  and move  it around to maximise the  front lighting  while  minimising  the  reflections.

Thanks to  all for  these  helpful  inputs and    alternative methods

Cheers
Peter

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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2017, 07:09:56 am »

Dear Peter, all,
you are correct about IP bottles needing front light only. The set up discussed here is not really adequate for IP bottles for the simple reason that it yeld also some light from the back of the bottle, so what one see in that case is a mix of the color reflected by the surface of the pigment (which is that we usually see in looking by eye at a bottle) and the color in transparency of the pigment, which is not the same of the reflected one. If one insert a led into an IP bottle, as it is often useful for agate bottles, he will see that the colors changes completely.
I did not try it, but I beleive that the method discussed here is good because of the REDUCTION of front light reflection, but if one would use it for IP bottles, he should place an opaque sheet backgrond close to the bottle so to avoid lighting from the back. As for the front lighting, I highlighted REDUCTION of the fron light reflection because it is just a reduction, not a complete suppression. That is indeed an apparent reduction, more properly it is a diffusion of the reflection. Instead of a spot, we are diffusing the same quantity of light on a wider area. Not always that is good, and I beleive that it is particularly wrong for many IP bottles because they are decorated on almost the whole surface. That diffused reflection do mask details. Let better explain my meaning thanks to the excellent Adrian's picture below. You can see the diffused reflection in the area called A. If that diffused reflection where in B, for sure the details and especially the contrast of the painting there will be diminished. In this case, a direct front light with a smaller spot, taking care of placing the lamp in order to have the spot on an undecorated area like C, it will be better. It is what I do with porcelain vases, I try to place the spot on undecorated areas, but that it is not always possible because of the big dimension of the vases.
Kind regards
Giovanni


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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2017, 09:44:30 am »

Thank you to all for the positive comments regarding the pictures.

Dear Giovanni,

While white balance is very important, exposure is equally important. In a studio situation I would use an incident light meter that records the light falling onto a subject which is the best way to get a correct exposure (and take a polaroid as well to be doubly sure). Camera meters work on reflected light which can be less accurate. They also aim for a mid tone/mid grey which is why pictures taken in the dark come out much lighter.

The picture I took of the IP bottle is under exposed, part due to the reflections and also the white of the inside of the globe. I have a bracketing function on my camera which takes 3 pictures at once, one over, one under and one as the camera thinks it should be exposure wise although I haven't used it as yet. I might add pictures to show how this affects things.

While you can see a diffused highlight on my IP bottle (and all other bottles) the shiny inside of the globe and the fact it's sitting on a mirror and that the shelf lets light through means the light is fairly even over the face of the bottle as light is being bounced around at every angle inside the globe which is one reason why I like this idea that George found. The pheasants in the IP bottle I pictured have colour to them but the rest of  the picture is very muted in it's colours so may not be the best example.

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2017, 10:04:27 am »

Two more bottles with the light source only 4" further away but much less highlighting and no effect on the exposure time.


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