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Jun 4, 2024 - 3:41:13 PM
631 posts since 2/26/2007

Almost without fail, I peruse the marketplace ads when I log on the hangout. Often photos of the resonator have considerable reflections in them that hide wood grain. These seem to be taken outdoors or near strong light sources.

What would be a best practice to obtain a good, clear photo of the wood grain, and reveal imperfections, scratches, or issues with binding that may exist? I realize light is necessary. Is the goal to use indirect or diffuse light? What types/colors of surfaces in the "reflection" show up less?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Jun 4, 2024 - 6:08:51 PM

3403 posts since 5/2/2012

First of all, having an overhead/ceiling light reflected off the resonator into the camera lens is not the look you want.

I think a diffused light to show off the grain, an indirect light to show imperfections.

A few years back I saw some pictures of a banjo (or was it a guitar) that were almost art-like. That person used color (in the background material and in the light) and created a really "soft" (but not unfocused) effect with the light.

For inspiration, check out YouTube videos about photographing guitars. I would think you don't need super expensive equipment to duplicate the results

Jun 4, 2024 - 7:11:34 PM

3403 posts since 5/2/2012

One video I watched the guy approached the task like product photography. A sheet for the background and a small LED light (which you can pick up for about $20 on Amazon (the one I looked at even had colored gels If you wanted to play with that)). If you have harsh light, bounce it off a small piece of foamboard to soften it up. And I think I misspoke, as I think direct light would be better for the person looking at the picture of an imperfection. For example, I have a banjo with finish checking on the resonator, and direct light from an angle would show that better (you could see the lines/shadows). Then I would pair that with a picture from "straight on" (diffused light or a soft reflected light) to show that from that angle the checking isn't real obvious.

Edited by - thisoldman on 06/04/2024 19:14:35

Jun 4, 2024 - 7:49:20 PM
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2968 posts since 9/18/2010

This is two lights, one from each side at enough angle to avoid reflections to the camera. I now use two PA stands with brooder lights clamped onto them with 5000 Kelvin temperature LED bulbs. Lights can be added, moved up, down of whatever to get good light for a picture.


Edited by - sunburst on 06/04/2024 19:51:00

Jun 4, 2024 - 8:15:31 PM

5850 posts since 5/29/2011

Is that one of your creations John?

Jun 4, 2024 - 9:11:14 PM
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2968 posts since 9/18/2010

Yes, it's one I made some years ago back in Virginia. It's the one with the inlays shown in my avatar here.
And by the way, a banjo resonator is easier to photograph than an F-5 style mandolin!

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