QUESTION: Metal Art Photography
Hello Mr. Worden,
I’ve ordered some of your products and used them with pretty good success but I have a couple questions.
I need a bronze like color, I ordered the oil rubbed bronze (BRONZE F/X™sic) and it is almost black with little to no gold color. Any idea on what I need to order to get a bronze color?
Secondly, When I photograph my pieces, you can’t see the colors very well, if at all. I’ve tried different lights and even standing on a chair over a piece and can’t get a good picture, is there a special technique?
Thanks, Chris H.
Cooper Metal Works
Photography of Metal Art:
- Use a Tripod
- Have lens perpendicular to the object you’re shooting. Stay away from angled shots in most cases.
- Cell-phones have come a long way, so they’re fine as long as your rear-facing camera is at least 12mp. (mega-pixels)
- Use natural, northern light when possible, but don’t shoot in direct sunlight, regardless of time of day.
- Use a solid background. Black is my favorite for metal art & white is a must for product photos, but you can try any color back-drop that you like. One of my earliest backdrops was a tie-dyed, mottled gray & black and it worked well. Before I figured this out several years ago, I used straw bales, burlap, black weed-mat, etc…w/ very unpredictable, non-repeatable results. However..I still use a 4’X4′ sheet of gnarly, rusty 14awg mild steel as a backdrop for some things.
- Don’t use flash. Unless you have a sophisticated DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) with strobe flash delay or specialized flash settings. Flash removes shadows & has it’s place in photography, but it also causes a lot of glare/blow back, light flares & wash-out on a glossy surfaced subject, like finished metal art. A flash diffuser can be used, although I’ve never bothered with that.
- Place object (flat steel) nearly or perfectly vertical.
- Don’t use exposed hangers (nails, screws or your hand), or temporary supports. I have used a magnetic tool bar with some success & still do now & then.
- Don’t stand above & shoot towards the ground…Ever!
- Don’t use your shop walls (indoor or outdoor), or the closest piece of concrete sidewalk, wood decking, tiled or carpeted floor, etc. as a backdrop. All mentioned will “take away” from the subject of the photo.
- Shoot indoors with windows or shop doors open, allowing some degree of northern light to be at your back, if at all possible.
- Familiarize yourself w/ your favorite photo editing software or app. I use a free editor called, “Picasa”, by Google. I use it to change (if necessary), Fill Light, Highlights, Shadows & Color Temp. Sounds complicated, but it’s not at all.
- Use indirect lighting to erase shadows if necessary. Photos are attached below, showing some of my lighting, most of which is not used for my metal art, but required for decent product photos.
- Take 2 or 3 Shots of the Same Piece…(just in case)
- Rename your photos like this: img.(your description here)©(year/date)…Don’t upload photos that just have generic camera info, like DSC-0001 (Digital Sony Camera-Sequence #) “©” is made by holding down the ALT key & typing, ‘0169’ (Windows, that is…I have no idea on Mac. It’s not imperative that you use the © symbol, I just mentioned it in case you were interested.
- Re-size your photos to a maximum of 1024 pixels wide (640-800 is better) & 72dpi or 96dpi maximum, for website or facebook uploading. Your camera will most likely take 3-5mb images & those are way too big. The photos below were almost 5,000pix wide, until I resized them.