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Dulling spray is occasionally useful for especially stroppy reflective shiny objects, just thought I'd mention it as nobody else has.....




Dulling spray?  I never heard of such a thing, where do you find it and will it wash off?

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Milk sprayed through a fine atomiser is an ancient method, which can work, to soften reflections. Also glaziers putty dabbed carefully onto shiny surfaces and lightly rubbed off also helps. Both are messy but more environmentally friendly than  dulling spray. But they are not as easy to use. Warm breath onto a cold surface can help - if your quick.

I find that a soft box with added reflectors works better than a light tent, giving nice area's of black to give contrast and detail. For me a tent can over light and make the object flat. Yes you can add some black reflector but the access is so confined and fiddly.  

I spent many years photographing antique silver and jewellery and found less is more. A flat over lit product can look so boring and dull.




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"I have an opportunity to do product photography.  This gentleman will have virtually a thousand or more pieces of jewellery for me to shoot, so it could be potentially lucrative for me.  It's somebody I know (my dentist) who is going to have a sideline.  He will provide busts for the jewellery, but I need to come up with a light tent."


Glad to hear you still have them over there.  Gentlemen that is. 


A gentleman's word is his ... etc, but make sure to draw up a written contract, just in case he turns out to be a guy.  A true gent will not be offended. 


For some reason a lot of photographers think still-life work is easy, when it isn't.  I would do a trial run deploying different lighting styles, with different degrees of modelling etc.  Be experimental.  Try soft/hard/shadows/shadowless/white background/dark background.  If your client wants to sell the stuff he might go for something distinctive, unusual.  Or not.  But get it clear with him before you get too far into the project.


Otherwise he might be offering some dental work instead of payment.





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See the portfolio in the lastest edition of Master Photography, by Aaron Ang. The whole thing is shot in the spare bedroom of his flat, using a D800, IKEA table, white cards and LED lights. Not even studio flash. Weep!



Thanks for the link to that excellent magazine. The photog does beautiful work and sure gives some worthy tips on this type of work.He makes it sound easier than it is. Dust really is a problem.   L

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You all have convinced me to give it a go without a light tent.  I'll see what I can do with what I've got, and if I can't get satisfactory images, I'll buy a few things, try again.  If all else fails, then I'll try the light tent.  It seems a consensus that nobody here much likes them.  I do have some reflectors and white boards already.  I have a table (folded up in the closet right now) and I have a background stand and white paper.  Still thinking about the LED lights, though.  I'd find it easier with a continuous light source.


What I've previously found the very hardest while doing tabletop is getting the background lit properly.  The white paper always turns out gray.  Maybe I should have white material with a light source behind it?


Thanks for all the great suggestions.  And yes, I'll get something in writing, lol!  I can always get varied, yet worthy responses from the forum. :)



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Taking all advice into consideration, this is what I ended up doing.  I kicked the "natural north facing window" out because I would have to move two chairs and a table out of my office to make room for the setup.  And there is no place to put that furniture!


I went to a building supply store and bought plumbing pvc pipe, 3/4 inch, and connectors.  I made my own light tent frame.  Nothing is glued, so I can take apart the pieces and store them if need arises. I ordered and received these from Amazon, along with 6 clamps. They come provided with fluorescent bulbs, just right!



They work great.  I went to a fabric store and bought thin bright white fabric.  I am using the clamps to fasten the fabric to the frame, and the beauty of it not being glued/sewn down is that I can remove the top and shoot straight down if I want.

The only thing I am missing is a white and a black sweep.  Something thick enough to have no wrinkles or draping or texture.  While I have seen these online, they are a part of a kit and not sold separately, at least none I could ferret out.

On order is two plexiglass squares, white and black, hopefully they will show a bit of reflection of the piece laid upon them.  On order, a stainless steel square, not quite mirror finish but reflective.  All of these should be here in a week or so.

Meanwhile, I began shooting the jewelry yesterday and it is going swimmingly.  I am using the rolled up black paper when definition is needed.  I am using jewelry busts the designer provided, but also laying quite a bit of it down on a white or black surface and shooting down at it.  I prefer that, but we'll see what the guy I'm working for prefers. I don't like the surfaces I'm working with, so eager to get my pieces on order.


I had a look on Etsy, where he will be opening his shops, and what I will be doing is better than a lot of what I'm seeing, which is straightaway on white or some bad, bad surfaces!

So what my customer expects is lower than what my standards are, so I should have no problem.


The plexiglass and steel I have ordered will probably be used mainly for my own product photography, but I'll see how jewelry does with it.


The lights may not be of the highest quality used by professionals, but they are good enough quality, and were easy to put together and provide all the light I need.

Thanks again for all your suggestions and willingness to guide me in this endeavor.  As always, I come away educated and learning new things from you.


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Learnt a fair bit from this thread. Thanks for kicking it off Betty. Nice one!


You are welcome, Richard.  There are a lot of brains here to mine, and most people are eager to share what they know.  I appreciate each and every "sharer".

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It's a page turn magazine edition which needs Flash - so if you try with an iPad, hard luck. We are planning to move to an app, but that will cost us money so free access will not be possible. YUDU only costs me £99 a year for all my magazines, and if you have Flash installed, you can read - maybe 100, not sure - all our past editions. We do not charge.


Steve - an aeon ago, we did Pretty Polly tights (it was such a long aeon ago that this was the brief era in the 20th century when no woman wore stockings...). Two black panels left and right, big soft frontal light - great shadow modelling to define legs. I did the publicity for Peter Fletcher (the man who invented the cylinder tank print processor). He made a product called the Flectaback. It has two 'pop up' spring roller loaded screens, which rise to 5 x 4ft from a heavy wooden base. This was 31 years ago. The screens are white'silver and gold'black, Rosco type textured Mylar. Two black ones make the shadow tunnel.


I still have my samples, they have lasted 31 years, two of them, a bit dirty now and the poles a touch rusty, but the best and most useful studio products I ever acquired, in use every day. No company now makes anything similar. I guess Peter is either very old now or has departed. He was a genuine British eccentric inventor and changed photography in his time but hardly scraped a living from his ideas.


David, if you had not told me it was a page-turn, I'd have never figured it out.  I did finally access the info, and that is one reason I ordered a piece of stainless steel.  Thanks!

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