03 August 2012

Photo Friday: Photographing Artifacts 2 (Military Bracelet)

I began my pictures with my light box stationed on the daybed on a Sunday afternoon. I used the light from the widow and a work light through the side of a box. It's safe to say I didn't use the flash with any of these pictures. And, I used the Macro setting in the “P” mode. I also set the White Balance to manual, unless otherwise stated.

Exposure: 1/125, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 9.1 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
Good start; too reflective; too dark; love the full image of the bracelet
Exposure: 1/100, Exposure bias: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
Love the detail of the eagle on the bracelet, you could read the name (in full size), overall too dark


After two shots, I took pictures of other objects. After 40 photos and a 3 hour time lapse, I came back to the bracelet to see if I could improve the photos. I tried different angles by moving the camera and also my moving the bracelet around in the box. I didn't know much about camera settings yet, so you'll see a lot of the camera settings are the same. 


Exposure: 1/400, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 7.3 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
This picture was horribly dark and you couldn't even tell there was a name on the bracelet
Exposure: 1/200, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 11.5 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
Moved the camera to different angle and zoomed in. The light improved, but could not read name.
Exposure: 1/200, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4. Focal Length: 11.5 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
Best one for reading the name.
Exposure: 1/125, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
The light glare is distracting, the color changed in the photo even though the settings are similar to the previous picture.
Exposure: 1/200, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4,  Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800,  Metering; Center Weight Average
I varied my position. I lost the quality of name and the bracelet looks like it is a different color. Perhaps it would be nice in collection.
Exposure: 1/200, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 11.5 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
I moved my position and that of the bracelet and neither improved the picture.

Thus far, the quality of the photographs improved by moving in and zooming in. Later I'll learn how to adjust the lighting and play with the settings on the camera.

I took a rest and came back to this project another day. this time I used natural lighting on one side of the light box. My camera is on the "P" manual mode setting.

Exposure: 1/160, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 10.3 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
Color of bracelet changed, wish I hadn't chopped off the bracelet.
Exposure: 1/160, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
I shifted the box to improve the lighting which changed where the glare reflects

I still felt the pictures were too dark. I decided to do more research to see what could be done to improve the quality of the photos.

After some research, I switched the metering to Spot, used natural light on one side of the light box and a shop light for the other side. I used the custom white balance before every shot. Look at the difference!

Exposure: 1/100, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering: Spot
Much brighter, glare in wrong spot, name still legible (in large version), wish I had better bracelet composition
Exposure: 1/100, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/3.5, Focal Length: 12.8 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Spot
I attempted to shift the glare. The color changed but the shadows decreased
Exposure: 1/60, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/3.5, Focal Length: 14.4 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Spot
Tried the B&W setting to improve readability of the name on the tag, It didn't help
Exposure: 1/80, Exposure bias*: 1.0
Aperture: f/3.5, Focal Length: 14.4 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Spot
I tried the Sepia, It was not good at all.


After thoughts

My first two attempts were pretty good. I still wanted to overcome how dark the photos were. I also wanted to see if I could improve the readability of the name.


This is where I started. Not too bad.
This was the best for reading the name (in a large print size).
I liked this one to include in a collection of photos as it shows the true color of bracelet.
This photo overcomes the darkness of the previous attempts.

Loved the brightness of third attempt at photographing this bracelet. I think switching to Spot Metering may have helped with the quality of the photos. Plus, I used a shop light on one side of my light box with natural light on the other side. The background brightened up considerably. I had problems with the reflective nature of this piece.

I would later discover that
  • Exposure bias: +/- to lighten or darken in small exposure
  • Changing the ISO might have improved the quality of the bracelet
  • Other ideas: use a black foam core in front to reduce glare?
Now that you've seen what can be done with a light box, a tripod, and a camera, what will you photograph? In the coming posts, I'll show you the other artifacts that I photographed. You'll see more clearly the mistakes I made and what I learned. Hopefully you'll be able to start in your first attempt where my third attempt ended.

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