Hey everyone! Today I wanted to share some tips for photographing small and backlit objects. These can be challenging, but a lot of fun if you have the right techniques. I recently had a chance to work with a client who is an avid engineer and has a fun hobby working with a up and coming technology called 3D printing or additive manufacturing. He needed help photographing some creations to share in preparing some 3D printer reviews for people looking to get into the hobby (like this one). Here are some tips I can share regarding a shoot like this one.
Use focused light to highlight the objects features
Take time to get the lighting right with small objects. This can be difficult as too much light will wash out the object and insufficient light will leave out the exquisite detail often found in small projects. I use a flood lamp as a key light that is soft, natural and helps the object come to life off the platform and then use a focused light to get good flare from the object. Be sure to have your camera handy or an assistant as this will will speed up the setup process.
Use macro settings or an appropriate lense
Macro settings are basic features on nearly all DSLR cameras. They are far different than the majority of features we use in every day photography and take some getting used to. First you’ll want to make sure you understand how close you can get to an object to ensure you’re using the full frame. Keep in mind you don’t want to use ANY digital zooming here. Only optical as you want to capture all of the fine detail without getting grainy or adding noise to the image before editing. Give yourself a little time to get the framing right and adjust your macro settings until you’ve got a good balance of crisp foreground and slightly indistinct background. Be sure to take a few shots on both sides of what looks the best to your eye and one in the middle. Odds are good of the three you’ll get one that’s just right.
Use fStop settings to blur out some objects
fStop settings are a great skill to master as many times when photographing a complex scene whether a group of small objects such as above or something with a lot to look at you want to draw the attention to a particular item of focus, but you may not want or be able to remove the other objects. Perhaps they add some context to the photo, but you won’t want too much emphasis on them. Practice your fStop settings to figure out how you can frame your shot to get the most value, but then focus in on the objects which are of most importance. The shorter the distance between objects will make this more difficult as fine tuning will be more critical to get blurry where wanted and crisp everywhere else. If unsure just increase the distance between objects and use creative angles to make things look a bit more close together.
I know you all have way more talent and skills than this, but these few tips can go a long ways to creating a successful shot with such small and intricate objects. Hopefully you got some good tips!