Ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!

The Tinman’s Heart guitar is finished and delivered to a happy customer! It has it’s own page, of course, filled with details and pictures. And, like every major build, after it was finished, it had to have a photo shoot. In past years (thanks to teaching at a University as part of a Fine Arts school), I have had access to professional grade photo lights to take my pics. Sadly, they are temporarily out of commission, so I had to improvise. My first option was to use an inner office with copious fluorescent lights. Some of the final pics came from that set. But, depending on the angle of the camera and the lights on the guitar, some shots were downright ugly, with bizarre color in the image.

Here’s a shot of the front that wasn’t too bad:

decent front

And here’s the very next shot of the same from from a different angle that has gone horribly, horribly, awry:

bad front

After reviewing the shots from that first set, and finding not enough useable ones, I went searching for a new locale. Luckily, our Fine Arts building has a large glass enclosed atrium by the auditorium, and the rainstorm had finally stopped and was starting to clear. This gave me the ideal lighting environment: natural, but not direct, light.

Here’s the back of the headstock under fluorescents:

bad headback

Here’s the same shot from almost the same angle, with natural light:

good headback

Big difference! The Osage orange actually looks orange rather than green (yech!), and the mahogany has that beautiful rich color that it is known for.

So, that is the first component to good pics, GET THE LIGHT RIGHT! But, that’s not the end of the story. Even with the right light, you still have to work out the best angle. Especially with reflective surfaces, you have to make sure that you aren’t getting light bouncing back, washing out whole sections of the piece. (This is particularly tricky with guitars since they have almost no flat surfaces; everything is curving every which way.)

Here’s a shot (in natural light) of one side of the guitar that is reflecting too much:


From the other side, the light is much kinder:

good reflection

But, the most important factor in getting good shots is this: Take as many pics from as many angles in as many environments as you can! Pixels are cheap, use as many as you can. You can always delete the really awful ones if you’re running out of space in the camera. (A second card is also a good idea!) The more you have to choose from, the more likely that you’ll find just the right shot.

Nobody wants to end up with a Tinman that looks like he’s green to the gills!

Green tinman

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