#13. "RE: ADVICE, PLEASE: Close-Up Photography on Black Backgrounds" In response to In response to 12 Fri 08-Jun-12 04:49 AM by CaptainYooh
Firstly, Dan, thank you for taking the time to write about your suggested backlighting set-up. Secondly, Sal, thank you for the wonderful suggestion on those goose-neck fiber-optic lights to separate the pipes from the background and get a well-lit outline/rim lighting. They made lots of sense to me and I have already sourced a couple of inexpensive used ones (although I will need to check further on the useful life of their bulbs and fans).
Thirdly, suspending pipes in the air is definitely possible but... there's always a but. See, in addition to shape and level of finishing, another criterion distinguishing good briar pipes from great ones, is briar grain pattern. The straighter and denser the contrasting grains, the more valuable and beautiful a pipe is in the eyes of silly pipe collectors like myself. Thus; showing the grain as comprehensively as possible, is one of the tasks facing a pipe photographer. A pipe could be suspended off a rigid thin rod (like a file, or a screwdriver) stuck into the pipe stem slot and fixated on some kind of a stand. But your ability to rotate it for the most favourable shot would be severely limited. Plus, pipes weigh up to 3 oz, which make them a bit too heavy for an easy suspension. And, you would need to remove the "suspension" trace from the image by replacing a piece of the stem that it's taken out. It's been done before, I must say, but not a preferred scenario.
Glare is literally killing the grains by reflecting off a shiny briar surface. Direct front, angular or from the top lighting - no matter. Being a spherical object, the pipe bowl seems to catch the light spot regardless of where it is positioned. I also experimented with diffusers, placing them over top of the pipes. They remove the hard glare, but they also make the pipe surface appear non-polished...