Photographing a bass - your tips here...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by FretNoMore, Sep 27, 2003.

  1. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    We've seen some beautiful pictures of basses on TB, notably Dingwall, Benavente, Nordstrand and others. I was wondering if you'd all share your tips on how to photograph a bass, how to set up lighting, what to do in Photoshop etc? Not a full-blown "photography for studio pros", just some basics to present your bass in nicer pictures. 'm asking because I'd like some tips on how to take some nice pics of my basses. I just dumped my existing camera, going digital, here's a teaser...

  2. Zon Bass

    Zon Bass

    Jan 20, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    Bunny Bass has a great article on both taking pictures and photoshopping them.

    Bunny Bass article
  3. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    That is a great article, thanks!
  4. Nice closeup, Fretnomore.

    One piece of equipement that I very highly recommend, is the Sto-fen omni bounce. It greatly softens a flash's light, and gives results similar to an umbrella. I use it all the time, and people ask me why the pictures I take of people at parties come out so good. Shhh...

    And all for $20. ;)

    Click on "Info," then click on "Photos with and without."

    It cuts down on your flash's maximun distance, but most photos I take are 6 to 12 feet.

    This thing is great.

    Mike ;)
  5. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Thanks Mike! I actually just bought an Omnibounce yesterday! I got the same advice from someone in a photo store, haven't even had time to try it yet. Makes sense though, flash pictures are often too hard and with parts of the highlights overexposed. Any softening and diffusion of the light should help. I'll try and make some time for experiments later this week.
  6. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My very mediocre contribution:


    Bad lighting = bad picture
  7. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I can get great non-flash pics from my digital, but the subjects have to be absolutely still. My question: Does this lighting device "the stofen" change that any?
    One thing film does great, it captures those split-second sequences digital can't.
  8. SlavaF


    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB

    =gorgeous bass!:eek: :D :bassist:
  9. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    The stofen is a diffuser that goes on top of a flash to soften the light. With the diffuser the subject is lit up more naturally, so it's not so obvious that you used a flash. Since there is more light compared to w/o a flash you can use a faster shutter speed, meaning there will be less blur.

    As far as capturing those split second sequences, there are digital cameras out there that can keep up with any film camera. Granted they are professional models that cost thousands of dollars, but they exist. I take pictures at sports events for my university, and in the last couple of years almost all of the pro photographers have switched to digital.
  10. Carey


    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    I can offer two tips...

    1. Don't use the flash, unless you bounce or diffuse it. It just makes the bass look way too flat and lifeless. And how many pics of basses have you seen that have a nice bright glare obscuring most of the shot...

    2. Use a tripod. When you turn off your flash you have to use a longer exposure and even the tiniest movement will blur the shot. I even use my 3 second timer so that my hand pushing the shutter release won't cause any movement.

    3. You want a large diffuse light source. An open window with no trees directly in sight is very good. You can also use white reflectors to get lighting on the opposite side of the object. I've used office storage box tops with success. Try hanging a large white sheet from the ceiling and bouncing some light off it. I use a worklight that has two 500 watt halogen lights for this. You can get these at Home Depot for around $60. But they get VERY hot, so be careful with them. Oh, and if your camera allows it do a custom white balance to correct for the yellowish nature of the light. Actually, a custom white balance is almost always a good idea.

    Here's a shot of my setup for the last bass I shipped...


    You can see the white comforter above the table, suspended from the ceiling. The light is to the right of the field of view and is pointed up. This gives the nice diffuse bouced light and resuts in a nice edge glare/reflection. And, behind the camera I hung a large dark piece of fabric so the face of the bass wouldn't have any weird reflections. It worked nice, but I have some more ideas for next time...

    4. If you want the whole subject to be as much in focus as possible use a small aperture. This will increase the depth of field.

    5. It's better to underexpose than over expose. You can always tweak up the levels in Photoshop.

    Ok, that's more than two. I could go on and on. I love this subject!!!!
  11. If you have a point and shoot camera with a flash on the camera body, you won't be able to buy a diffuser accessory like the omni-bounce. The poor man's way around this is to hold/tape a piece of a tissue over the flash. Need more diffusion? Fold it in half. I wouldn't go thicker than that, else you won't have enough light.

    Give it a try some time - I've gotten some pictures out of a cheap digital in the past that were nothing to sneeze at. ;) :rolleyes:
  12. P., There's little I can add to Phat Ham's answer.
    I know a lot about film photography, but little about digital. If you're getting blur on some of your shots, it's almost definitely camera shake caused by a slow shutter speed, which leads us to what Carey said: Use a tripod. This is one of the best things you can do to make better pictures. Not only will it eliminate camera shake (using the timer or a cable release is better still) but using a tripod will slow you down, and make you compose better photos.

    When you place a camera on a tripod and look through the viewfinder, all of a sudden you see things that will detract from the photo that you just don't notice when simply bringing a camera to your eye and hitting the shutter. Things like: an ashtray that's just at the edge of the frame, a tree "growing" out of someone's head, or clutter such as parked cars in the background that fight for attention with the main subject.

    In fact, all of Carey's post is right on the mark.
    I have so many photos to post, I just have to get them put on a disc.

    We should start a TB camera club. :)

    Heavy Duty, where are you? :D

    More later; it's work time.


    P.S. Fretnomore, you just bought an omnibounce yesterday? Scary, huh? :eek:
  13. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Thanks you guys. Most of the pics I post are "non-flash" Something I learned being in the Graphics industry. I hate that "blasted look".

    I'll try slowing down the shutter. Sometimes photography being somewhat spontaneous, one doesn't always get a chance to do even the least of optimal setups. You just have to point, shoot, and hope you've captured the moment.
  14. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Yes, just what I thought when I read your advice! :) Perhaps it's not so much a coincidence after all though, I'm in "photo mode" at the moment, been researching what to do and what to buy to improve my pictures...

    Just ordered macro extension tubes just for fun, perhaps there are some microscopic details on a bass that would make good picture puzzles here? We'll see... :)
  15. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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