• A New Photo Gallery Has Been Added!!! Please share pictures of your finished projects in the New Photo Gallery for everyone to enjoy browsing. The New Photo Gallery is for FINISHED PROJECTS ONLY!! The New Photo Gallery section was created to give people a place to view photos without having to read through all the threads. Enjoy everyone and please contribute!

Photographing wood

DLJeffs

Member
Full Member
Messages
1,450
Reaction score
2,636
Location
central Oregon
First name
Doug
I noticed Paul's questions about the color of some wood that was posted for sale. So I did a search to see if anyone has ever posted a thread about how to photograph wood but didn't find one. If there already is one, please delete this one.

The best way to achieve true color in your photos is to photograph your subject in natural light and make sure your camera's white balance setting is for natural sun or shade. On most digital SLR's you can find the white balance setting in the "menu" or "tools". Usually the symbol for white balance is a sun or a sometimes it'll just say WB or AWB. AWB usually means "average white balance" which, just like it says, allows your camera to use an average white balance setting for the exposure. If you have to photograph your wood indoors, try to set it by the window and use natural light. If you photograph the wood under fluorescent, incandescent or other lights it is really important to adjust the white balance setting to match the light. Using the flash on the camera will not correct the white balance for artificial light.

I rarely take photos with my cell phone so I don't even know if you can adjust the white balance on a phone camera. Maybe someone else can speak to that.
 

FranklinWorkshops

Member
Full Member
Messages
4,245
Reaction score
6,507
Location
Landenberg, PA, USA
First name
Larry
I noticed Paul's questions about the color of some wood that was posted for sale. So I did a search to see if anyone has ever posted a thread about how to photograph wood but didn't find one. If there already is one, please delete this one.

The best way to achieve true color in your photos is to photograph your subject in natural light and make sure your camera's white balance setting is for natural sun or shade. On most digital SLR's you can find the white balance setting in the "menu" or "tools". Usually the symbol for white balance is a sun or a sometimes it'll just say WB or AWB. AWB usually means "average white balance" which, just like it says, allows your camera to use an average white balance setting for the exposure. If you have to photograph your wood indoors, try to set it by the window and use natural light. If you photograph the wood under fluorescent, incandescent or other lights it is really important to adjust the white balance setting to match the light. Using the flash on the camera will not correct the white balance for artificial light.

I rarely take photos with my cell phone so I don't even know if you can adjust the white balance on a phone camera. Maybe someone else can speak to that.
I use a iPhone 11 for most of my wood photography now and it does a good job of adjusting for artificial light. The photo color matches the actual object fairly well but I can also correct for any issues on my computer.
 

DLJeffs

Member
Full Member
Messages
1,450
Reaction score
2,636
Location
central Oregon
First name
Doug
Good point Larry. You can also adjust the color profile using a photo program such as Photoshop or Lightroom. Photoshop has a free version and is what I use. Once you've opened your photo, in the list of commands along the top you'll see "Enhance". If you put your cursor on there, it'll open a list of options. One option is "auto color correction" - but I find it doesn't do a great job. I prefer to open the "Adjust color" tool and use it to get a truer color if I forgot to adjust my camera setting.
 

FranklinWorkshops

Member
Full Member
Messages
4,245
Reaction score
6,507
Location
Landenberg, PA, USA
First name
Larry
While this isn't wood, just want to show you the quality of photos that the iPhone 11 does. I'm selling off my coin collection on Etsy and make these photos for every coin. It is in my light box on a piece of butternut. A perfectly accurate photo under artificial light.

65138CA3-D0A6-4895-82A8-17B0D69688E6_1_201_a.jpeg
 

trc65

Member
Full Member
Messages
2,217
Reaction score
5,760
Location
Cameron, Illinois
First name
Tim
I use a free program called Snapseed on my tablet to perform any corrections that are needed. Powerful little program, but simple to use. As I'm almost always shooting things at night, I use artificial lights, but also a white background that allows me to quickly adjust things. I use 5000K LED bulbs in cheap clamp on "trouble" light fixtures.
 

hokie

Member
Full Member
Messages
40
Reaction score
55
Location
DC
First name
Jeremy
questions about the color of some wood that was posted for sale.
I believe you may be referring to my post! I'm actually really interested in the subject matter surrounding this topic and I think I may have actually undertaken many of your suggested settings on my camera before taking the shots (surrounding AWB at least).

I will admit, I was so afraid of coming off as unfaithful, I told myself to avoid *any* post-processing and just let the camera do the work with the lighting available (a mix of incandescent and diffused camera flash). That's why I offered to take alternate photos too. I'm super skeptical when I buy wood online and I want to give buyers the power to gain comfort.

I have some work to do, I suppose. I'd love any and all suggestions. In my defense, that Afzelia is pretty "red" compared to some of the other varieties I see for sale... but maybe that's a function of the lacquer too. I did not apply it and didn't want to go to the effort to remove it either.
 

trc65

Member
Full Member
Messages
2,217
Reaction score
5,760
Location
Cameron, Illinois
First name
Tim
A while back someone here posted in a thread to these links which give a good guide to photographing projects with minimum $$. It outlines the equipment needed and gives a quick tutorial on using Snapseed to correct your pictures.

Two parts:

 

DLJeffs

Member
Full Member
Messages
1,450
Reaction score
2,636
Location
central Oregon
First name
Doug
Thanks for those links Tim. I was sure this topic had been discussed before, especially with the wood collector guys and wood identification questions all needing such accurate and clean photos. Light boxes, like Larry mentions above, are another simple tool to improve photos of smaller items (I guess you could build a ginormous light box for big stuff). I use one for taking photos of fishing flies. They provide diffused light and eliminate harsh shadows. My first one was a simple cardboard box with tissue paper windows. Then I built a wooden one with milky plexiglass windows. Here's a couple shots of my light boxes in case anyone's interested.

lightbox.jpg

box front view.jpg
 
Last edited:

DLJeffs

Member
Full Member
Messages
1,450
Reaction score
2,636
Location
central Oregon
First name
Doug
I believe you may be referring to my post! I'm actually really interested in the subject matter surrounding this topic and I think I may have actually undertaken many of your suggested settings on my camera before taking the shots (surrounding AWB at least).

I will admit, I was so afraid of coming off as unfaithful, I told myself to avoid *any* post-processing and just let the camera do the work with the lighting available (a mix of incandescent and diffused camera flash). That's why I offered to take alternate photos too. I'm super skeptical when I buy wood online and I want to give buyers the power to gain comfort.

I have some work to do, I suppose. I'd love any and all suggestions. In my defense, that Afzelia is pretty "red" compared to some of the other varieties I see for sale... but maybe that's a function of the lacquer too. I did not apply it and didn't want to go to the effort to remove it either.
Certainly was not trying to call you out Jeremy and applaud you for taking all that care and effort to try to get the color accurate. In my opinion your approach to 'not do any post processing' is generally the best way to go. I see way too many photos that have been manipulated to such a degree it's almost farcical. But cameras aren't perfect either and especially when it comes to color. In the old days before digital we chose the type of film we used based on what we planned to photograph, e.g. Fuji produced beautiful enhanced greens but Kodachrome was best for blues, nobody did reds or skin tones very well, etc. And artificial lights all are produced with various wavelengths from "burning" filaments or mediums so they all favor one color over others.
 

hokie

Member
Full Member
Messages
40
Reaction score
55
Location
DC
First name
Jeremy
Certainly was not trying to call you out Jeremy and applaud you for taking all that care and effort to try to get the color accurate.
No worries! I didn't interpret you bringing the subject up that way. If anything, I'm glad we can share thoughts and experiences surrounding wood photography. I just introduced myself into the thread a little weird I guess.
The setup I used for the Afzelia (Koa pictured below for another listing to come) was actually a cheapo pop-up light box with a black background sitting precariously on a dining room chair. haha. The cords all over the floor were for back and side lighting I planned to use, but ended up ditching because the pictures were almost *too* good as far as color and brightness. As you can see, I ended up using the basic speedlite flash to bounce off the ceiling.
64271506521__8E404427-040A-42C0-A94B-C9F4844C28B6.jpg

Something else that I think factors into my particular situation is the lens. I got a brand new Canon 24-70 f/2.8L and is has a remarkable ability to draw out amazing color (I still have the box sitting on the right side of the picture above). I don't know this for sure, but I also wonder if the camera does some stuff on its own internally. My drone camera has a tendency to make the ocean waters of the mid-Atlantic look like the friggin' Caribbean. Looks cool and impresses people, but seems a little inauthentic (to me at least).
 
Last edited:

Wildthings

ASTROS 2021 SEASON 37-28
Full Member
Messages
7,653
Reaction score
10,828
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
First name
Barry
While this isn't wood, just want to show you the quality of photos that the iPhone 11 does. I'm selling off my coin collection on Etsy and make these photos for every coin. It is in my light box on a piece of butternut. A perfectly accurate photo under artificial light.

View attachment 208884
I'll give you 12 cents for that dime
 

FranklinWorkshops

Member
Full Member
Messages
4,245
Reaction score
6,507
Location
Landenberg, PA, USA
First name
Larry
Doug, here is an uncirculated one on Etsy.

 
Top