What level of photo editing is too much?

J. ROSA

Well-Known Member
So recently I've been able to cheaply up my photo game. I'm curious as to what level of photo editing is acceptable and what level is unacceptable. I wouldn't want to sell a blade using heavily edited photos that makes buyers think they're getting something they aren't. However, I have to admit that even the most basic photo editing software can make a blade pop and sometimes the editing can create a work of art on its own. So what do you guys think? And does anyone have any examples of overly edited blades?
 

J. Hoffman

Dealer - Purveyor
My thoughts are that if you are using Photoshop to remove scratches that you didn't sand out, fix blemishes in the handle or change the color of the knife or handle you are misrepresenting the knife and or your skills. I just got PS and haven't had time to play with it yet. I'm hoping to use it to make multi-view shots, and adjusting lighting and color to best represent the actual knife.

I've bought handle material in the past that looked awesome in the photo, and then when you get it, it's kind of bland. I would rather have my customer think that the item looks better in person than in the picture.

The above is just my personal opinion.
 
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J. ROSA

Well-Known Member
I totally agree with you on wanting the blade to look better in person. I didn't even think about removing blemishes. I've also bought things that look way better in the sales thread than in person. Thanks for your feedback Mr. Hoffman. I think that is a lot to consider right there.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Levels and curves to control the details you want to show is fine, considering most people aren't photographers and don't have a proper lighting setup to control highlights and shadow detail.




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John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Color balance and color temperature are valuable tools that are useful when you don't have complete control over your lighting.

Sharpening is another good tool, but a little goes a long way.


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RangerMadeKnives

KNIFE MAKER
I have been a serious amateur photographer most of my life and semi-pro for a couple years. This is an age old debate. My opinion is basically the same as Jess, you should only edit the (knife/product) photo in order to make it look more like what you see in person. Photography has limits and you will not capture in a single image all the detail, contrast, and color that can be seen with the naked eye. This is what editing in PS or another program can help with. Adding backgrounds is another thing I think is perfectly acceptable. Knife photography is mostly about marketing and you want to create a mood or feeling that will increase desire for the knife; backgrounds help immensely in this regard.

Bob
 

Ebbtide

Well-Known Member
Good answers all.
I'll add that good PS work is unnoticeable.
Much like salt.
If the meal tastes salty or the photo looks like it was beaten with the PS hammer it is too much.
A little goes a long way.

IMHO, an over PS'd image can sow the seed of distrust in the viewer...
 

J. ROSA

Well-Known Member
Color balance and color temperature are valuable tools that are useful when you don't have complete control over your lighting.

Sharpening is another good tool, but a little goes a long way.


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Color temperature balance is one of those things I'm still struggling with. A lot has to do with my lighting setup before shooting and my camera preferences but I still seem to have difficulty finding the right temp balance that maintains proper color saturation. I agree on the sharpness comment and have been guilty of putting a little more than I need to get a blade to pop.
 

J. ROSA

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your input Bob and Ebbtide. Good photoshop skills is something I don't have yet so I'm working it at the other end to take the best photos I can that will limit any ps time for a finished product. Which leads me to another question about lighting. But more specifically about the newer lower watt eco bulbs on the market. I'm currently using 5000k bulbs for my light box. Being relatively new at shooting pics of my work I've never had the experience of using the older higher watt equivalent. For you more experienced guys is there a difference? I've been pleased with the pics I'm getting and will be adding another light soon but I've been wondering about the difference between the newer and older bulbs. Is there a difference?
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Good lights and modifiers are the single biggest bang for the buck you can get. If you are making do with a light tent, set your camera to MANUAL and use long exposure. Your knife isn't going to move, so a long shutter and a tripod will keep you from having to use high power lights.





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John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Also- I'm sure you're using digital. An SLR is a tremendous tool.

Shoot practice shots with the lighting you have. Adjust the white balance on your camera manually until you get a neutral color exposure. Write down that setting and use it each time.

It's all about your lights. High end studio strobes and softboxes, scrims, etc exist for a reason. But that's a big investment unless you are serious about this stuff. Just keep in mind that a light tent is a poor mans solution and you aren't going to be Caleb Royer using a light tent and lamps. Don't beat yourself up.


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RangerMadeKnives

KNIFE MAKER
I have well over $10k in Speedotron and Elinchrom strobe lighting but, I like to TRY to keep things as simple as possible. I usually shoot my knives (when I'm not being lazy and using my cellphone) with window light through a scrim and fill with reflectors. I always place a Color Checker Passport in the first frame and will shoot it again if I think the light is changing. I don't bother setting color temp on my camera, it is faster to adjust and sync in PS. I always mount my camera on a sturdy tripod and use a remote shutter release. The camera is always on manual with a low ISO and I usually set the aperture to f16 to get the most depth of field without introducing too much diffraction. Shutter speed is generally several seconds hence the need for the good tripod.

If you get into lights, still photography is much easier with some kind of constant light source. Color temp is not really an issue except, do NOT mix lights of different temps. Some lights will have better modifier support than others and that is key. Hot lights (tungsten and halogen) can require very expensive heat resistant softboxes so do your research.

Bob
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
in my experience, I'd spend money on lights and a light tent before buying photo editing software. Good lighting will often give you a photo that doesn't need much editing. Having said that, I'd get the lights and the software. GIMP is free and will do everything a knife photographer needs. It's a bit kludgy but works well enough. Paint Shop Pro will even more at a fraction of the price of Photoshop. Photoshop is clearly the king and is very well documented with "how to's" everywhere for free or minimal training costs.

Here we use Photoshop on our graphics PC where we take all of our pictures and edit videos using other Adobe software. The Canon Rebel T2i (stock lens) is a tethered set up where we can see the lights and focus on a large monitor. We use several daylight CFL bulbs for lights with something like vellum paper for the diffuser in the light tent. The whole tent looks thrown together but it works. We currently have only one Adobe suite license so if I am at my desk and someone is using Photoshop, I use Paint Shop for a quick touch up.
 

Ebbtide

Well-Known Member
All good points.
Photoshop is overkill for most well shot knife photos that just need a little tweak.
(no software will save a poorly shot subject)
I do most of my photo processing in Light Room. It is much more user friendly and intuitive.
And this comes from someone who has PS in his job description :)
 
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