Photo Friday: Object Orientation

If you have large medallions and awards amongst your family treasures, you’ll soon discover they actually can be difficult to photograph. I discovered how you present the heirloom to your camera will have a dramatic impact on the quality of the photos. 

Academic Medallion
Exposure: 1/20, aperture: f/3.2, focal length: 9.1 mm, ISO 80

My lightbox is set up on my ironing board on an early afternoon with natural light streaming in from the left side. On the right side of the lightbox, I have a work light. I am using the custom white balance feature on the interior of the box before I place my object. Then I place the object and continue shooting in the “P” mode on my Canon Power Shot camera (someday I’ll venture into Tv and Av, and maybe fully Manual). The flash is off.

Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This picture is completely distorted. The way I propped this object up using bean bags under a white cloth is not working with the angle I have my camera positioned on its tripod.   


Academic Medallion
Exposure: 1/8, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 11.5 mm, ISO 80

By raising the medal to a more vertical orientation, my camera/tripod orientation seemed to be more agreeable to taking a better picture of this medallion.

Academic Medallion
Exposure: 1/13, aperture: f/3.5, focal length: 16.1 mm, ISO 80

Again, the angle I was shooting this object at, was not working. I was attempting to have the more vertical orientation. The medal just didn’t stay in the position I placed it in. 


Academic Medallion
Exposure: 1/15, aperture: f/3.2, focal length: 9.1 mm, ISO 80
By switching the orientation of the piece, I have a much better picture. In this case, I eliminated the prop, and placed the piece flat on the light box bottom. I lowered the ironing board until it was at the right height for the camera (on it’s tripod) to look directly down on the object. The medallion is actually towards the outer edge of the box, and not fully inside the box. I custom set the white balance and snapped a few pictures.
I hoped to get a clear reading on the letters, until I realized that the medal does not have crisp letters. It might have been painted in some fashion that isn’t crisp like an etched medallion would be. Something to investigate if the artifact you want to photograph isn’t coming in as clear as you hoped. Reexamine your piece and see if it’s the piece and not the camera.
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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