Photo Friday: Photographing Military Medal

This is a continuation of the series featuring what I’ve learned about photographing family history memorabilia. To read more about the collection, visit the initial post title here or Part 1 or Part 2.

First Photo Shoot Set Up

My light box was stationed on a daybed in a shadowy part of the room on a Sunday afternoon. The lighting was indirectly from the window and directly from a work light filtered through the lightbox side. I didn’t use the flash with any of these pictures. I set my compact system camera to the P mode and took all pictures on the Macro setting. I used the custom white balance setting and my exposure bias was set at 1.0.
Photographing WWII Medals
Exp: 1/100, Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 9.1 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average

Good start, way too dark

Exp: 1/125, Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 9.1 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Center Weight Average
Still too dark
After a series of shots of all my artifacts, I decided to research how to improve the use of the lightbox. I did another session with just the military bracelet and the name bracelet of previous posts. I determined that a dark room with two lights and the lightbox on a bed wasn’t working for my artificers. Instead of taking more photos of all the objects. I decided more research was in order.

Second Photo Shoot Set Up

My light box was stationed on a desk directly utilizing the natural light from the window. I used one work light filtered through my lightbox on the opposite side. I didn’t use the flash with any of these pictures. I set my compact system camera to the P mode and took all pictures on the Macro setting. I used the custom white balance setting and my exposure bias was set at 1.0. I have the camera mounted on a full-length tripod.
Exp: 1/160, Aperture: f/3.2, Focal Length: 6.7 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Spot

I was blown away by this photo.

Exp: 1/60, Aperture: f/4, Focal Length: 6.7 mm
ISO Speed: 800, Metering; Spot

Although this one isn’t as strong as the first, I still think this one is acceptable.

Afterthoughts

As you can see, using spot metering, Custom White Balance, and placing my lightbox near a sunlight window and using one additional light greatly improved the pictures. These photos would enhance a family heritage album about my military veteran grandpa.
First Photo Professional quality photo by an amateur.

There are more artifacts to come in the come weeks. I hope you’re enjoying learning about taking photos of your heirlooms. I can’t wait to see what some of you come up with.

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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