Posted 07 March 2012 - 15:17
In taking photographs of your pens, you have to remember that they are usually highly reflective. This means that, if you want to avoid an excess of reflections that reduce the "legibility" of the details on the pen body and the nib (but, of course, you may want it...), you have to diffuse the light. Whatever kind of light.
If you use a flash (or a professional strobe), you may want not to point it directly on the pen, but rather on the roof or on a clear wall. Still better, you can diffuse the flash light through a dedicated reflector to mount on the flash, or a soft-box if you use professional strobes. A simple leaf of tracing paper put in front to the flash will work perfectly too. I suggest you using a "diffusor" also when you use natural light (i.e., from a window). You will notice immediately how much the photo would change under this kind of "soft" light. I mostly use natural light from a window with a white-slightly cream curtain, but in most of the cases I also add a diffuser.
As directional light (like a flash or a window) produces darker tones in the shadow side, and as many pens are dark in color, you may also want to fill the shadow to improve legibility of the details in the darker areas. You may well use two flash or strobes, but it is much easier to "reflect" the light with a clear surface put opposite to the light source (both artificial or natural). If you use a white cardboard (close enough to the pen reflect the light still remaining outside the frame) you will have a "soft" reflected light; if you use aluminum foil (of the kind used in the kitchen) you will have a more pronounced and "hard" fill lighting.
If your camera has this function, use manual settings, or any kind of automatisms that allow you to select the diaphragm value. You have to use 16-up (22, 32, etc.) for maximum depth of field (i.e., sharp details in all the photograph) or 2.8, 4, 5.6 for reduced depth of field (i.e., selective sharpness).
Worth trying: it is easy and fun...