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Starting to learn Pen photography


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I am starting to learn to photograph pens, these initial pics are from my phone and trying to absorb insight from the FPN and various other web sites, i have a lot to learn, framing, backgrounds, angles, iso values to name but a few things to consider, even down to the small matter of... where is that setting and what affect does it have, i intend to keep the spend to a minmum for equipment, most of my pen playing time is when it is dark so i have a led desk lamp, a kitchen paper towel wrapped around the head of the lamp to diffuse the light and my phone wedged in its case, the background mostly is a single piece of white paper, a couple of the shots i used a book or two but background and composing is ...i guess a part of the learning progression, i do have my old Nikon 3100 which got dragged out a cupbord today and seems to be working fine but the learning curve on getting good shots from that is time consuming

hopefully as time goes by my pics will get better, would be great to hear of suggestions and techniques from others which will help in the progession as i go











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Perhaps you could check out some product photography 101 kind of information. 
Look up rule of thirds, think again how you crop your photos.
Keep your focus with intentions when placing each pen with different angle. (e.g. show the brand name in a way it is perfectly clear )

I personally dont care for the hard glare on the nibs but I understand it is difficult when you cannot take photos under natural light.
Anyway, the most important thing is have fun !

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@Particular_Song3539 So far all my images are as is, they are all straight from the camera, no post editing, a long time ago i was a huge fan of Photoshop but that was a long time ago so for now i am just learning to take images, last night i learnt about photo stacking so i am excited to try that out but in order to do that i need to set up a scene which in turn needs a decent solid camera platform, so i need to find my tripod and or use the wifes dog grooming metal table clamp and arm, with a slight adaptation i am pretty sure it could be useful for shots from above

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My suggestion still stands.
It is not about editing, right now the angles are all too narrow to do any cropping. Post editing wouldn't be able to change the way you placed your pens and give more information than what it has right now.
Learning and trying new techniques are fun and useful, but before that, revisit the basics of composition, intentions of your photos come first.


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Trying to get this nib something near reasonable was not fun


To be honest i keep attempting whole pen images but they are terrible, maybe my equipment or just not tried hard enough, close ups seem easier at the moment




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My two biggest problems are blown highlights, and specs of dust 🙂



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Zoicks... that is an extreme close up ...arty though :)


One of my many issues, rolling pens... just when you think you have it... off it rolls...arrggghhh

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6 minutes ago, Gadget said:

One of my many issues, rolling pens... just when you think you have it... off it rolls...arrggghhh

Oh, that's easy: a small piece of double-sided sticky tape.

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I'll admit that I tend to take photos of pens and nibs outside in the summertime when the light is better.  I tend to put a white piece of cloth over a hard surface, or hold the pen in my hand to do close ups.  Then download the photos from my phone to my laptop.  I do adjust the color and sharpness and the like as best as I can, and also crop the shots.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


ETA: as to Claes's comment about the sticky tape, I don't use that -- I just try to keep the surface level and prop the pens with the cap clips to keep them from rolling.  I also try to do a shot or two with the pen lined up next to a ruler (both capped and uncapped).

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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i do not have a close up lens, it is on the list of bits to get, the best i could get with my equipment and knowledge so far is this but it is wayyy off your detail @Claes

Iridium Flighter.JPG

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I dunno about that, Gadget.  It focuses on the nib tipping pretty well, IMO -- which I presume was the idea for that shot.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I was trying to get to @Claes level of detail Ruth, my lens will get that far in semi focus with some post jiggery pokery software but no further, infact my camera was about 20 inches away due to the lens focal length, basicaly any closer and it will not focus, luckily it is reasonably detailed so a zoom in and sharpen gave me that out of about 30 or more shots, Claes has now made me want to get closer and closer ...dang you Claes :)


I wonder if you can see inside a different realm with an Iridium reflection...hmm

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40 minutes ago, Claes said:

Here are two ways to minimize blown highlights.


The home-brew "light tent" method:



The bounce-light-in-the-bath-tub method:



Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden


The way i use @Claes 2 usb battery LED lights with frosted plastic covers, we have them incase of power outages, they hang off the wifes dog grooming arm over a small table in my office here, the lights have 3 dim settings and one has a four leaf pull out set of arms so pretty flexible for managing light source, i have learnt a fair bit over the last week or so, mostly how to actually use my Nikon camera, previously it was just point and click mostly at stuff in the garden, i never really understood all its settings, i still dont but i am learning and enjoying the journey

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The Summer 2023 issue of The Pennant (magazine of the Pen Collectors of America) has some good photo tips if you happen to have a copy.


My photos improved when I moved towards small aperture, relatively dim indirect light, and long exposure (sometimes 2 seconds) pictures. The dim light reduces glare, the small aperture results in a large depth of field so everything is in focus, and the long exposure makes the picture bright enough even with dim light. I use a remote trigger to prevent camera movement with the long exposure, but using the timer built into your camera would also work.


For composition examples I suggest taking a look at the Penhero web site. https://www.penhero.com/

One test is worth a thousand expert opinions.

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