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One that thing distinguishes from many other sites that cater to a similar audience is the number and quality of our photographs. We work hard to bring you high-quality and consistent photos. We'd like our members to be able to share photographs of their own collections and so we'll try here to share some of the things we've learned through our own efforts.

Visitors come to this site and attempt to truly visualize the items you photograph in a three-dimensional space. The only tools they have available to them are stats, measurements, and your photos. The more images they have available to them, the better they can form a mental picture of the item. It often takes several photographs to adequately represent the true nature of an item. We suggest having at least two photos that are a standard, undistorted nature to provide the visitor with an "establishing shot". These photos will give a true indication of the item's proportions and measurements.

Suggested Photographs
Each item should have a FULL photograph shot top-down with no distortion:

Each sword or dagger should include at least one straight-on shot of the item with no distortion. If the weapon is asymmetrically complex, include a photo for the back, and possibly the side, too:

You may want to include several angles that demonstrate the item's shape. You may also want to include detail shots or photos that are angled to see specific areas of interest. This is your chance to have fun and really shoot the glamour shots of your item:

Ideally, your photographs should be presented on a common, visually simple background. Rolled vinyl, fabric, paper, wood, concrete, and the like are all suitable choices. We suggest avoiding photos with backgrounds that include cars, houses, lawn items, etc. Try to have your photo focus on the item, not the background. Visualize yourself shooting a catalog.

Shooting a Sword
As an example, we'll outline a few things we consider when we shoot a sword for our hands-on reviews or collection galleries:

The Top-Down Shot
Your first image will be photographed in a straight-on, undistorted view. We've found that it's easiest to do this by placing the sword on the floor and getting directly above it.

We generally stand about 5-7 feet over the sword and center the camera to the item. A better result is had if you center slightly more towards the hilt than the tip. This allows you to avoid looking like you're shooting from underneath the hilt.

You must be careful to center the camera to the item or you'll end up getting a distorted photograph. If you are positioned too close to the tip of the sword, the blade will look very long. If you are positioned too close to the hilt, the hilt will look unusually large with a small and highly tapered blade.

Don't forget to center on the other axis as well: directly above the blade.

The Straight-on Hilt Shots
Your next images will be that of the hilt. You'll want to shoot an undistorted view of the front of the hilt. If it's a complex hilt with asymmetry you'll include a back and side shot, too.

Place the sword on the floor and get 1-3 feet above it. Carefully center the sword hilt in the viewfinder, making certain you're directly in-line with it. You can look at the cross-guard and other items to ensure you're not looking "underneath" or "over" the hilt.

Slightly off-centered positions may create drastically different photos and will make the sword look distorted.

Important Final Points
There are many things to consider when doing any form of photography. Despite what the manufacturer claims, your camera does much more than simply "point and shoot". To get good results with product photography, you will need to spend a bit of time on setup, lighting, exposure, and focus. Please take a moment to read this list of basic suggestions:
  • Pay attention to how you frame your shots. Whether you are shooting digital or film, a higher resolution with more details will be had if the final image need not be excessively cropped. Shoot using the whole frame, rather than relying on cropping later on your computer
  • Shoot lots of photos! Pick the best of the bunch later
  • If shooting digital, use your highest resolution setting and do a proper white balance
  • If you're getting blurry shots: pay attention to your area of focus, ensure you're not too close to the item for the camera to properly focus, use a tripod to stabilize the camera,
  • Never use direct flash. Never
  • Always shoot in diffused lighting. Indoors in a well-lit room with diffused light coming from windows is best. If shooting outside, wait for an overcast day, set up a sheet or other diffusing object, or shoot in areas sheltered from direct sunlight like shady, but lit areas
  • Be aware of things reflecting onto your objects and of the shadows being cast onto the scene
  • If you are concerned about the color balance (color cast) of your subjects, learn about your camera's ability to set white balance and manually set it before each of your shooting sessions

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