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tricky hamons, how to take a decent picture of it?

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Alright, I've got a blade with a very interesting hamon that I want to get a decent photo of all the nuances, heck I'd send it out and pay someone else, but I've got to have it ready to ship asap for a charity thing.

 

I've tried natural light, flourescent, incandescent and flash, all without catching the detail I'm looking for.

 

How do you guys take good photo's of hamons?

 

Thanks,

Tony

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In my experience this article contains almost all of the theory and practical aspects of capturing the nuances of a differentially hardened blade

 

http://www.nkb.ca/articles/photography/

 

It doesn't have to be applied in exactly this way and you can use the theories and techniques outlined with a few twists to get decent if not exact results.

 

tantohamon.jpg

 

The key to photographing the hamon lies in placing the light sources at the right angle to the blade so that the hamon appears without seeing the light source in the blade by means of reflection. This means that the light source has to be placed in line with the edge and back of the blade..lights that are above the surface can be seen by the camera and this dilutes the hamon and the proper effect.

 

It ain't easy but it can be done with practice and understanding.

 

Brian

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I have had the best result by reflecting black in the blade. In my shop there is a section of the ceiling that I painted black and I have rollup black felt curtains that I can drop. Reflecting black will pop the hamon and details.

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Don, what kind of light do you use? I like incandescent lamps like the plant grow bulbs but would like to try some of the daylight flourescents or a long tube.

 

What do you use in your setup and do you think it matters?

 

Brian

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I use natural spectrum florescence and blue incandescents in reflectors. The trick is to get the color balance right so you don't end up with a tinge. My digital reads color pretty well, but if I am having a problem, I will shoot a gray card.

 

I built one of the light boxes for shooting the blades like the Japanese use, but found that I still have to shoot hot lights to pop the hamon.

 

Swordphotosetup640.jpg

 

You can see the areas that are hit with the hot lights on either end, but the center dies off and I still haven't figured out how to get total coverage.

 

Blade_Full.jpg

 

When I get the time I am going to rebuild my sword box and make it deeper and add hotter lights. I am using florescents on either side now but they just don't have enough power to pop the hamon.

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Thanks for the advice guys, I'm gonna have to try that black reflection thing, I've always kind of done it I guess, but I'll have to be more deliberate.

Edited by ysforge

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Im no wear near the photographer, but here are some pics simply taking the photos outside.

 

One thing to do is simply move the blade until you can see the hamon vividly and take the shot. I just walk around the yard and find different areas of sun/shade until i find one that works the best for showing the hamon.

 

These were taken in the late afternoon sun, kinda overcast.

 

DCP_2365.sized.jpg

 

DCP_2372.sized.jpg

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My problem is, I nearly need a holographic image to capture the hamon, it's got multiple lines, and some things look a lot different from different angles... hmmm holography... now there's an idea....

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I know this is and old thread, but I was searching for tips on taking pics of hamons and came across it. What exactly is meant by "black reflection?" Right now I'm using Coop's light tent, and have checked out the website that utilizes 90-degree lights, but I want to be able to get a fairly clear photo of the handle too, so I think I'll have to work with some experimenting with the lighting and some shading.

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What exactly is meant by "black reflection?"

 

The blade is like a mirror and what you need to do is have the area that is reflecting be dark. If it is bright the hamon will disappear, if it is black the hamon pops. Study pictures of Japanese swords, they have figured it out. You can see where the light is coming from and you can see the black background reflected in the blade.

 

They are devilishly hard to shoot.

 

YakuzaL640.jpg

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have you guys tried halogens at all, I've had "ok" results with them in the past, and planned to get a few to set up a box and see how that works... in the shop when I'm examining surfaces and stuff while polishing it always seems like I end up over by the halogens, which relly seems to pop out the habuchi.

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It's voodoo....

 

Here is a Nick Wheeler shot I did with my tent and strobes:

 

orig.jpg

 

And here is the same shot wth a 5"x 20" black posterboard reflector positioned only over the blade:

 

orig.jpg

 

Crazy. It has the best effect if the blade is polished. Satin blades will not 'pop' like polished. I wish I knew more, but this was a pretty clear example of what Don described.

 

Coop

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Thanks Coop that is a great example.

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Reflecting black back onto the blade is a tried and true technique for bringing out the hamon in an image. Here's an example of another tehchnique mentioned in this thread - using outdoor natural sunlight.

 

orig.jpg

 

I like natural light but it's still all about reflection. In this example Bailey Bradshaw's sword blade is picking up a lot of strong light from all around but also reflecting dark shade (next to a house type shade). This combo of light and reflection made for an unusual view of the differentially heat-treated blade showing not the primary dominant hamom line, but a lot of secondary hamon effect that is normally not visible. The image below shows just a bit of the primary hamon near the guard. Unless one uses a 'sword light box' the longer blades make it harder to get the entire hamon to show. Although I've not yet been successful in photographing this blade with its entire hamon showing evenly, it's on my to do list to keep trying. It should be doable if one is willing to take the time to set everything up properly from the start - lights, angles for camera and lights, black material to be reflected and all in a space big enough to move around in.

 

standard.jpg

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Tai Goo and I once perused a book on Japanese blades. All of the photographs were taken edge-lighted in a completely black room. The results were spectacular, looking almost like high-definition x-rays. Each image consisted of nothing but the highlights and the half-tones of the hamons surrounding the negative black areas.

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