Overhead camera mount

I wanted multiple camera angles for filming work at the lathe. I like an “over the shoulder” angle the best, but sometimes my body got in the way or threw a shadow, and I wanted a camera directly above the lathe as a “B-Roll” to provide a second choice for any given scenario.

Ceiling-Mounted camera over latheI found a nice solution. A “super clamp” with a 3/8″ stud is clamped to a piece of timber fastened to the ceiling joists over the lathe, and a ball-head mount is on the clamp. With an Arca-swiss quick-release mount, and plates on all the cameras, I can very quickly install a camera directly over the lathe and facing down.

L1000080I also mounted a “cold shoe” into the ceiling at this point, providing a place to mount a small video screen. This, driven from the camera, lets me adjust what it’s pointing at.

L1000082So the complete setup is one camera off to the side for “over the shoulder” view, and a second mounted directly overhead.

This is working quite well. I film every scene with both cameras, and then have the option of cutting between camera views like this:

Doing Product Photos of pens

I wanted to take high-quality photos of pens, nicely lit with no distracting background, for display here and for listing for sale.

Product photography light boxA friend gave me this “lightbox tent” some time ago, for evenly illuminating and photographing small products, but I had never got around to setting it up.  It’s a nylon box of translucent material, and came with two lights on stands (into which I put 23W daylight flourescent bulbs).  I also happened to have a third similar light on hand anyway, so I added it to the setup; the box is illuminated from both sides and from above.

The translucent nylon diffuses the light and produces a very even lighting of a small product placed in the box.  The box also has a long fabric floor, which you pull outward from the back so there is a smooth curve with no noticable corner between “floor” and “wall”, to get a completely evenly lit background.

Fabric Floor in light booxThat worked pretty well as-is, as this photo show.  However, I wasn’t completely happy with the fact that, under high magnification, the texture in the floor fabric was visible.  I would have preferred a smooth, non-textured floor, and wanted a bit of reflection from the floor to add depth.

Reflective glass floorI happened to have the glass tray from an old microwave oven, and by lucky coincidence, it is almost exactly the right size to fit inside the box.  In this shot, the box’s white floor material is under the glass tray.  Because the rigid tray is sitting on the material, the smooth curve that would eliminate the back-wall corner is destroyed. But for small products like pens, they are small enough that the back wall isn’t visible anyway.

It would be even better if the glass wasn’t, itself, textured.  But I think this looks pretty good.  I may replace this with a piece of completely flat glass some day.

First Videos

I’ve never tried making a significant video before, so doing a “video journal” of a fountain pen was a good exercise.  I’m satisfied with the video part, but I learned that I have a lot to learn about audio.

Zebrawood fountain penThe first video follows the making of a fountain pen out of Zebrawood.  There is a ridiculously long version, and a shorter “executive summary“.  The long version features conversation and explanation, while the short version (embedded below) is just video excerpts of the major steps with voice-over narration.

Starting Web-Site

This is a test and a first post.  I’ve been making hand-made pens and other similar instruments for many years, but have never got around to having an online presence for this hobby.

Recently, several people who have received my pens (gifts, prizes, charity auctions, etc) have remarked that they’d like to see more about how they are made.  So, I’ve started keeping photo and video logs of pen making, with the thought that some pens will come with a link to a page on this site, showing the process of making it from raw materials through to finished product.

Cleaning up the look & feel of this site – colours, header images, etc – will follow over the next days, as time permits.