Photography of vintage hand tools sounds rather easy. Tools
don't have to smile and they don't move around. However, taking
nice looking photos isn't quite as simple as it sounds. Using
these few tips you can easily turn a rather simple looking
tool into something worth hanging on the wall (if your spouse
Clean Your Tool
When taking a close-up photo of your tool, little specks of
dust seem to enlarge. To get a good looking photo you'll need
to remove loose dust and dirt. This is not as hard as it sounds.
There is no need to clean every last bit of patina off of
your tool. In fact, that is the appeal of vintage tools so
keep the heavy duty clean away. Just dust it off with a soft
rag or blow it off with a little compressed air.
I've found natural lighting to work best for tools. Regular
incandescent lights from your house may turn your tool slightly
yellow looking. On the other hand using your flash will wash
out your tool and the reflection off of the metal surface
will make it look very unnatural. I like to take photos when
the morning sun is lighting my shop.
A tripod is not necessary but is very useful when taking photos
indoors. This allows you to use longer exposure time without
the picture turning out blurry. Using a tripod is the only
way to take a photo indoors on a cloudy day without using
Using a the zoom on your camera is better than getting very
close to your tool. This will give your tool a more accurate
look. When you take a photo too close to the tool you get
a slightly distorted picture. Objects closer to your lens
will appear bigger while object further away will appear smaller.
Choosing the Correct Angle
Most items look better when photographed at some type of angle,
vintage tool photography is no exception. A straight side
shot is not nearly as interesting as taking an angle.
No Aerial Shots
If you are taller, be sure to take your photos from a lower
height. Photos taken from the top view don't look all that