Better Tsuba Photos

In order to photographically bring out all the surface details in tsuba and to completely eliminate cast shadows which obscure the areas and boundary outlines of openwork, I make the following suggestions.

Construct a special copy stand, as illustrated in the photo. Anti-reflection glass, on top, supports the tsuba. A grey card below provides a background which uniformly and diffusely illuminates the tsuba from below to show every detail of the openwork. The little 'corners' which support the glass are made of sheet aluminum, bent appropriately, and attached to the four vertical maple dowel supports with Epoxy adhesive. The dowels are placed slightly 'inboard' so that they flex outward when the glass is inserted at the corners. This holds the glass securely. The dowels are removable from the counterbored holes in the wooden frame, and stored in similar holes inside one of the frame sides. The glass is stored by sliding it under the aluminum brackets at the outer edges of the frame. This makes a compact and safe package for storing.

The camera looks directly down on the tsuba and a sturdy copy stand is a great help here. Illuminate the tsuba from above-left and, with a separate light, illuminate the card from below. You can adjust each light independent of the other. Ordinary 60-watt desk lamps will do the job. In a pinch, you can use daylight for lighting both the tsuba and the grey card, but do this in the open shade and NOT in direct sunlight.

Correct exposure is of paramount importance. It can be a special problem with cameras that have 'autoexosure' capability, especially when a dark object is photographed against a white background. In such a case, the camera sees the white background and gives an exposure which is LESS than that required to correctly expose the dark colored tsuba. Using a grey card background reduces this problem. The best approach is to use a manually set camera and to meter the exposure off the tsuba or some other similarly dark object.

I hope these suggestions will be useful to you.

Best Regards,

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