Finishing and Craft Photography Tips


Finishing is an art all unto itself and very personal in nature. People often ask me what I use or recommend. While I've used a variety of products, generally speaking, I will finish brown burls with either tung oil (and hand rub or buff and wax) or tung oil followed by lacquer sealer and topcoat, and red burls with clear lacquer sealer and topcoat. I prefer not to use oil on red burls because I'm not a fan of the slightly yellowish cast it gives to the sapwood.

I have finished pieces with nothing but wax to various other oil based products, to clear coat lacquer (I prefer Mohawk because of the great variety of excellent products, but others I respect swear by automotive lacquer) with flat to glossy sheen. I strongly encourage you to experiment. Find out what appeals to you, read and adhere to the application directions (amazing how many people don't and then wonder why they have problems with their finish), and PRACTICE!. You'll find most all finishes have advantages and disadvantages and there is no one finish (or level of sheen) that looks good on everything.

I purchase my Mohawk products at Pond Cove Paint

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Craft Photography

I do all my own craft photography. But I had a steep learning curve to get to the point where I became confident in my ability to produce good quality photographs that accurately represent the form, color and quality of my work with minimal to no digital alteration.

When I first started doing art/craft shows, I had great difficulty photographing hollow forms with Blackwood finials on a white-to-black or gray-to-black graduated background. Being averse to digitally altering the finial portion of a photograph to achieve definitive contrast with the black background, I then tried having professional craft photographers shoot some of my pieces for jury submission (at significant cost). I was largely dissatisfied with their efforts, so I set up an adequate photo studio above my workshop and by trial and error learned how to use lighting to achieve the professional look I wanted without the need for digital alteration short of maybe white balance correction, straightening and cropping.

I will post pictures of my setup and lighting configuration, and other helpful craft photography tips as time permits.