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I’ve got probably 2/3rds of my Ireland photos edited and my 5 rolls of b&w developed and scanned. I’ll be sending the last 3 rolls of color film off to the lab next week and will probably be posting my favorite shots from the trip shortly after.

In the mean time I wanted to post about a small photo project I undertook just before leaving for Ireland. A family friend Martin Macica is a luthier and builder of beautiful acoustic instruments using traditional methods and hand tools. I personally own and play a mandolin built by him and it’s probably my favorite thing I own. He asked if I could take a couple of high quality shots of his newest violin and I figured it would be a good challenge.

An old photo I took of my mandolin with the guitar Martin built for my dad

I’ve done some basic product photography before for my own use, but he specifically wanted a front, back, and scroll shot of the violin with more than enough detail to zoom in.

He hung the violin using fishing line (over a bed of pillows in case something bad happened). I used a white backdrop, and lighting was 2 Vivitar 283s (the VW beetle of flashes) on remotes in Neewer softboxes. I used my Sony a6000 with a Pentax K 28mm f3.5, which with the crop factor gave me about 42mm. Why did I use a wide angle lens rather than something with less distortion? It’s simple, the 28mm f3.5 is the sharpest lens I own corner to corner, and might be one of the sharpest Pentax FF lenses they made. I picked it up on eBay for shooting landscapes in Ireland and I haven’t been able to stop using it yet! It was a challenge getting the lighting set right to evenly expose without creating glare, but with some trial and error we eventually got it.


Martin specified that he wanted as little retouching as possible, so apart from setting the white balance and erasing the fishing line I did nothing to these photos. Overall I’m pretty happy with the results, and I think I did step up my quality since the last product shoot I’ve done. Let me know what you think! (obviously they won’t look as good through Kinja as the files do locally but hopefully they still look pretty good.) For about $700 in gear including my camera and lens I’m pretty happy (and Martin was too).


For fun I also used the photos to mock up a poster Martin has in his shop of a famous Italian maker’s violin, but with his own.