Tips for Photos of Jigsaw Puzzles

I am not a photographer so the tips listed here have been researched from the internet. Also what works in one 'condition' may not in another situation. It will be up to you to try different ideas, lighting and angles to get the best non-glare image.

Here's how I take my photos which are not professional by any means but semi-acceptable.

  • I have a huge overhead light so every time I take photos I move my completely assembled puzzle on the foam board to the furthest wall away from the overhead light.
  • With the puzzle on the floor I then brace myself at the side of the puzzle by leaning against the wall which will help steady my cell phone. I am further away from the overhead light and on the right side of the puzzle.
  • I reach my cell phone over-above the puzzle (that's on the floor) and I can see in the cell phone screen the puzzle below. 
  • I use the outline of the cell phone screen to line up the edges of my puzzle seen in the screen, keeping it as straight and even as possible. 
  • I often will not take a breath when snapping the camera button to ensure there is no movement.
  • I use a cell phone photo edit APP to crop the excess edges off the photo.

Steps for taking photos of your jigsaw puzzles:

  1. Place the assembled jigsaw puzzle to a space where there is no glare from lights
  2. Hover the camera/phone above high enough to view the entire puzzle
  3. Use the square screen in the image view-window to evenly line all 4 sides of the image
  4. Brace your arm, hand or body to reduce movement which avoids blurring
  5. Use a photo APP or photo software to crop images close to the edges of puzzle

Basic photo tips;

Use the best jigsaw puzzle lights but watch for glare.

Reflection of Glass on framed jigsaw puzzles: 

  • If the light is directly behind you, then wear a black shirt and stand between the light and the glass framed photo. 
  •  You can block the light with your body or get the camera so close to the glass that there is no way for the light to get in.
  • In a naturally side-lighted room (lights through windows) under a clean white ceiling, lay down the glass framed puzzle on the floor then use a selfie stick mounted cell phone (in my case an iPhone) to take a picture. Slight imperfections such as straightness can be adjusted by Aviary app (free from Apple store).

Reduce glare on jigsaw puzzle without glass frame:

  • Buy an external flash and turn the flash away from the window (so it's toward you). The light will bounce off the walls/ceiling and generate enough light for the shot but you won't have flash glare.
  •  Place 2 lamps, one at each side and at the same distance from the front and from the sides of the puzzle. For example, if dealing with a 3 foot wide puzzle, lamps would be roughly 3 feet in front of the puzzle and 3 feet away from the sides of the puzzle. 
  • Take photos in direct daylight preferably around noon. This may eliminate all glare. There may be shadows along the edges from the frame. That's why it's best when the sun is directly overhead.
  • Try buying a big sheet of (white) fleece because it doesn't reflect and helps diffusing the light. Use 3 white foam boards for a back wall and 2 side walls to lay the white fleece over and lay the puzzle inside the area. Stand over the puzzle to take the image (maybe carefully on chair if need be).
  • Do not take shots where the light is behind the puzzle.
  • Use an iPhone. Their hardware based signal processing mitigates glare. I have researched the cameras on the iPhones and it indicates that some professional photographers endorse the iPhone 5S for the best cameras so far on cell phones. The Galaxy S7 camera is a non-iPhone option.
  • If you are really serious about your photos we suggest the following book titled Light Science and Magic which will provide you with more information.

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