... I am also surprised by collectors who don't document their ownership of a piece ...
Ah, yes, indeed ... well, I actually do not have all of my collection(s) catalogued nor even documented. When I first got into collecting glass I did make regular notes on purchase history and whatever provenance I could determine. But then I got lazy. I still retain invoices and receipts where applicable, but the full documentation is not really up-to-date.
As for photographing weights, I touched on this in a another message elsewhere. But here's some of my personal "secret" points ...
I have tried using expensive equipment, including digital SLR camera with interchangeable lenses and all sorts of camera controls, and professional-style light box with powerful lamps (almost daylight rated). But I always seem to revert to the simpler method of less complex camera and flash.
Ok, my "less complicated" camera is a Nikon Coolpix 4500 (max resolution of 4 megapixels), which as discussed elsewhere, can now be bought reasonably cheaply, but was quite expensive when first issued.
One reason I like this camera so much for paperweight photography is that the flash output, at a distance of around 24 inches, is not overpowering for most glass paperweights. Most of my online images were produced this way and they have just a single small flash-spot somewhere near the centre.
By using flash, it also eliminates quite a bit of the unwanted reflections that can occur in a glass dome. Also, I get a much better look to the clear glass parts than if I try it with just daylight (or what passes for that in the UK most days). Using room lighting on its own is just a hassle as it needs to be colour-adjusted either in the camera (not always easy, even if possible) or later through editing software (never easy). And with room lighting and I have not yet been able to produce good tones in the clear glass even after much editing.
My "studio" for this "less complex" way of doing things is:
a) daylight from one window only (close all other curtains and check for and elminate any other source of main light reflections)
b) camera always
on a tripod
c) sheet of A4 plain white paper with clear plastic stand (inverted "U-shape, 3 inch height) placed on the paper and paperweight placed on the stand
d) two sheets of A4 plain white paper taped together
I set the camera to either its "Normal" or "Fine" quality mode depending on my intended output. Fine mode seems to be best for placing directly onto CD for full-size displays on other people's pc screens or for "large" printed images. But "Normal mode" is easily good enough for general web usage, particularly since I always further reduce the quality through optimisation. [But I also use a good bespoke optimiser which produces excellent Kb size reductions with remarkably little loss in visual quality - and it's all precisely controllable in percentage degrees.]
By settting the weight on the clear stand over the white paper, I avoid most of the flash-bounce that so often occurs when a weight is photographed directly on a white (or near-white background). Even if the weight has a coloured or filled-in ground, there can still be flash-bounce up through the sides of the glass dome!
When I have lined up the weight in the camera's LCD screen (at 24 inches, using the viewfinder is not so good for this), and zoomed in to fill most of the screen, I then press the shutter half-way to pre-focus the image. (For anyone considering a digital camera, pre-focus is a must-have, in my opinion [but I forgot to tell Max that in the Cafe Forum].)
Next, with the camera shutter still held in its pre-focus position, I take my taped-together A4 sheets in my other hand (held around the top of the join of the sheets) and position them to eliminate the main reflection from the window. By using two sheets taped together I can easily control whether the sheets are flat or curved and I can do this by thumb-movement alone. Simple with a bit of practice.
One thing to check, though, is that the white of the "reflection shield" does not itself get reflected too strongly in the weight. If it does, I move the "shield" away until it loses its intensity in the glass dome - and this is so much easier with a hand-held setup like this. Why not use a dark "shield"? Ah, well, that often makes the final image look bad because of a dark patch in the dome that is not sufficiently removed by the flash! With white paper, the flash balances things out.
I take two shots minimum - one in close-focus mode (using the "little flower icon") and one in standard focus mode. I have found that at around 24 inches, sometimes the image does not focus precisely in one of those modes. And there's nothing worse than getting the images to the pc later only to find that the great-looking image in the LCD display was actually blurred around the edges! That can quite easily happen in weights that have a central image part that is physically higher than the outer parts (as in, for example, a central Butterfly surrounded by an outer-edge ring of millefiori, all set on a slightly domed internal ground).
Yes, out-of-focus images may also be a result of not selecting the right focus control for the canera (where this is an option), and yes, it could be overcome by changing the camera-to-object distance. But in my experience it's the variable shapes and sizes of weights that is the main factor and by keeping to the 24 inch distance I get easier LCD viewing and I don't have to keep resetting the tripod and camera or zoom in or out too far .
Oh - one other thing about equipment. Tripod legs. I wish I had bought a tripod with BLACK legs. Nice shiny "chrome" legs look great ... but they always appear in a paperweight photo ... even though they weren't visible through the LCD screen. So, I simply wrap them up in black cloth and masking tape - it works a treat.
How about photo-editing? Is it needed after taking a zoomed-in shot with flash and with the camera producing a good-sized image at several megapixels? Yes, for most medium-priced digital cameras, I think it is.
In fact, if the image is used straight from the camera without size adjustment, then maybe no further tweaking is required. But I have found that as soon as a camera image is opened in an editing package, its quality seems to be "averaged out" to suit the software, not the eventual usage. So, for my images from the Coolpix 4500, taken in Normal mode, and then reduced in size to around 400 pixels max width / height, I find that manual sharpening is needed and also a touch of extra brightness and / or contrast on some images. But this is something that needs to be assessed according to each person's needs and preferences.
Above all, I find it's essential to have fun, and when it gets frustrating, which is quite often ... have a break.