Photography of vintage hand tools sounds rather easy. Tools don't have to smile and they don't move around. However, taking nice looking photos isn't quite as simple as it sounds. Using these few tips you can easily turn a rather simple looking tool into something worth hanging on the wall (if your spouse lets you).
Clean Your Tool
When taking a close-up photo of your tool, little specks of dust seem to enlarge. To get a good looking photo you'll need to remove loose dust and dirt. This is not as hard as it sounds. There is no need to clean every last bit of patina off of your tool. In fact, that is the appeal of vintage tools so keep the heavy duty clean away. Just dust it off with a soft rag or blow it off with a little compressed air.
I've found natural lighting to work best for tools. Regular incandescent lights from your house may turn your tool slightly yellow looking. On the other hand using your flash will wash out your tool and the reflection off of the metal surface will make it look very unnatural. I like to take photos when the morning sun is lighting my shop.
A tripod is not necessary but is very useful when taking photos indoors. This allows you to use longer exposure time without the picture turning out blurry. Using a tripod is the only way to take a photo indoors on a cloudy day without using a flash.
Using a the zoom on your camera is better than getting very close to your tool. This will give your tool a more accurate look. When you take a photo too close to the tool you get a slightly distorted picture. Objects closer to your lens will appear bigger while object further away will appear smaller.
Choosing the Correct Angle
Most items look better when photographed at some type of angle, vintage tool photography is no exception. A straight side shot is not nearly as interesting as taking an angle.
No Aerial Shots
If you are taller, be sure to take your photos from a lower height. Photos taken from the top view don't look all that interesting.