How to tie perfect knot on syringe needle? - Secret revealed

This image - I had it on my mind for a longer time - a shoot of a syringe with perfect knot tied on the needle - kind of "Stop taking drugs" concept... - but there was tiny little obstacle to solve - how to tie a perfect knot on a piece of fragile stiff and yet still hollow medical needle? It was clear to me, that I will have to do some Photoshop instead of twisting the needle...

But after that I came across some collage with 3D rendered metal pipes tied into knot and simply - it did not feel like real... I realized, that it is all about light and shadows... - the pipes were simply lit differently, than the rest of image - the position of light source, it's size and softness did not match the rest of scene... I realized that the shot of knot and shot of needle have to be done under one lighting setup to look naturally...

So after a quick brainstorming I grabbed a bunch of office paper clips, pair of pliers and started to tie knots on paper clips - those are much more "bendable" comparing to needle... and I even managed to get some with same diameter and similar material as my needle...

The light setup was a simple one light + ambient (a strobe in a cardbox + piece of white paper as translucent diffusion material bridging over the scene supported by two cardboxes on sides... white seamless background was another piece of paper) Switching camera to manual, clicking on a M42-2-EOS adapter with macro extension tubes and old Helios lens (from film era), closed the aperture to f/16 for best depth of field and by adjusting the flash power i set the desired exposure on syringe - then by adjusting shutterspeed I defined the amount of fill light from ambient...

Even thou I had f/16 I had to do 6 shots for focus stacking... After I finished shooting the syringe, it was time to shoot the knot (on paper-clip wire) in the same position, light, settings... I arranged it with the help of a A-clamp to be exactly in the same height from ground as the needle and by placing it in the same position I achieved the absolutely-same light on both shots (the knot and the needle)...

The rest of it was a Photoshop - first merging the 6 shots of syringe with needle to get one image that is all in focus... Than the knot was placed on its place - it fitted perfectly - just masked away the unnecessary parts of layer, did a little corrections (the paper clip wire had a color tint compared to needle, plus the contrast needed to be boosted a bit to match reflective efficiency of the needle... ) And after I saw, that it works, I only had to retouch away imperfections, dust etc... Done!

And here it is... a perfect knot on a syringe needle... - cost me 7 hours of work and gave me a feeling that I can do impossible - even with limited gear if I use the grey mass between my left and right ears.. But the morale of the story came two years after I uploaded the file - zero downloads...

I learned, that in microstock even the technically most complicated image is worthless when it is not addressing the demand... :)

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August 19, 2012


When I first started playing with 3D and, before I got access to proper modelling tools, I had a similar concept (no knot though) and made a syringe from cylinders, spheres, and a cone. It never sold much either but was a very useful exercise. In this case the eventual sales are less important than having the idea and finding a way to make the idea come to life - lots of positives in this story.

August 16, 2012


Nice done. Thank you for writing this blog!

August 15, 2012


Thanks for sharing !

August 10, 2012


Janceluch, your blog is a perfect example of how well the DT community works to help its members. I don't know if you got the type of feedback you were looking for, but I'll bet it was worth your time to post. Cheers!

August 10, 2012


Davidwatmough, I am not sure whether I understand your method - but with macro extension tubes the DOF was only about 1/3 of needle length (with pointy needle end in focus, the knot position was already blurred heavily), so impossible to do it with one shot...

August 10, 2012


Nice! Thanks for sharing!

August 10, 2012


Lovely story............ however could you not have had the knot out of focus so only a point on the body of the syringe was sharp and the ' fake ' knot would go visually undetected and only require a single, perhaps bracketed exposure, and no Photoshop ? David

August 10, 2012


Thank you for your feedback and ideas - I appreciate it

August 10, 2012


I really like the concept, but I had to zoom to actually see the knot. Without zooming I was seeing a drop on a needle, so maybe you should get closer.

August 09, 2012


Brilliant Concept and Execution, well done!

August 09, 2012


Great concept, thank for sharing :)

August 09, 2012


Very interesting this blog, and congratulations for making this beautiful picture!

August 08, 2012


This is a good example, I think, of why literal keywording isn't always a good idea. It is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that a buyer will actually be searching for a needle with a knot in it. If they are, your image is so unique they will find it as long as you have knot and syringe or needle. I'd go for a more generic title like 'say no to drugs' or something like that... Nicely executed, but I agree it is probably hard to read in a thumbnail.

August 08, 2012


I will do that, Mike2focus - thank you!

August 08, 2012


thanks guys. I fully agree with you Gmarittai, - those are the problems I was concerned about since very first test shot... but this is the maximum I could get out of it without making compromises on proportions and initial idea... Anyway, I never regretted the time spent, as it was excellent mind-opener at beginning of my microstock journey :)

August 08, 2012


This is actually a great concept, Janceluch!! I believe the reason that it has not been downloaded is your keywords. If you were to re-evaluate those and add in "drug" "abuse" "rehab" "clinic", etc. I truly believe your views would go way up AND it would get purchased. Fix your keywords. This one will sell!!! The DT reviewer believed it would sell, that's why it got accepted. I believe it will sell too. Good luck!

August 08, 2012


I feel for you, great concept but I see why it was not downloaded. It's too complicated. The knot is too small, because the needle is too thin. So it is not evident on first glance, one can barely distinguish there is a knot. Sometimes good ideas just don't work out visually.

August 08, 2012


THanks for sharing... Useful.

August 08, 2012


well i think it's a neat idea anyway.

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Photo credits: Janceluch.