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Old 07-27-2006, 11:05 AM
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Default How to photograph handguns (Updated for 2013 post #3!)

Hi all,

Time to give back to the Calguns community!

Maybe you wonder (or maybe not!) how people get their nifty photos done. Problemchild and Ken Lunde have this down cold - they are the local experts. I've seen others post pictures that leave a little to be desired, so hopefully this will help us all get a little bit better.

Getting started

First, you should assess your equipment. Point and shoot digital cameras will work ok but aren't ideal. You don't have a lot of control over the camera and what it's doing. Digital SLR's on the other hand, place a lot of flexibility into the hands of the user. If you are serious about taking a lot of studio or product photos, you should consider getting a digital SLR, as the better results will be imminently noticeable. I use a Nikon D70S with the standard 18-70mm kit lens. You don't need to spend a lot of money buying specialized lenses or anything like that - the kit lens, as you will see, generally works fairly well.

Second, you should consider the types of pictures you'll be taking. I enjoy studio shots where I can control lighting and the overall environment. This helps to ensure consistent, repeatable images which suit my purposes just fine. For the purposes of this posting, I'm going to talk exclusively about "studio" pictures. Don't use a flash! It kills the photo and makes it look just like a point and shoot consumer photo.

Your "Studio"

I've set up a small light box in my computer room. It looks like this:



The light box is made up of PVC pipe, to form a box shape, then it is draped with an inexpensive white bed sheet to serve as a light diffuser. I then used an old calendar, flipped it over to the white glossy side, and taped it to the rear of the light box to form a ramp-like shape. This serves as the white background. Different colors can be used, as well as fabrics, if you so choose.

I purchased two small 60 watt lamps from Target at $5.00 each on sale. I am using a Home Depot clamp light to provide illumination from the top of the light box. For nearly all shots, you should consider using a tripod (as above) or somehow stabilize your camera to prevent camera shake. You don't need an expensive tripod, all you really need is one that will hold the camera without tipping over or dropping it, and allow you to make minor adjustments as needed. Make sure that wherever you put your light box, you close the drapes or blinds. This prevents excessive sunlight from leaking in, if you're taking pictures during the day. Else, take pictures at night, and you won't have to worry about this problem.

It is possible to take photos of objects without a light box, but you have less control over lighting and you can't soften it as much. I recommend light boxes for generally all small photo work.

Total cost for your lightbox studio above should be no more than $30 to $50.

Do you "need" professional studio lights? Well, you certainly could get some - Ken Lunde uses a set of Lowel lights as he's stated here before. What this does is gets him a known color temperature, which he can then set his camera to match. I've found that if you use incandescent bulbs (the standard round ones in most homes) and use the incandescent white balance on your camera, your photos generally will turn out ok.

Let's talk about how to set up your camera. I will cover two cameras - point and shoot, and digital SLR.

Your Camera Settings

Here are the settings I use on my Canon S400:
  • Manual mode. This allows you to adjust some of the settings below.
  • White balance set to incandescent, or match it to your light bulb type.
  • EV can be set to +1, or +2, depending on the subject matter. Dark objects look good if you EV +2 and Photoshop the brightness and contrast later. Setting EV brightens up an image, making dark colors contrast better against a white background. You'll need to experiment with this setting to suit your product photo needs.
  • Flash turned off. Flash is the #1 enemy of good close up product photos, as it creates hot spots. Our goal is to produce consistent, even lighting, without washing out any particular part of the object being photographed.
  • Use high resolution and lowest compression available. This will give you plenty of pixels to work with later, during post-processing.
  • ISO 200, or as low as you can go.
  • Use your LCD to gauge how the image will turn out before you snap the picture. Obviously, this will use up a lot of battery power unless you have an AC/DC adapter.
  • Because these cameras often determine aperture on their own, you'll need to play around with the focus to make sure you are getting the right parts of your product in focus. This may require pressing the shutter button halfway to get the camera to focus, then looking at your LCD to ensure the image will turn out as you'd like.

Here are the settings I use on my Nikon D70S:
  • Aperture mode. This setting allows me to pick the depth of focus as it relates to the product being photographed. Generally speaking, for items that have depth or are longer, I like to use a smaller aperture (a larger aperture number, such as f/22) to allow more of the item to be in focus at once. The downside is that the shutter must stay open longer, which necessitates a tripod and consistent, bright lighting. In aperture mode, the camera will choose the proper shutter speed to produce a properly exposed photo. You won't need to worry about picking a shutter speed. Often the f-stop I end up using is in the range of f/22 or higher.
  • White balance set to incandescent, or match it to your light bulb type. I then tweak it to +3 for my light box setting. This is done with one of the parameter wheels on the camera. At a white balance setting of +3, this gives me a color temperature of 2700 Kelvin according to the Nikon D70S manual.
  • EV can be set to +1, +2, +3, or anywhere in between, depending on your needs. Lighter objects tend to photograph better if you don't adjust this setting. Darker objects benefit from a higher EV as it helps wash out the background to white, creating a nice contrast. You should experiment a little to find out what setting works best for your subject material.
  • Sharpening mode normal. You will do all of your sharpening in post-processing, which is ideal, as it gives you more control over your results.
  • RGB color saturation set to as high as possible, this is my personal preference to give more vivid colors.
  • Use high resolution and lowest compression available. RAW is good, but I generally just use low compression.
  • ISO 200.
  • Timer mode. This allows the shutter to fire without any camera shake, even on a tripod. This is the only way to get completely sharp images unless you have a remote or fire the shutter remotely. I also use Nikon software to trigger the shutter using my notebook PC, which helps tremendously.
  • Tripod. A tripod is a must have for taking photos with a digital SLR.
  • Manual focus. I let the camera auto focus first, then turn off auto focus to manually tune. For the duration of the session, I usually leave auto focus off.
  • Remote control. I now mostly use Nikon Camera Control to remotely fire the shutter. This eliminates the need to use the timer mode, plus I can transfer images directly to my hard drive, skipping the memory card altogether. This saves time and allows me to instantly begin editing the photos I've taken. You can also name them anything you want automatically and track/reset the numbering scheme via software, which is helpful if you don't want to bump up the counter in the camera because the camera's image counter stays static while you are using the control software.

Let's look at some samples!



Note: Gun above has been sold, so I don't have it any longer.





Your Post-Production Editing

All of my images are processed through Photoshop. Here are the steps I take:
  • Start with your full resolution image.
  • Auto color, auto levels, auto brightness and contrast. Start with one function and examine your image. Do you like the results? If not, move on to the next and try again. Compare and contrast the results with these automatic functions of Photoshop. Typically, one of them will produce results that improve the image's appearance. If not, it's time to go manual.
  • Brightness/contrast. I typically increase brightness by +25, and contrast by +10 or +15. This helps to wash out the white background and to contrast the product sharply against the background. The result typically suggests that the product simply "floats" in space on your website, assuming you are using a white background as well.
  • Apply filter "sharpen image". This brings out the detail of your product a little. I usually don't over sharpen, as it makes your image turn out grainy.
  • Resize for web viewing, if appropriate.
  • Erase leftover artifacts. Sometimes the background doesn't always wash out. If this is the case, then I go through with the eraser tool and clean up the image a bit.
  • Save or rename your final photo.

Last edited by Turbinator; 06-02-2013 at 10:06 PM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:07 AM
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Some General Tricks, Tips, and Hints

I've done enough home studio work to have learned a few more tricks, tips, and hints that I can share:
  • Sometimes you have to move or block light sources. The lights often are too bright, which calls for more diffusion. You should then use either another piece of fabric or a sheet of white paper to help diffuse the offending lamp even more. This helps eliminate hot spots on your product and allows for more even lighting. It is not always necessary to add a second diffuser, but if needed, you can use this trick to help.
  • Timer mode is not always necessary on point and shoot cameras. If you are using a tripod, often that is enough to ensure the camera is stable. I generally recommend timer mode or remote triggering of the shutter for SLR cameras.
  • Don't always rely on the LCD to show you your photograph results. You need to load the image onto a PC where you can then stare at the entire image in high resolution. Sometimes a portion of the photograph will be out of focus, or you'll see some lint or dust on your product. This is not always evident when you preview the image on your camera's LCD, so be sure you keep a computer handy to check out all of your work as you snap pictures.
  • Keep a log of your work. Write down (or type up) what worked for you and what didn't. This is the only way you can really remember and document your progress, thereby enabling you to improve upon what you have already done. It will also help prevent you from making the same time consuming and frustrating mistakes twice, assuming you even bother to read your notes.
  • Experiment. Not all settings work equally well for all subject matter. Try different settings and note your results. You may stumble across a fantastic setting and configuration for a particular product photo.
  • Read as much advice as you can and share your results. This is the best way to learn quickly and helps give back to the overall community of amateur photographers.
  • One problem I've noticed only is an issue when you use higher f-stop numbers (or a smaller aperture). If you have any dust on your sensor, you will get small black specks showing up in your photos. I've noticed this is a consistent problem for me, which then requires that I go clean the sensor by gently blowing air across it with a blower. At smaller f-stop numbers, dust typically does not show up, fortunately, because the shutter time typically is less and the sensor doesn't pick up on the dust.

New for 2010: Getting White Balance Right

One thing I've noticed in my own photos and photos that other people take, it's often quite difficult to get a good white balance going without introducing a hue or color cast to your photos. Getting the right blend of reds and blues can be difficult, but not so much so if you know how to set your camera's white balance properly.

All cameras have some sort of "auto" white balance mode built-in. Unfortunately, this feature doesn't always work accurately, and subsequent photos may show yellow, blue, or reddish tints upon further review at your PC. The human eye sees "white" as "white" in nearly all types of light. Electronics, however, have to interpret the light source and use different built-in reference points to accurately reproduce shades of white. Since the "auto" feature doesn't always get this right, that's why you see colored tints appear in your pictures.

There are a many ways to fix this, but for now I'll cover my most recent method that seems to work for me. I went out and bought one of these:



Some of you professional guys might have purchased a similar product, called the Expodisc. I was going to do so until I noticed that this little device cost only $26 from Amazon instead of the $90 for an Expodisc. It is essentially a plastic "grey card" with two sides - a white reflective side, and a grey colored plastic backing side. What you do is set your SLR's white balance off of this disk under the lighting in which you wish to take pictures. Subsequent photos taken in that same lighting should look properly color balanced - not too blue, not too yellow, not too red.

Here's how I do this on my older Nikon D70s, possibly similar on other cameras as well:

1) Press the WB button
2) Thumbwheel over to "PRE" mode (release WB button)
3) Press and hold WB button until "PRE" starts flashing (release WB button)
4) Focus on and snap a picture of the Prolite Full Color & White Balance Disk, about an arm's length away, in the lighting conditions you are using
5) Camera will tell you "Gd" (good) or "No Gd" (no good). If you get "No gd" try again. Else, the camera will set its white balance off the disk using the lighting setup you've got, or the ambient lighting present.

Now, leaving your WB in the "PRE" mode, go snap some pictures of your intended subject. Let's look at some comparison images. For this test, I'll use my primary home defense gun as an example:



Above: Camera is on AUTO WB. Looks kind of yellow. Not too good.



Above: Camera was set to INCANDESCENT WB since this is the type of bulb I'm using in my light source. Looks better, but still has a bit of a tint to it. I'll try again, but this time using the white balance disk.



Above: Final try, this time the PRE WB was used and set off of the white balance disk. Looks much better now - no tinting, no casting, no odd colors. You can do any final adjustments as you wish in Photoshop, if needed.

NOTE that this method makes it really easy to get nicely color balanced photos no matter what kind of light source you have available. It could be fluorescent, incandescent, shade, sunlight, morning, evening, whatever - as along as you do a manual white balance adjustment, your images will come out great every time.

(By the way, that gun is NOT my primary home defense gun, I was only joking! )

Enjoy! I hope this is helpful to others out there on Calguns. Feel free to ask me any questions that you may have on how to do this for yourself.

Turby

Last edited by Turbinator; 01-16-2010 at 10:18 AM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:23 AM
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Figured it was time to do a little refresher on this photo thread. I've looked back at some of the advice I gave, and realized that I've learned a little bit more since then. Here is my updated advice specific for dSLR's as we work our way through 2013:

Manual Mode instead of Aperture Mode - Some time ago, I figured out that in manual mode, I get to specify the shutter speed and the aperture. In the photography world, this is helps to determine the exposure - how much light gets into the camera's sensor and gets translated into an image. When taking multiple pictures of a single item (perhaps from different angles), you want the exposure to be the same across all of your photos. The best way to do this is to take control and to specify all of the settings yourself. If you don't, each time you fire the shutter, the camera is evaluating light data coming in through the lens, and it chooses a shutter / aperture setting to produce what it deems to be a good exposure. The key here is to take control and determine for yourself what you want your image to look like - hence why you're going to specify both shutter and aperture.

If you're taking a picture of a handgun, try starting with f/8 or f/11 as a start. For shutter speed, use the built-in light meter in your dSLR to help determine what the right setting is to use. I tend to pick a shutter speed that overexposes by about 1/2 to 1 stop, in order to give my photos a slightly brighter look. I adjust the shutter speed slower and slower until the built-in light meter indicates that my photo will be overexposed by 1/2 to 1 stop - that's when I take a sample photo to see how things are turning out.

Use RAW - Yeah, I was a JPG guy for a long time. However, after I started using Adobe Lightroom and playing around with the white balance settings, I figured out that taking pictures in RAW and then having the freedom to edit white balance completely in post-processing was just amazing. I now take nearly all of my light box photos in RAW, post-process, and then I'm good to go.

The only downside is that RAW takes up more space than JPG, but with storage being so affordable nowadays, I don't expect this will be a serious problem for anyone.

Camera remotes - In my original article, I talked about using a timer or using software on a PC to control the camera. I have since moved over to using a wired or wireless remote to fire the shutter. The timer was just taking too long to wait for, and it was getting annoying to set it up each time. Hooking up a remote or using a wireless remote is just easier overall. Obviously, if you don't have one, using the built-in timer will be the way to go.

Micro / Macro pictures - From time to time, you may have a need to take pictures of items VERY close up. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways.

With a point and shoot camera, look for this setting:



Choosing the macro setting on your point and shoot allows the camera to focus on something very close to the lens. This allows you to obviously get closer to your subject, thereby producing a much larger image of a relatively small object.

If you're using a dSLR, you can go out and buy a dedicated micro / macro lens. Nikon uses the term "micro" to describe these close-up lenses, whereas Canon uses the term "macro" to describe their offerings.

Here are some example micro lenses offered by Nikon (image credit goes to Ken Rockwell):



Now, suppose we wanted to take a picture of some snap caps. Without a micro or macro lens, most of our pictures will look similar to this:



Let's look at a sample taken with a Nikon micro lens:



This is of course a close up image of a Pachmayr 9mm snap cap, the business end that takes all the beatings from firing pins. Notice you can see all the fine detail where the metal has been dimpled by repeated firing pin strikes. Also notice that micro lenses tend to have a very narrow depth of field, which is why not all of the snap cap is in focus. This effect can be leveraged artistically, if one is so inclined. Using a micro lens or your camera's macro setting will allow you to show off unique, distinct details of your favorite hobby items - for example, show off your new stippling work, engraving art, night sights, proof marks, rust spots, or blue job - just about anything that needs to be viewed up close and personal in order to be appreciated.


Will update with more content soon!

Turby

Last edited by Turbinator; 06-02-2013 at 10:56 PM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:40 AM
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Very nice! Good advice and techniques.

I've been using a white plastic trashbucket, on it's side with fluorescent tubes taped on top (actually the side wall of the trashcan). I set my piece of crap little Canon SD400 on a cheap tripod and use the shutter timer function as to not shake the camera during the shot. I match my camera to fluorescent lights and start snapping.

Samples:




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Old 07-27-2006, 11:40 AM
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Were you talking about me when you said "I've seen others post pictures that leave a little to be desired, so hopefully this will help us all get a little bit better."

sample of my "work"



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Old 07-27-2006, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guns R Tools
Excellent post.
Thanks.
Question: Do you know if the fluorescent bulbs are okay with light box?
They should be but they may not be bright enough to get through your diffusing fabric. Try it out but I really recommend something that can break through your diffuser material.

You will also have to set your white balance to flourescent, of course, to get the color to come out properly.

Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivanimal
Were you talking about me when you said "I've seen others post pictures that leave a little to be desired, so hopefully this will help us all get a little bit better."

sample of my "work"
Looks great, Ansel!!



Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donger
Very nice! Good advice and techniques.

I've been using a white plastic trashbucket, on it's side with fluorescent tubes taped on top (actually the side wall of the trashcan). I set my piece of crap little Canon SD400 on a cheap tripod and use the shutter timer function as to not shake the camera during the shot. I match my camera to fluorescent lights and start snapping.
Looks great as well - same concept, applied a little differently.

Very clean pictures of your Sig.

Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:49 AM
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Turbinator
THanks for posting this.


I realise my pics (the ones that ive taken myself haven't been really up to snuf and one of the reasons is im alot better with my cannon A1 then I am with the digital camera (Kodak easy share CX7430) but hey I have grauadated I use to only use my webcam for pics I took of stuff I sold on ebay.

Ill upload a few pics I took today of ammo that is kinna strange.
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbinator
Looks great as well - same concept, applied a little differently.

Very clean pictures of your Sig.

Turby
Thanks Turby!

I've been meaning to upgrade my lightbox by building something similar to yours for long-guns. And of course I'm gonna need a new camera too.
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbinator
Looks great, Ansel!!



Turby
Who you callin an Ansel?
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SemiAutoSam
Turbinator
THanks for posting this.

I realise my pics (the ones that ive taken myself haven't been really up to snuf and one of the reasons is im alot better with my cannon A1 then I am with the digital camera (Kodak easy share CX7430) but hey I have grauadated I use to only use my webcam for pics I took of stuff I sold on ebay.

Ill upload a few pics I took today of ammo that is kinna strange.
You're welcome, you can use point and shoots to still get decent results - try it and you may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivanimal
Who you callin an Ansel?
Oops, sorry - is that an insult? Ansel Adams, the great photographer of Yosemite? I thought everyone loved his work..

Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbinator
Oops, sorry - is that an insult? Ansel Adams, the great photographer of Yosemite? I thought everyone loved his work..

Turby
If your calling him ansel adams i guess you might call me mathew brady heheh.






Where can I get these in 40SW ?

Last edited by SemiAutoSam; 07-27-2006 at 12:30 PM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:33 PM
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Three other points, just for the P&S crowd.

If your pics are coming out uber-blurry (the most common problem I see on here), apply these:

1. Most cameras have a macro mode. It's usually a pic of a flower. Turn it on, it'll probably focus a lot better.

2. If your pics are still blurry, then try zooming out and re-focusing. A lot of cameras can't focus as closely when zooming. Even if it means having to take the shot from farther away, or moving the camera up close, do it. You can chop out the sides of a clear picture to get to your subject, but you can never un-blur a picture that's out of focus.

3. If your pic turns out blurry, re-shoot until it isn't.
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Old 07-27-2006, 1:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by han_cholo
Hey Turbinator, whadya think of shooting gun pics outdoors? I thought these came out well.

Great thread BTW, thanks for the tips.
Looks good - outdoors is hit / miss, because again, you can't generally control the sun, when it shines, how much it shines, etc. That's why I like my indoor studio setup. However, your pictures turned out great - if it works for you, go for it!

Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 1:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SemiAutoSam
If your calling him ansel adams i guess you might call me mathew brady heheh.

Where can I get these in 40SW ?
Good lord, those supersized pictures are obscene!

Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 3:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbinator
Good lord, those supersized pictures are obscene!

Turby
Can you grab it and shrink it ?
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Old 07-27-2006, 3:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbinator
Oops, sorry - is that an insult? Ansel Adams, the great photographer of Yosemite? I thought everyone loved his work..

Turby
Just kidding, I actually put together the Ansel Adams museum in San Francisco when I was a mover; they had photos I had never seen there. Unfortunately the landlord raised the rent and I had to disassemble the same museum 9 months later. The proprietor never recovered. I believe all of the prints went into storage. What a shame. The cool thing I found out about Adams was that the film was the same size as the picture; he had to carry those enormous plates to wherever he was shooting. He must have been a pretty rugged dude.
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Old 07-27-2006, 4:02 PM
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Turby,
Didn't you post this on Claguns V2? I've read that out line before. Im not complaining because after I read it the first time I ran out and purchased $50 in pvc pipe, lights and white sheets. Ok, I took the white sheets off the bed. Wife wasn't happy
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Old 07-27-2006, 4:13 PM
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Very good thread.

One of the main aspects of taking a good picture is having quality lighting and good framing skills. Ample light is key. Sometimes I take some pretty decent photos... othertimes they're a bit crappy. I'm too lazy to set up the shot, and would rather have it come to me.

I always prefer outdoor or naturally lit photographs, and adjust brightness and contrast, sometimes saturation. Example.... original photo and slightly altered:





Not much of an improvement, but every little bit counts.

I also like to step back and use the optical zoom. It avoids pincushion/barrel effects, and can sometimes stop oversaturation of colors.

Another good rule of thumb is to take 4x as many photos as you'll think you need at slightly different angles. One or more pictures may not turn out as nice, and sometimes it takes on the upwards of 10 photos to get that 'perfect shot'.






These are a few of my better photographs, and some just turn out crap. It's hit and miss, but with practice and finding a style you like can take nice pictures with relative ease.

Last edited by xenophobe; 07-27-2006 at 4:21 PM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 5:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capitol
Turby,
Didn't you post this on Claguns V2? I've read that out line before. Im not complaining because after I read it the first time I ran out and purchased $50 in pvc pipe, lights and white sheets. Ok, I took the white sheets off the bed. Wife wasn't happy
I probably did - but Calguns V2 is gone, and now we have Calguns Today (TM), so hencewhy the new post.

Turby
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Old 07-27-2006, 9:42 PM
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Turbinator,
I have to ask, how have you been able to keep your black - a true black. I have played with the white balance, and even calibrated my Nikon d70 to customize the white balance. If I toy with the hue or contrast with photoshop, I start to lose detail, if I make the blacks, a darker black.

I really like your photo of the CZ, it seems to have captured the true black (blue steel, I should say).

The following below was done with one medium size softbox above, and a small kicker light to the right. Pretty much all of my samples have that purple tinge, that drives me crazy.



Last edited by creampuff; 07-27-2006 at 9:45 PM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 10:37 PM
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Hi Creampuff,

I just downloaded your image to my PC. The first thing I did was take a look at your EXIF information. The first thing that stands out to me is that you used your flash to take this picture - if I may ask, why? That's what your light tent is for, to provide all of the lighting. The flash provides another light source of a different color temperature - you want to try to stick with 1 type of lighting with all of the same color temp if possible. That's one guess.

Ok, check this out and let me know what you think.



Your image, post-processed in Photoshop 7. I sharpened the image, auto levels, auto contrasted, then manually edited the Hue / Saturation for just the Red channel alone until the purple tint went away mostly. I find it hard to believe that you'd need to edit the Hue / Saturation every time for each image, so that's why I'm guessing it is something to do with your lighting.

Turby

Last edited by Turbinator; 07-27-2006 at 10:43 PM..
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:00 PM
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Great post Turbinator. I use a D70s also. I'm curious. Which lens do you usually prefer for your gun photos? One other tip. For those with the D70s, if you want the color to have more "pop", try using the IIIa RGB color space. For those too lazy to use an elaborate setup and want to use a flash, try a diffuser and also bouncing your light to soften it and to even it out.
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Old 07-27-2006, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbinator
Hi Creampuff,

I just downloaded your image to my PC. The first thing I did was take a look at your EXIF information. The first thing that stands out to me is that you used your flash to take this picture - if I may ask, why? That's what your light tent is for, to provide all of the lighting. The flash provides another light source of a different color temperature - you want to try to stick with 1 type of lighting with all of the same color temp if possible. That's one guess.

Ok, check this out and let me know what you think.


Your image, post-processed in Photoshop 7. I sharpened the image, auto levels, auto contrasted, then manually edited the Hue / Saturation for just the Red channel alone until the purple tint went away mostly. I find it hard to believe that you'd need to edit the Hue / Saturation every time for each image, so that's why I'm guessing it is something to do with your lighting.

Turby
Looks better thanks, I probably should have isolated out each channel instead.

The lightbox I use is not so much a light tent, but a medium size soft box, with an Alien Bee strobe, which was how I was able to shoot with f/11 and 1/125, iso 200. However, I am constantly being haunted by the purple tinge, no matter what I do with the white balance.
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Old 07-28-2006, 5:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mute
Great post Turbinator. I use a D70s also. I'm curious. Which lens do you usually prefer for your gun photos? One other tip. For those with the D70s, if you want the color to have more "pop", try using the IIIa RGB color space. For those too lazy to use an elaborate setup and want to use a flash, try a diffuser and also bouncing your light to soften it and to even it out.
Hi Mute,

I only have the kit lens, the 18-70mm, but I am ordering up the 18-200mm VR that recently came out. With that lens, I think I can pretty much take care of nearly all photo situations that I'd want to.

Good suggestion on the color saturation, I have that adjusted in my camera as well. I always take pictures using the Program mode (which as you probably know by now is just a very flexible "auto" mode of sorts).

Using a bounce card or a light diffuser would work, but I don't have an external flash yet, so I have yet to try that for myself. Another good suggestion, though. Thanks!

I guess more people on here have digital SLR's than I originally thought. I wonder why we haven't seen more work from y'alls posted online?

Turby
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Old 07-28-2006, 5:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creampuff
The lightbox I use is not so much a light tent, but a medium size soft box, with an Alien Bee strobe, which was how I was able to shoot with f/11 and 1/125, iso 200. However, I am constantly being haunted by the purple tinge, no matter what I do with the white balance.
Wow, I just looked up your strobe. That's a heavy duty external flash for studio lighting! 1 second recycle times? Interesting. Now I see why the flash fired in your EXIF information. I see the color temp is 5600 Kelvin. I guess you've already adjusted your white balance to match the flash bulb. I also noticed that your focal length in the EXIF was something like 157mm. What lens are you using? Could it be that your lens is responsible for the purple fringing? (I don't see this effect with my kit lens, the 18-70mm)

I looked up this phenomenon quickly - it's called chromatic abberation.

Try reading this link:

http://www.bytephoto.com/photo-editi...berrations.php

Turby
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Old 07-28-2006, 6:48 AM
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Thanks to all for the great photo tips. I have a D50 and 18-70 kit lens.The pro down at the local camera shop swears by prime lens only although I've shot some excellent photos with my 18-70mm. Should I try a prime lens and if so, what size would be best for shooting small objects in a light tent? Nikkor 50mm F1.4 or F1.8?

Last edited by sac7000; 07-28-2006 at 6:52 AM..
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Old 07-28-2006, 6:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sac7000
Thanks to all for the great photo tips. I have a D50 and 18-70 kit lens.The pro down at the local camera shop swears by prime lens only although I've shot some excellent photos with my 18-70mm. Should I try a prime lens and if so, what size would be best for shooting small objects in a light tent? Nikor 50mm F1.4?
I didn't used to know what a 50mm fixed focal length f/1.4 or f/1.8 was good for until recently -

Personally, since you're using a light tent or a light box such as my setup, and a tripod, I don't think the f speed matters as much - and I'd rather have the zoom flexibility when taking photos of small objects. If your lens is slower, such as the kit lens 18-70mm with f/3.5 that you and I both have, all you need to do is bump up your EV and/or increase the shutter times.

I personally would use the f/1.4 or f/1.8 if I had to take a lot of indoor low light shots - the f/1.8 isn't too expensive, I think around $100, so you could pick one up just to see if it works out well for you. For me, I'm not going to bother - I'm going to see how well the 18-200mm VR works for me also at f/3.5.

Thoughts?

Turby
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Old 07-28-2006, 7:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sac7000
Thanks to all for the great photo tips. I have a D50 and 18-70 kit lens.The pro down at the local camera shop swears by prime lens only although I've shot some excellent photos with my 18-70mm. Should I try a prime lens and if so, what size would be best for shooting small objects in a light tent? Nikkor 50mm F1.4 or F1.8?
A 50mm or 85 should work fine. If you have sufficient lighting then you don't need to go to the 1.4 unless you really need the shallower dept of field it offers. However, for small objects, if it's in your budget, the new 105mm VR macro lens should be perfect.

One thought on primes. If you like shooting in available light, the 50mm is a great lens for that purpose. Of course, in that case, the 1.4 would be awesome. If you find the focal range too long, you could consider the Nikkor 35mm f2. Another great lens for low light shooting.

Creampuff:

Regarding the purple tinge. It is CA as Turbinator already pointed to. It does occur in certain lenses. You can either correct it in post-processing or just try a different lens. You could also try softer natural lighting. The CA usually occurs from strong light sources.

Last edited by Mute; 07-28-2006 at 8:36 AM..
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Old 07-28-2006, 8:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mute
One thought on primes. If you like shooting in available light, the 50mm is a great lens for that purpose. Of course, in that case, the 1.4 would be awesome. If you find the focal range too long, you could consider the Nikkor 35mm f2. Another great lens for low light shooting.
I thinking seriously about the Nikkor 35mm F2. The shorter focal range is appealing. I'm not a big fan of using flash since it tends to wash out the subject and I'm primarily a autofocus and shoot type.
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Old 07-28-2006, 9:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbinator
I didn't used to know what a 50mm fixed focal length f/1.4 or f/1.8 was good for until recently -

Personally, since you're using a light tent or a light box such as my setup, and a tripod, I don't think the f speed matters as much - and I'd rather have the zoom flexibility when taking photos of small objects. If your lens is slower, such as the kit lens 18-70mm with f/3.5 that you and I both have, all you need to do is bump up your EV and/or increase the shutter times.

I personally would use the f/1.4 or f/1.8 if I had to take a lot of indoor low light shots - the f/1.8 isn't too expensive, I think around $100, so you could pick one up just to see if it works out well for you. For me, I'm not going to bother - I'm going to see how well the 18-200mm VR works for me also at f/3.5.

Thoughts?

Turby
I'm going to give the Nikkor 35mm F2 lens a shot. There's still a tiny bit of space left in my already over-crowded camera bag. Collecting SLR lens is as bad as collecting guns, you never have enough.

I miss my trusty 50mm 1.4 that I used for years on my old Mamyia-Sekor 1000DTL SLR film camera. (1972 vintage, before electricity and flush toilets) I took hundreds of great photos with it without a flash. I was fast but it was faster.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:16 AM
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wow that was really interesting. Ive always thought it would be cool to get an old camera and snap some pics. does anybody do this or is it a waste of time?
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:25 AM
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Old doesn't mean bad. I started with manual cameras and with the right film and lens I can get as good if not a better shot than any digital camera with that combination. Only thing is, if you want to post pictures to a website you'll need to scan the picture with a good scanner.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:37 AM
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Number one tip for great pictures is to use a tripod. Simple as that. You don't need an expensive camera to shoot great photos. Focus and shoot. Use your camera's built in timed shutter release to avoid any vibration. You'll have clear, sharp photos every time.

Last edited by sac7000; 07-28-2006 at 10:41 AM..
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Old 07-28-2006, 11:20 AM
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Turbinator,
Thanks again for the tip. I went through my old folder, and isolated the red channel....works like a charm. Before, I use to just hit Ctrl-L, and tried to adjust the entire RGB curve. Obviously that didn't work.

You can see the before and after below, by just isolating the red channel. Normally, I have my white balance calibrated to my strobes, and for most objects it comes out correct; however, with blue steel my entire collection comes out purple like a giant Barney the dinosaur collection.

Before


After



Before




After:
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Old 07-28-2006, 11:40 AM
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Before:



After:

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Old 07-28-2006, 12:00 PM
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Your pictures look great! But why do you use a bright white background? It seems like that is already defeating your contrast levels. I get the idea of making it appear as if floating or "in space" on its own, and no other distractions, which is a cool look, but it would seem that something in a background tone more neutral on a gray scale, behind what are most often black, blued, or other dark features of guns, would give a better image. This seems to be why the stainless guns look great on the white; they are more close to the background in gray scale.

I am also willing to bet that the stark white background contributes to the final photo from some digital cameras reading the blacks a slight purple, as they try to compensate for focusing on details within the blacks, besides the lens issue mentioned - but that is just speculation; yet I have seen this happen with traditional 35MM film, where a slight magenta hue is cast in the blacks when the background is back-lit or white. Even my old Nikon N90 used to do this and I would often have to focus elsewhere to adjust then put the center back on my subject, even in the multi-zone metering mode.

I think the advantages of using a neutral background are best seen in Lunde's photos, where he uses a lighter blue background, but while a color, on a gray-scale, that lighter blue is likely very middle/neutral on a light meter. It helps the camera, and even yourself, adjust for the tones better and pick up the rich details easier. Lunde's photos are some of the best I have seen of anything online, anywhere!!!

Any photographer that shoots weddings can tell you the complications of evening out the bride's white dress and the groom's black tux - but in all cases, the background is neutral, usually a medium green or woody scenery.

My problem right now is that I don't have Photo-shop. I have a photo enhancement program from Minolta, and a "similar" to Photo-shop program, but both are limited when it comes to changing the actual MB or kb size in correlation to it's actual size. When I shrink one, it shrinks the other too. And with no hosting website other than Photobucket, I can't make full use of my photos - hence, the originals are beuaties, but the online versions I would post here, well, suck.
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Old 07-28-2006, 1:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creampuff
Turbinator,
Thanks again for the tip. I went through my old folder, and isolated the red channel....works like a charm. Before, I use to just hit Ctrl-L, and tried to adjust the entire RGB curve. Obviously that didn't work.

You can see the before and after below, by just isolating the red channel. Normally, I have my white balance calibrated to my strobes, and for most objects it comes out correct; however, with blue steel my entire collection comes out purple like a giant Barney the dinosaur collection.
Glad it is working out well for you - and happy I can help. Thanks for actually going to try it out, too, and posting your results. Looks great. For the picture of the lower receiver showing the internals, the difference between the first and second photo is very noticable to me - the 2nd of course looks better, no purple tint in the photo.

Turby
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