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Thread: How to and behind the scenes of my pictures. (pic and text heavy)

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Swede 45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    How to and behind the scenes of my pictures. (pic and text heavy)

    As mentioned in the photocompetition discussion thread, some of you might find it interesting and/or inspiring to see abit of how to and behind the scene things.

    So I´ll try to go through some of the pictures I´ve taken, and will take in the future.

    First of all, English is not my primary language so bare with me on spelling and grammar.

    Good photograpy is not about having the best camera and equipment, those things are tools.
    The important thing for someone to master, or at least understand when transfering from simple snapshots to more worked through photograpy is the light. Or actually understanding and controlling the light to your favour in the best way you can.
    With an eye for the light and some small helpfull accesories you can come pretty far.

    I posted a picture of my Luger some days ago and took the opportunity to shoot with different cameras as simple as I could.
    I will go through that shoot and the results.

    First off.. indoor with sunlight using a cellphone.
    Sony Xperia Xperformance used on basic settings with auto adjust and 23mp.
    Picture data is F2 at 1/32 sec exposure at iso400.

    I set up on my kitchentable with a big window to the left. Greyish weather outside, so the light is quite dim and soft, not a harsh sun that creates hard shadows and highlights.
    I used a regular white printerpaper to bounce some light back from the right hand side to lighten up the shadows.

    The sunlight are dimmed out by the clowdy and in general grey weather, coming through that big window it creates a soft and big lightsource similar to a proffessional softbox used in studios.
    The reflecting paper even out the light even more by filling out the far side of the Luger that otherwise would had a deeper shadow.

    Easy peasy.. equipment used: cellphone and one printer paper.

    First picture is the setup.
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    Second one is unedited, straight from the phonecamera.
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    Then I used a point and click camera and shot 3 different ways.
    Panasonic Lumix 6mp on auto mode.
    All pictures are unedited and straight out of the camera.

    Pic 3
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    Same setup for the light as previous in first cellphone pic, the angle made the light from the window cast a big reflection in the magazine that made it overexposed compared to the rest of the pic. I could have played with the cameraangle to get rid of that, or fix it in postproduction if i wanted.
    The camera had difficulty to handle the low light at F2.8 and 1/8 of a second so i tried the flash.

    Pic 4
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    The flash on this camera is super tiny.. about 10x5mm and creates a hard flat light.. not a pleasant light. The flash creates hard burnt out highlights and almost no shadows since it is so close to the lens in angle and close to the object.

    Pic 5
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    I cut a piece of printerpaper, about 5x10 cm (2x4 inch) big and just held it in front of the flash close, to create a bigger lightsource.. that gives a 10 times bigger lightsource and softer result.
    Way better, not as hard light and not as burnt out highlights, but still no shadows or depth in the picture.

    Equipment: Point and click camera + a piece of thin printerpaper.

    Now I moved over to DSLR with an external flash.
    Sony Alpha 350, 14.2mp, 50mm standard sony lens.
    This is an older midrange camera with a cheap chinese knockoff flash with a small 8x8 inch pop up chinese light diffusor.
    Nice thing with this flash is that its able to run on radio trigger and dont have to be attached to the camera. Yes, this is quite abit more in equipment, but photography is a big hobby for me. Flash equipment was bought from china online for about 100$

    And if you plan to do post adjustments in any editor, RAW file settings (or similar file depending on your camera) gives the best material to work with.

    Now, with a off camera flash (or any other lightsource) you can move the light around to create any effects you like. With a flash, you have to take test exposures and adjust the light as you want it. A continous light as a bulb or something you can trace the light by eye.

    On a flash you can also use different powersettings to controll the amount of light and therefore also controll the apperature and depth of focus. F13 and 1/125 sec flashsync used here. (on the set up pic, you can see how dark the light from the window is. Same light but the F stop of 13 cuts that out.)

    So I used a bit different set up when I no longer was depending on sun light or on camera flash.. I placed the lightsource behind the Luger, used 2 printerpapers to control the light. The back paper is there to cut off some light that othewise would have washed out the background. The front paper is to reflect some light back into the picture and lighten up areas that othewise would be blacked out.. same isea as in the sunlight photos.
    The low angle of the lightsource creates shadows that give life to the picture, size of the source creates softer edges on shadows, and the reflector gives highlights in the shadow parts.

    Pic 6 Setup
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    Pic 7 Jpg pic straight out of the camera
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    The 3 different setups and shooting took about 20 minutes in all, writing this took way way longer!

    Pic 8
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    Finishing off with the edited picture from the DSLR.
    Basic editing done on RAWfile in adobe photoshop to adjust colourbalance and colour shineover , cropping for size, exposure and contrast, and some dust retouch.

    So, i think there is good photos taken with all 3 cameras. It is the difference in what gear you got, how you use it and if you edit or not.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Swede 45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Click image for larger version. 

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    For this picture i used a technique called ”painting with light”..

    Realy easy set up with minimal gear:

    #DSLR camera with manual mode or any other digital camera with manual settings for exposure and F stop and manual focus option.
    #Sturdy tripod
    #Small flashlight. (Not that superbright tactical one.. I used an el cheapo 1$ plastic children one with a realy dim beam)
    #A dark room

    How to:
    #Set up your object and use the bipod for the camera, arrange as you like it.
    #Set the camera to manual mode, try 20 - 30 sec
    #Set F stop to perhaps f22
    #Set the trigger to timed delay ( i got 2 or 10 sec on mine.. used 2sec, the timed trigger is to not shake the camera when depressing the trigger.)
    #Set focus and turn of autofocus when your object is sharp and in focus.
    #Turn of of all lightsources in the room (some dim light might help you to see the camera controls, but you dont want the lightsources to get caught in the exposure.
    #Make a testshot.. should be nothing.. all black! (If not make sure that there are as little light in the room as possible or close Fstop to 32 or so..)

    #Now, turn on your flashlight and make a new exposure. ”paint” the object with the flashlight during the time of exposure by moving it around from all different angles.. make sure that the lens of the flashlight doesn´t enter the frame of the shot.. keep the light moving all the time..
    When the exposure is done, examine the picture in preview.
    Over exposed (to bright)? Adjust shuttertime to a faster time or adjust the Fstop. (letting in less light)
    Underexposed (to dark)? Longer shuttertime or adjust the Fstop to a more ”open” one.. (letting in more light)
    Some areas in the picture to dark or to bright for your taste? Adjust how much light you are shining there for the next exposure..
    Some shiny reflections? Try different angles on the light next exposure..

    This is not a set science, every exposure are going to be different depending on how you move the light, what angles and so on.. go nuts, experiment and shoot alot of pictures!
    It is hard to get that perfect picture, but keep trying. Thats the fun part of digital photography.. it doesn´t cost anything to make mistakes!

    Have fun!

    Hints: Dont accidently bump the camera or bipod during the exposure.
    Keep nosy children, pets and such away, they will for sure bump things around..

    Picture is edited in photoshop for some contrast and colour corrections and dust retouch. Darkened down the corners of the pic to draw attention to the object.
    Hint: wipe your object with a lintfree cloth to save time on retouching.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    jeepyj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Maine, Just north of Bangor
    Very interesting, Thank you for taking the time to help some of us out. Definitely a re-read and try it type of post
    Sometimes it takes a second box of boolits to clear my head.
    Feed back thread

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy Swede 45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Thank you JeepyJ

    And others, questions, comments and your own tips and tricks of your pictures are welcome.. share and learn is the idea here.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    North of 49th
    Good morning, These are awesome for quick and easy lowdown of getting decent pictures. I was just on a cruise and on of the free courses was on taking pictures for online auctions. They used some of the same techniques, flashlights, printer paper and a soft complimentary back ground. Now I just have to find time to "Just Do It!!" Excellent tutorial thank you!

  6. #6
    May Liberty Increase!
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    In the Hills of Tennessee
    Swede, thanks for the tutorial. That was interesting.
    WANTED: CH AutoChamp Mark IV, V, or Va - PM me if you've got one you'd like to part with.

  7. #7
    Boolit Man
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Another trick or tip for the flash , any cam or phone is using a piece of plastic bag , a zip bag or freezer bag in front of the flash will defenitly help to diffuse the light.
    Also english is not my native language...


  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Wow. This is like a full tutorial! Thanks for sharing.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy Swede 45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Thank you.. Been short of time for photography lately, but when I get hold of a new "model" for the next shot I'll make a new behind the scenes tutorial..

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Loveland Colorado
    Thanks Swede

    I have noticed when I sell a gun the ads where the pics turn out well sell... I just didn't understand how to make better pics

  11. #11
    Banned - Charles1990/Eldon/Happy Warrior/Red Jackson/Henry VIII/Mr Humble
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    P-h-o-t-o-s-h-o-p !

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Tutorial is great,now I have to study as I like to learn more about good photo taking . I guess for the less inclined (learning wise) there"s always photo shop !

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy Swede 45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Well, about the use of Photoshop.
    It is way easier to learn decent photography skills and therefore get good pictures out of your camera, than it is mastering PS to the level that you can work wonders with crappy pictures.
    It´s a common misconseption that you can just snap a crappy picture, put it in PS and "with a press of a button" make it perfect.
    I have yet not found that magic button!

    A good friend of mine is a professional PS artist, with about 2 yrs of full time education in photoediting and about 10yrs of working experience.
    She claims that she masters about 15% of the latest PS versions abilities and functions.

    For me, a 20 minute extra work and thoughts in the photo set up saves me hrs and hrs, and plenty of frustration in post editing.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
    ghh3rd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Tampa FL
    When photographing shiny objects a lot of the ‘shine’ may actually look black, due to reflecting the overall darkness of the room, or darker nearby objects. A pleasant lighting effect can often be achieved by tenting the item with a white sheet. It helps maintain the actual look of the reflective object in the photo.
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