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Sean_M

Taking photos during a build

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I wanted to document my build with some photos. I went out and bought a nice blue piece of card. However try as I might I am not getting a good qua;ity. There is a shadow, or the flash causes a problem, Having a lamp on or off makes little difference. I have a fairly decent camera a Minolta G500 which is 5mpx. Any quick suggestions woud be of help. I don't particiularly want to become a photographic expert, to take pics to share with you chaps. I read somewhere that I should have a top down stand. Investinmg in camera kit is not something I really want to do.

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The three main things are to turn off the flash, use a tripod (or bean-bag) so you don't have to hold the camera still, and use the self timer (or a remote if you have it) so you don't nudge it while pressing the shutter release.

That way you should get nicely illuminated pictures with available light instead of flash. The camera might take a while depending on how light it is where you are. I prefer cloudy daylight for model photos since it gives a nice diffuse result but sunlight and artificial light can work OK too.

When you take the pictures, either set your camera's white balance first using a neutral grey card, or adjust the white balance afterwards in your photo editing program. That'll get rid of colour cast from the lighting you use.

For setup, I tend to stick a white notepad on the table and prop up about half of it up so there's a nice curve to the paper. Then stick the model in front of/on top of that, frame out anything else, and off you go. Your blue paper should work the same way.

HTH,

Will

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Do you have a macro setting on your lens? That will help to get in tight. As for the flash, typically if you can disable it, that will help a bit, but it then means the speed setting for the camera will have to be increased since unless you have it fixed to a tripod, you could get some jitter. If the camera is on an automatic setting for indoor pictures, its brain thinks you are trying to shoot a picture of a person in a room as opposed to trying to focus on something tiny on a table. Indoor lamps help a bit, but you'll still likely need to use an additional light source just for the photo shoot or go in and tweak the image with edit software (Photoshop and several of the clone programs that come standard with scanners these days allow you to play with the brightness and contrast a bit to help counteract darkened lighting).

Mainly it comes down to practice and trying some things to see what works. You don't have to be a photography expert to do it, but practice helps and digital photos can always be deleted if you do not like them.

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When you take the pictures, either set your camera's white balance first using a neutral grey card, or adjust the white balance afterwards in your photo editing program. That'll get rid of colour cast from the lighting you use.

For setup, I tend to stick a white notepad on the table and prop up about half of it up so there's a nice curve to the paper. Then stick the model in front of/on top of that, frame out anything else, and off you go. Your blue paper should work the same way.

HTH,

Will


Just to add a few observations to this very good advice…

First, if I read the specs on DP Review (from 2003, no less!) correctly, the Minolta G5 doesn't have any custom white balance function. That is a pity, since automatic white balance usually doesn't take too kindly to incandescent or fluorescent lighting, often leaving an ugly orange or yellowish green cast.

Therefore, the advice to shoot in natural daylight (from a window, for instance) is probably your best bet. You can use a white card or a card wrapped in kitchen foil near the camera to act as a reflector, so that the shadows won't be too dark.

Definitely switch off the flash – especially at the close distances you will use, the parts nearest to the camera will be to bright and the background details too dark. If you're arranging auxiliary lighting, it's a good idea to use lights all of the same type – otherwise, part of your image may have a different colour cast than the rest.

Yes, it's possible to colour correct to some extent in an image editing programme such as Adobe Photoshop or the cheaper consumer version, Photoshop Elements or even the completely free Gimp. However, JPEG images are more limited in what you can do to correct them (compared to the pro RAW format) and also, since you said you didn't want to become a photographic expert, colour correction is an acquired skill, greatly helped by a background in colour theory. You'd probably be better served trying to get as close as possible to a neutral, well exposed image during actual photography and not count too much on post production.

If you're shooting the model on a light or white background, you'll probably need to set your camera's 'exposure compensation' on the 'plus side' – typically +0.6 or +1 EV (the Minolta G5 has this feature, I checked). Otherwise, if there's a lot of white or very light areas in the frame, your main subject will likely be underexposed (too dark).

The good thing is that digital photography is cheap, so you can experiment to your heart's content. Practice is the key to success.

Good luck,

Joachim

(just for your reference, I'm a professional photographer and a technical journalist in the fields of digital photography and image editing)

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Good point about the white balance, I use raw so I tend to forget about the problems in editing JPGs :( The G500 does have white balance options for tungsten + fluorescent lights which *might* help if you want take pictures in the evening.

It also helps to make sure your light sources are all the same - e.g. if using daylight from a window, or an anglepoise or something then turn off the room light. That stops you from getting weirdly tinted highlights or colour casts on part of the image.

Will

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Just to add a few observations to this very good advice…

First, if I read the specs on DP Review (from 2003, no less!) correctly, the Minolta G5 doesn't have any custom white balance function. That is a pity, since automatic white balance usually doesn't take too kindly to incandescent or fluorescent lighting, often leaving an ugly orange or yellowish green cast.

Therefore, the advice to shoot in natural daylight (from a window, for instance) is probably your best bet. You can use a white card or a card wrapped in kitchen foil near the camera to act as a reflector, so that the shadows won't be too dark.

Definitely switch off the flash – especially at the close distances you will use, the parts nearest to the camera will be to bright and the background details too dark. If you're arranging auxiliary lighting, it's a good idea to use lights all of the same type – otherwise, part of your image may have a different colour cast than the rest.

Yes, it's possible to colour correct to some extent in an image editing programme such as Adobe Photoshop or the cheaper consumer version, Photoshop Elements or even the completely free Gimp. However, JPEG images are more limited in what you can do to correct them (compared to the pro RAW format) and also, since you said you didn't want to become a photographic expert, colour correction is an acquired skill, greatly helped by a background in colour theory. You'd probably be better served trying to get as close as possible to a neutral, well exposed image during actual photography and not count too much on post production.

If you're shooting the model on a light or white background, you'll probably need to set your camera's 'exposure compensation' on the 'plus side' – typically +0.6 or +1 EV (the Minolta G5 has this feature, I checked). Otherwise, if there's a lot of white or very light areas in the frame, your main subject will likely be underexposed (too dark).

The good thing is that digital photography is cheap, so you can experiment to your heart's content. Practice is the key to success.

Good luck,

Joachim

(just for your reference, I'm a professional photographer and a technical journalist in the fields of digital photography and image editing)

I concur with Joachim - especially regarding the reflector as these can make a huge difference.

Regards.

Neil

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