Introductory: How To Take Good Photographs/Make Good Set-ups

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by fschuler, Jan 6, 2007.

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  1. fschuler

    fschuler Member TFW2005 Supporter

    Nov 28, 2005
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    I've seen a lot of awesome TF photography here at TFW, and I'm curious as to the techniques that some of you guys use to get such high quality results. I'm still working on it, but figured that some of you guys may be able to offer us photographically challenged members some helpful hints.

    This is about the best I've come up with so far:


    And here's a pic of my light "tent":


    I'm using 100W Reveal bulbs in the two large front lights, and "100W" fluorescent bulbs in the two smaller rear lights. There is enough extra white fabric (bunched on top of the tent in the photo) to pull down like a curtain in front of the tent when I take pics. I don't own any fancy editing software, so I'm basically limited to the brightness/color correction capabilities in MS Office Picture Manager. Anyone know of any low cost/free photo software that's actually worth getting? Thanks in advance for any insights you guys may be able to provide.

    From Nightflame:

    Free software? The Gimp. I use it for all my photo editing, not just cleanup of standard shots. All the way up to photoshop-like beasts.

    As for taking the shots, looks like you've got the right basic idea. Though I'd do two things differently. Check into your camera settings. Look for the setting for incandescent lights. That should correct most of the yellowing you've got going on there. Secondly, in your photo editing software, add a blue filtering layer to get rid of the rest of the yellowing you've got going on.

    Then you get into the whole situation of learning how to sharpen your pictures once you get them set up the way you want them. Using the GIMP I've come up with a method that works, but takes some time. I take the original photo, run Van Goh with a filter length of 2.0 on it, run UNSHARP MASK with a setting of 2.0, scale the picture down for the web, re-run unsharp mask with a setting of 1.0 and then it's probably set.

    As for how to get the shots that are worth putting that sort of effort into in post-processing? I've gone through various phases, but I'd say you've got the basic setup down. Multiple lights. A good light-tent/light-filter. A decent camera that you can either use a remote trigger on or set a timer on to prevent the camera from shaking when the shot is taken, and that should do it. Then it's a matter of learning your camera's limitations, learning the perfect distance for good focus, and learning how to work with your equipment's faults instead of trying to work against them. Most of that comes with practice.

    It doesn't take much to get from where you're at right now to the super clear stuff you see around. You've obviously got the tools, so you're ahead of where most of us start.

    Here's a couple shots of setups I've used over the past few months:


    Which gave me this result:

    And this:

    Which gives me this result:

    That was my first experiment with that setup. I've since gotten somewhat better with it:

    I think my next step is to follow the advice of the professionals. When it doubt, get some distance between the camera and the "model." In other words, a telephoto lense. Offerse better focus all around, not as many depth-of-field problems.

    From Alphie:

    I just got a light tent from my husband during Christmas. I have two desk lamps with 60watt Reveal bulbs in the front and the lights that came with the tent for the back. Then I have a lamp, used for dining room lighting with a 60watt bulb in it as well which I hold RIGHT on my lens, shining it at the figure.

    I plan on trying this out when I can get a bit more room.

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