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How To Take Good Photographs/Make Good Set-ups

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Old 01-06-2007, 09:57 PM   #1
fschuler's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,196
Location: Cincy
Collection Count: 90% less than before!
How To Take Good Photographs/Make Good Set-ups

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.

Don't do much photo editing wise. Just fix the color, brightness and saturation. I then go to diffuse glow and play around with it till I get what I want. That's how I do super whites.

End result:

Originally Posted by Mumps
I was told use the "reveal" bulbs, and no flash. Whenever I don't use my flash, my pics turn out SO yellow that Photoshop can't be of ANY help to them.
Need to fix the white balance in your camera. I use no flash, my pics come out white.

From Autobot Dave:

Yup, white balance is key. Check up on that in your camera's manual. It sometimes reads a whole lot more difficult than it is.

Other than that, my set-up is similar to NF's first one.

If you want super sharp, super clear pictures, make sure that your aperture/f-stop is set to a pretty high number. Then, you'll have to adjust your shutter speed accordingly. My settings when I'm starting a shoot, are usually f 25 up to f 29 (depending on what my camera will allow), with a two second shutter speed. If it's too bright, make the shutter speed faster. If it's too dark, make it slower.

Good luck, and have fun!!!

From Golden Age:

the guy over at collection dx just put up a video that shows how he takes photos.

How To Take Good Photographs/Make Good Set-ups

From Wheeljaxx:

i don't want to make any one hate me, but if i'm not in my studio,(yes, i own my own commercial photograohy studio) i use a regular flash gun, firing into a difusion umbrella on a stand, with bounce cards. only use the one light source, and thats all i need. i use seemless photo BG paper. it's how i got these.

but everyone here is getting good pics, so the gear or price of gear doesn't matter. it's all practise and learning how to control the light.

photo BG paper is just a roll of paper, used by photograpers. it's meant to shot people or large objects on seemless BG, liek the toy pics we all see here. it's $78 or so a roll, but is not recomended you buy a roll. it's mainly for studios since the roll is 14 feet wide and 80 feet long if fully un rolled. LOL

when a roll comes to the end, where no one can stand on it, or whats left does not reach the floor, i cut the roll in half and use it piece by piece for toy or small oblect shots. waste mot want not.

for home use, i just recomed large sheets of bristol board or something similar, curved so there is no seem in teh BG.

a hint for you all. it is NOT nessesary to put your subject mid work area. i keep mine as close to teh edge as possible, as far from the curve as possible. this just gives you a better Depth of filed control so the BG is not as sharp and takes away from the subject if you use a BG with a texture to it at all.

this method also cuts back on shadows behind your subject on the BG. you want to keep shadows to teh floor or base wher eyour subject is

From Spaceman:

If you don't want to spend money on a light tent you could always MacGyver one up. I found this link a couple of days ago, tells you how to mkae a "cheap" light tent MacGyver style.

I plan on trying this out when I can get a bit more room.
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Last edited by Superquad7; 06-08-2010 at 11:30 PM..
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