Jump to content
Overread

General photography chat!

Recommended Posts

Ok so I'm putting it in here even though its really a kind of off-topic/general chat for all - (hint an off-topic/general Spartan chat section would be great ;)).

Anyway figured that we've got a few here who know something about photography and others keen to learn - so here we have it. A chance to ask questions, share ideas and methods and generally share photos as well. Something that we can all join into no matter if you're using an iPhone or PhaseOne.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I wouldn't consider myself to be an advanced photographer or anything, but here are a few basic things I've picked up:

1.Have plenty of light, from multiple angles if you can manage it (desk lamps can work well for this).

2. Don't use a flash, it washes things out.

3. Avoid using zoom features. It is better to move the camera closer to the mini.

4. To avoid jiggling the camera while taking the photo (producing a blurry image), use a stand/tripod and the timer function.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.Have plenty of light, from multiple angles if you can manage it (desk lamps can work well for this).

I agree that the more angles of light you have the more even a distribution of light you will have over the subject. However its important to realise that what we see as "sharp" and as clear defined detail and lines in a subject is based upon contrast differences. You can see this in how higher level artists use this effect with layering to have darker recesses and brighter highlights on a model rather than just painting each area in purely one colour for that section.

Light is just the same. If you've painted shadows into a model as described you can use a more even distribution of lighting because the paint itself is faking the effect somewhat. However you can also vary the lights so that you introduce some shadows into the photo which will bring out the details and lines much more so. It's something to play around with and is easily done, simply moving a light a little further away or changing its angle will affect the shadows and strength of the light.

 

2. Don't use a flash, it washes things out.

Flash is no different to table lamps nor any other source of light - its light. However what you identify with the washing out is what I've outlined above. The flash, when used on a camera and facing forwards and when its contributing most of the light for the shot it quickly washes out all those shadows. Being a very small light source doesn't help it either as what shadows it can preserve become very harsh and direct and not as pleasing.

If your flash is on the camera itself you're a little more limited. One thing you can do is hold paper infront of the flash. This concept is because the bigger a light source is relative to the subject, the softer the light becomes. Thus putting paper between the flash and subject makes the paper into the light source relative to the subject - and the bigger the paper the better.

If you've ever seen those big umbrellas or softboxes that professionals use then that's the basic same idea, only that with an umbrella the flash fires toward it and then the light is reflected off; whilst the softbox has sides to it so that light which would otherwise spill out to the side (eg if you were just to hold paper infront of it) is instead focused forward, meaning that you lose less light power for the shot.

 

3. Avoid using zoom features. It is better to move the camera closer to the mini.

Yes and no.

If you move the camera closer to the model three things can happen:

1) You can end up moving the point of focusing too close, thus you get photos where the area in focus is behind the front or face of the model you're photographing.

2) The closer you move to a subject the smaller the depth of field (the area of the photo in focus and sharp) becomes. So moving in closer and closer makes your job harder.

3) Auto focus tends to find it harder to focus the closer you get to a subject. This is because the closer you get the thinner the depth of field becomes; thus as you get closer and closer the backward and forward motions of your body become ever more impacting on the shot; which means the AF has to keep trying to refocus and sometimes it doesn't keep up - this is why a lot of macro photography is done in manual focusing - although that said most models are of a size where this shouldn't be a problem.

What I think is important is to avoid digital zoom on cameras with that feature. Digital zoom is just enlarging the photo and cropping the edges away; optical zoom is the lens actually creating the effect. By all means use optical zoom on a camera to zoom into a model.

Note however that if you do zoom in it will magnify the effects of handshake. As such you might find that you need to use a tripod to hold the camera steady for the shot, especially if you're using constant light source as opposed to flash.

A rough rule of thumb is that 1/focal length of the lens is the slowest shutter speed you can hand hold for a sharp shot. This of course assumes good standing posture and will vary somewhat person to person and even camera to camera (depending on its size,weight, etc...)

 

4. To avoid jiggling the camera while taking the photo (producing a blurry image), use a stand/tripod and the timer function.

Fully agreed! It also means you can take your time to position the model and camera; and means that you can take several shots with the camera in the same position and vary just the lighting or other factors without having to worry that your camera angle is changing a little between each shot as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done, Overread! That saves me the trouble of having to write near exactly everything you said. :)

I am going to add another point in here that is important.

White Balance. In very basic terms, white balance is what keeps everything in a picture from looking too blue or too red, or some other color cast. Light has temperature, and that temperature determines what color it is. Most of the time, our eyes compensaten for this automatically, but a camera may not or can not. How to adjust this varies from camera to camera, but it is really worth learning this feature to get more accurate colors in your photos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a good call duck although it can get complicated (esp when we consider the variety of cameras people are likely using). As a general point for all, no matter what camera you are using, one thing that makes controlling colour easier is to realise that light itself has colour. No matter what source of light you use it has a colour to it.

If you accept that concept than realise that if you mix different light sources, or even put paper infront of some and not others (thus changing the colour of the light) then the photo itself could have multiple colours of light shining upon the model.

This is why using a setup like a light-box/tent works because all the light going onto the model is "filtered" through the paper and thus should have a similar colour. Similarly if you use flash(es) to light the shot they will all have the same colour. Again if you're using table lamps use the same bulb type in each and the same diffusion material.

Similarly you can use this to colour your models for creative reasons - tissue paper in various colours is an ideal and cheap way to put colour casts into your photos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update:

I was going to take pictures for this and one day shall, but it seems the house will remain in a state where I can't really setup my lights for a while; so you'll have to deal with the all text version.

Part 1

So one or two have asked how I make those spinning photos against a black background so here goes;

1) Lighting. The key to the lighting in this kind of shot is to aim to have the lights focused upon your model so that they provide as even a distribution of light over the model as you can. At the same time you want your lights to be providing ALL the light for the exposure. That would mean that if you turned the lights off your shot would be pure black (or nearly so).

You can achieve this easily by doing a few things:

a) Isolate the subject - for example put it ontop of a small stand raised up on a table. This way when you focus your lights (by they lamps, flashes, reflectors etc...) upon the subject there is very little that can spill out onto other surfaces.

B) Try to set it up so that you've a long background; that is to say a long area behind the model with nothing in it. The longer the better and the emptier the better too as it provides less surfaces to catch your lights. Note you can add some black "wings" to your lights (card+stickytape) to further focus the light direction and reduce spill of light into other areas.

c) When positioning the lights try to have them either side of the subject; not perfectly to the sides, but at a slight angle so that the light is shining onto the front side of the model. This can mean light will spill into the background but also gives you some shadowing on the model to show up the details. You can also balance the lights so that one is a little stronger than the other to get some sideways shadow (either lower the power of the flash or move the light further away from the subject).

Note nothing says you can't use a box or other custom setup to take this kind of shot. I will recommend something like a softbox on the light itself to diffuse the light or a screen held up infront of the light. Again the idea is to make the light source relative to the subject bigger so that the light is more spread out before it hits the subject.

2) Camera settings - ideally you want to be in manual mode for your camera. Auto modes are hard because they will want to expose everything well whilst you're only interested in the model itself.

a) Aperture - a small aperture like f13 or f8 (experiment and see what works for you) so that you've got a good depth of field over the subject; plus you're also blocking out a lot of light (again raising the importance of those lights/flash for exposing your subject).

B) Shutterspeed - if using flash set it to the fastest sync speed (typically around 1/200 or 1/250sc). If not set it to a good fast speed.

c) ISO - shouldn't need to be anything more than the base ISO for your camera (typically 100). Again we are letting the lights do the work for us.

With your camera and lights and model setup try a test shot. Note that whilst the background of the shot is black you don't have to turn off your lights in the room. Remember that your spotlights or flash are doing the work for you. However in a practical sense if you're using table lamps for your lights you might well need to turn off other lighting in the room as your exposure might have to be using a slower shutter speed to get enough light on the subject itself.

Remember light diminishes exponentially the further you get away from it; so the further away the background elements are the less light they will get by a significant margin.

Move your lights around; shift the subject further from the background and experiment with camera settings. There's a bit of playing around to find what you want in this and to get the desired effect. Note that you might still get some elements with some light in on them in the background. Don't worry about that, if they are very dark and badly exposed the editing phase will deal with them without any problems (even mine had bits in teh background that were lit partly).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.