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A short lesson in photography

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A short lesson in photography

Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:09 pm

OK I don't want to go on a rant but some of the photos on this site are the worst I have ever seen. But have no fear a short photgraphy lesson is on the way.

Out of Camera Modification
First off when you take a photo you want to take the best photo possible. Don't take crappy photos and then think "Oh I can just edit this in a photo editor" because you are wrong. You will never get the same quality photo using computer software as when you take the photo itself.

Cell Phones
For the love of god no cell phone pictures. They have terrible control over every aspect of photography.

Light
Use a lot of light! Most point and shoots suffer in low light settings and can become noisy. Noise can be best described as a static like effect on the image, lowering its quality.

Cropping
Don't be afraid to crop your photos. They centralize the subject and make it obvious what you are taking a photo of.

White Balance
Try to get the right white balance. A photo, depending on the light source, can be heavy in a certain spectrum of light. This is most common indoors with incandescent light bulbs. The photos will weigh heavily on the yellow side. This is counteracted by adding more blue. If you are outdoors and sunlight is getting low, a photo may seem very blue. This is counteracted by adding yellow.

Focus
STAY IN FOCUS!! This is especially crucial to taking photos of spudguns. They have minute details that some people will try to look at. If you cant focus on an object, you are probably too close and need to back up. You can always crop the photo afterwards. And of course if you know how to use macro, that's even better.

Flash

Intro
Flash is your friend. If you don't have enough light to see every nook and cranny of your subject, chances are your camera won't either. So naturally, if you have common sense, would to be to create more light, if its outside then you obviously can't turn the sun up. So you would turn to your flash. BUT, reader beware, the built in flash usually does a terrible job.

Symptoms of Bad Flash
There are a few things to look for to determine if the photo has a bad flash.

"Flash Burn", as it is known, can show up in a photo as a part of a photo washed out with a white glare. You obviously wont see the detail in that part of the image.

Sharp Flash is when the source of light is so direct that there are little to no shadows. When there are shadows they contrast greatly and make the photo an eyesore. a sharp flash will also only illuminate what it is directly pointed at. This leaves the surrounding edges of the photo under exposed or the central part of the photo will be overexposed.

Redeye is a problem all of us have encountered whether it be you or a demonic looking friend of relative (ie :twisted: ) It has to do with light bouncing off the back of your eyes. The reflection appears red and evil.

Remedies

A diffuser is an opaque material that goes in front of a flash to disperse the light more evenly on a shot. They are usually white to get the best white balance effects but colored diffusers exist for specialized cases. They will greatly reduce flash burn and sharp flash.

A bounce light is another practical solution. This isn't recommended for the average joe trying to take a photo. Flashes can get very expensive very fast and a lot of point and shoots do not even have the proper shoe mount on top. However a bounce light will greatly reduce flash burn and sharp flash. The way it works is by bouncing light off a ceiling to diffuse light and illuminate the subject from the top. So this method obviously won't work outside or places with high ceilings. But most can point forward like a regular flash.

Multiflash and preflash can reduce redeye. How it works is before the photo is taken, the flash will flicker to reduce the chances of blinking in the photograph and dilate the pupils to reduce reflecting light from the eyes. If your camera cannot do this, simply take more than one photo. Eyes should adjust by the time the thrid shot comes around. (if your not using continuous drive :roll: )

Hopefully this will help some people here. Take your time when taking photos. The more attention payed to detail the more rewarding the photo will be. I can promise you that. With this new knowledge (well at least for some of you) I wish you happy spudding and lets see those pics! :D
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Attachments
IMG_5320.JPG
This image has a lot of noise. Look at the static likeness around the buttons and in the shadows.
IMG_5321.JPG
This image has little noise. The static that you saw is now gone for the most part.
IMG_5322.JPG
This has horrible white balance. It is very yellow.
IMG_5325.JPG
This is white balance corrected.
IMG_5326.JPG
This is out of focus.
IMG_5327.JPG
This is in focus. Notice the detail that was hidden in the out of focus shot.
IMG_5328.JPG
This is underexposed. There is not enough light getting to the image.
IMG_5329.JPG
This is properly exposed. As you notice it is much easier to see.
No Flash.JPG
On-Board.JPG
Diffuser.JPG
Bounce.JPG
Last edited by rcman50166 on Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:25 pm

Excellent little write up and I couldn't agree more, especially on this point:

Don't be afraid to crop your photos. They centralize the subject and make it obvious what you are taking a photo of.


No one is interested in your pets, underwear or feet :)
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Unread postAuthor: Rokmonkey » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:32 pm

The guidelines sound simple, but getting the appropriate light and white balance can be difficult, and only goes up with the fancier cameras.

If you use Point and Shoot cameras, auto-focus and flash are your best friends.
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:41 pm

Rokmonkey wrote:The guidelines sound simple, but getting the appropriate light and white balance can be difficult, and only goes up with the fancier cameras.

If you use Point and Shoot cameras, auto-focus and flash are your best friends.


I knew someone was going to bring that up. However, the camera I used for this demo was a point and shoot. A Canon SX10 IS.

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Unread postAuthor: btrettel » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:48 pm

A very necessary guide! Thank you.

While we're nitpicking, avoid "flash burn" like in the last photo if possible. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look at the space bar. That spot is supposed to be black. This photo isn't the best example of when the flash causes problems but you should get the picture.

Often you do have to get close with the flash and the lighting is inadequate, so this can't always be avoided, but I usually try photos with and without flash anyway to see if it'll make much of a difference. If you can take a second photo and you think it might come out better, always try it.
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:55 pm

btrettel wrote:A very necessary guide! Thank you.

While we're nitpicking, avoid "flash burn" like in the last photo if possible. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look at the space bar. That spot is supposed to be black. This photo isn't the best example of when the flash causes problems but you should get the picture.

Often you do have to get close with the flash and the lighting is inadequate, so this can't always be avoided, but I usually try photos with and without flash anyway to see if it'll make much of a difference.


I did not use flash in any of the photos taken in the demo. As the professionals say, the on board flash should never be touched! There is an obvious exception for those with simple point and shoots however.
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IMG_5337.JPG
Here is the semi-professional hot-shoe bounce light
IMG_5339.JPG
Here is the built in flash
Last edited by rcman50166 on Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postAuthor: btrettel » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:58 pm

I should have checked the other photo--the overexposed part exists in both. Thanks for pointing that out. Either way, it's another thing to keep in mind.
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Unread postAuthor: Ragnarok » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:42 pm

I wrote something similar for another forum a while back, but with a slightly different focus (pun intended).

If you think the pictures on this site are the "worst [you] have ever seen", imagine that people are similarly clueless about photography, but instead of taking pictures of spudguns, they're taking pictures of two inch tall miniatures...

... and you'll probably get a headache simply by imagining the out of focus pictures.

My own recommendations there included having the camera set back from the model and using the zoom, because it meant the depth of field was longer than taking the same photo close up. (Also, some macro modes can't focus at some of the distances that would normally be needed.)

Also, using a stand for the camera and the timer mode - which results in a completely still camera for the shot, so no blurring because the camera's jittering.

Perhaps those two aren't so appropriate here, but still useful for the right photos.

I don't pretend I'm a perfect photographer, but I try to avoid using bad photos - I'll only use a crappy picture if I haven't any alternative (i.e. A photo which I can't take again for whatever reason - whatever it is no longer exists, only happened once, etc.)
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:21 pm

You may add to the list that overexposure of non essential parts to properly expose an area of interest is OK. I do this often when peering into a valve or pipe.
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Exposure is set to show the rust inside the pipe. Outside is overexposed as a result.
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Unread postAuthor: psycix » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:54 am

Nice guide. Most people don't realize that pictures need LIGHT, lots of it.
Also white balance is a nifty setting that can improve pictures with a few button presses.

Cell Phones
For the love of god no cell phone pictures. They have terrible control over every aspect of photography.

Disagree.
Sure, from most cell phones the pictures are crap. But there are good camera phones out there.

Most cell phone pictures are bad because of bad lighting and wrong white balance settings (many phones have white balance setting, people just don't know it)
This comes with the additional effect that when people want to take a quick picture, they'll use a cell phone within their range instead of the camera, but even with the camera they would not have taken the time to adjust the settings properly.

A proof that a cell phone CAN take good pictures: Click!
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:30 am

psycix wrote:Nice guide. Most people don't realize that pictures need LIGHT, lots of it.
Also white balance is a nifty setting that can improve pictures with a few button presses.

Cell Phones
For the love of god no cell phone pictures. They have terrible control over every aspect of photography.

Disagree.
Sure, from most cell phones the pictures are crap. But there are good camera phones out there.

Most cell phone pictures are bad because of bad lighting and wrong white balance settings (many phones have white balance setting, people just don't know it)
This comes with the additional effect that when people want to take a quick picture, they'll use a cell phone within their range instead of the camera, but even with the camera they would not have taken the time to adjust the settings properly.

A proof that a cell phone CAN take good pictures: Click!


Simply said, cell phones do not have image sensors nearly large enough to be competitive. And the average cell phone will not have something as simple as optic zoom. Most cell phones also lack many essential manual features like exposure or aperture. But I will agree. Those photos are very good for a cell phone.
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Unread postAuthor: starman » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:52 am

As my photography instructor once said, "If something's worth taking a picture, it's worth taking at least 2 or more shots of."...and that was back in the film days. With practically unlimited memory resources in digital cameras these days, always take several shots of each subject. Choose your best shot to share.

Another pro photographer once told me that the biggest difference between his photos and most amateur photos....was that he didn't show everyone his crappy ones!!!
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:57 pm

That is true. My camera, in manual mode, takes 3 photos automatically if enough features are messed with. And now that it would seem that eveyone has voiced their opinion. I now claim this a Photography thread. Let's see some good examples of photos! :D

I'll start. Of course everyone here should be familiar with this macro shot of my pen gun.
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However I was a photo noob then. It was done with a very old canon powershot. Here's the revisions I would have made now.
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Unread postAuthor: john bunsenburner » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:05 pm

Hmm, calls for a sticky...this is useful stuff...if not as a sticky, let us keep this as a wiki page.
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:10 pm

That would be fine with me. If anyone has anything against this being a sticky please let me know. I know, if given enough time stickys will take over, so we must decide carefully. Let me know guys. I'll ask in two days.
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