Photography set-up...

Tips and techniques for taking the best possible pictures of your timepieces.

Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Peter S. Balkan » Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:10 pm

Larry Soucheck wrote:Very nice Dave. You've just proved that anything will work...even a cardboard box. :) And to think, some people pay money for a manufactured box to accomplish what yoy just made with a little effort and not much money.

Larry


I saw those pictures on your listing of that movement, Dave, here on the MB, and I was impressed then.

It's all lighting, isn't it?

I'm still experimenting and testing. I think I've got my lighting all set. I took Larry's advice and bought some vellum paper at Staples. 50 sheets for something like $8.00. Since I'm using cool bulbs I can scotch-tape it to my lighting fixtures. One of them is a simple "can" fixture that I can move around or aim. The vellum does a pretty good job of diffusion so I can aim light without the hot-spots.

I also bought one of those cheapo shutter releases that those Hong Kong guys are selling on eBay offer. I actually got it (quite quickly) and it works just fine. The new cameras use an electronic shutter release rather than a mechanical. They also have wireless remote but they are a lot more expensive and I don't need them. I just wanted to get my hands off the shutter button. I take 3 pictures at a time, bracketed at 1/3 f-stop on each side. The self-timer does the same thing but it will only take one-shot at a time. I can take my 3-shot series very quickly and with little fuss. I think I paid $12.00 INCLUDING shipment from HK.

I AM having problems with depth of field. My new lens will get me right on top of the subject. But, I find that as I move in closer, depth of field becomes more difficult. I guess I could move the camera further out and then just crop the subject, but... heck.... that lens is considered special because it can get so close. If I put the movement on a single plane... it's not a problem. But... when shooting the cased-watch, I like to put the subject very slightly in profile. If I do that, I sometimes lose focus at the edges. Still working on that.

And... I went to Best Buy and bought myself a heavier tri-pod. I had one that I bought years ago and couldn't find. I was using another lightweight and flimsy tripod. For the $20.00 I spent (on sale)... I got a nice firm stand for the camera and a few bells and whistles as well. I like the quick release. I shoot over several days but I don't leave the camera out, overnight (4 cats and a dog). This way, I can store the camera with the quick-release installed and set it on the tripod in seconds.

This type of photography is fun and can be very challenging. It is certainly consistent with the interests of many of us, geek, tech types.
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby JPerry » Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:25 am

I just finished reading every "Horological Photography" thread. You all have done a terrific job of passing along so much valuable and practical information. If it weren't almost midnight I would head to the shop and begin construction of a watch/clock photo studio. But when I do, I will submit some of my efforts for your advice. Thanks for the inspiration (not to mention the beautiful watch photos) and keep it up, I can see I have a lot to learn.
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:25 pm

Larry Soucheck wrote:One simple basic rule that I live by in digital photography. Take a sharp picture. No matter what else you may screw up while taking the shot, sharpness is one aspect of a photo that is not easily fixed with photo editing software. Anything else...too dark, too light, poor white balance, over or under exposed..ect can be fixed quite easily.

Larry


Larry,

I'm using a Nikon D50 dslr with a Sigma AF 50mm f2.8 macro lens, but I just have not been able to achieve the sharpness you're getting. The camera is set to aperture priority with the aperture set at f9. This photo is about the best I can do, but IMO, it just isn't good enough. Any suggestions?

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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Larry Soucheck » Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:26 am

Tom, do you shoot in jpeg mode? Camera manufaturers decide what compression, sharpness, ect in jpeg. Maybe it's too soft. Check your in camera settings. I prefer to shoot in raw mode so I can decide. Also, do you shoot in manual? Camera/lens have a way of sometimes not tack sharp focus...back/front focus in auto focus mode. If you do shoot manually, make sure your diopter is adjusted to your eyes. This can have an effect. Try a different f stop. Camera/lens combinations all have a certain sweet spot, and maybe f9 isn't yours. Try them all. f5.6 should give good results looking at your picture style with a reasonable depth of field.

Finally, all photos have a way of going south when resized for the web. Using the sharpening tool in a photo editing program is a must to maintain good sharpness.

Larry
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Glyn Meredith » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:29 am

Tom Diss wrote:
Larry Soucheck wrote:One simple basic rule that I live by in digital photography. Take a sharp picture. No matter what else you may screw up while taking the shot, sharpness is one aspect of a photo that is not easily fixed with photo editing software. Anything else...too dark, too light, poor white balance, over or under exposed..ect can be fixed quite easily.

Larry


Larry,

I'm using a Nikon D50 dslr with a Sigma AF 50mm f2.8 macro lens, but I just have not been able to achieve the sharpness you're getting. The camera is set to aperture priority with the aperture set at f9. This photo is about the best I can do, but IMO, it just isn't good enough. Any suggestions?

Image


Tom, you're going for that reflection effect, which is cool but takes up space in your pic. If you're going to fill a 600- pixel-wide area (for example), you might be happier with the subject filling more of the space.

These two pics are the same photo. The second pic is cropped nearer to the subject, which makes it look closer. Both are saved 600 pix wide and under 300K file size. I purposely did not clean the watch so that the "scruffy" detail would be noticeable.

Apart from cropping/re-sizing, the only Photoshop tweaks are for brightness and contrast.
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:58 am

Thanks for the input, guys. The camera is currently set to jpeg. I was trying some different Unsharp Mask settings this evening in Photoshop. Still not crisp enough. More tweaking, I guess.

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Image

I'll see if the camera can be set to raw.
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:42 am

jpeg vs. raw after Photoshop
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Glyn Meredith » Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:49 am

Two points, Tom:

1. The raw-data pic is brighter than the other one. Is that intentional?

2. You save pics at well under the 300K limit of this board's settings. Is there any reason for that?
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:51 pm

Glyn Meredith wrote:Two points, Tom:

1. The raw-data pic is brighter than the other one. Is that intentional?

2. You save pics at well under the 300K limit of this board's settings. Is there any reason for that?



1. The auto enhance in the Nikon software did that.
2. I resize to approx. 640 X 480. The raw file size was around 3200 X 2000 (over 5MB).
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:33 pm

Larry Soucheck wrote:Tom, do you shoot in jpeg mode? Camera manufaturers decide what compression, sharpness, ect in jpeg. Maybe it's too soft. Check your in camera settings. I prefer to shoot in raw mode so I can decide. Also, do you shoot in manual? Camera/lens have a way of sometimes not tack sharp focus...back/front focus in auto focus mode. If you do shoot manually, make sure your diopter is adjusted to your eyes. This can have an effect. Try a different f stop. Camera/lens combinations all have a certain sweet spot, and maybe f9 isn't yours. Try them all. f5.6 should give good results looking at your picture style with a reasonable depth of field.

Finally, all photos have a way of going south when resized for the web. Using the sharpening tool in a photo editing program is a must to maintain good sharpness.

Larry



Larry,

One of the differences I noticed between our photos (other than the fact your's are completely superior ;)) is that the file size on yours are roughly twice mine even though the dimension are similar. How are you resizing & compressing after touching up to get these larger file sizes? Could this be the reason I lose sharpness? TIA

787 x 733 pixels & 199,960 bytes
Image

768 x 509 pixels & 95,075 bytes
Image
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:51 pm

Test shot. 569 x 527 pixels & 162,784KB file size
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:51 am

Latest effort. A little less light and highest non-raw resolution setting with the camera. 700 x 360 pixels & 94,014 bytes.

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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:40 am

I think I'm making headway with some minor lighting adjustments and Photoshop experimentation...
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Re: Photography set-up...

New postby Tom Diss » Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:04 am

As good as it's going to get for me...
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