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Old 09-16-2011, 09:11 AM   #1
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Default Photography 101

OK, I'd like to start an open discussion about taking pictures and sharing information.
A lot of what we do on this site ends up being shared by photographs and the few outstanding photos, well, they stand out!
Yeah, some of us have superb equipment, but then I see that incredible picture Evil Ash took with his iphone... Anyone can take a great picture!

Post here any ideas, tips and especially a photograph that you took that came out great, why you think it's great and share your ideas on what you did to make it great.

I'll tell you what, I will reward truly outstanding tips and help with a couple of nubs!
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:23 AM   #2
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I'm sure JerseyJay and Brooks could fill in some quality tips on this area.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:47 AM   #3
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"It's all about lighting... not the quantity but the quality."

This is one of my favorite quote from a photographer whose name I can't remember at the time but what he means by that is to consider the quality of your lighting setup before taking any photograph.

You don't need fancy equipment to do so. Let's say you want to take a picture of a box of the spanking new Oliva V #4. The best bet is to set up your box on a table close to a window. That creates your light. At this point, you want to orient your box and frame your picture. You can give it a shot with this basic setup. It'll do a decent shot but not a great shot.

To further enhance your shot, you can use great light; you can try putting a white and translucent cloth in front of your window to diffuse and soften the light. You can also wait for closer to sunset where you will get warmer light. To reduce the harsh shadows on the opposite side of the box, you can use a large white piece of cardboard to reflect light on the shadow side of the box.

And now you know the basics and cheap way of lighting your shot. Of course, you can go further and buy all kind of stuff: strobes, reflectors, product tent and more but if you don't forget the discussed points above, you should get good shots.

** NOTE: These techniques WILL work with other type of photography, including portraits! **
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:34 AM   #4
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Cedric is 100% right. Photograph are the recording or reflected light. Period.
What you do with the light used to illuminate your subject will make or break a photo.
One of my tricks is to use a slave strobe. This is fancy words for a second flash that will fire with the main flash on the camera. Often I will use just the slave too. The key to a slave, you put it along side of your subject so you get side lighting. This has the affect of adding dynamic shadows. On a cigar, the natural pores of the leave will be enhanced by the shadows making the picture more interesting.
A light box, as cedric mentioned, is typically used to eliminate shadows. This is great too. I recently did some shots to play with my new camera, i bought a piece of poster board (we used to call this oak tag) and using the white side gently curved it so that there would be no corners. I placed my subject on this curved paper and the result is that there are not background corners or shadows drawing your eyes form the subject. There are tons of easy ways to set up a light box. Here is a simple one like I did


I like this one.


one thing to consider. Use some sort of table lamp to start. The colors will be off (unless your camera can compensate for this and you know how to white balance). The reason I say this is because with lamps instead of strobes you can see what your lighting looks like before you shoot.
Of course with today's digital camera this is less important. Back in the day (film) it would be 5 days before I could see the results of my work.

By the way, look how interesting a slight shadow can be, yet slight by difusing it with a secondary light on the side of the shadow with less intensity
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Last edited by skipper; 09-16-2011 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:38 AM   #5
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Very cool idea for a thread Skipper!!

I look forward to reading the tips
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:01 AM   #6
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I just bought a new reflector with a light stand... will take some pics over the weekend and will also take a pic of my setup for you guys to see!
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Old 09-16-2011, 01:23 PM   #7
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Tips are always good! I'm always trying to get the W to play the game "Just the tip"
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:00 PM   #8
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Thanks for the thread skipper...always open to new ideas on how to improve....did you make the box that has the two lamps inside of it??
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Old 09-17-2011, 12:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPlaspohl View Post
Tips are always good! I'm always trying to get the W to play the game "Just the tip"
Rick, thanks for the update on your sex life!!!
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:04 PM   #10
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As promised, here's my set-up.

There are two set-ups that I used. The first, to take the box image, I used a flash on the right side of the camera with a reflector on the left side. The flash overpowers the ambient light (the sun) and the reflector cuts some of the shadows and allows the opposite side of the box to be lit.

In the second set-up, I use ambient light coming from the windows on the right side and, again, a reflector on the left side.

In both set-ups, I use a 55-300mm Nikon lens and, in the first set-up, the flash is triggered through the camera's flash (the camera's flash is triggered an instant before the picture is taken so that it doesn't impact the photo). Also note the use of a digital grey card system on the box and beside the cigar for white balancing.

The reason I'm using a telephoto lens is to get really close to the object without needing a macro lens (which I don't have).

Now let's take my set-up and let's cheap it down so you don't have to buy anything:

Flash: We already replaced it by the window in the second set-up
Reflector and light stand: A white piece of foam board should work fine, those reflective things that you put on the windshield of the car in the summer time will work just like my reflector. To hold it up, I found, depending on how patient she is, a GF works great!
DSLR with telephoto/macro lens: your point and shoot should have a macro mode! You do need a tripod though and I would suggest using the delay mode to avoid camera shake
White balance cards: You can do without this

That's about it, I will post the resulting images in a few days... lacking time to process them!
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:08 PM   #11
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Looking forward to the results!!! You're giving me more ideas!!!
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:22 PM   #12
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I'm guessing the point & click method is now outdated ?!?!?!?
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:15 PM   #13
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I am no pro but I enjoy taking pictures. I would love to know more on the subject and get a good quality camera to take with me one my outdoor adventures, hunting and fishing. I love the use of natural light in pictures. Also depth of field as you would say. I think this is my best cigar picture I have taken so far It just has great natural light and you can see for miles in the background..
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:48 PM   #14
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Ryan...Love this picture and would not change a thing about it....the lack of depth of field makes this Nub stand...stand out!!!
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mean Joe View Post
Rick, thanks for the update on your sex life!!!
Just trying to be funny!
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:52 PM   #16
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To me, one of the most overlooked areas by amateur photographers are the basic elements of design that are gospel to you more artsy trained folks out there. Understanding them is critical to crafting or framing the perfect shot. Ryan's shot above is perfect because he managed to bring line, space, balance, movement, shape and texture together in an interesting way.

THE ELEMENTS OF DESIGN

LINE
Line can be considered in two ways. The linear marks made with a pen or brush or the edge created when two shapes meet.

SHAPE
A shape is a self contained defined area of geometric or organic form. A positive shape in a painting automatically creates a negative shape.

DIRECTION
All lines have direction - Horizontal, Vertical or Oblique. Horizontal suggests calmness, stability and tranquillity. Vertical gives a feeling of balance, formality and alertness. Oblique suggests movement and action
see notes on direction

SIZE
Size is simply the relationship of the area occupied by one shape to that of another.

TEXTURE
Texture is the surface quality of a shape - rough, smooth, soft hard glossy etc. Texture can be physical (tactile) or visual.
see notes on texture

COLOUR
Also called Hue
see notes on colour

VALUE
Value is the lightness or darkness of a colour. Value is also called Tone

Copied from here:

http://www.johnlovett.com/test.htm
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:00 PM   #17
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And more on the principles of design:

http://www.wiu.edu/art/courses/design/principles.htm
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:08 PM   #18
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I'm also a big fan of Ken Rockwell's stuff. He's a bit of gear head despite railing against gear heads (you'll find he frequently contradicts himself), but he has a talent for making random stuff look awesome. Here's a gallery he recently posted:

http://kenrockwell.com/trips/2010-08-pt-reyes/index.htm

I've ripped a lot of his How-To's to word docs and read them all the time.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:21 PM   #19
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Here's a shot of my youngest apple picking this past Sat.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:30 PM   #20
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Here are the three shots I took with the aforementioned set-up. The two cigar pictures are taken with natural light and the box with my flash.






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Old 09-20-2011, 12:20 AM   #21
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Some great tips and some really nice photos from both Jay and cedericb....While I never took any photo classes past high school I have learned so much by shooting things over the past 40 + years. But nothing taught me more than working in professional photo labs during that time....you see a lot of mistakes and a lot of brilliant work....this is where I picked up my most of my education. To me the most important thing once you have mastered the camera of your choice is composition...I always take time to compose my pictures and hate when I have to crop anything...that being said I would like to indulge myself and share some of my non cigar photographs...starting with some pictures of my family.


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Old 09-20-2011, 12:24 AM   #22
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Here are some of my concert photos from the 70's and 80's...all film...




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Old 09-20-2011, 12:30 AM   #23
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My animals.....



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Old 09-20-2011, 12:32 AM   #24
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On the road....



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Old 09-20-2011, 06:45 AM   #25
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Fantastic stuff guys....wow!
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:32 AM   #26
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Great tips and info guys!

Don't underestimate the value of framing! If you are shooting a close-subject watch your background. If you are shooting scenery, watch your foreground. That doesn't mean to avoid the foreground in a scenery shot. Quite the contrary, use it to frame your subject.

And Depth of field. This may be the most important subject of photography. Classic examples above from CedricB. His 2 cigars, The Oliva V is in part out of focus, the entire San Cristobal is in focus. You can set this up however you wish. But, you have to become familiar with the manual operations of your camera. A camera adjusts the light coming in by limiting it in 2 ways. Shutter speed and aperture or f-stop. I think we are all familiar with shutter speed. You use this to control blur from movement. A speeding car will be crystal clear with 1/1,000 of a second shutter and blurry at 1/30th of a second. Below 1/30th you run the risk of all your shots being blurry unless you use a tripod. Aperture is the diameter of lens opening. Like your eye, the wider you open it the more critical focus is because the depth of field shortens. (depth of field is the area or range of distance that will be in focus. A smaller aperture will create a longer dept of field (this is why old people squint to see, they cant focus so they increase the depth of field). Play with the manual settings of your camera, take a dozen shots of the same subject, same lighting different shutter/aperture settings and see the affect (use a tripod)
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:36 AM   #27
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Another point, use that zoom.
If you want your foreground to be more prominent, zoom in on your subject and step back. Think of your zoom lens not as zooming in, but as collapsing distance. If you shoot a subject from close in at the most unzoomed setting, the background will appear far away. Step back then zoom in to achieve the same framing you had of the foreground before and the background appears much closer as the distance is collapsed.
I once watched a professional shoot where a model was on a street corner. The 59th street bridge was in the background. The photographer apparently wanted the bridge closer so he was a block away using some monster telephoto lens. I later saw the shot in an ad. The bridge was right behind her!
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:04 PM   #28
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cool pics Joe!
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:40 PM   #29
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Damn, I'm just trying to figure out how to use the camera on my new phone, Droid Bionic.
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:02 PM   #30
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Joe, can you elaborate on your pics (Metadata)?
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