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Old 07-27-2006, 12:23 PM
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Turbinator Turbinator is offline
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Figured it was time to do a little refresher on this photo thread. I've looked back at some of the advice I gave, and realized that I've learned a little bit more since then. Here is my updated advice specific for dSLR's as we work our way through 2013:

Manual Mode instead of Aperture Mode - Some time ago, I figured out that in manual mode, I get to specify the shutter speed and the aperture. In the photography world, this is helps to determine the exposure - how much light gets into the camera's sensor and gets translated into an image. When taking multiple pictures of a single item (perhaps from different angles), you want the exposure to be the same across all of your photos. The best way to do this is to take control and to specify all of the settings yourself. If you don't, each time you fire the shutter, the camera is evaluating light data coming in through the lens, and it chooses a shutter / aperture setting to produce what it deems to be a good exposure. The key here is to take control and determine for yourself what you want your image to look like - hence why you're going to specify both shutter and aperture.

If you're taking a picture of a handgun, try starting with f/8 or f/11 as a start. For shutter speed, use the built-in light meter in your dSLR to help determine what the right setting is to use. I tend to pick a shutter speed that overexposes by about 1/2 to 1 stop, in order to give my photos a slightly brighter look. I adjust the shutter speed slower and slower until the built-in light meter indicates that my photo will be overexposed by 1/2 to 1 stop - that's when I take a sample photo to see how things are turning out.

Use RAW - Yeah, I was a JPG guy for a long time. However, after I started using Adobe Lightroom and playing around with the white balance settings, I figured out that taking pictures in RAW and then having the freedom to edit white balance completely in post-processing was just amazing. I now take nearly all of my light box photos in RAW, post-process, and then I'm good to go.

The only downside is that RAW takes up more space than JPG, but with storage being so affordable nowadays, I don't expect this will be a serious problem for anyone.

Camera remotes - In my original article, I talked about using a timer or using software on a PC to control the camera. I have since moved over to using a wired or wireless remote to fire the shutter. The timer was just taking too long to wait for, and it was getting annoying to set it up each time. Hooking up a remote or using a wireless remote is just easier overall. Obviously, if you don't have one, using the built-in timer will be the way to go.

Micro / Macro pictures - From time to time, you may have a need to take pictures of items VERY close up. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways.

With a point and shoot camera, look for this setting:

Choosing the macro setting on your point and shoot allows the camera to focus on something very close to the lens. This allows you to obviously get closer to your subject, thereby producing a much larger image of a relatively small object.

If you're using a dSLR, you can go out and buy a dedicated micro / macro lens. Nikon uses the term "micro" to describe these close-up lenses, whereas Canon uses the term "macro" to describe their offerings.

Here are some example micro lenses offered by Nikon (image credit goes to Ken Rockwell):

Now, suppose we wanted to take a picture of some snap caps. Without a micro or macro lens, most of our pictures will look similar to this:

Let's look at a sample taken with a Nikon micro lens:

This is of course a close up image of a Pachmayr 9mm snap cap, the business end that takes all the beatings from firing pins. Notice you can see all the fine detail where the metal has been dimpled by repeated firing pin strikes. Also notice that micro lenses tend to have a very narrow depth of field, which is why not all of the snap cap is in focus. This effect can be leveraged artistically, if one is so inclined. Using a micro lens or your camera's macro setting will allow you to show off unique, distinct details of your favorite hobby items - for example, show off your new stippling work, engraving art, night sights, proof marks, rust spots, or blue job - just about anything that needs to be viewed up close and personal in order to be appreciated.

Will update with more content soon!


Last edited by Turbinator; 06-02-2013 at 11:56 PM..
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