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  1. #1
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    Photography How-to

    How do you get the high-contrast white backgrounds in your photos stick? Always looks great, but I'm not sure how your doing it. I was playing with Photoshop the other day and couldn't quite get my pictures to come out the way I had hoped. Do you have a specific application recommendation?

    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    It's not so much the application as it is controlling your lighting during the taking of the shot. You need to soften and even out the lighting. If you don't do this first, no software in the world can make the picture look the way you want.

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    Mute is absolutely correct. Controlling your light is what makes great images. Strive to get the image correct in the camera. Photoshop and post-processing is to fix minor imperfections, not to create a miracle. Play with your lighting and always look for new techniques. Try to make your images stand out from what everyone else is doing. There are a ton of tutorials out there in how-to photography and there are a lot of DIY projects that you can do to recreate lighting w/o spending a million bucks.
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  4. #4
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    Agreed, great lighting can save a LOT of images. I've just started to really play with long exposures lately, and you can get a LOT of great detail by just making a good composition and screwing around with a few lights.
    "There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."

  5. #5
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    I would imagine they are using a light box which provides consistent and well understood lighting conditions, they really help for product shots where detail is critical.

    I'm primarily a sport shooter and don't have the gear for product photography. I'll use a good tripod



    and I'll let the camera and metering do the work since I'll be shooting at higher apertures trying to increase depth of field.

    A good lens like a Nikon 60mm macro lens also helps, I don't shoot nikon anymore so I just use my trusty 28-70 Lseries 2.8.

    Shooting sports is quite different than product since things are moving quickly and you are trying to stop the action and create some pop so you are usually shooting pretty wide open.

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanm View Post
    How do you get the high-contrast white backgrounds in your photos stick? Always looks great, but I'm not sure how your doing it. I was playing with Photoshop the other day and couldn't quite get my pictures to come out the way I had hoped. Do you have a specific application recommendation?

    Cheers!
    I tend to over or underexpose for my shots as needed. The easiest way to shoot a white background is to put down something white (paper, tablecloth, your wifes wedding dress etc.). Put it in shade, then take your picture. You will have to play around with the exposure, but raise it a bit, and see how you like it. If you need more white, and less gray, overexpose by a little more. The shade will provide a softer, more even light, and its a very easy way to shoot your pictures.

    By doing this, you won't need to do much work in post processing, if anything at all. I know there are guys who cut out backgrounds and do lots of other work in photoshop, but since I am horrible at photoshop, I need to get the results I want in the camera.


    There are lots of other ways to shoot on a white background, but the above is what I've found to be the easiest, and quickest.



    Note that I didn't say exactly how much to alter the exposure, that because it is going to depend on a few different variables. Play around, and see what you like. Its digital, so shoot a bunch and see what you like best.

  7. #7
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    wife's wedding dress, let me think about that. I wish I could take damn nice pictures like stick or borrow his camera.

  8. #8
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    as I want to take my nikon d40 along on a hiking trip to canada, I'd like to ask you guys, what kind of pouc/bag youd take along that is not to bulky, yet provides enouh protection from the elements?

    thanks!

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    Venom, camera bags are a lot like gun bags in that the most easily accessed are not typically the most secure. Are you looking for something to carry on you that you can "quick draw" from, or are you going to be carrying thee camera on a strap during the day and are only looking for a bag to secure it when traveling to/from the hike?
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  10. #10
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    actually I think I want something that keeps the cam safe from rain and impact, and the whole thing will be under the top lid of my pack. I think I wont need the quick draw, I'll probably stop, remove cam, take pic, put back and carry on hiking.

  11. #11
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    I built a light box "on the cheap" using 1" schedule 40 PVC pipe and clamp lights from Home Depot.

    For the bulbs I use 100 watt Daylight rated spiral florescent. The daylight rating is important, it gives a white light (5000 to 6200 kelvin) as opposed to the yellow of incandescent bulbs or bluish tint of normal florescent.

    Using the PVC allowed me to create an expandable light box - a picture below shows the frame set up for smaller items. When expanded for rifle sized items I place it on a 6 foot folding table and use more lights. A little effort before you push the button will pay off in reduced post processing time.

    I went to a fabric shop with my wife and purchased some rolls of fabric for backdrops, you will need full width rolled fabric about 3 yards or so in length - peanuts on cost; mine ran from $1.99 per yard to $3.99 per yard. Have them roll it, not cut and fold. The creases and wrinkles will show. Re-roll it and bag it after use. Pick some neutral or soft background colors, and maybe a bright one for special things you may want to photograph. I have white, gray, red, green and black. Stay away from satins or shiny fabrics. On rolls they can also be hung behind someone for use as a portrait backdrop.

    At a minimum you will need a relatively sheer white roll to drape the top and sides - always do that to mute or soften the light. You would lay the colored fabric on the inside of the light box as background - or just use the white.

    Venom, I use a Tamrac sling pack - medium to large. I can swing it around, pull the camera and or different lens, take the picture and put it back. Seems to work okay for me.

    Hope this helped.



    You can even take pictures of cameras:

    Last edited by Jerry R; 20 June 2009 at 11:25.
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  12. #12
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    Jerry, a couple of questions...

    First, do you just replace the cross pieces of PVC with longer pieces when you want to make it bigger, or do you have some other trick?

    Second, where did you buy those bulbs? Home Depot or Lowes have them?

    Third, about how many lights, total, do you have?

    Great setup, I think you just saved me some money (or, gave me more money to spend on the tripod!)
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  13. #13
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    Rob,

    1) I pull it apart and put more cross pieces into the mix to make it bigger, there are also extra connectors. A great place to get unique PVC connectors is:

    http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/pvc.shtml

    They also have "clips" that snap onto the PVC pipe to hold your backdrop cloths, hint - buy a dozen. I thought I only needed 4 and had to re-order. Discounts based on pieces not order dollar total.

    2) The bulbs are at Home Depot, Lowes does not have them. Look for blue paper in the bulb package, not the green that is in their "standard" florescent bulbs. You can see the temperature rating on the back of the package, again should be somewhere between 5000 and 6200 Kelvin - that is the "temperature" of daylight.

    3) I have eight 10.5" reflectors and four 6" reflectors. I use the larger to "flood" the item to be photographed through the white cover cloth. I use the smaller ones to highlight the item, and to kill any shadows. The setup works best if all the incandescent lamps in the basement are turned off. I have forgotten that a couple of times, and I will find an orange highlight somewhere in the shot. The number used obviously depends on the item being photographed and the size of the light box at the time.

    Good luck with the project and please keep me posted on your progress. If you have other questions don't hesitate to ask.
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  14. #14
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    I think I'll be going with a 1400 Pelican case under my top lid of the ruck

  15. #15
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    Awesome light box Jerry R, we made one like it for portable crime scene fuming chamber for super glue at the scene. With only a few easy additions we now have a super cool light box. Thanks for the idea. I do have a question about cameras if you guys are still reading this thread. I have a cheapo Kodak easy share Z1285. It says 12 Mega Pixl on the side but it is a simple point and shoot, no SLR. Would it really be able to put out shots like you guys are posting on this site?

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