Picture taking advice

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Charles Christensen, Dec 18, 2011.

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  1. Charles Christensen

    Charles Christensen New Member

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    Photography was one of my hobbies since just after glass plates went out of fashion and I think I can give everyone a couple of hints about taking good pictures of their firearms for this forum.

    It is most likely today that you will be using a digital camera. Many of those cameras offer selectable resolution settings and variable storage (compression) options. For the highest quality results always use the highest resolution your camera is capable of and the least storage compression possible - this is usually a .jpeg or .jpg format. Compression algorithms attempt to reduce file size by modifying the structure of the file. This results in quality loss. The downside to a high-resolution, low compression file is that it takes up more room on your storage device but that should not be important for just a few pictures. Before uploading to this site it would be advisable to use a photo editor to reduce the overall size of the picture and file.

    The actual mechanics of taking the picture are still, basically, the same as with a film camera:
    1 - Keep it steady. Use a tripod if possible. Any movement will blur fine detail and detail is what we need here.
    2 - Do not use direct flash as it will cause glare. A separate flashgun aimed from the side is better and can sidelight important detail. Even better is diffuse, indirect or bounce light. A trick for photographing coins is to use a white Styrofoam cup placed over the coin with the camera sticking through a hole in the bottom. The light is then totally diffused by the cup.
    3 - Close focus (macro) capability. Rule of thumb here - get close. Make sure your camera can do it or get the accessory equipment that will allow it to do it.
    4 - Fill the frame. Pictures with unimportant details like a yard of your dining room table are a waste of pixels that could be used to render finer detail.
    5 - A critical factor in firearm identification are the figures, words and numbers impressed into the metalwork. These are sometimes difficult to make out and need some help. Try side-lighting to cast a bit of a shadow into the depression or wipe a bit of talcum powder into the impression to bring up the contrast.
  2. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Charles for all the tips and advice. I have never been satisfied with my gun pictures but had no idea what to do to improve. I have been laying off building a cheap light box. I am not into photography and only have a Fujifilm Fine Pix 2650 camera. I have picked some tips from others and things are better but still a long way to do. I know it is time to get a better camera, ha. Not really wanting to go all the way to SLR but have looked at a lot of adds for the others ??????

    The talcum powder is neat.
  3. Buffalochip

    Buffalochip Active Member

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    Simply taking pictures outside on a overcast day works well too--no glare from sun or flash, but enough light for detailed pics without shadows.
  4. zakchain

    zakchain New Member

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    Thank you for your info on taking firearm pictures.
  5. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    Charles;

    Great advice! I'm going to go ahead and make this a "sticky" at the top of the forum, at least for a while. Hopefully it is helpful as people are trying to get info about their firearms.
  6. MSGT-R

    MSGT-R Active Member

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    Absolutely! Also, keep the background simple, and pick a color that will not create too much contrast for the camera to handle, or your weapon will be too dark or too light. Photoshop is a great program to change contrast, change brightness, and dodge/burn problem spots.
  7. Charles Christensen

    Charles Christensen New Member

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    My wife also suggests the use of corn starch instead of talcum powder.
  8. Woodnut

    Woodnut Forum Sponsor Supporting Member

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    Thanks Charles.
    This is some good advice. I have struggled for a long time with picture taking. I'm sure I could do a lot better at it if I would take the time to learn the basics. Seems like I always have other things that keep me away from the learning process. I have a Cannon EOS. I am very interested in Raw and Bracket photography. My wife bought me Photomatix for Christmas, so hopefully I will take the time to learn a little more about it now that I have this software. I have a good tripod that she bought me for our anniversary last month. This will help also. Now all I have to do is learn lighting and the settings on my camera.
    Again thanks for the information, and I may be calling on you for some more help in the future.
    Woodnut
  9. Charles Christensen

    Charles Christensen New Member

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  10. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    Those are some good tips Charles, Glare is a BIG ENEMY of getting good shots. I never use flash unless absolutely necessary and holding the camera steady is a must.

    I usually take more than one shot of the same thing in order to insure that I have a good shot of what I want. Macro is nice but not totally necessary on taking pics of firearms, just get in close and make sure to focus and keep it steady and you will get good shots.
  11. glassgnosis

    glassgnosis New Member

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    Thanks for the advise!
  12. jstgsn

    jstgsn Well-Known Member

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    show us some examples with the settings listed. please.
  13. Charles Christensen

    Charles Christensen New Member

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    I have an update on this post.

    When working in close you should always set your f-stop as tight as you can. The f-stop is the amount that the iris of the lens is open and is expressed as a ratio of the lens focal length over the current diameter of the iris setting. For instance, if the lens had a 100mm focal length and the current iris opening was 10mm the f-stop is f10 (100/10). 100mm divided by 17.857mm would be f5.6. The larger the f-stop number the smaller the iris opening and the greater the depth of field you will have in your picture.

    I am now working with a new/old camera that I bought on eBAY for $75. It is a Kodak EasyShare P850 that went out of production several years ago. Many people seem to think that Kodak made a big mistake when they stopped making it. It is light and easy to handle and has image stabilization which is a great help. We also found close-up lens set for $18 and that really helps working in close. This camera is a good idea if you are looking.
  14. dondysart

    dondysart New Member

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    how do you make a url out of a picture
  15. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    Once an image is posted online, a URL is generated for that image. Right-click (on a PC) on any image online and you can choose to "Copy Image URL" (in Chrome)/select "Properties" to view the URL (in IE9)/"Copy Image Location" (in FireFox) to paste that URL into the "Insert Image" box here.

    If your image is not already online, use the "Attachments" feature (the icon that looks like a paperclip) to load it directly onto TFF.

    If I didn't explain that well (it wouldn't be the first time), just ask any questions you have. And welcome to TFF!
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