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Marco

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It's 1:18 am. I should be sleeping but i had to much coffee. I'm just gonna lay down after this post.

Neway, onto the topic at hand. I don't know how to take pictures. Now if any of you think otherwise. The only reason the pictures I take may look decent to you is cause I take 10-15 pictures of each and pick the best one. :eek: I was wondering if anyone has any pointers as to how to take good pictures, lighting, lighting positioning, cheap setups, camera's what to look for, optimal background etc.etc. anything to get an accurate picture as possible and avoid having to take 10-15 pictures :eek:

Thanks :)

now off to lay down on my bed/floor
 

gonewild

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Marco said:
It's 1:18 am. I should be sleeping but i had to much coffee. I'm just gonna lay down after this post.

Neway, onto the topic at hand. I don't know how to take pictures. Now if any of you think otherwise. The only reason the pictures I take may look decent to you is cause I take 10-15 pictures of each and pick the best one. :eek: I was wondering if anyone has any pointers as to how to take good pictures, lighting, lighting positioning, cheap setups, camera's what to look for, optimal background etc.etc. anything to get an accurate picture as possible and avoid having to take 10-15 pictures :eek:

Thanks :)

now off to lay down on my bed/floor
What kind of camera do you have now?
New photo equipment is all about budget.
 
M

MoreWater

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nikon coolpix 2500, announced in Feb 2002. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I think a new cam would make miles of difference. Point and shoot digital technology has come a long way in the last few years - focus is easier, the sensors are better, white balance is easier and better......

My current cam is a p&s that goes for about $150. There are certainly built-in issues with it (like color accuracy on coeruelas - they literally come out blue) but for the most part it's doing an excellent job. (In other words, problems with the photos are my fault, not the cam's.)
 

gonewild

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Marco said:
You won't have much interactive control with this camera so if you want to continue to use this camera you will need to get real good with lighting.
10 images to get a good one is not to bad.

If you want to learn how to photograph flowers you will need a camera that you can adjust aperture, shutter speed and flash on. You need a camera that has a better focus system and you will also want one with larger image size.

How much are you willing to spend on a new camera?
 
G

gore42

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Marco,

Honestly, that camera has (almost) everything you need to take good pictures, if you know what you're doing. I wouldn't waste money on a new camera if I were you, think about how many orchids you could buy for the price of a new camera.... :)

I'm sure you know that it would be impossible to write out everything that's important to taking good pictures in a single post like this, and I certainly don't have all the answers anyway. I can give you a few tips to start out with, though.

- When it comes to lighting, the LARGER the light source (not brighter), the softer and more diffuse the lighting will be in your photo. That is, something like a 4 foot fluorescent tube will give you softer light than a 4" incandescent bulb. Better yet, if you reflect light off of a wall or ceiling, then the size of that reflected surface effectively becomes the size of your light, making for very nice soft lighting, which is great if you want soft lighting (and most of us do, I think).

- Your camera, Marco, has exposure compensation. Learn how to use it! It's one of the most useful features on your camera, if you don't want to carry around a 18% grey card (and I don't know if your camera has exposure or focus lock anyway).

Basically, this is the way that exposure compensation works. Your camera assumes that the tones in picture you're taking average out to be medium grey (in brightness) when it calculates the exposure. Usually this is true, so most of your snapshots are exposed fine.

However, if you take photos in which a large portion of the frame is black or white (black velvet backdrop, for example...) your camera will still assume that they are grey, and expose them so that they appear grey in your final picture. So, theoretically, if you were to take a photo of a white sheet or a black piece of velvet, both of them will turn out as the same tone of grey in your resulting photo...if you don't use exposure compensation.

If that doesn't make sense to you, you can just remember this rule: If you're taking a picture of something that is pure black and you want it to appear black, under-expose it by 2 f-stops. On the other hand, if you're taking a picture of a white backdrop, you'll need to over-expose by 2 f-stops.

Along those lines, if you're taking a picture of a bloom that is against a black backdrop, and that backdrop takes up a significant portion of the frame, you'll need to under-expose your photo. If you're taking a photo of a bloom against a bright backdrop, you'll need to over-expose it.

This can all be done by sliding the little pointer towards the +2 or the -2 on your camera's exposure compensation settings. Very simple. It does take a little experimentation to get familiar with how certain scenes will affect your camer's light meter, so as you practice with it a bit, you'll get to know whether you should set your camera a - 1 f stop, or -1.5 f-stops, for example.

With your camera, you can also set the white balance, which is very important when you're taking pictures under artificial light. This is something you'll have to look up how to do in your camera manual, but its pretty simple usually.

Essentially, what you'll do is this:

Set up the photo you wan to take, then hold a white piece of paper in front of the bloom, with the artificial lights shining on it, and then set your white balance on it. This will help give you accurate colors in your photo.

Oh, and GET a tripod! Makes a huge difference in photo quality... if nothing else, it lets you not use the flash :)

I usually like to use a black background, just because it is less distracting than other colors or patterns, but it is admittedly not as creative as some other possibilities. I won't even get into issues of composition... all of that is very subjective anyway :) Many people will tell you, though, that it is best not to put the subject of your photo in the dead center. Instead, divide your photo into thirds and place the subject on one of the dividing lines.

And in the end, there's nothing wrong with taking 10-15 pictures... that's just part of learning how to take good pictures :)


What a mess of a post this has been! I guess this is what I get for posting in the middle of the night like this. If you have any questions, let me know... I might be able to clarify :)


- Matt



In case you're wondering, an f-stop is a standard for calculating exposure, based on doublings of light. That is, if you add one f-stop of light to your exposure, twice as much light will hit your film (or CCD in this case). You'll notice that everything related to exposure (on manual control cameras) is based on doubles... shutter speeds go from things like 1/60 to 1/125 to 1/250 of a second. Each step cuts the amount of light reaching the film in half, a 1 f-stop difference. Film speeds are the same way... 100 speed film takes twice as much light to expose as 200 speed film, which takes twice as much light to expose as 400 speed film, etc. Aperture works the same way, but it's not so obvious from the numbers :)
 
M

MoreWater

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you know, the biggest problem I had with my nikon p&s (about 2 years ago) was that you couldn't lock the focus in macro mode. You know how on most cameras, you can lock the focus by pressing halfway while having an object of the right distance in the middle? Well, the nikon would let you do that in regular mode, but not in macro. It was always hit or miss......
 

Marco

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Lance - I think a better camera will be due up soon but for now I'm going to have to make due. Perhaps in christmas :). I will definately be looking for those functions that you mentioned when I start looking. The only reason i bought the coolpix 2500 was cause of the swivel. I love the swivel.

Matt - Thanks :). I'm pretty sure I'll be bugging you with this soon enough. As is the questions on paphs weren't enough :poke:

Dot - Thanks. I think I printed out the whole photoxels website at work today. :)

Ki - what's macro mode? :confused:
 

gonewild

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Here is a very simple method to get extremely good flower pictures if you like a black background and don't have or want to use a tripod. This works in full sun or total darkness and a flower blowing in the wind will be sharply focused.

Get a Nikon D with the standard 18-55 mm lens.
Read the manual to familiarize yourself with how to set the camera settings. (It is very simple.)
Ignore the part of the instructions that says you can't do what I'm going to tell you to do.

Follow the 10 steps below and you will be amazed with your first picture.

1. Set the white balance to auto.
2. Set the iso to 200.
3. Set the camera mode to manual.
4. Set the shutter speed to 500.
5. Set the aperture to f22
6. Pop up the built in flash.
7. Zoom the lens to 55mm.
8. Compose the picture with the camera 1-2 feet away from the flower. You do not need a tripod for this method.
9. Make sure the auto focus target is on the flower.
10. Take the picture, it should be nearly perfect.

You can also zoom the lens to help compose and frame the picture.
If you increase the distance to say 3 feet you may want to set the aperture the lens at f16.

If you want a clear black background make sure there are no objects behind the flower for a distance of about 10 feet or so.

Any questions?
 
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MoreWater

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Marco said:
Ki - what's macro mode? :confused:
just went through the product manual for your cam, and they don't call it macro - they call it "closeup", which is what the thing is. It should be one of the "scenes" / settings with a tulip symbol.

From the manual:

Camera is set to focus on objects as close as 4 cm (1.6˝)
from the lens, making it possible to capture vivid colors in
close-up shots of flowers, insects, and other small objects,
with the background artistically blurred.
Close Up
•Camera automatically selects middle zoom position for a minimum focus
distance of 4 cm/1.6˝ (measured from lens). Minimum focus distance will
increase if camera is zoomed in or out.
•Camera focuses on subject at center of frame.

They recommend using the camera shake feature at the same time. Just in case you've lost the manual (I'm a rtfm type of person) then you can find it here (big pdf doc).
 

kentuckiense

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MoreWater said:
Minimum focus distance will
increase if camera is zoomed in or out.
Oh my gosh, this just solved all my problems! I would always turn on macro mode and then try to zoom in as close as possible. I was wrong!

Here are a couple I just took:

micranthum leaf tip:


other stuff:


I need start resizing my images in Photoshop instead of using this crappy Windows resizer. It makes the quality baaaaaad.
 

kentuckiense

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Heather said:
Wait, Zach. I don't understand. I always do what you do w/ the macro setting. I shouldn't be using it then? I have a canon PS250 I think.
What MoreWater is saying is that once you turn the macro on, if you zoom in or out then how close you can get with the macro increases. Even if you zoom in, the distance increases. Therefore you should turn the macro on and not touch the zoom. That's how I understood it, at least.
 
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PHRAG

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Zach and Heather,

When I use my powershot macro mode to take flower photos, I make sure the zoom is set to wide focus only. Any amount of zoom gives me really horrible results.

For a cheap black backdrop to your orchid photos, go to an office supply store and pick up a sheet of black foamcore board, or poster board. You could also use red or blue, if you like those colors. Make sure your board is about six to ten inches behind the plant and try to keep light from hitting the board directly, or it might affect the color in your final photos.

Hope this helps.
 

Marco

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**bump**

would anyone have any suggestions of how to take pictures of fish/objects in a bowl/tank?

Here's 2 pictures of a betta (i posted on the help bettas thread) the first is with flash the second is without



 
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gonewild

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Marco said:
**bump**

would anyone have any suggestions of how to take pictures of fish/objects in a bowl/tank?

Here's 2 pictures of a betta (i posted on the help bettas thread) the first is with flash the first is without
I know a little about fish pictures.
What kind of camera do you have?
You will need to use flash to photograph fish.
It looks like either your flash was deflected off the glass or you have the camera set on program(auto) mode.
 

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