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Author Topic: some newbie photo experiments  (Read 5426 times)

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gemfeller

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2016, 07:09:42 PM »

messofrocks, your anti-reflection "fix" will work well if you're shooting with a long lens.  But most of my cab shots are made in macro mode with an old Nikon 4500, at most a few inches from the subject.  Do you have a work-around for that?  I just don't have physical space for a long lens set-up even though I have a Canon Rebel with a 105 mm. macro lens. 

Even close-up I've noticed a cab's dome height has a bearing on the amount of reflection shown.  I was shooting some Crown of Silver psilomelane cabs a few days ago -- talk about reflective!  I found that with careful positioning I could get virtually reflection-free shots on nearly flat-topped cabs while those with high domes drove me nuts with "camera shadow."  See below.

The best method I've found so far involves cutting a lens-size hole in a white index card or similar material and placing it around the lens while shooting.  But that still results in a round black shadow with most materials.  If you can't beat 'em join 'em.  I've learned to appreciate some amount of reflection as long as it doesn't overwhelm the images.





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messofrocks

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2016, 01:51:19 AM »

Gemfeller

I’m going to assume that is digital and not the film version Rebel camera with a 105mm otherwise it will cost to much to be snap happy.

If it is the digital Rebel similar to mine with 105mm lens with F/1.4 stop and that being the case, your lens has greater capabilities to go from 24-105mm with macro. Macro is great for taking picture of bees, flowers and flies and many other cool things like a water drop to stamps. Macro can also be great for cabs once you know how but either way your 105mm should be able to handle a range of zoom from 24 to 105 ranges even in macro. 

On the other hand, might you have the Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 with the 1.6-foot macro focal distance, which is the closes you can get to something, and still be able to focus. Or maybe the 35-105 no matter what still move the camera left, which I prefer or right as long as you can still see the object in the viewfinder or screen you can still snap a nice picture. My camera and lens can also select the focal area and if your lens is anything like mine, you have the same ability if need switch auto focus to manual.

Also remember pending your picture resolution 2 Meg pixel on up that picture could be huge poster size in fact. You can stand a few feet away zoom obtaining a great picture and then crop it to size.

The pictures below are of the most reflective thing I can find to illustrate the principal, all in macro but no special care was taken. Meaning no white balance adjustment and very poor lighting, did not care if in focus or not, anyhow, notice the left and right pictures compared to head-on.  Left and right does not need to be to the extreme as I show in the photos it just has to be enough to make you and the camera fade away.

In this case, I held the camera 3 to 4 feet away from the object with minimum zoom; I cropped the picture (had too) and I still had to resize it down to 30 percent so it does not take up to much space.

The light switch in the garage I was standing 10 feet away normal auto setting and zoom the screws are smaller than most cabs.

Question: The background to that killer stone was it gray or white? Remember when taking photos and you change light, you should always do a white balance adjustment. I did white balance on your photos best as I could to show a little difference in effect what white balance can do.
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gemfeller

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2016, 05:00:08 PM »

messofrocks,
Those are great suggestions.  The camera’s a Canon digital EOS Rebel Xsi. The lens is an EX Sigma 105 mm. F2.8 DG Macro with AF but it doesn’t have optical stabilization, making hand-holding in macro pretty chancey.  Both are in virtually brand new condition but I find the arrangement unwieldy to use in my very limited space.  I really don’t know the macro focal distance of the Sigma; I’ll have to check.  (Looks like it’s 4.8 inches at 122 mm. for 1 to 1.)  I understand your comments about cropping down distance shots with 12.2 MP.  You’re comments are tempting me to give the system another try even though the learning curve makes my head hurt in advance.

I’ve operated an image-heavy gemstone sales website for over 10 years and it has a voracious appetite for images.  I haven’t been able to maintain it adequately the past couple of years due to serious illness but I’m getting better now.  I’m looking forward to bringing it up to speed again in the next few months along with a couple of other web-based sales options, all of which will require lots of images.

Bottom line:  My Nikon photo system has worked very well for a long time.  It allows me to make lots of images fairly quickly and efficiently over a wide range of subjects: transparent faceted gems, opals, fire agates, many other types of cabochons, faceting rough, slabs and jewelry etc. without major equipment adjustments and lots of fiddling around. My shots may not satisfy everyone’s notion of what a “good” image is but there’s a world of room for disagreement on that topic, starting with their intended use.   

I know a lot more about gems/gemology/lapidary than about technical photography.  If I’d realized in advance how difficult gem photography, especially faceted stones, was going to be I doubt I’d ever have launched my website.  But once committed I soldiered on despite many mistakes and frustrations along the way.  Even after all this time I learn new things each time I settle in for a shooting session.   I guess my philosophy comes down to Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS). 

You asked what color the background was for the psilomelane shots and suggested I check my white balance.  I check white balance for EVERY shot (unless I forget, of course, which happens more often than I’d like as I age.)  The background is an 18% gray jewelry pad and something happened when I uploaded to the Forum, making the backgrounds appear to be different.  I checked my image archive and they seem identical in the originals.  I can’t explain why there’s a difference on the Forum.  The first “shadowless” image is color-correct.

Anyhow, thanks for taking the time for your informative post.  BTW, I never use flash.  Most of my shots are made with natural daylight but I also use white-balanced incandescent and occasionally halogen. 
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messofrocks

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2016, 11:28:56 PM »

Yeah in some cases, it is a simple point and shoot, in past all we worried about was redeye. In addition, what is hard for some to understand with digital the picture does not always have to be centered or wait for the right lighting condition because you can always crop to center and adjust the colors.

Nevertheless, there comes a time where you want to take a picture of a reflective surface such as of a crystal clear lake with the snow cap mountains in the background without seeing the camera in the photo which it is never easy. The fact is sometimes you have to snap hundreds or even thousands of shots attempting to capture that one awesome photo. The best all we can do to better our odds is to use a controlled environment, opposed to a natural setting.

Therefore, if you want to take and continue to take consistent pictures you need a controlled environment. A light box, with proper lighting, a camera tripod and lens but don’t be fooled with a tripod because if you have to push the button you can still take fuzzy pictures. The best thing to use with a tripod is a remote switch or set the timer so you are not touching the camera when it snaps, sure stabilizer are nice but not always faultless.

Hey LOL glad to hear the background was gray I was thinking I was loosing it; also, what you see on your screen is not the same what I see because our monitors are calibrated differently. I attached a few photos that are designed for calibrating; I have the hard copy of it, which is great to calibrate digital cameras.

I know I push the white balance but there is no need to keep doing a white a balance, you just need to save one of each to the camera. On an overcast day take your white background outside do a balance and save it to the camera, do this for a sunny day as well plus don’t forget one for when you are standing in a shaded area and pending the room lighting in your home a white balance saved to your camera is helpful. Once you save these to camera, all you have to do is select it for the condition you are shooting in then if need be a plus or minus 1 or 2 if you are looking for perfection.

Wow, I checkout your Nikon an oldie but a goodie eh I remember those now almost bought one but instead I went with canon 4 mega pixel with the flip out screen. Now like you I also have the Xsi and the Xti LOL I killed my 105mm lens the other day I was setting up to run a few test with it but dropped and killed it. Anyhow, the photos I took of the phone is highly reflective and the only thing I had to demonstrate the left and right shift even with a flash same principal applies without a flash.

Either way it sounds like you are on the ball using your Nikon to maximum benefit the only other thing I can suggest are tilt and angle position to remove the undesired reflection/s.

Sorry to hear you have not been well, but glad to hear you are recovering my prayers and blessing are with you.

Best of luck

PS it would not allow me to post the full resolution of the attached photos oh well maybe it is enough to test your screen with anyway right click and save the white should be true white and the shading between 18, 19 and 20 you should see a separation from the whites to the black etc..
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gemfeller

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2016, 02:57:00 PM »

Long pause...

messofrocks, I remembered I had a long(er) lens for my Nikon and dug it out of storage to try your cab imaging technique.  So far no cigar.

This image was made at about 15-inches lens-to-subject using available light inside a light tent.  As you can see the lens body is reflected off the high polish of the cab.  Does your method only work with flash?  I can't yet figure out a way to shoot from the side without skewing the image.
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crazyjays

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2016, 09:53:38 PM »

But i will not get in a land war over which camera is better.
So are you a Canon or Nikon fan?  :toothy10:

Me i like Nikon but i cant buy 1 they cost to much.  :LOLOL:
I hope one day to get a Nikon 7000 But for now its a dream.
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mearic71

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2016, 07:03:21 PM »

My biggest advice is with any camera system. They all have cheap to expensive models from canon, nikon, hassleblad the biggest thing with the expensive models are speed and more features than even professionals use. So unless you are constantly shooting sports or race cars, you need the cameras that shoot 500 frames a second. (rocks and stones do not move fast, unless you through them) 2nd cameras with 100 different modes are fine, but I have been shooting commercially for over 20 + years and I use 2 modes on my camera AV and manual. I have spent thousands on on 1 camera or another over the years, but there are plenty of camera in the $400 to 500 range that would be more than most will ever need. Save your money for lenses. I shoot canon and hassleblad, because my first camera was a canon. Nikons are great to. Sensor size and megapixels are the most important features.
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jerrysg

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2016, 02:54:21 PM »

Nobody has mentioned the use of a circular polarizer to reduce reflections with a digital camera. Why is that?

Jerry
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gemfeller

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2016, 04:05:23 PM »

Nobody has mentioned the use of a circular polarizer to reduce reflections with a digital camera. Why is that?

Jerry

I use one for regular shots.  Didn't think to mention it.  It helps but it's not the magic bullet all by itself.
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ToTheSummit

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Re: some newbie photo experiments
« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2016, 05:20:17 PM »

I also use a circular polarizer.  There is almost always one attached to my lens when out shooting scenery.  But as gemfeller said, its no magic bullet.  Still can be helpful though.
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