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My Photo 'Studio'

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Kyle, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Kyle

    Kyle Member

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    Heres a picture of where I take my pictures. My new years resolution is to take more photos. I want to have a record of all my blooming plants. So, I set up a corner of the room I use as a lab to take photos. The room is in my basement, and doesn't have a window. So the plants are lit with two CFL coming from opposite directions. This gives good light, but the pictures have a orange cast to them. I took a course on Photoshop a few years back so I have a good working knowledge of that program. I adjust the levels to make the colours more true, but the results usually look a little un-natural, especially compared to shooting in daylight. The good thing about shooting in my lab, is there is no airmovement, so I can have long exposures.

    I use a Canon Rebel. I use the lense that came with the camera. I always use a tripod. I haven't shot in Raw yet. But will try the next time I do a bunch of photos.

    I find my photos aren't as sharp as other people who use the same camera. I attribute it to the lens (and the photographer of course!)

    Heres the corner where I take my pictures:

    [​IMG]

    Here is the rest of the lab:

    aimg.photobucket.com_albums_v322_KyleLucyk_IMG_4283.jpg

    I am looking for any suggestions on how to improve my set up, techniques for taking better pictures, sources for cheap lenses, and any photoshop tricks for procesing/adjusting photos.

    Thanks in advance.
    Kyle
     
  2. Forrest

    Forrest Really Neat

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    nice setup Kyle. I was thinking of doing something similar for myself.

    You mentioned the color never coming out right. Do you use Auto or Custom white balance?
     
  3. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Kyle, you are going to love RAW. You can change the temperature setting to account for different lighting. If you learn to set a custome white balance adjustment (not hard to do) you can set it so that the camera uses that correction. Much better than doing it in PhotoShop, you don't get the weird color shifts. Once you have the balance for you lighting system, you don't have to correct the images.

    Do you apply and unsharp mask to your images? The RAW plug-in has a clarity slider that works quite well, then you can sharpen a bit more in PhotoShop if you want.
     
  4. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I bought some special florescent lights for photograph some years back, but they didn't put out enough light for what I was doing. A friend who was an engineer at Sylvania before he retired recommended Capsylite. The system I was looking at would have required new stands and sockets and was out of my reach. The Capsylite has worked well. The color doesn't shift over time (a problem I had with Tungsten lights before) and they last a really long time. They also have a standard base. It has been very consistent.
     
  5. Forrest

    Forrest Really Neat

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    Kyle, Marni is right though, it is all about shooting in RAW, and custom white balance is really a must.
     
  6. Kyle

    Kyle Member

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    Looks like I'll have to crack open the manual to find out how to do the white balance. Everything up til now has been auto white balance.

    I'll try tomorrow and post some of the results.

    Thanks!
     
  7. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Here is where I shoot. The windows are blacked out with plastic. The set up is on a diagonal so I can back out the door into the hallway if I want to get back farther. I use seamless paper suspended on poles with a table underneath.

    I want you to know that I took this picture several times. Every time I loaded it onto the computer, I was appalled how trashy it was. So this is what it is like after I've cleaned it.
    photo.setup.jpg
     
  8. Forrest

    Forrest Really Neat

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    nice setup Marni.

    So how do you handle long flower spikes, or inverted flowers like Dracula?
     
  9. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It is 4 1/2 feet from the table to the top bar, so I have pretty good clearance. If they are taller or longer (ie Dendrobium teretifolium at 6+ ft) I take the table out and pull the paper down to the floor. The bar above the table will hold things on a hook. For some draculas that have a single wire hanger, I use a wooden block with a hole in it that holds a bamboo stake upright. I hook mounted plants on it too. I have acrylic risers too that I can stack up and lay a Dracula basket on its side for a sraight on shot.
     
  10. Karen

    Karen Species nut

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    That looks GREAT!
    Oh, it's cleaned up? :poke:

    Looks like Andy's set up!

    Nice, and thank you for sharing!
     
  11. Kyle

    Kyle Member

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    Nice setup Marni. Your black background, is it textured, or just matte paper?

    Another question: Most of what I take pictures of are small things. Keeping in mind that I use the lens that came with the camera, is it better to zoom in to the flower, or move the camera closer to the plant but be zoomed out? Or take a picture from far back and crop it to fill the frame. I don't think the last one is very wise as you lose resolution. I want to know what 'strategy' gives the sharpes pictures.

    Kyle
     
  12. Forrest

    Forrest Really Neat

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    you want to get as close to the subject as possible.
     
  13. Kyle

    Kyle Member

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    Without zooming? Just want to make sure I understand.

    What will this accomplish? Sharper pictures?

    Kyle
     
  14. Forrest

    Forrest Really Neat

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    It depends on the lens you are using. The lens has a "natural" position, where it takes its best photos. Any zoom beyond that degrades the quality a little.

    What lens are you using?
     
  15. dounoharm

    dounoharm almost there

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    very nice setups and informative thread, thanks kyle and marni
     
  16. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I am using a dark blue background for most of shots of orchids. It is 4 ft wide seamless paper from the photography store. I set this up for photographing ceramics initially, so have lots of rolls of different colors. If I were just doing orchids, I probably would have gone with a velvet background. The black paper I have works great with pottery, but doesn't come out black, but more of a grey with the lighting for orchids. You can see on the floor on the right against the wall, I've covered cardboard with different colors for easily changing the backdrop for smaller plants, using an easel to stand it up.

    I think your fabric in the corner is good. I lose space by having the 4' wide backdrop in the corner. If you want to vary your background at little expense, an art store will have 2x3 ft colored matte paper in lots of colors.
     
  17. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with Forrest about the zoom. I would move the camera as close as possible to the subject. You want it to pretty much fill the frame. Also, using the smallest aperture and the longest shutter speed that you can will get you better depth of field so more of your subject is in focus. Though you may already know that.

    There is a lot you can do with software, but a macro lens will do a lot to improve your images.
     
  18. Tom_in_PA

    Tom_in_PA I am not an addict

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    Thanks for the great thread.....I will have to work on a much better setup which should hopefully improve my pictures. It would be nice if I could get a real camera but that is not going to happen any time soon so anything I can do to improve upon what I currently have will be big help :(
     
  19. dounoharm

    dounoharm almost there

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    thats what a real workshop looks like...and you turn out some very very nice photos from your workshop....michaelangleo didnt keep a pristine shop either...so you are in good company!:clap:
     
  20. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    dounoharm, thanks for the encouragement. Cleaning up the room is on the to-do list, but not very high up.