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natural or artificial light

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Hey there guys I mainly take picturs of my models in natural light I think it looks better especially if you can angle it to make your background look like it matches but it tends to you hide some detail anything I could do differently if so could you give me some help .

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Wow, this is a crazy tough question!!! Photography is an entirely different hobby full of hundreds of different techniques and processes that can enhance and improve the outcome, all dependent on experience and understanding of how light works in a given setting with a given camera and what you are trying to show in the picture. Frankly, this is a lot like asking Michelangelo to tell you how to paint better.

 

Artificial light has it's advantages. First is that it can be easily controlled. Second, you are not dependent on time of day or weather. Third, it is consistent. Find a setup for your camera and it will give you the same result every time.

 

Down side: There are literally hundreds of different light sources that give different band widths of light and change colors. Multiple lights are generally better than single sources. Some sources can get very expensive. Heat from some light sources can get hot and distort the model or be a fire hazard.

 

It is possible to provide some decent tips if you will provide a little information.

1. Post a photo that you like or dislike and tell us what you were trying to accomplish. i.e did you want the show off something about the model, or make it look like a real car on the street.

2. What kind of camera were you using.

3. What setting did you use and have available to change on the camera.

4. What was the light like for the photo.

Edited by PeteJ

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Hi Z: I'll try to answer your question from a strictly pedestrian view, as someone with probably not much more photography knowledge than yourself.

 

Most modelers have one goal first and foremost: clear, IN FOCUS, well lit pics of their builds Luckily, this is pretty easy with today's cameras. However, IF your goal is "professional" looking pics that are magazine quality, or that attempt to "blend" your subject into a background to create a "scene"; then you're going to need to go to photography websites and study the advanced techniques needed to get those results above and beyond basic model pics for publication on line.

 

First, make sure your camera is set to the highest "pixels per pic" setting you have. This may be expressed in a "film equivalent" number related to the speed of film people used to buy. I use "100" for this, as it collects more info per pic. It's good for still pics (like models), but not for anything moving. This will give you less pics per camera card (since it's recording more "info" per pic), but you shouldn't be taking more than a dozen or so at a time and can then download, save the best pics, and then erase the card for the next set of pics you need to take.

 

Whatever camera you have, use the highest F-stop number (F16 or F-22 preferably). Digital cameras may not have as high a number as old film SLRs, or even digital SLRs (my digital only shows F7.2), but regardless, use the highest number. This gives you the deepest field of focus, meaning more details from front to back and side to side will be in focus, which is what you want when taking pics of smaller things like models.

 

The down side to doing this is that now you need a LOT more light. Pete's advice above on lighting is spot on. Use more than one source and arrange them from differing angles to help cut down on harsh shadows and to light more facets of your subject. This doesn't need to be sophisticated or expensive; you can simply hang hooded work lights (incandescent or fluorescent) in strategic spots. If you use natural light outside, you may want to use some bright white poster board to reflect the sunlight into varying areas not directly lit. The idea is to illuminate the model as brightly as possible, which then allows you to play with your exposure time......

 

The high F-stop number means you need a longer exposure time on your camera, especially if you don't use a flash (preferable). This means you should be using a tripod or SOME device to steady the camera. You will NOT be able to hand hold it for a picture below 1/10 of a sec without getting blurry, out of focus results. Once your camera is set up and the subject in place, you can arrange both to get the "picture" you want in the viewfinder. In general, I've found that for most model pics with my lighting set up I need to take pics with times varying between 1/15 and 1/8 secs time. The brighter the lighting (and lighter/brighter colored the subject), the more often the shorter times (1/15, 1/13) work. Darker subjects, especially if photoed at night on my bench with only interior lighting and no daylight help from the nearby window, may require more shots at 1/10, 1/8, or even 1/6 to allow enough light into the picture. The idea here is to take several shots at each exposure, giving you lots of chances to pick the ones that look best when you download and examine them. That's the great advantage to digital pics; all you waste is battery power and time, not film!

 

One other thing to note about the lighting...natural or artificial, you may experience color shift in the pics. My advice is to set your camera's "white balance" to "automatic". That will take care of most problems and also should give you consistent results. There's more to this than I know about, and in fact sometimes my pics come out "yellow". But, as I said, you can weed those out in the download process and go back, make adjustments, and take more pics if the need arises.

 

I have a very simple, and probably even archaic set up when I take pics. I use an old Kodak EasyShare C875 digital camera. I don't have a nice digital SLR, which will go a LONG way to helping you take the best pics. However, I generally can get well lit focused pics that are good enough for web sites, and even publication in magazines. If I can do this with my overly simple set up, you can too. Hope this helps!

 

GIL :smiley16:

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Z - This is going to turn into a long discussion. If you have questions or I am going off into the wrong direction- please says so.

 

Item # 1 Gil mentioned white balance. Not all digital cameras have an option to set this. The better ones do and have an option to save custom white balances. What white balance it is setting the camera so that it will look at the scene and adjust the light it sees to give you a photo with true colors. If you have a manual adjustment for white balance it will generally require you to take a "picture" of something that is pure white, like a quality sheet of paper. You use white because it has all the wavelengths of color and intensity that make up the light you are using.

 

All the different artificial lights that are out there do not have an even distribution of intensities of wave length throughout the spectrum. For instance, shoot a picture with incandescent bulbs and you will get more yellow, florescent and you get more blue. Digital cameras have a map of the general spectrums programed in. This is what your are doing when you select a "light" setting. Manually setting the white balance is better as artificial light wave length intensities will vary from bulb to bulb. By doing it manually you get closer to the true color you eye sees.

 

You can do the same for natural light as it varies by light bouncing off reflective surfaces and by thing in the air such as water vapor(clouds), pollution, angle of the sun(time of day and year).

 

Experience will teach you where you can use the camera presets and where you need to reset the white balance. Presets are easier, but if you set up an indoor photo area, getting a storable white balance with give you good consistent shots.

Edited by PeteJ

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Ok, now that I have explained what white balance is, lets take a minute and see if I can explain why shots taken outside may look better than those with artificial light. A big part of the equation of any photo is the intensity or brightness of the light. In your camera, light, the aperture size and the shutter speed are all interconnected.

 

One of the basics concepts of photography goes back to the old days of film and before. In a situation were the light remains constant, you have to get a certain amount of light exposure on the medium(film or in the case of digital, CMOS) in order to get a proper image. The medium doesn't care if it is a lot of light(large opening) for a short time or a little light at a time through a small opening. It is kind of like covering a sink with 1/16" of water. You can do it a drop at a time or a faucet open full force, it still need that same amount of water to get to 1/16".

 

The aperture is the faucet on your camera and determines how much light gets to the CMOS. The aperture opening actually determines how much of the lens you use. Think of the lens and the aperture as two concentric circles. The lens has a fixed diameter and can't be varied. The aperture has a diameter that can be varied. The problem with large aperture openings is that as you approach the edges of the lens and the focus becomes less precise and the edges of the photo become blurred or distorted. With a small aperture you are using more of the center of the lens and the image becomes sharper. The down side is that to get sufficient light on the medium the shutter needs to be open longer. This means that you have longer shutter speeds. The tradeoff with longer shutter times is that you have to hold the camera steady. If it moves while the shutter is open, you get a blurred image. This is referred to as camera shake. The maximum shutter duration at which a hand held camera will not have a problem with camera shake is generally shutter speeds less than 1/60 of a second. This is the reason that most camera will add light at 1/60 of a second, in the form of the flash.

 

So how does this make a difference with indoor and outside shooting. Typically sunshine is more intense that artificial light. Therefore to get the same amount of light on the medium out doors you have more intense light and you can have a smaller aperture for a given shutter speed and thus a sharper image. In automatic cameras the camera programing tries to find a middle ground for the aperture and shutter speed. They do not go to one extreme or the other. To get the sharpest image in any light situation, you need to have the smallest aperture possible and thus the longest shutter opening.

 

On digital cameras you often have a manual setting which will allow you to decide if you want the camera to select a shutter speed (shutter priority) and let the camera select the aperture or you select the aperture(aperture priority) and the camera sets the shutter. If you exceed the limit of either for a given amount of light, it will not let you select that setting.

 

Now here is where it gets a little counter intuitive. It make the most sense to use the manual setting that gives shutter speed priority(shutter priority). I just spent time explaining how you want the smallest aperture, so why would I want you to base the setup on the shutter speed. Well it has to do with camera shake. It you are trying to get the best possible photo with a hand held camera without a flash, you set the shutter set to a speed of 1/60 of a second or as close as the camera will let you set without going to a slower speed. This gives you the minimum aperture for the given light and shutter speed. If you have a tripod and can mount the camera so it will not be subject to shake, then shutter speed longer than 1/60 of a second will reduce the aperture further and give you a sharper photo yet.

 

Having said all this, the best photo will occur with the most intense light and the smallest aperture which will give you the slowest shutter speed and the camera fixed to a tripod. If the situation isn't such that you can optimize these then you have to adjust your approach. No Tripod? Set the shutter priority as close to 1/60 second without going longer. It won't do that? Then you can use the flash, but generally the pictures of models done with flash have very sharp shadows and look washed out. Flashes are not really intended to be use for close ups. You could back of and use a telephoto option if you have it.

Edited by PeteJ

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Wow !!! Okay I dont mean to sound rude and I really appreciate your help but you just tried to explain physics to a chimp ( me being the chimp) this really goes over my head is there anyway you could shrink this down into how to photograph models for dummies type thing . The camera I use is a fujifilm very expensive digital camera my wife got for Christmas one year neither me nor my wife really know how to use it I wasnt really raised around technology all that much so the camera mainly gets used for mh models and pictures of our pigs :-)

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Hi Z. Maybe I can help a little. I believe that you indicated that you like the "brightness" of natural light but you find that the focus isn't always sharp. It could be that the camera doesn't know what you want to be the center of your interest and may be trying to focus more on the background which results in some details of the model not showing up too well. I usually have that problem when I photograph my models outside so I use a curved background so that the only item for the camera to "see" is the model. Here is a photo of my photography base;

 

Base_Model.jpg

 

It is two pieces of plywood, hinged together with pieces of wood added to hold the background;

 

Base_Open.jpg

 

This can be used indoors with lights added around the edges or with a flash or it can be used outside in natural light. I do recommend a tripod. That way, if the camera decides to use a slower speed, because of the light or the amount of telephoto used, the picture will still be sharp.

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The two main adjustments on any camera are shutter-speed and aperture; once you figure out how they interact it will give you a pretty good starting point. Except on the simplest point-n-shoot cameras, there are usually two modes - "shutter priority" and "aperture priority" where you can set one of those and the camera will pick the other for the best results.

 

Try looking through the knob settings and menus for "aperture priority". If you can find that mode/setting (it might be a capital "A"), turn it on and look for a knob or menu where you can set the aperture (or it might be called the f-stop). Try picking the biggest number - probably around 20.

 

Then put your camera on a tripod or set it on something so you don't have to hold it steady.

 

Get as much light as you can (sunlight is good, with the light coming from behind the camera), line up your shot and when all is ready, push the button. If you can't keep the camera really steady, try the button that delays the shutter so you can take a picture of yourself; hit that then let go of the camera so it has a chance to stop shaking before it takes the picture.

 

If the camera has a zoom lens, try backing up and zoom in with the lens. The great thing about digital is that you can try 10 or 20 different things and keep the best pictures and delete the rest. When you find something that works, write it down so you can do it again.

 

The other great thing about digital is once you get the picture in the computer, you can use something like photoshop or some other photo-editor to tweak the color and brightness and such (real photographers are probably cringing, because photoshop can't do magic - it helps if you take a good picture to start with - but it can often make things better).

 

Hope that helps.

Edited by Schmitz

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The best "Pics for Dummies" advice I can give is to do what I did: practice-practice-practice!

 

Try working on one problem at a time. If you're pictures are blurry, be sure to get something to steady the camera, adjust the exposure times, and keep taking pictures until they become sharp. If you want sharp closeups, do the same thing, trying various settings until you find what works for your home set up. If your pics are too dark, add more lights in various positions until you get lighter pics. You may need to make some notes along the way to keep track of what worked and what didn't, but if you're not going to take classes or go to photo websites that can offer truly experienced advice and ideas, you're reduced to trial and error.

 

In my experience, you can get better results in this way, though it involves more work on your part. Otherwise, find a friend or a class that can teach you one on one. Either way, you're going to have to invest your time, and perhaps some money. Best of luck!

 

GIL :smiley16:

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That is one brilliant contraption Clare!

 

 

Hi Z. Maybe I can help a little. I believe that you indicated that you like the "brightness" of natural light but you find that the focus isn't always sharp. It could be that the camera doesn't know what you want to be the center of your interest and may be trying to focus more on the background which results in some details of the model not showing up too well. I usually have that problem when I photograph my models outside so I use a curved background so that the only item for the camera to "see" is the model. Here is a photo of my photography base;

 

Base_Model.jpg

 

It is two pieces of plywood, hinged together with pieces of wood added to hold the background;

 

Base_Open.jpg

 

This can be used indoors with lights added around the edges or with a flash or it can be used outside in natural light. I do recommend a tripod. That way, if the camera decides to use a slower speed, because of the light or the amount of telephoto used, the picture will still be sharp.

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Wow !!! Okay I dont mean to sound rude and I really appreciate your help but you just tried to explain physics to a chimp ( me being the chimp) this really goes over my head is there anyway you could shrink this down into how to photograph models for dummies type thing . The camera I use is a fujifilm very expensive digital camera my wife got for Christmas one year neither me nor my wife really know how to use it I wasnt really raised around technology all that much so the camera mainly gets used for mh models and pictures of our pigs :-)

I will tell you what I will do. If you can pull out your camera and give me a model number, I will see if I can find the manual and I will go through it and see if I can give you three ways to set it up for shooting models. Something simple, unadorned and eliminate all the explanations.

Pete

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Thanks for simpilifying this for me guys it should help alott im definitely going to be trying this probably alott it I should have better pictures jp of my next project of the yatch america .

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