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How in the world to you guys take such nice pictures

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How in the world to you guys take such nice pictures

Old 04-11-12, 06:29 AM
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triathloner
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How in the world to you guys take such nice pictures

I'm asking here because everyone knows that the C&V forum has the best pictures on the web. I've been trying to get clean photo's of some Dura Ace 7400 series stuff that I plan on selling, but no matter how I try to use a flash, or no flash, reflecting the light, etc. I just can't get clear shots. I have a Cannon 12 MP camera that really takes nice pictures normally so I'm stumped. Do I have to build a small lightbox? Are you doing some kind of fancy trickery on the camera itself, holding shudders open, etc.? Thanks for any help you can offer. Al.
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Old 04-11-12, 06:40 AM
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Take pictures using a nice, uniform light source. Don't use the flash. If you're taking pictures of parts, use a contrasting background that doesn't distract from the parts. The light source should be behind you, but don't allow yourself to cast a shadow. The last thing you want is your subject between you and the light source.

Take your time, find the right angle. Remember to use 1/3's for focal points.
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Old 04-11-12, 06:43 AM
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Small lightbox is the way to go with a couple of light sources. Doesn't have to cost much either.

You can also get some nice light using window light with/without a lightbox.

I think there's a good thread already posted here. If I can find it I'll post it.
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Old 04-11-12, 06:50 AM
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Ray Dobbins does some kick butt work. Have a look at this page, where he explains his process.
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Old 04-11-12, 06:56 AM
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Don't forget the macro function for closeup's.
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Old 04-11-12, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by jbchybridrider View Post
Don't forget the macro function for closeup's.
Yup. And a tripod or a stand or some sort. Get in the habit of half clicking the shutter and paying attention to that smaller green box and what it's on- this is the focal point the camera is setting itself to. Needless to say, if you're trying to take a picture of the top top tube of a bike, and the camera is focusing on a tree 30 yards in the background, you're going to have a problem.
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Old 04-11-12, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by old_dreams View Post
Small lightbox is the way to go with a couple of light sources. Doesn't have to cost much either.

You can also get some nice light using window light with/without a lightbox.

I think there's a good thread already posted here. If I can find it I'll post it.
Cheap/free lightboxes are easy to build, like this one. http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07...to-studio.html

But I've been known to just tape tissue paper onto a window when I need to take a picture of something with bright-but-not-direct sunlight.
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Old 04-11-12, 08:26 AM
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When you say you're not getting "clear" shots Al,, what exactly are you referring to? Not in sharp focus? Too dark? Some parts of the component in focus, others out?
Taking good pics of individual components can be a challenge. Several light sources, from several different angles helps. I've noticed that with my Canon DSLR, even when the light meter says the shot is properly exposed, it often isn't. Sometimes it helps to "over-expose" a bit and then tone it down in post processing in your Canon program. Check your histogram settings in camera or in your Digital Photo Pro program and learn how different exposures look on the histogram scale. Is is easier to darken, or tone down an exposure when you have detail in the shadows than it is to try to even things out if there is no information in the shadows.
A true light box, with light coming up from beneath through a translucent sheet, helps dispel shadows. Add a diffusing canopy can help too, but I've found you have to fire some pretty powerful lights at it to get suitable amounts of light to go through it, depending on the diffuser material of course.
Keep in mind also, the closer you get the front element of your lens to the subject, the more depth of field is affected. To get all parts of a component in sharp focus when shooting close ups, you need small apertures in the lens; larger f stop numbers. But, the smaller the aperture, the more light you need on the subject, in general. You can help by placing the camera on a tripod and using longer exposure times.
Oh and, make sure to check your white balance settings too. Make sure you are matching the light source/temperature.
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Old 04-11-12, 09:36 AM
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outside pics would work great.
+1 on the macro and tripod but also use the 10 second timer instead of you pushing the trigger .
You want your camera as stable as possible

For complete bike pics i found it best to take the pics right at dusk or dawn when the sun is low
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Old 04-11-12, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by triathloner View Post
I'm asking here because everyone knows that the C&V forum has the best pictures on the web. I've been trying to get clean photo's of some Dura Ace 7400 series stuff that I plan on selling, but no matter how I try to use a flash, or no flash, reflecting the light, etc. I just can't get clear shots. I have a Cannon 12 MP camera that really takes nice pictures normally so I'm stumped. Do I have to build a small lightbox? Are you doing some kind of fancy trickery on the camera itself, holding shudders open, etc.? Thanks for any help you can offer. Al.
Direct flash will often cause all sorts of nasty effects. If you're using the flashgun on the camera that will explain a lot.

If you've got a proper flashgun (i.e. one that mounts to the top of the camera), either diffuse it or bounce it off something. If your ceilings are white and not too high bouncing it off the ceiling will diffuse it nicely. If not, point it upwards and use a piece of clean white card to reflect it towards the bike.

If you've got the camera gear to do it you can mount the flash on a bracket to move it further away from the lens, or stand it somewhere else entirely and use a remote flash trigger to fire it. Whatever you do, diffusing the light will almost certainly result in much better pictures because you'll avoid the hotspots where the flash reflects on something.
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Old 04-11-12, 10:06 AM
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One other thought, the camera exposure meter will attempt to make a picture a mid-tone grey. If you're shooting a white bike and taking a spot metering off the bike itself, the result will come out too dark. If you're shooting a black bike it will come out too light. So depending on just how you're figuring the exposure you may need to dial in some exposure compensation to get what you want.
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Old 04-11-12, 10:22 AM
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For small items (bike related or otherwise), I have a sheet of white paper about four feet long and three feet wide. I place a small table next to the wall and tape the paper to the wall so that it curves where it meets the table. Then I direct as much light as possible to the area using regular desk lamps. I put my camera on the tripod, set a fairly slow shutter speed, make sure the camera's going to focus where I want, set the timer, and then, when the shutter goes off, I have an old hot shoe flash that I use to manually direct more light behind the object onto the white background, and sometimes to dark areas on the object. It's not perfect, and I still have to tweak the photos on the computer a little to get them the way I want, but it's essentially free since I'm only using things I already had, except the paper which costs about fifty cents.
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Old 04-11-12, 10:37 AM
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If you're taking indoor shots it'll help to use a tripod and boost the ISO up to about 800, even 1600 if you have a newer SLR camera. That will allow you to use a smaller lens opening say f7.1 to f8 to get better depth of field thus allowing more of the bike or parts to be in focus. For indoors i usually use auto white balance. Flash will cast odd shadows and reflect badly off chrome parts so best to use natural light.
If taking pictures of bikes try different positions while looking through the viewfinder....its easy to distort the shape of wheels, top tubes etc if your shooting angle is wrong.
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Old 04-11-12, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
If you're taking indoor shots it'll help to use a tripod and boost the ISO up to about 800, even 1600 if you have a newer SLR camera. That will allow you to use a smaller lens opening say f7.1 to f8 to get better depth of field thus allowing more of the bike or parts to be in focus. For indoors i usually use auto white balance. Flash will cast odd shadows and reflect badly off chrome parts so best to use natural light.
If taking pictures of bikes try different positions while looking through the viewfinder....its easy to distort the shape of wheels, top tubes etc if your shooting angle is wrong.
The problem I have had with high ISO setting is the digital noise. I use a low iso (like 100 or 200), long exposure times with the camera on a tripod and lots of light. This allows me to use a higher fstop, f8 or f11, which gives me good depth of field. I find diffuse natural light is best but I also use artificial light with umbrella diffusers.
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Old 04-11-12, 12:07 PM
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For small items, you can use a light tent. Here is an idea for a homemade one:

http://www.ikeahackers.net/2008/02/t...phy-light.html

I've seen a similar setup with a lampshade instead of the trash can.
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Old 04-11-12, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
If you're taking indoor shots it'll help to use a tripod and boost the ISO up to about 800, even 1600 if you have a newer SLR camera. That will allow you to use a smaller lens opening say f7.1 to f8 to get better depth of field thus allowing more of the bike or parts to be in focus. For indoors i usually use auto white balance. Flash will cast odd shadows and reflect badly off chrome parts so best to use natural light.
If taking pictures of bikes try different positions while looking through the viewfinder....its easy to distort the shape of wheels, top tubes etc if your shooting angle is wrong.
i would do almost exactly the opposite of all this.

if you are using a tripod, there is no reason not to use the lowest iso. i would also use the highest f-stop (lowest number) as a starting point.

i would also not use auto white balance unless you are going to show RAW and fix it in post-processing.

lastly, fill flash can be used to really bling out the parts.

if taking a pic of the whole bike, 50-70mm is the ideal focal length (the same with portraits).

Last edited by illwafer; 04-11-12 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 04-11-12, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jbchybridrider View Post
Don't forget the macro function for closeup's.
Even with the Macro function all lenses have a minimum focus distance. Any closer than that and your pic will be out of focus.

Taking pics in a room with lots of windows, in daylight is usually pretty good light as long as the sun is high in the sky. You get lots of diffuse light coming in through the windows.
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Old 04-11-12, 12:33 PM
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I find that the biggest thing with taking pictures that look deliberate (besides the garage door bike standard) is to pay attention to the aperture and depth of field for what you are trying to convey. Don't be afraid to use a very shallow depth of field when taking a picture of a part of a bike even though maybe 60% of rest of the composition is blurry.
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Old 04-11-12, 12:39 PM
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I forgot to mention it doesn`t stop here, once you upload you pics you can
play around with the contrast and brightness etc using specific programs.
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Old 04-11-12, 12:54 PM
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i will agree with the lightboxes, for bigger stuff like frames and whatnot just use a white sheet or white bristol board background.

We use a Canon T2i with prime lenses, mess with focal points and iso settings and you'll get a good shot, my brothers the specialist with that stuff, i'm picking up on it slowly

When shooting outside i would shoot around dusk or dawn, any other times is too bright or too dark, unless it's cloudy out.

Check out our pictures at:

www.TorontoVintageBikes.com

Check the 'Bikes for Sale" section and the "Vintage Parts" section for examples.

Just take your time and stuff should come out great, it takes a lot of experimenting and so on, i'm still learning
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Old 04-11-12, 01:05 PM
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Well first off WoW! thanks for all the information. I have a lot to learn. Looks like I will be doing some online reading and playing around with all those extra features on my camera that I never use. Al .
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Old 04-11-12, 02:43 PM
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Photoshop helps!
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Old 04-11-12, 04:54 PM
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Southeast facing open shade ... at least in Massachusetts. Bright, soft.



My favorite photography is by C&V member Stronglight .. again, soft but detailed, I think he's in the southwest, known for it's most beautiful light in the world.


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Old 04-11-12, 05:09 PM
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There is absolutely no need to use lightboxes. A tripod might help if you're shooting many things in a row, but I can't remember the last time I used mine, much less for bike stuff. Put things by a window (not direct sunlight) or go outside. If you want a white background, do what someone else said above and drape it from a wall (no 'horizon' line). For small parts, let you camera use macro mode and a low iso, as large an aperture as you need to get a decent shutter speed. You shouldn't be shooting handheld at anything slower than 1/30.

If you need to shoot things at night and you have a flash, you can try putting a white piece of paper in front of/under it it to direct the light upward instead of at the object. A sheet of vellum or paper towel, etc also make good diffusers.
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Old 04-11-12, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
i would do almost exactly the opposite of all this.

if you are using a tripod, there is no reason not to use the lowest iso. i would also use the highest f-stop (lowest number) as a starting point.
True. If you're using a tripod you don't need to worry about shutter speeds so no need to use a high ISO.

I wouldn't use the highest f-stop as a starting point unless you really want selective focus. It's great for artistic effect but that may not be what you want for a bike. I'd start with something like like f/8 and go up or down from there depending on just what you're shooting.

i would also not use auto white balance unless you are going to show RAW and fix it in post-processing.
To get the best pictures you'll really want to be shooting RAW. For shooting JPEG it's best to get it right first time, but for the best pictures you need to shoot RAW.

if taking a pic of the whole bike, 50-70mm is the ideal focal length (the same with portraits).
So much will depend on the available space it's not really relevant to say what focal length will be best. Normally for portraits 100mm is reckoned to be the optimum focal length although with a lot of cameras having smaller sensors that often ends up with a 60-70mm actual focal length.
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