I'd like to be able to take decent photos of my guns, to attach to posts, etc. I've been looking at a photo box such as the following, http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Concepts-Ps-101-Portable-Lighting/dp/B000FBF400/ref=wl_it_dp?ie=UTF8&coliid=IQXYQ9V3XJXMC&colid=HXCG454UP6J4
Is this worth the money? Any other hints or tips? Some of you take beautiful pics. Whats your secret?
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March 28, 2009, 09:03 PM
I bought a few sheets of I think 3/16 inch thick white foam board at the local arts/crafts supply and 4 clamp-on reflector utility light fixtures at Home Depot. Just add Duct Tape.
I clamp the lights on the vertical edges of the box and bounce the light off the white walls and "roof, usually not shining directly on the gun. Use no flash and if using digital, be sure to set and use the white balance feature.
The one you linked to is pretty small. I made mine closer to twice that size and used the white foam board on all 3 walls, the floor, and roof. I'm no guru but get results like this without really trying and with a cheap 8 year old point and shoot digital.
March 28, 2009, 09:29 PM
Tips: natural light is the biggest thing. my living room window is 12 feet long and 7 feet high. gives off good light
It really doesn't matter if you use natural light or artificial light. You'll be working with different color temperatures, but digital cameras will usually "correct" any differences in color temperature anyway. The key is diffusion.
One reason natural light looks better is because there is naturally-occuring studio photography equipment floating in the sky (i.e. clouds). If not, you can shoot inside without the sun directly hitting the subject of the photograph. The light is still diffused; bounced off walls and carpet until it hits your gun.
You want your light source to be as large as possible. The reason lightboxes work so well is because you put the object inside, causing the size of the light source to be as large as possible, or in other words, 100%. The light from any smaller light sources outside (such as a lightbulb) is diffused by passing through the lightbox.
For shooting indoors, you can get great results by simply making your own lightbox using wax paper and whatever you need for a "frame". Keep in mind the frame material will cast shadows and mess up diffusion if it isn't transparent.
Google "Homemade Lightbox", build your own, and as always, spend the rest of the money on ammo. :)
March 28, 2009, 11:21 PM
I've built a few light boxes out of foam-core, but for 40 bucks that one from amazon looks good.
Here's a cheap and quick trick that often works. Get a frosted white shower curtin. Put your shiny subject (In this case a gun) on a picnic table or similar surface outside in bright sunlight. Toss the shower curtin over your head with the camera and subject in here with you. (You'll look like an idiot. The price of art.) The shower curtin softens the light and creates some great highlights on shiny surfaces. I'll look for some samples, they aren't on this computer.
Albert A Rasch
April 1, 2009, 05:16 PM
Great tips on photography! I wish I was half as bright as some of you guys!
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles (http://trochronicles.blogspot.com)
The Range Reviews: Tactical (http://trrtactical.blogspot.com)
April 1, 2009, 11:23 PM
I see we have some artists here. Great shots.
April 2, 2009, 01:03 AM
A light box can help but it's not mandatory. I almost never use a light box but I do have a proper lighting setup and many years of professional photography experience to help me out. I spent many years in college studying art photography so when it comes to photographing guns I tend to lean towards the artsy as opposed to commercial styles but I enjoy doing a mix of both.
One of the keys to taking good gun photos is to make sure your colors and lighting are accurate and balanced properly. With digital camera now we have the advantage of adjusting to the lighting condition with just the push of a button, so make sure your camera settings are correct. I always use a tripod and touch up the images in Photoshop after they are shot. If you don't have Photoshop that's ok, there are lots of good inexpensive photo editing programs available.
Choose interesting backgrounds, don't be afraid to experiment with different surfaces to photograph your guns on.
watch your negative space and don't be afraid to crop. Sometimes just showing a portion of the gun can be more effective than showing the whole thing.
The most important tip is to photograph a lot. The more pictures you take the faster you'll improve. Don't think that it will happen overnight, I've probably taken many thousands of gun pictures over the years and when I started off I was really bad at it. I could photograph other things fine but it took me a while to start getting what I considered decent gun pics.
Here are a few of my favorites to help give you some ideas:)
These took longer to re-size than to snap. FujiFilm Finepix S8000FD. not an SLR but comes damn close.
My advice is too get a decent camera, and just experiment with stuff. Different angles and different types of focus and lighting. :D
If you focus on the things you want, lots of niffty things can happen. Like, you can see the scratches on bullets, your feed ramp, the barrel...stuff that doesn't show up well sometimes. But it does when it reflects light!
April 2, 2009, 01:51 AM
There have been several excellent threads on this topic here. A search should turn them up. If nothing else, search under my user name, as I've posted in most of those threads.
Like someone said, you can make light boxes at home. I did this mainly because of space. When I was done with it, I'd throw it away and when I needed one again, I'd quickly build one. I guess it would be nice to have one that folds away.
I used to use a cardboard box, cut out the sides and place white translucent paper such as tracing paper, and a sheet of white or whatever color backdrop paper that was taped or stapled along the top of the back wall and draped down towards your tripod. Then introduce lighting from both sides through the white paper using bright work lamps bought from Home Depot.
April 8, 2009, 11:55 PM
Wow...some really nice pics...I can see some of you guys really take the time to do a professional looking shoot...
My guns still aren't talking to me...I made them look sleazy and cheap in some hurried photos I took...go figure...guns...can't live with em, can't live without em....
In answer to the OP, I would also like to add in that I had bought that exact set up, or one that is visually identical to the one you linked. I got if for general macro use. The lights are not really bright enough and the box is small. It's really too small to give you adequate room for photographing guns.
Here's a few links to home made lightboxes which can be superior in size and flexibilty, if you choose to go that route.
Link 1 (http://chapterten.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/do-it-yourself-lightbox/)
Link 2 (http://www.cheapshooter.com/2007/07/26/do-it-yourself-pvc-light-box/)
Link 3 (http://thadallender.com/2008/02/12/do-it-yourself-lightbox/)
They're generally quite easy to build and can be as easy as clipping a white bed sheet over a cardboard frame.
The purpose is to diffuse the light, which as the pros have pointed out, natural light does a wonderful job with.
If you want to go with natural light, then a couple pieces of white cardboard (project board (foam or cardboard) or science fair board at the art shop is great, if you can't get large foam core board) will do and you'll want to set them on the opposite side of your weapon from the source of life (eg sun left, reflectors right) or wherever until you get the lighting you want.
Macro is awesome.
If you want depth of field, go manual aperature and set it to small, and then use a tripod (like F22). For shallow depth of field (business end in focus, but further down the weapon is out of focus) then you go to the other end, or "wide open" if you like (F3.5 or whatever is the small number on your lens or digital camera menu).
Best advice was a few posts up, just take alot of pictures and you'll get better at it.
Hope it helps & look forward to seeing those photos :)
note: pics 2 & 3 were shot greenscreen then the background was photoshopped in.
(personally I think the pros take much better photos than I do :D, but I'm practicing!)
April 10, 2009, 05:57 AM
I took this from my little $100 camera
April 11, 2009, 02:57 AM
Nice shots guys!
I'm still learning how to use my camera and took some pics that I was pleased with.
No light box but I did bounce the flash off my wall. Hand held with IS on.
Wow! Some nice photos here guys!
Scary & WB very good use of background textures!
I have a confession to make, as a Pro-Photographer for about 8-10 yrs now, not one gun photo do I have! Hundreds of weddings, hundreds of Seniors, hundreds of babies, cars, trucks, cats, dogs, buildings, lakes, mountains, sunrises, sunsets, and zero gun photos! I've wore out the shutters on two Cannon DSRL cameras and no gun photos. I have a studio full of strobes, reflectors, meters, backgrounds, lens and cameras, but I've failed to take time to enjoy what I like to do....Shoot guns. I've gave the cameras a break from business, but now I'll have to fire'm back up and post some(photos)!
April 11, 2009, 10:22 PM
The Norinco M1911 that I frequently carry, just taken with my Canon Digital Rebel Xt:
My Model 65:
My Model 14:
April 11, 2009, 11:40 PM
I just did this one fast for a buddy to show the size of the LCP compared to a Taurus PT22. I've never before taken still images of a gun by itself. I can see the challenges involved.
I didn't take the time to do anything but on cam flash (SB-800). Camera is a Fuji S5. I did a bit of clean up in Photoshop of a couple of scratches on the surface and added my standard logo along with a cute frame.
May 9, 2009, 11:33 PM
Hmmm.. ya know, it's interesting just how well the serial numbers show up in my pic. Anyone think I should edit the image to blur them out?
May 10, 2009, 01:49 AM
Another thing to consider: While you can take very good photos with a good point-and-shoot; if your camera has a viewfinder, use it for ALL of your freehand shots. If it doesn't, like just about all of them nowadays because apparently using a camera correctly is just too hard, use a tripod. Even the best image stabilzation isn't always enough.
And for the love of John Moses Browning if your shooting indoors make sure all of your man-made lighting is incandescent. Nothing ruins photos like flourescent lighting.
Anyone else agree that digicam makers should have made the screen usable ONLY for reviewing photos?
May 10, 2009, 01:54 AM
That is a SWEET Strayer-Voigt! How does it shoot?
May 10, 2009, 11:48 AM
Macro can make for some interesting pictures as well. Here are a few I did recently with very basic lighting.
Those are some excellent photos. I think a Colt 1911 in Royal Blue ought to be your next subject, if you're taking requests :D
May 10, 2009, 03:35 PM
Tungsten light only macro setting.
May 13, 2009, 12:29 AM
Lovely macros there. None of my cams have a live LCD view capability.
I prefer strobes to continuous lighting.
May 13, 2009, 01:09 AM
I've become very sloppy with my photos and don't often bother to correct the red or blue tints that come from shooting in poor light. I also don't use a tripod, which is a must for anyone who wants breathtakingly sharp photos.
White balance also is critical. Use your manual settings on your digital camera to set the white balance and use a white sheet of paper. Simply put, the best tips I can offer:
Use a tripod
Adjust your white balance
Shoot at an f/8 or f/11 for decent depth of field
Always shoot at least .5 of an f/stop overexposure
Bracket your most critical shots
Focus on the mid-point of the gun to maximize depth of field
If you can afford Photoshop Elements, there's a color balance setting that lets you place the cursor over a white or gray area and it will color correct. That's very hand when you want good color.
Don't shoot in the full sunlight. Film/digital sensors cannot distinguish between a wide range of exposure like the human eye can. Either the white will be overexposed or the black will be underexposed. If shooting at a blued gun, use one full f/stop overexposure and tweak from there. (Many photos of blued guns are horribly underexposed.) Don't hesitate to shoot in the shade, where the light is naturally diffused. For quick and dirty white balance choose the "flash" setting (but don't actually use the flash). It should add a touch of warmth to the photo to offset the blue of the shadow.
Last but not least, install and use the software that came with the camera. Most of that software will let you correct for the optical distortion of the lens. Otherwise, you'll get parts that aren't straight from pincushion or barrel distortion. Getting rid of the distortion is critical if you're using a wide angle lens close up.
This picture, on the other hand, is too bluish. It could have easily
been fixed in Photoshop afterwards or at the time of the taking if the
white balance had been set properly. Note, too, the slight distortion
in the barrel. That's called "barrel distortion," though it doesn't have
anything to do with the gun's barrel!
May 13, 2009, 01:47 AM
I am no professional. I built my own light box with black and white 3 ring binders. I used a $100 digital camera and a book as a tripod and two work lights for good lighting.
Nice work NWilliams, I like the black gun on the dark background, while keeping good contrast.
May 15, 2009, 09:46 AM
The following advice is excellent, and all the factors mentioned are important to consider and a great starting point.
In my photo shooting, however...
Use a tripod (I never do because I use artificial lighting. I prefer to hand hold in order to frame the shot the way I want.)
Adjust your white balance (Again, this depends on the quality of your light source.)
Shoot at an f/8 or f/11 for decent depth of field
Always shoot at least .5 of an f/stop overexposure Interesting. If anything, I always underexpose a bit. I'd rather deal with shadows and dark areas in Photoshop instead of the more difficult highlights to correct. Again, light source [and camera!] dependent.)
Bracket your most critical shots (Good advice. I prefer to look at the shot on my LCD and adjust. Sometimes it isn't a bracketing issue.)
Focus on the mid-point of the gun to maximize depth of field
here are a couple variations of a pic that my GF took of her friend w/ her StarBM for a student film shoot a couple of years back. Shes a pro photographer now, so I need to get her shoot a few of my favorites sometime.
And yes, I had triple checked it to ensure it was empty before they started using it.
May 18, 2009, 06:16 PM
Digital cameras have such deep DOF that it's hard to get it wrong anyway.
Yup...tough to get selective focus these days with digital cameras. However, I use a digital SLR. Makes it easier to get the depth of focus that I prefer.
May 18, 2009, 06:36 PM
I use a low end Canon A560. It's a decent camera with a nice macro and good manual controls. I find shooting matte finish guns easy, polished guns are another thing. I have found that for me it better if I use low light and long exposure on the highly polished nickle and blue guns.
These were just taken outside on a cloudy day and the 625 turned out just fine.
The bright blue pre-14 pictures were taken at the same time under the same light and did not come out so well.
Albatross, I think that if you ran your photos through NoiseNinja, you'd be golden.
May 18, 2009, 07:32 PM
I'm a member of another forum (pbnation.com) and they had a sub forum that i really liked. It was all about photography. Most of the stuff in it had nothing to do with paintball, but just helping people with pictures, giving them pointers and other things. I always check out the "show me your ______ gun" threads just because there are so many ways to photograph guns and so many cool pictures out there.
Does anyone know where to submit the idea to get a photography sub forum here on THR? I think it would be a cool addition.
I'm no expert photographer, but its something I've always wanted to get into. (but I decided to buy my Beretta instead of a nice camera)
May 19, 2009, 01:26 PM
Some fantastic photos here. Frandy's pictures have always been some of my favorites.
I've attempted to build a lightbox once, failed miserably at that. From then on, I took all my gun pictures outside.
Amateurish compared to most here, but like shooting I'm still learning..
May 19, 2009, 02:19 PM
Open shade or a heavily overcast day will give good light for photographs. Shadows are softened, contrast is moderated and details record well. Here's a picture of my 1927 Argentine .45ACP that was taken on an overcast day.
My professional photography focus has always been people and events, not things. You guys are challenging me like crazy! I'd love to see a photography forum on here. I never thought I see Noise Ninja mentioned on a gun forum.
May 20, 2009, 03:58 PM
No lightbox used here, I just shoot in the corner or against a white wall...