I may have stumbled on the formula.


October 28, 2012, 04:47 PM
Trying to photograph a couple rifles this afternoon. It's hard to shoot long guns (no pun intended) because the length can cause dark areas with no detail or "hot spots" with too much lighting. I think I have the formula worked out. All the photos sort of look the same but at least I can get the details on the guns and the lighting looks OK. May experiment with a different color backdrop, but otherwise this system works for me.

PS: The only thing I did in PhotoShop was add the text and crop a bit of extra area around the subject. I didn't change anything or adjust color or brightness. These are right out of the camera (a Pentax 14MP SLR with a 70mm lens and a single on camera flash).






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October 28, 2012, 05:17 PM
they look great. I really need to work on my photography skills.

October 28, 2012, 05:18 PM
Ya need a larger, softer light source

October 28, 2012, 07:30 PM
I'm still jealous of that Savage!

October 28, 2012, 09:23 PM
Long guns are a PITA to shoot... but considering these are unaltered, you're very close to having it well sorted out. Good job!

I'd bet that Martini is a sweetheart. ;)


October 29, 2012, 12:14 PM
Nice work! Get some oil on that garand stock. :)

October 29, 2012, 12:47 PM
The on-camera flash is ruining your shots. You really need a 2-light minimum setup diffused to make nice soft shadows. If any part of the rifle gets dark, either adjust the light positions or add another soft light.

October 29, 2012, 06:54 PM
Um... ruined? Really that bad?

Well, thanks for the input.

October 29, 2012, 07:01 PM
Not ruined, but yeah, the glare needs to go away to get that real pro edge. You're washing out some of the most beautiful spots.

I think square-on, "flat" shots are going to be the most challenging to make really good. Getting a more quartering view will probably make the rifle "pop" and will cause a lot fewer direct flash reflections.

October 29, 2012, 07:01 PM
Nice work Saxon, I'm no expert but those seem to me to be pretty good photos. Anything can be improved, even Ansel Adams I suppose.

October 29, 2012, 07:30 PM
Um... ruined? Really that bad?

Well, thanks for the input.
Compared to what you *could* be getting, yes, the flash is doing you the most harm.

Go check out photography-on-the-net forum's gun thread. There's several good photos in all the pages of that thread, and you can learn a lot about how people are using lights to pull off professional shots that don't look quite so amateur.


October 29, 2012, 09:30 PM
Google "One Light Firearm Photography"

October 29, 2012, 10:14 PM
Well, I thought I was getting decent results for not having professional lighting or a studio. At least they looked pretty good to me. Guess I was wrong.

October 29, 2012, 10:19 PM
I actually thought your results were pretty good.

Jim Watson
October 30, 2012, 12:35 AM
They look pretty good to me.
At least I can tell what they are, which you cannot say about all gunboard pictures.
But really, now, Sax, blue sateen?

October 30, 2012, 06:18 PM
Well, I thought I was getting decent results for not having professional lighting or a studio. At least they looked pretty good to me. Guess I was wrong.

No you are not wrong, nice highlights and detail. A peice of kleenex infront of your flash will soften the light.


October 30, 2012, 09:51 PM
I recently bought two LED video lights to use for a similar purpose. I believe they have 60 LEDs each and have adjustable intensity. Soft light boxes lit by CFL bulbs are also not too expensive.

That said I think your results are very nice.

November 3, 2012, 11:33 PM
You dont to have a studio for decent results, I sure dont. Personally use a table, a few incandesant lights, some difusers and different things for the background.

These were just taken with cowhide for a background and some soft lights. No flash was used. Pictures were only cropped with text added.



November 4, 2012, 02:48 PM
Saxon, that Savage makes my mouth water. LOL

November 4, 2012, 02:56 PM
Sax, I have sold several guns online and none of my pictures are half as good. Oh sure, you will always have some critisim, constructive and not, but I could use you to take my gun pix any day.

November 4, 2012, 08:45 PM
don't let the haters get you down. your photos look great.:)

November 4, 2012, 08:51 PM
Great pics and great guns as always Pig - I love seeing your stuff!

November 4, 2012, 08:51 PM
There's no hate here, just people offering advice that's helpful.

Cheap diffuser: Empty milk jugs, or cut outs of same. The semi-clear kind, of course.

Edit: I like the looks of that Martini, is it a shooter?

November 4, 2012, 10:52 PM
I am not a professional photogragher in no way shape or form. With that said I do try to take decent, tasteful, thought out pictures.

Lighting and how to control light is a key factor. Like some others have already stated, using the flash from a camera is detrimental in taking these types of pictures. This is not "hate" in the words of some here but merely suggestions in taking better quality pictures.

$50 worth of lights and some imagination resulted in taking the pictures below. Again, no flash was used. They are not great but I feel they are better than the average pic that you see in this and other forums.





November 4, 2012, 11:19 PM
Those look fairly pro quality to me.

I have tried every combo of lighting and background I could come up with. I used to do much better with film cameras... the digital system baffles me.

These were taken with two strobes at 45 degrees bounced off the white ceiling and one on-camera flash with a thick diffuser. Still not right.



November 5, 2012, 03:29 PM
those last two pics were very nicely done,,,
Bouncing the flashes off of the ceiling did the trick.

Look at the side-plate of the Winchester in post 1,,,
See how the reflection from the direct flash washes out the color,,,
You can also see the reflection as a washed out highlight along the stock.

Now look at the pics in the post before mine,,,
See how the color of the metal isn't obscured by that reflective highlight.

That's what people mean when they say a more diffuse light source.

It's difficult to relate in a few paragraphs,,,
What it takes a semester of lighting classes to learn,,,
But by bouncing the two strobes off of the ceiling you made a "large" light source,,,
That is what eliminates or lessens the reflections that obscure the true color and texture of your subject.

You did that very well in the two photos above this post.


P.S. Associates Degree in Commercial Photography talking here.

P.P.S. I thought the expression was: "Norman Pig" and "Saxon Dog",,,
From "The Adventures of Robin Hood" ;)



November 5, 2012, 04:26 PM
Name came from a former girlfriend. I used to belong to a... er, social club called the Saxons and she once described us as a bunch of Saxon pigs. I have used it as a username from my first computer experience 15 years ago.

November 5, 2012, 04:43 PM
I usually prefer outdoor shots in natural settings but those last two in post #25 look great.

November 5, 2012, 04:47 PM
On the last two pics.... you need to press the sheets.

It looks like you've been rolling around on them, making love to your fine rifles :neener:

November 14, 2012, 09:42 PM
Not something a "Norman Pig" would countenance, but a "Saxon Pig"? Being a Saxon myself........who knows?:neener:

November 15, 2012, 12:36 AM
Saxon Pig,

All your photos look great to me. You said: I think I have the formula worked out.OK..... I read post after post, with bated breath, waiting to find out the "formula". What is your formula? Can you use another camera to take a picture of your set-up? Or sketch it?

November 15, 2012, 10:12 AM
In my experience, taking the photo outdoors makes getting a great shot of a gun about 10x easier and more likely for most people, especially if you pick the right time of day for the lighting. Indoor shots usually either look dead, or they have various problems as discussed above. An experienced photographer can get good indoor results, as may a lucky novice, but the rest of us will usually end up with mediocre results.

November 15, 2012, 06:21 PM
Shot this about an hour ago for an auction listing

November 15, 2012, 11:04 PM
Still not right.

Much better, but as I see it, your lighting is fine, but the back drop is too white and does not give enough contrast to the pictures. What your camera is seeing is the white back drop and adjusting it's self for the additional amount of light off the white backdrop.


November 15, 2012, 11:16 PM
Not a bad start for sure. I am just going to echo what others have said. Get away from the onboard flash. The pics, while they are not bad, look to flashy, if that makes sense. You would be surprised what you can do with some creative lighting and experimentation. if you do not want to go that route then I would at least try and bounce the flash off of the ceiling and I will do you one even better. Get a milk jug, cut a section out in the the shape of your flash but over size it a bit so you can but the corners so that it can be folded in such a way to fit over your flash. Tape it on to your flash, then use that while bouncing the light off of the ceiling. You will probably get much better results. You may have to set it up on a tripod though as this can be tricky as your shutterspeed will probably be much slower than before.

Several softboxes is what you really need but most of us do not have the money or room to invest in that unless you are going to shoot a lot. I am probably going to make or buy something fairly soon myself as this is more of a semi-pro hobby for me but the more I do it the more I want to learn. Anyways again good start, keep at it.

November 15, 2012, 11:45 PM
DubbleA, those pictures are first class. Creative use of light. Saxonpig, yours are good also, but judging from the sheet which I assume is white, your photos are slightly underexposed. If the flashes are not dedicated to the camera, then the camera cannot control the flashes' output and that is good. The idea of bouncing light off the ceiling gives very soft light. Putting kleenex over a flash head does little to soften light. Softness is governed primarily by the relative size of the light source. One popular gun photographer that many of us know uses one huge soft box as his main source. The sides of the soft box are about 5 feet each. His ceilings and walls are painted white.

November 15, 2012, 11:53 PM
I like a nice background for my BBQ guns:


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