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Photographing loaded cartridges

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Squeaky Wheel, Feb 9, 2013.

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  1. Squeaky Wheel

    Squeaky Wheel Member

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    As a beginner reloader, I'm interested in learning how you guys take such good close-up pictures of loaded cartridges. This may be important for asking online questions about something odd that crops up.

    What are the do's and don'ts of taking great close-up cartridge photos?

    What type of cameras do you guys use? Can a smartphone work well, or does it require a 'real' camera?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Member

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    Personally I try to employ all of my photography skills. I set the camera on auto and press the shutter button and also pray a little. Fortunately with a camera brighter than I this generally yields good images. :)

    Seriously, we have several very good photographer types here who can likely give much better advice than I can. However, here is a little of what I try to do. When photographing brass cases or loaded ammunition I generally polish the brass a little using a non-ammonia based brass polish. Also consider the background color(s) and texture, you want emphasis on the brass.Using a good camera with manual settings I try to use a short or narrow depth of field so my subject ammunition is well defined in focus with the foreground and background is out of focus or blurred. I try also to pay attention to my ambient lighting and the lighting color temperature to get a good white balance in my images. For close up images I like to use a good macro lens when needed and use a few different lenses as needed. For a basic point and shoot camera pay attention to the lighting and background. Positioning of the brass is important. Without getting crazy or pedantic the layout plays a big roll in the end images.

    Smartphones can really vary tremendously as to the image quality, just a matter of how good the camera in the smartphone is, everything from how many mega-pixel to how well it affords flash as needed.

    Again, we have some members who really do excellent not just ammunition but gun photography. This has come up in a few threads with incredible images posted. I just dabble in it. A good Photoshop software program helps also.

    Just My Take
    Ron
     
  3. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Member

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    Macro mode helps
     
  4. SuperNaut

    SuperNaut Member

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    Like I always say, "'A' stands for Awesome..."
     
  5. Recon Ron

    Recon Ron Member

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    Take your lens off the camera body, turn it around and tape it to the camera body, now you have a Macro lens with a small DoF.


    Otherwise use Macro "mode" or Av mode set to a small f-stop.
     
  6. bds
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    bds Member

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    I took photography in high school and did yearbook in college - still, I am just at hobby level in my picture taking skills.

    Here's my set up.

    I do not have a fancy setup like a light box. I simply drape my reloading bench with an old towel with clips (BTW, that's my 2'x3' portable castered reloading bench inside the 5'x6' walk-in closet so often the single 13W CFL on the ceiling is enough lighting to take pictures). I keep brass in plastic Folgers coffee containers in a shelving unit next to the bench so I just grab one and set a dollar store cooking/baking pan on top of it. I set a couple of 8.5"x11" copy paper I use for targets on the pan rolled up against the Lee powder measure mounted to the bench to show continuous white background. I use two 13W CFL gooseneck clamp lights I use for the reloading bench flipped down for taking pictures and flipped up for reloading. (BTW, this picture was taken with a LG smartphone with a single 13W CFL mounted on the ceiling of the closet)

    [​IMG]

    Here are my tips:

    1. Having the right equipment really helps. Most of the pictures I post on THR is taken with LG android smartphone model LG-C800 (T-mobile myTouch phone) and Olympus SP-600UZ digital camera.

    I have taken close-up pictures with several different smart phones and the quality of close-up pictures are not the same. The LG camera has zoom, brightness control and flash and I usually take the pictures with 25-35% zoom, brightness set to max and no flash to reduce reflection/glare (two CFL clamp lights provide more natural light color and reduce shadows). With the digital camera, I use the macro mode with the lens almost touching the object (like taking pictures of barrel chambers/rifling).

    The LG smartphone is not active for cellphone use as I have other smartphones so I use it primarily as a bench camera. You probably could find used one on craigslist/classified for cheap.

    2. Don't use flash or too bright of light as it creates glares. The two 13W CFL clamp lights have provided enough lighting for all the pictures I took for THR threads the past 3 years. On occasion, I have used small LED flashlights as supplement lighting but most of the times, the gooseneck clamp lights provided enough directional adjustment to reduce glare/reflection and shadowing.

    3. Try tilting the camera with close lighting. You don't always have to take the picture at perpendicular angle. To show maximum detail, I will actually take off one of the clamp lights and place it right behind the smartphone so I have plenty of lighting without shadowing and zoom in 25-35% while holding the smartphone back a bit from the object. If I see glares or dark reflections on the cases, I will angle the smartphone slightly so I see bright brass cases. Personally, I think some shadowing makes the pictures appear more natural/real but will use a small LED flashlight if I want to eliminate all shadows.

    4. If you can't hold the camera steady while it is focusing to take the picture, pictures will be blurry/out of focus/not sharp. Rest your body/elbows/hands on something steady (doorway, bench etc.) or use a tripod.

    5. Don't laugh but although I have photo editing softwares, I prefer to use Microsoft Paint program to crop and insert texts/arrows (it's quick and easy for me). I open the pictures with the picture viewer and adjust the window size to get the right size of objects in the picture and press the "Print Screen" button (above the Home button) to copy and paste into the Paint program. After I crop/edit the pictures, I save it as JPEG compression to save space on server harddrives (I am currently using 41 MB for 635 picture attachments).
     

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  7. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Member

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    So the A setting stands for Awesome? That was great and I have to remember that. :)

    Something I should have mentioned is when using flash I do use things to diffuse the light so it isn't harsh. Paper tissue sometimes fills the bill.

    bds, that was a great post and the setup really shows what a little imagination can do. Really, really nice. I have been meaning to put together something similar. With retirement on the horizon that will make a real good project. Thanks for the motivation and ideas.

    Ron
     
  8. JSmith

    JSmith Member

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    Cartridges are bright (or should be), so I often have trouble with glare. I get better results with indirect flourescent lighting and no flash.
     
  9. bds
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    bds Member

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    Sometimes glare/reflections cause optical distortion. Here's an example of picture I took on a rush that shows this affect.

    [​IMG]


    When a concern for bulging of cases came up in another thread, I took this dark/shadowy picture to prove the cases are not bulged - it was just glare/reflection (Berry's reload in the center between two factory rounds).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  10. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  11. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    Very cool thread guys
     
  12. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Member

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    Nice stuff there bds.

    We know how Remington has been big on using bees in naming some of their ammunition. Names like Hornet, and Yellow Jacket come to mind. Years ago they did a really cool and interesting picture and used it on the Yellow Jacket .22 ammunition boxes. They went out and caught some yellow jackets. They were placed in a jar and in a refrigerator. When the bees get cold they get sluggish and somewhat dormant. Several cartridges were painted with a clear sugar water solution around the bullet.

    The bees were removed from refrigeration in a warm area where the cartridges were. Using tweezers the bees were placed beside the cartridges. As they warmed up and slowly became active they began to climb the cartridges attracted by the sugar water smell. A series of photographs were shot making for some really cool images. Really slick how it was done and the bees cooperating. The bees were actually released and the claim was no bees were harmed in making the images. That had to be early 60s and I have never forgotten those pictures.

    This summer I want to try a few things like this once I am retired. I will finally have the time to experiment a little with the cameras I have. Maybe even learn something along the way. :)

    Ron
     
  13. TexasShooter59

    TexasShooter59 Member

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    One thing I have discovered in the last year, is that the iPad2 takes pretty good photos close up. Do not use any zoom. See attached.
     

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  14. Onewolf

    Onewolf Member

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    If I want to take a GOOD photo of a couple rounds then I break out my Canon DSLR, EF-S 60mm macro lens, and a TRIPOD.

    The most important item is the tripod. :) This allows a long exposure at high f-stop for maximum DOF.

    Sometimes I resort to a wider angle lens if the macro lens won't work. Like for this photo:

    IMG_5844.jpg
     
  15. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

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    Taken with a 10.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot camera:

    225Ammo-1.gif

    I sold my father's .225 Winchester Model 70, then sold the remaining ammo we had for it.
     
  16. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    And following closely is a remote shutter release, or the use of the camera's timer to reduce camera shake.
     
  17. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Study this picture carefully. Do you see what's missing?

    IMG_5844.jpg


    This photo is proof that you loose your I playing with guns.

    :neener:
     
  18. rikman

    rikman Member

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    iPhone
     
  19. dubbleA

    dubbleA Member

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    I like working with color and lighting. Playing with depth of field you can emphasize your main subject.


    b1.jpg

    CartridgeComparison.jpg

    223comp.jpg

    DSC00018.jpg

    IMG_0268.jpg

    IMG_08411.jpg

    IMG_8111.jpg
     
  20. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Lots of good tips. I've found that lighting is very important and selecting the proper while balance for the lighting you have goes a long way to get good looking pictures.

    Defuse lighting reduces shadows.

    Remember that for most pictures you want to post on the net you don't want a large file or high resolution picture. VGA 640x380 is usually quite adequate to illustrate your point. If you want a real close up you can use the higher resolution of your camera to take the picture and crop the subject to make an "enlarged" picture for the net at lower resolution.

    Example, the picture below was taken at 7 meg and the subject area was cropped to show a close up of a primer.

    Primer.jpg
     
  21. bds
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    bds Member

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    For extreme close up shots, try LED flashlights as your lighting source at various angles.

    When I tried to capture the details of primer cups/anvils, the usual 13W CFL clamp lights did not bring out enough of the details. I have 80/120 lumen and 100/250 lumen LED flashlights and toilet paper tissue over 80/120 lumen flashlight at different angles/distance worked to capture these shots - http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=7794378#post7794378

    This shot was fairly straight forward. The LED flashlight was held overhead while I took the picture.
    [​IMG]

    Notice the difference between overhead vs angled lighting? The bottom picture of anvils show greater detail with angled lighting.
    [​IMG]

    With this shot, I wanted to highlight different anvil tips and shapes. I angled the LED flashlight and this was the best of like 10 different light angles.
    [​IMG]
     
  22. CGT80

    CGT80 Member

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    I am lazy, so I usually just use my Droid Bionic phone to take photos. My camera is rated at 8MP and I recently figured out that I can set the focus point to where I want it on the subject. I should work on some close-ups with my DSLR.

    Here is one from the shooting range on Saturday, taken with my phone. It does pretty good for a built in camera that is always with me.

    photobucket-67859-1360572530429.gif

    ee8e5a4a-263a-4133-86bc-d3e36c5d72db.gif
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  23. edfardos

    edfardos Member

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    squirrel shot is LOL funny! Awesome tips and examples!

    edfardos
     
  24. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    I know a professional that uses her Android for the most of here work.

    I have two cheapy phones that I use. One takes nice pictures the other is good enough to get your point across.

    Funny thing is the one with the worst camera & cheaper display shows the best images.
     
  25. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yep, good lighting, multiple pics, from multiple angles. "Pic" the best one.

    I use a lens held up to my little Sony camera to simulate a macro lens for closeups. It does OK. Lighting is probably the most important.
     
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