Author Topic: Picture Quality Issues  (Read 7070 times)

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Offline Gerald_D

  • Posts: 237
Picture Quality Issues
« on: January 04, 2015, 10:12 PM »
Hoping someone can help me understand what I'm doing wrong.  Any time I try to take pictures of my work, I cannot seem to get a quality picture.  The attached pictures were taken with a Nikon D90 with SB900 flash, lense 18-105mm, ISO2500, 1/125s, and f stop of 4.2 and 5, respectively.  After reading another post, I'm guessing I need better lighting but, before I go spend some serious $$ on lights, I want to make sure.  I love landscape/nature photography, but am a complete beginner on the 'studio' thing.

Any ideas/suggestions welcome.

Thanks,
Gerald

209937-0209939-1
Gerald
I have Festools- Big and Small and a few other tools

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 5433
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2015, 10:54 PM »
Lighting is everything. I know close to nothing about photography, but I do take a lot of pictures thanks to a quality camera that does most of the work for me. I noticed there was quite a difference between the pictures I made indoors and outdoors, with the indoor pictures looking flat and murky while the outdoor pictures sparkled, especially on a sunny day.

So I started to experiment with lots of different types of lighting, and not willing to put down serious studio money I used cheap armatures with normal lamps. Found out I got the best result with some cheap TL lights, they give of lots of light and pretty natural looking. And diffuse. You want diffuse light for pictures, light that's comming from all directions, like daylight, and not a lamp aimed straight at the object. That's why photographers always use these white umbrellas in front of their lights.

I always turn on as many lights as possible, the TL lights, and some CFL lamps facing away to make the total ambient light a bit warmer.

Again, not pretending I know anything about the subject, just sharing what worked for me.

Very nice box BTW, the top one, don't spoil the picture with that background.
   
« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 07:11 PM by Alex »

Offline SittingElf

  • Posts: 1374
  • 66 Systainers and rising! YIKES!
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2015, 11:36 PM »
Two things...

1. It is critical to use a tripod for static shots like these....especially in low light conditions where your shutter speed is somewhat slow. ISO2500 is pretty high too and will introduce noise into your shots.

2. You can make a very inexpensive light box for this type of shot. Google "light box construction" and you'll find a number of plans. A light box can virtually eliminate shadows and allows for softer and equal lighting. It will also allow you to keep your ISO level MUCH lower.

"Professional" lighting doesn't have to be expensive.  Take a look on Amazon for photography light kits. Another option is the offerings at Cowboy Studio. Good products and very inexpensive!  Go to: COWBOY STUDIO

Really like the long box. Given me some ideas!

Cheers,

Frank
Woodworking is 3% talent and 97% paying attention to the FOG! 

hammerfelderowners.com

Offline Dan Clark

  • Posts: 532
    • talkFestool
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2015, 12:01 AM »
Get a dome for your SB900 to soften the shadows. Use a tripod, lower the ISO to 100, shutter speed at 1/60, f stop at f8 or higher.

Regards,

Dan.

Online Sparktrician

  • Posts: 3314
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2015, 08:54 AM »
It looks to me that you're getting "hard lighting" by using direct flash on the SB900.  You might try using the SB900 off the camera as a bounce flash unit and aiming it at a white sheet hung off to one side of the subject to create a "soft lighting" effect.  The D90's built-in flash can be used to trigger the SB900.  If the built-in flash throws too much light, use either the remote cord or baffle the built-in flash such that the light is thrown toward the main flash unit, but not at the subject.  A filing card taped in place above the lens and in front of the built-in flash can provide this type of redirection.  Experiment to find the best location for the sheet.  Use a tripod and set your ISO to 200.  The digital camera combined with Capture NX2 or Lightroom will give you the opportunity to note your conditions in the metadata so you will have it for reference.  One of the best places to learn about studio photographic lighting is (of all places) Cosmo magazine.  Forget the content; it's trash.  Look carefully at the advertising and article photos.  If you look at the model's eyes, you can see where the lights were placed relative to her face and you'll note the effect it creates. 

« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 08:57 AM by Sparktrician »
- Willy -

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Offline sae

  • Posts: 841
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2015, 06:25 PM »
I agree on more light.

And while I have all Nikon lenses, I cheaped out and bought aftermarket flashes.

I have three of these on optical triggering, you can buy 8 of them for the price of one SB900! In a studio, you have the time to do a lot of samples and adjustment, the fancy metering and such isn't that necessary IMHO.

http://www.amazon.com/Yongnuo-Professional-Speedlight-Flashlight-Olympus/dp/B00BXA7N6A/

I skipped the expensive umbrellas too, perfectly usable ones are $8-10 on Amazon as well.

Maybe with more studio time, I'd come to appreciate better flash equipment, but the person that turned me onto all this equipment does incredible work with an very inexpensive setup, I'd have to firmly say that I'm the weakest link in the system.

Offline carlb40

  • Posts: 367
  • Site carpenter
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2015, 06:50 PM »
While grey is a good choice as a back drop, shiny isn't. Get something similar but in a plain matt fabric.

Make a custom WB setting with the lighting used, those to me seem a bit too warm and slightly off with the WB.

Use reflectors to add more light, doesn't have to be expensive. White/gold/silver card or cooking foil on a card, even mirrors will help.   

Try natural light - got a nice big window somewhere?  Try setting up by that and diffuse any harsh light ( mainly mid summer)


Desk lamps and reflectors can be a good source of lighting. With lamps being on constantly you can see the results instantly if you move a lamp and or reflector.
Carl

Never never go, never never know [smile]

Flickr

Offline benwheeler

  • Posts: 164
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2015, 06:32 AM »
I think it would be useful to look at some images that you like, and see if you can replicate them. As others have said, either using bounce flash or getting the flash off-camera should be your #1 priority.  Here are some photos I've quickly Googled which are aesthetically pleasing to me..



This has a neutral background which doesn't attract the eye. Lighting is mainly from the top right, probably with secondary lighting or a reflector on the left.



Here they've used presumably a workbench to put the object in place. Lighting's from the left this time, possibly just one source, perhaps in a softbox?



Here's a very classy Fine Woodworking-type shot with another neutral background. The light really envelopes the box, so there are probably at least two or three very soft sources of light.



And to finish up, quite a different image - using two hard sources of light (bare flashes or bulbs?) which draw the eye to the geometry of the object.

I still have tons to learn about lighting, but it's a fascinating subject, and if you can master light, you'll take great photos with anything. There are plenty of great videos about using softboxes, reflectors etc on YouTube.

Also, I heartily recommend the Yongnuo gear - I have two remotes and two (wireless) flashes which work very well together.

PS switch your camera to manual, put the ISO down to its lowest setting, and use the camera's screen to guide you! If it's a bit too bright, you can always dial it back down so long as nothing's blown out.

Offline Gerald_D

  • Posts: 237
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2015, 01:12 PM »
Thanks for the feedback everyone- I have read some other posts and watched a couple videos and, along with your responses, sounds like lighting is my main issue.  These were taken after dark so I had no way of using natural light, but will try that next time as our dining room windows let in a great amount of light without being direct sunlight.  Thanks also for the recommendations on the cheaper lighting suppliers- that will help me spend less on photo equipment and more on Festool!   [smile]

I will post some more pictures after I make some changes.

Gerald
Gerald
I have Festools- Big and Small and a few other tools

Offline Grasshopper

  • Posts: 594
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2015, 01:19 PM »
Carl,


I just looked at your Flickr photo stream.  Way cool.  I loved the seascape shot.



While grey is a good choice as a back drop, shiny isn't. Get something similar but in a plain matt fabric.

Make a custom WB setting with the lighting used, those to me seem a bit too warm and slightly off with the WB.

Use reflectors to add more light, doesn't have to be expensive. White/gold/silver card or cooking foil on a card, even mirrors will help.   

Try natural light - got a nice big window somewhere?  Try setting up by that and diffuse any harsh light ( mainly mid summer)


Desk lamps and reflectors can be a good source of lighting. With lamps being on constantly you can see the results instantly if you move a lamp and or reflector.
Aspiring DIY'er (hence the name "grasshopper" as I am looking to learn from all the masters on the FOG)- TS 55, OF 1400, MFT/3, VS600 Dovetail Jig, MFS700+ MFS2000 extension profiles, Kapex, Kapex UG set, T12 Li set(x2), CT22, Domino, Carvex, RO90, RO150, MFK700, CMS-VL, Qwas super pack & Cool Wife.

Offline carlb40

  • Posts: 367
  • Site carpenter
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2015, 02:37 PM »
Grasshopper, thank you. That is one of my favourites too. I'm hoping to get back out there again this year.  [smile]
Carl

Never never go, never never know [smile]

Flickr

Offline teocaf

  • Posts: 597
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2015, 03:10 PM »
i would not buy anything extra just yet.  with the equipment you have, try to improve on what i see are the most glaring problems in the shots you've shown.  it is, as they say, a matter of light and depth...

so, for example a quick critique on how to improve shot 1 of the long box without spending any money:
-lose the crinkle backdrop.  look around the house and find a nice corner of a side table or your workbench (add some fine plane shavings), or even a nice section of the floor.  anything like that (rustic or neat) as long as it is different in tone and color than the box you are photographing, so that the box stands out nicely against the background. 
-it is preferable to move this setup next to a window so that you can then reflect light from there unto your subject with any old white cardboard, light wood panel, whatever.  i would not use the flash at first but if you cannot move your setup near enough to reflect a light source, you can shoot your flash through a white bed sheet material in a pinch.
-you mention your lens but do not mention if you shot the pic at the 18mm focal length or the 105mm setting.  this makes quite a difference in both depth of field and distortion.  so for your reshoot, set your lens to 105 mm focal length which means you'll have to step back from your subject and physically move back and forth until you have the framing shot you want.  then set the camera to aperture priority and stop down to the smallest aperture (largest f-stop number): f/16 or f/22--whatever your lens has.
-if you don't have a tripod, prop up your camera on any old thing that's steady or make something out of scrap wood.  you will want to use your camera's self timer feature when it's time to take the shot.  this will prevent shake from you jabbing the button and also leave your hands free so you can direct light with your makeshift reflector.
-now for a very important point that you may have not considered--you see how in your picture 1 the leading edge of the box is out of focus while that crinkly background is tack sharp to the point of distraction?  that's because you let the camera choose the focus.  here's how to correct that:  from the camera lens line of sight (imagine a tape measure sticking out of your lens), notice where your object starts (closest to camera--leading edge) and where it ends (farthest from camera--trailing edge).  with your camera set in manual focus mode, lock in your focus on a spot that's approximately 1/3 of the way of the distance from the leading edge to the trailing edge.  that will give you the best depth of field on your subject that you can control, instead of letting the camera hunt for something to focus on.
-now you're ready to shoot. (in timer mode, while you're handling the reflector)
So that's a good starting point.  evaluate the shot in full screen on your computer and play with ONE VARIABLE AT A TIME for subsequent shots.  for example open up the aperture and take one at each setting.  or play with your reflector in different positions.  or leave the object in place and observe how the light on it changes at different times of the day.  So all that will give you a feel of how a camera sees things and the basics that you keep in mind.
Then, if you find yourself wishing for a more adjustable, repeatable setup, you go shopping for a tripod, a diffuser, this that and the other thing. the slippery slope begins...


Offline Ed Bray

  • Posts: 411
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2015, 05:20 PM »
You can get good results with an angle-poise light with a daylight LED, to soften it you can make a simple frame from PAR pine, staple some greaseproof or tracing paper to it a voila a diffusing panel, this can also be used (and is probably best used) as a reflector with the angle poise light as the main light. This is best used to soften the shadows from a more direct main light as a fill, rather than as the main light itself.

Contrary to popular opinion, whilst soft lighting seems at first glance to be best, harder lighting applied correctly will always give more dramatic and usually much better results.

Keep the soft boxes and panel lights for softening and hiding the features of females over 30. And the very worst type of lighting is to stick your items in one of the light cube type things, so flat, shows no texture, great for hiding blemishes though.

 

Offline Travis Campbell

  • Posts: 34
    • http://www.ghostar.org/
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2015, 01:56 AM »
Hoping someone can help me understand what I'm doing wrong.  Any time I try to take pictures of my work, I cannot seem to get a quality picture.  The attached pictures were taken with a Nikon D90 with SB900 flash, lense 18-105mm, ISO2500, 1/125s, and f stop of 4.2 and 5, respectively.  After reading another post, I'm guessing I need better lighting but, before I go spend some serious $$ on lights, I want to make sure.  I love landscape/nature photography, but am a complete beginner on the 'studio' thing.

I shot with a D300 for years.  The D90 uses the same sensor.  ISO2500 is really way too high for that sensor; I tried hard to never go beyond ISO1600, otherwise the sensor grain would just become too much.  The SB900 is definitely powerful enough to light this at ISO200 using the Fstop you listed.

Honestly, looking at the photos you posted there's nothing specifically *wrong* with the exposure.  My guess is that you might be using the camera on Auto or maybe P-mode?  For consistency, one of the first things I always do when doing product photography is to set it the camera to manual, ISO200, 1/250th of a second to kill all the ambient (you can bring it back in later as needed), at F8 in order to get the whole box in focus (if that's not want, open up the F-stop and choose the depth of field that makes you happy ... this is just a starting point).

Then take the SB900 and remove it from the camera and stick it somewhere to your left.  Start the power somewhere at 1/32 or 1/16.  As others have suggested, you want to diffuse the light.  If you don't have something like an umbrella, you can bounce the light off a white wall or even a piece of white foamcore poster board.  You're just trying to make the light appear larger than the object you're lighting.  Just remember:  when it comes to lighting, the bigger the light appears in relation to the object, the softer the light will appear to be.  You don't need huge lights to do this stuff.

One of the best resources you can go to to learn more about lighting is the Strobist.  That's where I picked up almost all of my lighting knowledge.

If it helps any, here's a few photos to compare.  The Veto Pro Pac was shot with a D800 at F5, ISO100, 1/250th.  There's one SB900 on the right side of the picture, just out of frame, in a small 15x15 softbox (but I could have easily used an umbrella).  I think I was shooting at 1/8th power.  There's an SB800 coming from the top of the photo with a small 6 inch softbox just to get the rim light along the left side.  That was around 1/32nd power.

The HP calculator photo was shot with a D300 at F8, ISO200, 1/250th.  There's one SB900 on the right side of the picture, just out of frame, in a small 15x15 softbox.  It was about a foot away according to my notes.  I didn't record the power setting, but if I had to guess, it was probably 1/16th or so.


Offline sae

  • Posts: 841
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2015, 10:42 AM »
@Travis Campbell

HP48G user, my man. [not worthy]


Offline Dogberryjr

  • Posts: 87
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2015, 11:08 AM »
I'm a bit late to the party, so maybe you've already settled your issues. In the first image, the focus seems to be off. If you compare the focus at various parts of the box with the wrinkle on the backdrop just over the box, I think you'll see that the backdrop is in better focus. For this type of shot, I'd definitely use a tripod, and take advantage of LiveView for focussing (I'm pretty sure the D90 has LV), and I'd close up the aperture to at least f8.

Offline Travis Campbell

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    • http://www.ghostar.org/
Re: Picture Quality Issues
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2015, 12:50 AM »
HP48G user, my man. [not worthy]

 [big grin]

Reverse Polish Notation.  The only way to fly.

I bought that in '94-'95 for my high school physics and calculus classes.   It's outlasted nine generations of computers for me. It still works well today.  Hard to believe that, if it were a person, it would legally be able to drink soon.