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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tired of seeing grainy, blurry, out-of-focus pictures in these threads? Wish you could see what that ArmorTuff finish really looks like? Want to see the detail on that reverse crown barrel, but can’t? Here are some really simple tips for taking proud-to-post pictures of your gun. And you don’t need a fancy, professional DSLR camera to do it!

The first secret is light -- plenty of good light. So, take it outdoors. An overcast day is perfect. The clouds act as a giant soft box to diffuse the light and minimize unwanted shadows. Daylight also gives you “natural” light and gives your pictures a more-correct white balance, which means the colors are more accurate.

The reason indoor photos often are so poor is that your camera struggles to make a proper exposure under poor lighting. Without sufficient, good light, your camera will do things you don’t want, like jack-up the ISO rating (similar to film speed), open the lens aperture and slow down the shutter in an effort to get a good exposure. All these conditions contribute to degradation of your picture. The higher ISO speed contributes to “grainy” pictures. The wide-open lens aperture makes the depth-of-field shallow and not all of the subject will be in focus. And the drop in shutter speed contributes to blurriness because of unsteady hand-holding. You may think you’ve got an OK picture, but once it gets to the internet, it’s crap.

Even your built-in or pop-up flash attachment doesn’t help much indoors. Your camera will try to balance the area of the picture that’s been lit by the flash, but other parts of the photo will be under-exposed and detail in those areas will be lost. (How many pictures have you seen with a big glare in the center of the gun, but you can’t make out the grips or the barrel?)

Find something to steady yourself. If you don’t have a tripod, steady the camera on the back of a chair or something like that.

One other thing to remember, because the way most digital camera sensors are built, bright reds will easily over-saturate. They also can contribute to shifting the white balance of the picture and altering the true colors of the subject. So, unless you have near-studio-lighting conditions and dead-on exposure, red backgrounds are not good. I’ve found neutral gray backgrounds to be the best for letting the colors of the subject to show through better. (I use a cheap, gray velour blanket that I got from Wal-Mart.)

Hope these no-cost tips help.
 

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Thanx.

Im surprised we dont have a "help desk" section of the forum yet for these and computer related questions ( pictures not loading, how to upload pics, log in problems, etc.. etc..)
 

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Good advice. Thanks etaoin. :rock:
 

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et,
Here is one of my better pics.



Any feedback/criticism?

And let's see a few of yours!
 

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et,
Here is one of my better pics.



Any feedback/criticism?

And let's see a few of yours!
Looks like a small stain and scratch on the magwell of the AR. :biglaugh:

Seriously, THAT is a picture we should all aspire to!! :rock:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
CHUCK:

I've always drooled over the pictures on your web site. One of the best photography jobs going, IMHO.
 

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Thanks for the tips etaoin! I've started taking all my pictures outdoors too. In fact for my most recent 1911 shots I drove 15 minutes from my house to an abandoned part of the base in order to take outdoor pics without my neighbors looking at me funny.:biglaugh:

This is one of my better ones I think but I can see why overcast would be even better. The shadows are pretty strong in this:



Sorry it's not a 1911, but this little falcon turned out good too I think. The distance was about 6 feet, on a sunny day with my wife's Cannon SX110IS set on "idiot mode", which is what I use:biglaugh:. I've been very impressed with the Canon. It's no SLR but it sure takes great photos when the lighting is good:





PS- Outstanding picture Pistolwrench! I only have one minor criticism...I just can't get into the Tango Down Battlegrip. :biglaugh: I bought one and tried to like it but it was just too smooth and slippery for me. After each new grip I try, I keep coming back to my Hogue finger groove rubber grip.
 

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Thanks for the excellent advice OP. Chuck, that picture is awesome! :rock:

I've tried my best to take some decent photos outdoors. Living in Southern California, you'll notice most of my pictures end up showing up around December - February, it's too sunny the rest of the year! :biglaugh:

Most of mine have been taken outside, pre-tripod (handheld) on overcast days. I suppose it's like me shooting, throw enough lead downrange I'm bound to hit the bullseye at 7 yards.

So far, my favorite to date. :)

 

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So far, my (Actually BoulderTroll's):biglaugh: favorite to date. :)

That one you posted was great Black Majik, but I edited your post with my favorite of your pictures.

My other favorite of yours (don't have it handy at the moment) is the one with both pistols and leather on top of your motorcycle jacket.

The one in this thread is good quality, I just find the background detracts too much from the guns. The white background in this one and the jacket in the other work better for me personally. Of course this is just my .02. You take awesome photos regardless.:rock:
 

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Comments...

I would agree with the poster's gun photo advice. I have been experimenting for several years with photographing guns, and have developed a few axioms of my own that might vary slightly from what others do:

1. Always use a tripod to eliminate vibration and blurring.
2. Never use a flash - natural light is best.
3. Diffuse your light source somehow to give even illumination and avoid shadows. A cloudy day outside, a room with white walls and ceiling, or a regular white box will all work.
4. I prefer a blue or green background and no extraneous objects like ammo, knives or other things in the picture. I want the gun to be the only object of attention.
5. Pose the gun at an attractive angle. Some angles seem better than others.
6. Tweak the photo later with photoshop software to optimize color and brightness.

A few of my better efforts are shown below:







 

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Good advice, but one lighting problem is that winter's about here. That means some of us won't see outdoor photography opportunities until April 2010.

We now use a proper light tent, but before that made-do with a homemade "light box" that cost about $2 - a free cardboard box and about $2 worth of crepe paper from the pharmacy or craft store. Here's how to do it:



Even using non-neutral indoor lights, you can get semi-decent photos like this:



Stepping up to a "light tent" with proper parabolic lamps is even better, but this is cheap for the occasional indoor photo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great discussion

This is turning into a very useful discussion with excellent pointers, comments and examples. My original post was intended for the (very) casual or inexperienced photographer who didn't have technical resources and offered no-cost ways to greatly improve photos of their prized possessions.

We're also starting to see innovative "Home Depot" (i.e. inexpensive) solutions for achieving better or good lighting. Homemade light tents and diffusers. Creative backgrounds. Attention to detail that make sure the gun is the center of attention. Good stuff!

Setting up a photo shoot in winter isn't something I necessarily want to do, either. But I think anyone who cares, can find easy ways to avoid the typical toss-it-on-the-bed-and-whip-out-my-cell-phone-camera crummy shots. With really good light, even a cell phone camera can take reasonable pictures.

Here's to good pictures!
 

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[/url]

This is one of my first pictures that I took of a gun. I used light to set the accent. What do you think?
 

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That one you posted was great Black Majik, but I edited your post with my favorite of your pictures.

My other favorite of yours (don't have it handy at the moment) is the one with both pistols and leather on top of your motorcycle jacket.

The one in this thread is good quality, I just find the background detracts too much from the guns. The white background in this one and the jacket in the other work better for me personally. Of course this is just my .02. You take awesome photos regardless.:rock:
Thanks BoulderTroll for your thoughts. It may start to become my favorite too. :)


This is one of my first pictures that I took of a gun. I used light to set the accent. What do you think?

Nice gun! A few thoughts. The subject in this gun isn't evenly lit, outdoors really helps in this situation. Otherwise, you can position your lighting in different spots to both evenly light the object your taking a picture of, and to reduce shadows.

While the subject is shown, the picture is dark. The rounds below the gun are noticeably darker than the gun. Try taking the picture without a flash on an overcast day where sharp shadows wont appear. Also, the black background makes smaller parts such as your front and rear sights difficult to see. You may want to look into a lighter background.

Keep at it, you picked a great gun to shoot. Even lighting will really show off the beautiful grain in the wood. :rock:
 

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Here is a tip that works well for me.
Tripod ALWAYS! And use the self-portrait timer to trip the shutter. This will eliminate any jiggling induced by actually pushing the button.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
+1 for the tripod recommendation.

However, without adequate light (to prevent the camera from opening the lens too far), the depth of field will be so shallow that only a small portion of the subject in front and back of the focus point will be good. Everything else will seem out of focus. This is especially true if the gun is at an angle.

Let there be light! :)
 

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I agree with Chifus. We need guidance on posting pics, uploading, photobucket etc. Every forum has a different method of posting pics, some easy, some impossible.
 
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