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Old 07-17-2002, 10:08 AM   #1
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Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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Improving Your Photography Skills

With the advent of the digital camera, we now have a whole new generation of budding photographers trying their hand at it. While we have seen some beautiful work so far, there are a few here that could use a little leg up. For the most part, the problems I see, are with lighting and composition. Not too surprising, as those are skills that one could spend a lifetime developing. Like the importance of understanding sight picture and trigger control to improve your shooting skills; an understanding of lighting and composition are basic to consistently producing high quality images.

With so many web sites devoted to the subject of photography, I would like to ask those members that are "in to it", to share their favorite links to web sites that offer good primers for our students of the art. Have a favorite article you have come across? A resource you can share? Maybe even a tip or two from the pros here? When we get enough to compile a list, I will make up a FAQ for the forum, based on your contributions here.

I will start this off with some resources:

Hardware Info

Rob Galbraith's Site for Digital Photo Journalists

Digital Photography Review

Steve's Digicams

Imaging Resourse

Technical Help

For some interesting ideas on lighting: follow this link.

The DIY Network also has some good basic info: look here
and over here too.

Check out the Photographic Links of Interst

Firearms Photography Info

S.W.A.T. Magazine Online Photography Primer <<<---- really good info here

From the C&R List: "What's the best way to Photograph Firearms?"

Ongoing firearms photography discussion at Parallax's Curio & Relic Firearms Forum

Just for Grins =)

Gunchicks.com


DD
 
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Old 07-17-2002, 11:14 PM   #2
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Hello, Desert Dog and thanks. I'll be doing some reading it appears.

Best.



 
Old 07-18-2002, 06:51 AM   #3
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You're quite welcome Stephen. As much as I have enjoyed your lens work thus far, I will look forward to seeing the photographic testimony to your ever evolving camera skills -- especially now, that I know you will be doing a bit of cramming on the subject. I would bet dollars-to-doughnuts, that you will have several Photo of The Week 'notches' on your camera strap. 8)


DD
 
 
Old 07-18-2002, 06:28 PM   #4
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Hello. Well, I've been kind of trying to work with reflective surfaces lately. Here's one effort.

Best.







 
Old 07-19-2002, 08:26 AM   #5
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Hi Stephen,

I hope you are having as much fun with the your camera, as I am seeing the fruits of your labor. An interesting array of lighting effects and compositions. I think it may be instructional for everyone, if we talk about some of the pluses and minuses of yesterday's posts. Please accept my comments in the constructive spirit they are offered.




Nice soft, even natural lighting. Slight shadowing on the front strap, possibly could have benefited from fill lighting. Composition is pleasing to my eye, not overly cluttered, but cropped perhaps just a smidge too tight. Not sure what camera is being used, but you might be finding the resolution limits of your lens for macro work. Still, very nice work and one my favorite photos from yesterday's posts.



Contrast the previous photo, with this one by BHP-35. While the backgrounds are similar, and the camera angle is nearly the same, the results are quite different. The placement of the pistol on the wood is somewhat distracting, with the dark black vertical shadow line created by the space between the boards, and the knot right above the rear sight.



You were able to bring out the richness in the bluing very nicely here with your lighting. I liked the choice of gun positioning, however the butt of the pistol runs out the frame. Perhaps if the skull were turned a little more to the left (more parallel to the slide) it would have helped the composition? Might be fun to see what the pistol looks like leaning against the skull. Not sure if you didn't run out of depth of field here, as the photo appears sharper in the middle ground, than in the near field. The back of the slide fades in to the shadow here and the detail lost. If the camera uses auto-focus, it may not be focusing where intended, especially in close up work.



This one had potential, but the knife goes out frame and the is skull so close to the pistol, that the composition feels visually cramped and perhaps is a bit too heavily weighted to the right third of the photo. Lighting effects causing reflections on the leading edge of the frame and the knife blade are somewhat distracting. Front strap gets a little lost to a shadow.



I really like the camera angle, gun positioning and overall composition here, but the light source is clearly visible in two places on the slide, and there are two specular highlights (bright spots) on the crown of the barrel.



Very rich and warm composition, with the pistol contrasting nicely against the table and holster in the background. Elevating the pistol created added dimension. The lighting is however, visible on the high points of the leading edge of muzzle, dust cover and the edge above and behind the trigger and carries over on the stocks. You also have the white light from the windows reflecting off the table and distracting the eye, as does the edge of the table abruptly cutting across the upper left corner.

While it may seem like picking nits to some, these are a few of the details that go toward producing better images. It ain't easy to get it really right, and should give you a better appreciation for the skill of the pros, like gun photo icon Ichiro Nagata.


DD
 
Old 07-19-2002, 08:29 AM   #6
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Hello and thanks. I'll be working to avoid the mistakes you mention as well as trying to "compose" in a better way. Thank you again.

Best.



 
Old 07-19-2002, 09:12 AM   #7
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Just a note to the group: I did talk to Stephen before I offered up my input. I thought it would be instructional to look at some of the technical aspects of his work, and he agreed. I don't want to make anyone feel self-conscious about displaying their photos here, but I do want to foster a collabrative learning and creative atmosphere. If I think I might be of help to you, and you inclined to seek such input, I will send you a private message first, before your photos get critiqued. My apologies to BHP-35, as I did include one of his images for comparison, but I neglected to contact him first. Sorry about that.


DD
 
Old 07-19-2002, 05:27 PM   #8
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Hello. Well, here are some more tries.....

Best to all.



Tried some natural lighting through a window...



More of the same...



LW Springfield Gov't Model and carry gear:







 
Old 07-20-2002, 11:51 AM   #9
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Very nice work Stephen! Nice guns too! Good to see a revolver used for a photo subject. These photos are a good study in the effect background choices can make on the final image produced. Observe how the reddish color of the wood used for the stocks in the first pistol visually fights, the almost orange tone of the wood table it is laying on; whereas the color of the wood used for the revolver stocks is so close a match to the table it is posed on, that it makes for a very visually complimentary background. The revolver's deep blued finish is shown off nicely in the last photo. Great stuff Stephen! I appreciate all the effort you put in to your camera work.


DD
 
Old 07-20-2002, 05:33 PM   #10
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Hello. Thanks for the encouragement. I'll never be good as the pros here and elsewhere nor many of the amateurs, but I think I can improve.

It'll just take patience and work.

One thing I have learned is to take more pictures than I think I'll need and to shoot from about every angle I can. Out of those, I take what I think are the best ones. I get rid of the others. Then I pick the "best" of those and keep narrowing the selections to just one or two.

Best.



 
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