Tips on photographing props?

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Sean, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hey guy's and girls.

    I was just wondering If you all could give some tips on prop photo's. I'm wanting to start an album of my collection thus far. and would like some professionalism to It.
    I'm sure allot of you guys use programs maybe to take stuff out that's holding the prop up possibly. I'm clueless In that field. the only photo manipulation I can perform is in Photobucket tools.

    My collection Is still In what I would call it's infancy but growing . but one day want to start a true collection thread also.

    So just any tips tricks you guys could possibly share would be more than appreciated.
    Oh and one last question please.
    Can the photo's I put on here from my PC and not a sharing host be made big like all the one's I see? not sure how you all do that.


    much thanks given for any help or advice...


    Sean.
     
  2. clonesix

    clonesix Sr Member

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    I am no photographer, but I would start with a visit to you tube and type in "model photography" or Display Photography" For things like building a light box, and camera settings
     
  3. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I will have a look. as far as setting my camera. that's a whole new problem. I had a digital camera that was easy for me to get the settings were I wanted them. It got stolen. got a new one over a year ago and still can't figure it out even with the instructions.
     
  4. MattgomeryBurns

    MattgomeryBurns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Agree with @clonesix, a light box is your best bet. Alternatively, natural light and a clean background with make things look great. Also, giving yourself plenty of depth makes photos looks so much better. Even an iPhone can take a pro-looking shot if you place the lens close to your object and leave plenty of depth in the background. The background will be blurry, like you're using a long lens. Lastly, watch out for casting shadows on your prop from your camera or hands.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
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  5. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    So depth is having the background backdrop far as possible from the prop?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
  6. MattgomeryBurns

    MattgomeryBurns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yup. Oh and to make your photos bigger, once you upload them, double click the photo. It brings up the image settings and you can select your size. Medium is always good to start with so you don't clutter up your posts.
    Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 2.04.51 PM.png
     
  7. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks. the whole time Iv'e posted pics. I never seen that before..

    - - - Updated - - -

    test.
    [​IMG]
     

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    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
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  8. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Can the attached thumbnail box be taken out or not put In to begin with. thanks matt
     
  9. MattgomeryBurns

    MattgomeryBurns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Looks like you can, I just played around with it. Edit your post, then there are two places to edit. Choose the one at the very bottom below your thumbnail. When you click that edit link you can select an option to "manage attachments." Once that dialogue box opens, you can click an x on the corner of that thumbnail.

    [​IMG]

    ______________________________________

    Edit: nevermind! My picture now appears as a question mark. Doesn't look like you can.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
  10. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Worked for mine? I take that back. hhmmm I still have some learning to do..
     
  11. Probe Droid

    Probe Droid Master Member

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    First thing is figuring out how your camera works. Check YouTube for that as well.

    Good luck.
     
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  12. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks probe Droid and everyone helping. don't have light setup at the moment. but please bare with me through this. want to test as I go.

    [​IMG]
     

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  13. zorg

    zorg Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'm not the best at pics but i know light is your friend (not a flash) and i try and step back and zoom in, it seems to give a better depth.
     
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  14. zorg

    zorg Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    i'm not seeing this at all. when i click on an uploaded pic (onto this server) it just opens up in a new box.
     
  15. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks Zorg. I'm just running some very crude test at the moment. don't have much light to work with but will get some lighting.

    Stepped back and zoomed...

    test.
    [​IMG]

    Hey Zorg do you know how to ditch the thumb box at the bottom?
     

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  16. Probe Droid

    Probe Droid Master Member

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    Your light source is all on one side, which is why you're getting the shadow. Either put lights on both sides or use a reflector to bounce the light back towards the source to eliminate the shadow. A white sheet of printer paper, a white paper plate, or a piece of tin foil can be used in a pinch.

    Keep experimenting. Good luck.
     
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  17. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That's In manage attachment's. In the drop down box load the pic. after loded and done before post reply. click Image twice and that pops up. new to me too..
     
  18. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Anyone new to getting the big pics are more than welcome to experiment on this thread also...
     
  19. hdtheater

    hdtheater Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    If you are referring to posting your pics on the site, try linking from a site like photobucket or flickr. That's what I use as opposed to posting attachments on the site. Like So?

    [​IMG]

    Of course, I need to follow some of the photo tips posted in the earlier the thread.

    -Eric
     
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  20. Super Dad

    Super Dad New Member

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  21. nomuse

    nomuse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yeah...pinlight is cool to pick up highlights, but what really gives you the beauty shots is soft light. Reflector, diffusion...and sky light (not direct sunlight) also does very nicely if you can set up to use it. Doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate. Hold a piece of white foam-core up in direct light, just out of frame, to make a bounce light. You can ever wrap a t-shirt over a desk lamp to make a softer light!

    Two sources better than one. One will inevitably leave shadows. Fill them in with a second light of lower intensity. Even better; three lights. I'm really fond of the look of a stronger light behind the object, picking up highlights along the edges, and then two weaker lights coming from the camera direction.

    And seamless backgrounds are nice. Again, doesn't have to be elaborate. Stick a piece of posterboard behind the prop. Trick here is you don't set it on edge. You set the prop on
    it, and curve it up to rest against a wall. That means there's no visible edge/horizon.

    I got lots to learn myself. Look forward to hearing what other people have to contribute.


    (Oh, personally? I'm from a theater background -- designed fifty-odd shows in 300-800 seat houses. So I like drama; color and chiaroscuro and hard key light and so forth. And it doesn't take a lot of gear to do. This pic was done with light from a flashlight, a holocron, and a barbecue lighter: )
     

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    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
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  22. Kevin Gossett

    Kevin Gossett Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Build yourself a tabletop photo studio using PVC pipe and a roll of white butcher/craft/project paper.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Forgive the mess and wrinkled paper. Need to get a new roll!
     
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  23. Super Dad

    Super Dad New Member

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    Couple general photo tips
    -The larger you light source is relative to subject, the softer the light will be. if your only light source is a single light bulb, try a thin sheet or a piece of tissue paper to make your light source bigger.
    -Shadows create depth. Evenly lighting a subject can make it appear flat. If using two even light sources, you might want to move one slightly back, to creat a slight bit of shadow to show depth.
     
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  24. glitch451

    glitch451 New Member

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    Lighting is (mostly) everything!

    It's not uncommon for me to have ~$3k worth of gear when on a product photo shoot, however what can be accomplished with even a camera phone, window curtain, wax paper, tin foil, poster board, and white grocery bag is not to be underrated. Mind you, if you've spent hours on colour accuracy to the most minute wavelength, this is will fail to do justice, however if your alternative/usual is a point and shoot snap of your prop on the floor next to your desk (which is still awesome when not intended as final exhibition) it will be well worth it.
    General guidelines:

    Background - Clean/not distracting. Doesn't have to be blank, but it helps especially when using very simple lighting. As described above, seamless setups (e.g. bent posterboard) is easy and low-cost. If you've greater camera control a wide aperture and long focal length is also helpful with cleaning up the bacground by means of depth of field, blurry backgroud but that is a more complex approach, and requires even greater lighting work.

    Key light - This is your main source of light, and on a simple setup, few things are easier than a window curtain diffusing daylight. With the window at your 4 o'clock, your subject below at 12 o'clock, you can avoid shadow of you/ your camera, while still having shadows for definition. Other quick&dirty key lights can be any lamp with a large diffusing shade, or I've even used a flashlight with an empty white plastic grocery bag "inflated" over the front.

    Fill light - The purpose here is to soften any unpleasantly hard shadows (e.g. an amateur video interview where the far side of someones nose looks like a black hole in the middle of their face). This is easily fixed in a variety of ways (w/o additional light sources) ranging from a hard reflector such as a mirror or smooth tinfoil, to what is more often preferred to give soft light such as a poster board reflecting just enough to bring out desired detail, or even a white wall. Often placed between 8 & 10 o'clock, as well as somewhat lower than your key light. If using an actual light source, less light should fall on the subject from your fill, while the key provides the most.

    small note: The key light providing the "most" light is not always brightest, because additional lights such as "rim" & "hair" lights can be brighter in providing highlights to match a certain style/aesthetic, yet they should be shaped where the key light provides the primary source of light.

    as for Back, Rim, and Hair lights... at that point you're getting into complexity beyond what anyone wants to read in a single post, suffice it to say they are additional means of sculpting light to best show your subject and can be used to provide mood, enhance details, and even provide separation from the background in conjunction with other skills such as depth of field.

    Perhaps the best suggestion is do an image search on "tabletop photography ideas" which will show you final images as well as overviews of the setups people use to create those images. As for the equipment, aside from colour consistency, as well as brightness needed to overpower daylight, or compensate for a really fast speed (e.g. shooting water droplets), wherever you see a flash or strobe it can probably be replaced with a normal light source, just with a lot more experimenting to shape/focus/diffuse/colour or otherwise manipulate it. But with normal lights that don't flash, (a.k.a "hot lights") turn the flash off of your camera, you can get amazing studio looking shots with even an iPhone.

    Just like prop-making, play around. Use layers of wax paper to dim a light, crumpled tin foil for a more textured reflection, and even random bits to enhance the setting (crushed ice, tray of shallow water w/ mirror in the bottom, blowing fan to add dimension to fabrics...

    Cheers!
     
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  25. nomuse

    nomuse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I suppose someone has to give passing mention to color temperature, too. Simple way of putting it; incandescent bulbs (a lot of room lights, desk lamps, etc.) don't render colors well. Sure, your camera will attempt to auto-correct but the results usually are not nice; ranging from "looking sort of dull and dirty" to "why is everything all yellow?" Nor do "white light" LEDs give expected results. Strobes, some fluorescents, halogen lamps, sunlight, sky -- these match the sensitivity of most camera CCDs better, and will tend to give nicer as well as more vibrant colors.

    What I do for a lot of my blog pics is turn off all my room lights, and use entirely the light coming through the blinds and bouncing off my white walls. Not even direct sunlight; just the bounce light from that blue sky.
     
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  26. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thank you all very very much. you guys are posting some fantastic tips here and have my total appreciation. as soon as I clean up some of my prop mess from being on vacation. I will dive Into this a bit deeper. any prop stand/holding devices Info out there?



    You guys ROCK!:thumbsup
     
  27. Probe Droid

    Probe Droid Master Member

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    Another worthy investment is a light tent, which can be had very cheaply on ebay. Match that with a few hardware store painters' lights with natural-light bulbs and you're ready to go. The whole set up is less than $100.

    For outdoors, bright overcast days are gold because the sky is like a big lightbox that provides beautiful natural light without harsh shadows.

    Good luck.
     
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  28. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks Probe Droid.

    Another very fast and crude test. I can see now what you all are saying about lighting being the key. and I see whats off. I just have to wait to get some more lighting. used the Photobucket tools to play around with It also. It will progress so just be patient with me guys I don't like using the main prop board for test. but It's the only way I can see the last result..

    Pre photo bucket
    [​IMG]

    Photo bucket
    [​IMG]

    And Photo bucket's becoming a down right pain. unless I get there add free deal I guess. not going to happen any time soon...
     

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  29. MattgomeryBurns

    MattgomeryBurns Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    We use pretty much the same concept in video for sit down interviews. It gives a gorgeous clean look.

    @sean, your original post has produced some great advice all around!
     
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  30. Probe Droid

    Probe Droid Master Member

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  31. nomuse

    nomuse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Gimp is also pretty cool and has basic tools for cleaning up. I tend to use the "curves" command a lot to bring out detail in less-lit areas. It is free and runs on everything, but be warned -- it's rather "command line" oriented and can be scary to the uninitiated.
     
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  32. Luke Skyvader

    Luke Skyvader Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    PM Bobadebt, He's pretty good prop photo's
     
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