Help with Photography

3d Design and graphics

Help with Photography

Postby Vigilante on 09/18/2012, 1:25 pm

Hi guys, since there isn't a forum on photography itself, I'm putting the question under Photoshop since that is where I'm doing post production.

In the company I work for I strive to increase quality of images we produce for public. They used to do things like take screen shots of "images" they wanted out of 720 videos shot on home camcorders! Then progressed to home point and shoot cameras. I finally got them to buy a DSLR (though they don't know how to use it properly, that's not my department), the pictures have improved.

Recently they hired a marketing guy who owns his own DSLR and has been the primary photographer, but I'm still not seeing the images I KNOW we are capable of doing with a DSLR! We are selling some high dollar items and our product shots are not showing it.

I am attaching a crop of a photo taken just recently by the guy, I cropped out just a section of a rifle so you can see what it looks like.
Here are some of the details of the original:
Canon EOS 60D
Lens: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: 9
F Number: f/22
ISO: 1000
Saved to JPG with sRGB and quality of 95.

Our shot

The shot was taken outdoors in the sun on top of a white posterboard. You can see the white balance seems to be ok, it's a nice bright white, the photo has had no processing yet. But the problem is, of course, a huge lack of good detail, lots of pixel noise, etc etc. He was standing above the rifle probably about 4 feet, no tripod I'm sure.

I'm not a photographer but I'm pretty sure these DSLRs are capable of better than this! I also attached a shot from the manufacturer, you can notice how much more detailed and "smooth" it is with less pixel noise. The "white" backgrounds are both the same, but the professional shot is so much clearer.

Can somebody school me on what the problem with our photos are? Is there an issue with having a black product against white background that is throwing off the sensors? Is it an image stabilization or ISO issue? What is the best way to take product photos (and be able to remove backgrounds easily) if we can't use whiteboard?

someoneelse.jpg (19.44 KiB) Viewed 3818 times

Thanks for any help guys!
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Joined: 01/6/2011, 5:44 pm

Re: Help with Photography

Postby ivanparas on 09/19/2012, 11:32 am

The sunlight (using one lighting source plus any bounce you can get from the white BG) used by your photographer is going to create a ton of contrast and you will lose a lot of the detail because a large portion of the object will be in shadow.

The manufacturer's photo is done with a real lighting setup, which most likely included the standard 3-point lighting setup (Google it if you don't know what that is) with maybe a couple of reflectors to bring out some of the detail. If not a 3-point setup, they probably use a lightbox, which you can make yourself easily or buy a professional one.

Without knowing exactly what your photographer was doing, I can't really critique his technique or camera settings, but none of that matters if the scene setup isn't done right. Get a better lighting setup, and then you can adjust the camera settings to get the desired look.
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Location: Charleston, SC

Re: Help with Photography

Postby browntimmy on 09/20/2012, 2:30 pm

That ISO is pretty high for a well-lit shot. Higher ISOs cause more noise.
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Joined: 01/16/2010, 7:34 pm

Re: Help with Photography

Postby tony on 09/20/2012, 9:16 pm

Yeah. good photography is handcrafted. That is you have to set up the lights and diffuse them. If you just use the sun you are going to get sharp shadows and that stuff is ugly for product photography.

The minimum the guy should do is bring down the F-stop so you can shoot in a smaller ISO.

Also the lens is mediocre. You should rent a nice Nikkor or Leica to really get a nice picture.

I suggest you hire someone with a nice studio to shoot your products. That is if you want professional results.
I make pixels twerk.
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Joined: 09/1/2008, 12:36 am

Re: Help with Photography

Postby surfengine on 09/20/2012, 10:06 pm

just to confirm what everyone else is saying, the ISO is too high and the lighting is not properly setup.

i know our marketing department takes product pics, and they often use custom setup tables that allow for light underneath. basically its a semi transparent white material below a piece of glass. then below that is a light pointing up.
then there is diffused lighting above and from camera angle. the 2 upper lights are set to a flash.

my opinion, is that either someone in your company needs to spend some time testing and testing and testing. like a week or 2 (full time). its not something that you can just walk in and do really well in an hour without any previous experience.\
either that or fork the money up to pay someone that already knows. i know it seems crazy to pay someone just to take pictures, but from a business perspective, you have to consider what your business is. are you in the business of taking pictures, or are you in the business of selling guns? or whatever you sell.

or, if its something you are interested in, buy a camera and spend your free time over the next year and learn to do it and then just take that job over as part of your normal duties. thats the kind of stuff I did. I just decided I wouuld learn how to do this video, vfx and 3d animation and just tell my company that that is what my job is. now the marketing dept sends requests to me to make videos and other materials for them. i absorbed it and even hired 2 guys to help me out.
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