New Photo Setup

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New Photo Setup

Post  mike page on Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:43 am

Today I did a revamp on my bonsai photo "Studio". Actually, all I did was make a larger table so as to better shoot bonsai display. This will allow me to make better arrangements of the bonsai and accent in relation to the scroll.
The black backdrop is a nonreflective material. On each side of the table is a white window shade I pull down when I'm shooting. They reflect light back to the subject.
Tomorrow when I regain some energy, I'll shoot some 3 point displays.
The images are the "studio", and a sumo shohin boxwood.






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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  jjbacoomba on Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:50 am

Way cool! What kind of camera did you use? I feel like maybe the floor should also be black. Looking forward to more pics.

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Hawaiian77 on Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:53 am

Howzit Mike,

I see no flash so I'm assuming your using existing light. If I may ask, what did you shoot this at?

A Hui Hou,
-Tim Cool

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  JimLewis on Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:59 pm

I'm always amused in photography threads that the very first question that is always asked is "what kind of camera?"

Folks, the camera doesn't matter! If you're careful, you can take great pictures with a disposable. That has been demonstrated endless times by expert pros. I used to challenge students who would come to class with thousands of dollars worth of camera to a competition using an Instamatic. Depending on the relative visionary skills of student and instructor, I often won. But the camera had nothing to do with it.

ANY SLR is sufficient. No one can tell the difference between a photo taken by a competent photographer with a Leica, Pentax, Cannon, Nikon, Minolta or Olympus (and probably new brands of digitals that I've never heard of). If you claim that you can, it's a fib.

That looks to be an excellent setup, Mike. You must keep it up permanently. It looks too large to be set up just for a shoot. Lovely shot, too. I would NOT make the floor black, but something a bit darker would probably draw the eye down a bit less.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  xuan le on Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:44 pm

Very nice setting.
For the backdrop what nonreflective material did you use may I ask?

Xuan

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  mike page on Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:17 pm

jjbacoomba wrote:Way cool! What kind of camera did you use? I feel like maybe the floor should also be black. Looking forward to more pics.

The camera is an Olympus E-420 DSLR. 10 mega pixel.


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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  mike page on Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:21 pm

Hawaiian77 wrote:Howzit Mike,

I see no flash so I'm assuming your using existing light. If I may ask, what did you shoot this at?

A Hui Hou,
-Tim Cool

Tim, for this shot I used the on-camera flash. Sometimes, for better balance, I use 2 strobes that can be seen at the top of the picture. They are triggered by the camera flash.

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  mike page on Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:25 pm

JimLewis wrote:I'm always amused in photography threads that the very first question that is always asked is "what kind of camera?"
[That looks to be an excellent setup, Mike. You must keep it up permanently. It looks too large to be set up just for a shoot. Lovely shot, too. I would NOT make the floor black, but something a bit darker would probably draw the eye down a bit less.

Jim, I agree that the floor is too light. I plan to darken it by rubbing it with walnut oil that has some black ink added as a darkening agent.

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  mike page on Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:34 pm

xuan le wrote:Very nice setting.
For the backdrop what nonreflective material did you use may I ask?

Xuan

Xuan, I bought the backdrop from a photo supply store in New York. I don't know what kind of material it is. Whatever it is, it sure works well. Never any shadows that can ruin a photo.
If you want one, any good camera/photo supply store should know what it is and be able to order one for you.

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Mike Jones on Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:23 pm

Mike this looks brilliant. One of the problems I constantly get is shadows on the black background; do the strobe lights (and what are they exactly) up top reflecting on the white sides eliminate the shadow as I see you say you use a frontal flash as well?

Cheers

Mike J

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  JimLewis on Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:00 pm

With the black background, you don't need to worry about shadows from the on-camera flash. The only real problem with using only the flash is it tends to flatten the tree in the picture because the light comes from directly in front of it.

My -- much simpler -- setup is in a sun room. Bare, neutral color walls and a table, with sunlight flooding in from behind and over the camera. No artificial light. That gives a very soft, rounded light and soft shadows behind the tree to set it out from the background. But, no nighttime pictures, either.



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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Mike Jones on Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:09 pm

Thank you Jim.

Mike

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Ravi Kiran on Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:01 am

Hi Mike,

Excellent setup... and I am sure that it is worth the efforts you have put into it. You have answered most of the questions that came to mind when I first saw this topic a couple of days. These include the type of camera you use and also the type of flash. I would suggest that you avoid using the inbuilt flash of the camera but rather use the strobes. Gives a much mellow and fuller image. Would you want to post a pic of the same tree you have already posted but this time using a strobe instead of the inbuilt flash... Just for kicks and if that is not too much of a trouble.

Jim
Those were some encouraging words you had. Especially for me as I resist temptation to buy an "Advanced" camera. I presently use the Olympus SP 500 UZ since about 4 years. I operate it in the full manual mode and have got some excellent pics as I continue to learn photography. Recently the prices of DSLRs have been dropping especially some of the older models of Nikon and Canon and the question of "Do I need a new one" has been bouncing off me for some time now. I finally decided to stay put with what I've got.

Regards
Ravi

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  mike page on Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:28 pm

Mike Jones wrote:Mike this looks brilliant. One of the problems I constantly get is shadows on the black background; do the strobe lights (and what are they exactly) up top reflecting on the white sides eliminate the shadow as I see you say you use a frontal flash as well?

Cheers

Mike J

Mike, it's the special photo backdrop that eliminates the shadows. Almost totally non-reflective. Contact B&H Photo Supply at 800.952.1815 / 212.444.6708.

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Mike Jones on Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:05 pm

mike page wrote:
Mike Jones wrote:Mike this looks brilliant. One of the problems I constantly get is shadows on the black background; do the strobe lights (and what are they exactly) up top reflecting on the white sides eliminate the shadow as I see you say you use a frontal flash as well?

Cheers

Mike J

Mike, it's the special photo backdrop that eliminates the shadows. Almost totally non-reflective. Contact B&H Photo Supply at 800.952.1815 / 212.444.6708.

Thanks Mike.

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  mike page on Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:26 pm

mike page wrote:
Mike Jones wrote:Mike this looks brilliant. One of the problems I constantly get is shadows on the black background; do the strobe lights (and what are they exactly) up top reflecting on the white sides eliminate the shadow as I see you say you use a frontal flash as well?

Cheers

Mike J

Mike, it's the special photo backdrop that eliminates the shadows. Almost totally non-reflective. Contact B&H Photo Supply at 800.952.1815 / 212.444.6708.

Mike., I didn't realize you live in the UK. Guess you won't be shopping at B&H. I'm sure you can find a non-reflective backdrop close to home. If you want to improve image quality, it's worth the effort.
Mike Page

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Mike Jones on Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:09 pm

aww shucks, I didn't want to let on:-) Yep,looking right now. Are the white sides the same? Actually that was a dumb question they need to be reflective, duh, age and brains, lordy I got missed out I think.

Mike

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Rob Kempinski on Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:02 pm

Decent arrangement Mike for using a flash. The image does appear a bit over exposed on my screen so maybe bracketing the shot by changing f-stop a few stops may help.

I find a black background to be boring for a bonsai shot - especially if all the photos are black in a set of tree images. It does work well for use of flash as it hides the shadows. However, one can use natural light or even simple incandescent light off to the sides for a decent bonsai photo and avoid shadows as Jim's photo shows
I'm doing a session at the BCI/ABS convention in Louisville on what I learned about taking bonsai photos. If you are interested come to the event in Louisville, KY in June.

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  JimLewis on Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:01 pm

I can recommend Still Life in Photography by Paul Martineau. There's nary a bonsai in it, but the techniques and setup are exactly the same whether you are photographing a bowl of fruit. or a Japanese maple. It will cover all kinds of lighting setups, as well as natural light.

Amazon carries it, but any local bookstore, if they don't have it will order it for you.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  Rob Kempinski on Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:56 am

JimLewis wrote:I can recommend Still Life in Photography by Paul Martineau. There's nary a bonsai in it, but the techniques and setup are exactly the same whether you are photographing a bowl of fruit. or a Japanese maple. It will cover all kinds of lighting setups, as well as natural light.

Amazon carries it, but any local bookstore, if they don't have it will order it for you.

Amazon doesn't have a TOC for it. Does it address digital photography?


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Re: New Photo Setup

Post  JimLewis on Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:20 pm

Yes, but I think I left the wrong impression in my earlier post. This isn't a nuts and bolts how-to book. It is a survey of still life photography over the years, that will provide you with ideas on setup, etc. It's more a picture book. There are gazillions of how-to books on this subject -- and digital setups are no different than film setups.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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