Specific DSLR Help
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  1. #1
    Member ABud21's Avatar
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    Specific DSLR Help

    Hi all,

    I've been into photography for a few years now. Always been told I have the eye for it, and I would agree. I know what I want, but getting it exactly as I picture can be tough. I'm very trial and error when it comes to taking pictures, but there are those times when I just cannot figure out what's going wrong. For starters, I don't truly know what all the controls do, but I play around with them and try to get an image right. Works for watches, but not for other things that are time sensitive, like sunsets.

    I've read up on some tips, and I quite well know that lighting is the biggest factor. However, I don't know what or how to stack/level or whatever you call it. I'm OK with F stops and learning that using longer exposures have created better images. For starters, I have a Nikon D3300 with the standard 18-55mm VR lens and that's all. I have a Ravelli tripod that goes up to 6 feet tall or so...and that's it. I've been able to achieve good results so far, but want to take my pictures to another level. I am aware that I'll need another lens or two - I want a 300mm zoom and a standard 35 or 50mm lens, but those will have to wait. What I cannot seem to find is any specific advice on what settings and controls will produce the results I want. For example, using a 3" exposure and F11 for waves crashing, with 100 EXP and WB set to Cloudy to capture misting (That may not be exactly right, but just the type of info I'm looking for).

    I've recently learned how to take better lume shots, but any time the light is low - think 7am CST, I still get a lot of noise. But other times I don't. I edit either on my computer with standard Windows, or Snapseed, Instagram on my phone. Easy enough, and just installed the Nikon ViewNX or whatever and have no idea how to use it. Looking at Lightroom in the future.

    Does anyone have specific advice for the following:

    Crisp, clear, product photo type shots. I need to build a lightbox, but the actual shooting and settings have been troublesome, especially getting my reflection when straight on. Any tips for how to get a completely black background as opposed to the white lightbox?

    Eliminating noise when shooting in lower light. I love using the natural light, and seems like sometimes I'll get a noiseless shot and others I'll have a bunch of "scratchiness" in it. I don't know why this is happening.

    How exactly should you use the light reflectors. I'm very amateur so I've got a solid piece of white card paper, but I don't know what it means to reflect the light onto the subject. Like from what angle? Should the natural light come in and hit it and bounce back onto the face?

    How to use the flash straight on? I've found that some people love using the flash, however, I tried it a bunch last night in various light levels and could not get a good picture. They all looked like I used the flash, aka, they looked worse than ever. It creates a lot of inky blacks in the stainless steel and a large flash as well.

    How to use your laptop as a lightbox? This I thought would be simple, however, I used it with the lights on, with them off, and could not get anything that looked like a product photo as I've seen others do. I need specifics on the set up - room lighting, camera setting, angle, etc.


    I wanted to be a bit more specific here so I don't just get a million tips like I've read on the Sticky and the rest of the internet. There's SO much info, but it's hard to apply it to specific settings. My default is just to use the natural light, make sure the reflection is gone from the lens and shoot at that angle. I use my ironing board inside the window and typically use interesting background that are almost always clothing or shoes. The textures create good pictures and settings that go well. Otherwise I'll just place the watch somewhere in nature. The results are great, but I'm getting bored with that and looking to get something more professional. I can see the shots in my mind, set them up how I see it and then just can't get the camera to shoot it like I see it.

    Here are examples of things I got right:
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    And here are examples of ones I wish I could get much clearer:
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    Thanks for any suggestions!
    "Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use." - Earl Nightingale.

  2. #2
    Member SeikoAutomatic_01's Avatar
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    For less noise use low ISO's such as 100 or 200. That will slow shutter speeds so you'll need the tripod in low light. You can get some "macro" pics with the 18-55(I think that lens has 52mm filter threads)by buying a Nikon 4t close up lens(only available used)to screw on to the filter threads of the lens and set the lens to 55mm. There are other close up lenses you can get new but I'm not sure which ones will equal the 4t in quality-maybe the Canon 250d-I think it's available in 52mm thread size.

  3. #3
    Member bigdog's Avatar
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    If you want to up your game and work on the settings for various light conditions. Spend a few bucks and buy a light meter.

    A light box and a lens that will allow you to back away from the subject and your light source would be key in reducing the chance of seeing yourself. Of course being slightly off center (90 degrees to your subject) will help as well.

    Remember that when you get very close to the subject your DOF is measured in MM's so moving from 90 degrees to lessen reflections can result in a bigger chance of having some of your subject out of focus.

    A great lens for the Nikon APS-C is a Nikon 105MM F2.8D Micro Nikor (157MM full frame equivalent) Just like on my D5100 it will be manual focus on your D3300, But will auto focus on my D7100.

    It may sound silly, But buy a book. I found an old book dating from the 1990's that was geared to an amateur looking to gain better skills. It was written by John Hedgecoe, He has more up to date books but the setup techniques are the same whether film or sensor.
    Last edited by bigdog; January 15th, 2016 at 17:10.
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  5. #4
    Member Gunnar_917's Avatar
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    As above, esp the point by bigdog on the impact slight movements make to DOF. In you 'not quite right' photos a lot of the issue is this, your focus point is off slightly. In some cases you need to go in closer because you just have too much going on in the scene.

    As as for your other settings request, it would be better to post up those pics and what setting you used. You'll get much better feedback that way because what you're after is micro adjustments, it's diffcult to tell you 'use X' without seeing what the scene is.

    More specifically, non watch (or more exactly non macro) photography would be better
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    With that Alpinist I'm seeing a lot of ISO noise. I don't see a problem with the OVM on boots in the snow, though. Except that that's a weird place for a watch
    Last edited by ProcrastinatingPhysicist; January 16th, 2016 at 18:32.
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  7. #6
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    OP, how are you currently using your flash unit? Never aim a flash head-on directly into your subject (unless that's the 'look' you want). Use a diffusor on your flash unit, and "bounce" it. Both will soften the harshness of the flash and illuminate your scene much better. Bounce flash really just means angling your light up and away, so you will at least need a flash unit that can be angled. Gels also work. If you are serious about playing with flash, experiment with off-camera flash units (triggered remotely). Off-camera flash + Umbrellas.

    There is a whole wealth of information online for these types of flash techniques!
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  8. #7
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    Also, I do want to say this. Reading your example about wanting the specific settings for "wave crashing".. etc. Photography isn't about adapting sets of universal settings that can be applied at any time for any situation. You really need to re-think your approach:

    - Learn the principles of exposure, meaning, learn the relationships between: Aperture, Shutter-Speed, ISO, and Exposure compensation. These are like the controls of a car: steering, gas, brake, gears... etc.
    - Learn how to control these functions on your camera, MASTER your tool.
    - Most importantly: EXPERIMENT. Experiment, experiment, experiment. There are general principles that can be applied to scenarios, but there is no universal setting for shooting waves crashing, weddings, birds, etc, because every scene is different and requires different settings. You need to learn, through experience and experimentation, how to adjust your tool for each scenario.
    Last edited by IronButterfly; January 16th, 2016 at 19:29.

  9. #8
    Member ABud21's Avatar
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    I thought that's what they meant by "new shoes" for your watch!

    Quote Originally Posted by ProcrastinatingPhysicist View Post
    With that Alpinist I'm seeing a lot of ISO noise. I don't see a problem with the OVM on boots in the snow, though. Except that that's a weird place for a watch
    Thanks for the help. I guess what I need probably is to read up a bit more. I did some basic stuff and I do experiment, a lot, but there are times when I just can't figure out how to get a good picture, other times I just get lucky. This weekend, for watch photos, I must have taken 200. Just playing with settings and speeds and ISO to get the cleanest shot. Had an abundance of natural light though so it was fine. Then I went out and caught some great high speed pics of my dog. But when I thought I had a grip on it, I tried to get the sundown across the pond and couldn't diffuse enough light (or whatever the term). Had my F stop as high as it could go, ISO low, long shutter, short shutter and it just looked too white - too much light. I've taken good sunset/sunrise pics before too. Not sure what was going on.

    As for flash, I really at this point only have my camera and a tripod. No other flash and I'm unaware of being able to angle the flash or redirect it. I've looked up videos on how to make a light box, so I think that and some all white/all black cardboard is in order. Things are getting better, but thought maybe some of you might have some tips for either what went wrong in those pics above or just some general indoor shooting tips in different lights.

    I actually figured out how to do the light/f stops in Aruba for my sister's wedding. It was about 2 weeks after buying the camera, so I was very pleased with most of the pics...still a little bewildered at noise in the others. I do need to figure out ISO/shutter/F stop and how they all work together because most of the time I'm winging it or trying to duplicate the standard settings from the wheel.
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Size:  300.2 KB But these guys knew what they were doing haha
    "Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use." - Earl Nightingale.

  10. #9
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    To be honest, those are some pretty good shots. Better than what I can do and I've had a DSLR for a few years.
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  11. #10
    Member bigdog's Avatar
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    Re: Specific DSLR Help

    ABud21.
    I assume that you shoot in RAW format. Could you tell us what processing software you use?

    A lot of issues with noise and lighting can be worked on in processing. I use a few programs depending on what sort of picture I took. I.E. When doing bracketed HDR I use Photomaix pro 5. For others I use either LR6 or DxO optics pro (great noise reduction). As I'm not a professional and just use my photos in my home and share with friends. I can't be bothered with making monthly payments for the rest of my life to Adobe. Therefore I do not & will not use Photoshop.

    Joining a local photo club is a great way to learn as well. I'm VP of our local club. Of course one must be willing to listen to some critical comments on ones photos.
    Last edited by bigdog; January 19th, 2016 at 03:35.
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