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    Firearms photography

    (I don't know if I ran this on the old CSPicon forum or not. In view of the fact that there has been a lot of discussion about posting pictures, I thought I'd post (or maybe "repost") these hints on firearms photography. I will never be mistaken for Ansel Adams, but I've gotten where I can take useful pictures. Feel free to chime in with your own hints. --RtL)

    Although it can be hard to take "archival" firearms pictures, it isn't hard to take usable ones. If you follow a few simple rules, you can greatly improve the quality of your pictures.

    1) Make friends with your camera software's photo editing program. I know it can be a hassle, but it will pay big dividends. My program has a "quick fix" feature that often drastically improves the picture quality. The cropping feature I use a LOT!

    2) Edit out all extra detail. Note the top picture taken of one of my M1903s. How many of you have seen these pictures with, not only a lot of extra "background" but even the photographer's feet in the picture! (I've even seen pictures with the photographer's BARE feet - and sometimes they WEREN'T clean!!). Your photo program should have a cropping feature. Compare the top photo with the bottom one - the exact same picture, just cropped. (I also used the editing program to get the lighting a little better)




    3) The "if close is better, getting REAL close must be better still" - problem
    How many of you have seen rifles offered for sale with blurry, out of focus pictures, like the top one below. This is usually caused by the photographer trying to stick his camera right up close - beyond where it can clearly focus on the subject. Another secret - take a picture relatively far away at MAXIMUM resolution, so you know it will be in focus. Then, again, using the cropping feature, focus in on the details.



    (picture taken farther away at maximum resoution)



    (picture above cropped and light corrected to capture closeup of rear sight)



    4) Lighting -- This is something I still haven't totally conquered, but I think I'm getting better. However, take pictures on a "high overcast" day, NOT in bright sunshine. Another suggestion is taking pictures in an area, outside or inside, with "light" shade. Avoid flash, if you can.



    5) "Steady as she goes" - If your camera has a mount for a tripod, invest in one. You can sometimes find a cheap one for $20 or so. Another cheap alternative is the tabletop variety, which I've seen for $10 or more. Mount your camera on a tripod, and make use (if available) of the self timer.

    There isn't that much difference in time and money between "snapshots" and near-archival pictures.

    Good luck!!
    Last edited by Rick the Librarian; 06-02-2015 at 03:59 PM.
    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

    --George Orwell

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    Really Senior Member Johnny Peppers's Avatar
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    To emphasize what Rick said about the tripod, the tripod will go farther than anything else you can do to make quality photos. The best camera with the highest megapixel and the best lens won't make a good photo if there is camera movement.

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    Really Senior Member Jeff L's Avatar
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    You should add, if you're going to include your feet, be sure to have shoes or at least socks on. I remember one post, it might have even be an auction and bare feet were included at the bottom of the shot. The feet comments made for a funny thread and the rifle got lost in the conversation.

    -Jeff L

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    Member High Plaines Doug r's Avatar
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    I'm strictly an amateur at this but I've had some success using a light blue background. Flash is generally bad unless you use a diffuser and indirect (diffuse) light greatly reduces glare.
    Rifles are awkward to shoot because they're so long and skinny.

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    Cropping technique tried

    Hey Rick,
    Just tried your cropping techniqes on one of your photos. How does it look?
    BEAR
    Pesonally, I prefer Carhart boot socks.
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    Contributing Member BEAR's Avatar
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    Background color and material is critical for enhancing details.
    Attached are 4 pictures taken in identical conditions. Best colors seem to be the blue grey and light blue. All materials are non-reflective cloth.
    BEAR
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    Really Senior Member Jim K's Avatar
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    I second light blue for a background. I like to use a desk blotter; they can be had in various colors and are non-reflective. For any dark areas, use bounce lighting or a reflector made of aluminum foil tacked to corrugated cardboard.

    For highlighting markings, I use a white grease pencil (not a china marker) or just a moistened white powder like flour. Chalk can be used but could scratch a fine finish.

    I love digital photography. No more darkroom, no more chemicals, no more enlarger. And if the photo doesn't turn out, there is no wasted film, paper, and developer. Just delete the garbage and re-use the same card. I don't know who invented digital photos but he/they did us all a good turn.

    Oh, and BTW, PLEASE reduce the size (pixels) of your pictures. You will seldom lose any significant detail and you will help us in the boondocks who are stuck with 56k dialup lines. Those 12 meg photos take a LONG time to download and are no better than a 150k pic.

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim K; 03-07-2009 at 10:29 PM.

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    Hmmmm, I don't understand. The file I downloaded was only 125kb. Sorry about that.

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    Hey, at least the socks were clean!

    The floor in our covered porch is a great shade of gray - almost perfect for taking "casual" rifle pictures. I agree that light blue is another good background. I've even seen pictures taken with a darker blue background that look good.

    I can second Jim's comments:

    1) "Amen" to digital photography. I used to develop B&W, darkroom and all, and I don't miss it a bit!

    2) Important point about picture size. 600x900 pixil is fine. 50-100Kb of picture is reasonably detailed but helps the rest of us to avoid those long "waits" while the picture downloads.
    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

    --George Orwell

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    Really Senior Member Lancebear's Avatar
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    Hey Rick,

    Thanks for your efforts.

    As far as lighting goes, the best photos I have ever taken of firearms are in full sunlight in the backyard, yes, not too close, shows off the wood real nice. Background? I like a bright cypress plank and the green St. Aug. grass in the backyard. Sadie the Whippet is always a nice touch also.

    Lancebear

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