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Author Topic: Photography  (Read 1489 times)

Offline Ignatieff

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Photography
« on: November 06, 2016, 11:35:04 AM »
Chaps

I've acquired myself a Canon Eos 70D, and damn fine it is too.  However I can't shoot games for toffee.  Can any experts out there suggest the right sort of lens to use, and the right kind of settings please?

thanks

Steve
"...and as always, we are dealing with strange forces far beyond our comprehension...."

All limitations are self imposed.  Work hard and dream big.

Offline Ignatieff

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Re: Photography
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2016, 06:28:41 PM »
so no happy snappers then...... :?

Offline Hammers

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Re: Photography
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2016, 06:30:47 PM »
For your type of games I suggest a wide angle. But for showing up your paintjobs you need a macro lense.

Offline Eric the Shed

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Re: Photography
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2016, 07:25:33 PM »
for my game shots I just use autofocus and take from a distance - then crop the pictures on the PC...

If you want to take close ups get yourself a tripod and a remote control.. set the setting on the highest f rate poss and click. The lens will open and depending upon light will eventually close. This effectively 'sucks' up all the image in its pixellated glory.

Offline Ignatieff

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Re: Photography
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2016, 07:44:28 PM »
thanks chaps

Offline agentbalzac

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Re: Photography
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2016, 06:38:52 AM »
Ignatieff,

It depends on what you're trying to achieve.  

If you are trying to demonstrate some painting, figures or new terrain, you're best off setting up a tripod and lighting and appropriate scenery.  

But if it's an in-game photo sequence don't get too distracted by the photography as it can do weird things to the game play itself (forgetting rules, moves etc): just try to snap away on semi-auto modes and capture the key moments of the game and edit/crop to your heart's content afterwards.  If taking photos of an on-going game, I try to get down to the table view a bit, usually from one perspective (my side of the table), so if I'm writing it up later it can be a consistent sequence.  I also try to remove the detritus of gaming (dice, rulebooks) from the frame.  I'm not always good at this (see below) but it helps.  

Also remember there are some easy and useful tools for cropping out the dreaded 'wargamer's belly'/'wargamers butt'.  :o I use Magic Matting Free (a free Mac application) to sort out this problem, there would be similar for PC/Linux.  These two below aren't the best examples - they were shot with my android phone - but you'll get the drift of what's possible with a bit of simple post processing:

Before:


After (with some cropping and matting):


Hope this helps.  Either way, good luck with your new toy and we look forward to seeing some results.  :)

Cheers,
agentbalzac
« Last Edit: November 11, 2016, 06:46:03 AM by agentbalzac »

Offline Hammers

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Re: Photography
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2016, 06:44:44 AM »
Ignatieff,

It depends on what you're trying to achieve. 

If you are trying to demonstrate some painting, figures or new terrain, you're best off setting up a tripod and lighting and appropriate scenery. 

But if it's an in-game photo sequence don't get too distracted by the photography as it can do weird things to the game play itself (forgetting rules, moves etc): just try to snap away on semi-auto modes and capture the key moments of the game and edit/crop to your heart's content afterwards.  If taking photos of an on-going game, I try to get down to the table view a bit, usually from one perspective (my side of the table), sio if I'm wirting it up it can be a consistent sequence.  I also try to remove the detritus of gaming (dice, rulebooks) from the frame.  I'm not always good at this (see below) but it helps. 

Also remember there are some easy and useful tools for cropping out the dreaded 'wargamer's belly'/'wargamers butt'.  :o I use Magic Matting Free (a free Mac application) to sort out this problem, there would be similar for PC/Linux.  These two below aren't the best examples - they were shot with my android phone - but you'll get the drift of what's possible with a bit of simple post processing:

Before:


After (with some cropping and matting):


Hope this helps.  Either way, good luck with your new toy and we look forward to seeing some results.  :)

Cheers,
agentbalzac


Above are very good advice.

Offline Connectamabob

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Re: Photography
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2016, 11:28:04 AM »
What Eric is describing is called "Aperture Priority mode" (or "AP" for short). It'll be one of the settings on the camera's manual/auto menu or dial. It's a half-manual setting, where you set aperture manually, and the camera handles exposure time automatically. Your camera won't stop the exposure automatically the way Eric describes unless the camera is set on this mode.

There's an "Exposure Priority" mode also, but that's for when you're capturing stuff with lots of movement, like live sporting matches, say.

Camera basics:

There are basically only three variables to all cameras: ISO, Aperture, and shutter speed. All three control the amount of light captured ("exposure"), and share the same unit of exposure measurement ("stops") so that you can use any one to giveth back whatever another taketh away. This aspect can also be adjusted in Photoshop (within limits), so there's a tendency to think you don't need to worry about these: just use the auto settings, and if the exposure is a bit off, you can fix it later in photoshop.

However: each of these three settings has it's own unique trade off which cannot be fixed in photoshop (or to be exact: cannot be reduced in photoshop, only added to). This is their primary function: what actually makes them important and useful. Controlling exposure is only their secondary function. Thus, "just use auto and fix it in photoshop" can be a half-truth, depending on your application.

Lets get an ugly terminology snarl out of the way up front. "Exposure" means how much light is being captured by your camera in general. All three settings control exposure as their secondary function. "Exposure" is often confusingly used as shorhand for shutter speed, even though "exposure" really means "how much light is collected for a single pic, regardless of how that's controlled".

So for the purposes of this post, whenever I say "exposure", I always mean the broad definition. And whenever I mean "shutter speed", I will always say "shutter speed, or "time", never "exposure". Cool? Cool.

Also, regarding "stops": each of these 3 settings has it's own measurement system intended to deal with that setting's primary function, however each of these measurement systems is designed to use stop-equivalent units.

First up, ISO:

ISO is a trade off between image clarity and light sensitivity. The higher the number, the less light you need to take the same pics, but  the more grainy/muddy those pics will be. The lower the number, the clearer the pics will be, but the harder it will be to take those pics under less ideal lighting. ISO is measured in simple powers of 2, starting at 25 (though most modern cameras bottom out somewhere between 50 and 200), which are equivalent to stops.

When taking studio pics of your minis, with tripod, fixed lighting, etc., you'll want to manually set ISO as low as it can go. When taking pics of your game at the club or your mate's house, where lighting will be less certain, and the camera will be hand-held, you will probably have to turn the ISO up or to auto. IMO it's better to keep ISO manual, as auto settings will be more liberal with the ISO than they need to be, resulting in in pics that are grainier than they needed to be. IMO you always want to use the lowest ISO you can get away with.

If you want graininess for some aesthetic reason, it's better (more controllable) to add that in Photoshop. However, excessive graininess can't be fixed in Photoshop. You can smooth it's appearance in any number of ways, but you can't magically regain detail that was never captured to begin with.

Next up, Aperture:

Aperture is the size of the shutter "hole" through which light passes to reach the camera chip. In cell phone cameras, webcams, and other ultra-compact cameras, this is fixed (there is no "aperture" or "aperture priority" settings in a cell phone camera's manual mode), as there isn't room for a variable mechanical shutter. In "regular" cameras, this is that mechanical iris thingy behind the lens.

Aperture's primary function is controlling Depth of Field. This is the the amount of space in front of and behind the "sweet spot" of your focus which will also be in focus. The higher the number, the bigger your depth of field, but the less light is let in to hit the chip, so the shutter speed or ISO may need to be changed to compensate. The lower the number, the shallower your depth of field, but the more breathing room you have for your ISO or shutter speed. Aperture measurements are expressed in "f-stops", which is an incredibly woolly mathematical thing the only important part of which you really need to know is that it's also equivalent to stops in powers of 2.
 
When taking studio pics of your minis, you want your depth of field to be deep enough to cover the entire mini, but anything more is unneeded and so by going over you're just inflating your shutter speed for no reason. Moreover, A depth of field that cuts off between the subject and the background is a great way to ensure your background is well separated and abstract-ified.

When taking pics of a game at a club or your mate's house, you'll want a big depth of field to show the complex situation on the tabletop while also capturing your mate's gooney facial expressions and humorous eating habits for future mockery. This may force you to raise your ISO and/or lower your shutter speed to capture enough light. Auto settings typically prioritize depth of field (and thus higher aperture values), so you should be okay with auto.

Finally, shutter speed:

Shutter speed is the time the shutter stays open, letting in light to accumulate into an image. Shutter speed's primary function is controlling motion blur. The longer your camera takes to expose a single image, the more potential for motion blur there is. This is relevant both to photographing moving targets, but also to the camera itself moving. Shutter speed is expressed in fractions of a second, with the major intervals being powers of 2 corresponding to stops.

In a studio setting, you can set shutter speed as low as you need to if you have a tripod. The mathematical alignment between stops and shutter speed increments begins to break down at intervals larger than around 2 minutes, but you have to go really, REALLY long before it starts to become a problem (I did some night photography back in my student days involving shutter speeds up to 45 minutes long, and they all turned out fine).

When taking pics of your games at the club, you probably want to keep shutter speeds under 1/8. 1/60 is sort of considered the base line in academia, but in practice it all depends on how steady your arm is (or how slow your mates are). Unless the lighting is particularly bad, you can probably stick with auto here. BTW lenses with auto-stabilization are an amazing advantage, and you should get one if possible.

All of the above is not to slag off using auto settings. Auto gets most people by for most tasks, so it's fine. This is more to help understand and diagnose when your photos don't turn out well, so you know when and how to adjust things if you need to.

Hey, what about this "white balance" thing I've heard about?

You camera isn't sapient, and as such can't tell the difference between an orange couch under white light, and a white couch under orange light. All it knows is that it sees orange. When you have many colors in frame, plus light sources with color biases, it can't tell what colors are accurate without being given a baseline for what white should look like under this specific lighting, either manually, or by using a preset, or via the auto setting, which works through some kind of color histogram averaging algorithm.

For still photos, this isn't such a big deal anymore, outside of extreme circumstances. Auto white balance tech has improved a lot in the lest decade, and can be relied upon well enough to where it usually only needs minor fixing in PS at worst.

For studio photos, the CRI (Color Rendering Index) of your lights is what's really important. White balance is only the tip of the iceberg if the right colors aren't even present to be recorded to begin with. And while bad white balance can be easily fixed in PH, bad CRI cannot.

Video is where manually setting white balance in-camera matters more. If you've ever seen a video on youtube (usually shot on cell phone or webcam) where the color tint is constantly flickering between slightly yellow and slightly blue, this is because the auto white balance is constantly recalculating as stuff moves around in frame. If you plan on doing videos, please learn to set your white balance. Whether manual or preset, it doesn't matter, as long as it's locked in rather than left on auto.

Hopefully that helps, and isn't hard to read/understand. It was a lot of typing though, so I'll take a break before talking lenses.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2016, 11:43:24 AM by Connectamabob »
History viewed from the inside is always a dark, digestive mess, far different from the easily recognizable cow viewed from afar by historians.

Offline Malebolgia

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Re: Photography
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2016, 12:11:57 PM »
I have a Canon EOS500D and use the stock lens for almost all photos with miniatures, so quite similar to what you have in terms of photos. I take photos of miniatures this way:

1. I use a tripod. Not an insanely expensive one, but around 90 euros. Good enough for what I do.
2. I use 2 lamps for lighting (cheap IKEA lamps with daylight bulbs). I place them above and in front of the miniature(s). One to the right and one to the left. Sometimes I adjust them a bit to get a better lighting on the details and to take away shadows. This takes some playing around.
3. I use a photography background from hangar 18. Excellent sheets for doing miniature photos.
4. For the photos I *always* use manual setting. I use F11, ISO100, auto white balance (that works very well) and I adjust shutter speed to what the camera recommends. I tend to make slightly darker photos as these are way easier to adjust in Photoshop than overexposed (and are more moody and cool too!).
5. Most of the times I don't use a manual shutter release. I just carefully take pictures and they are always sharp and fine.
6. In Photoshop I crop them and save them. Nowadays I don't need to do adjustments in lighting or white balance, they are great as is.
Example:


For gaming it's a bit different:
1. I use an external flash (Nissin Di600, bought it for €120), which is essential for good photography. In general, lighting sucks at gaming places...unless you're playing in an extremely well lit place, but I think that will be terrible gaming conditions :D. So get an external flash!
2. I still use manual settings. The F-value varies between 5 and 10, depending on what I'm trying to show. You can use a cheap f1.8 lens (Canon has a great cheap 1.8 lens: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Canon-EF-50mm-F-1-8-II-Standard-Lens-UK-Ship-/322185720334?hash=item4b03c3f20e:g:D~wAAOSwc1FXalBM) to get photos with fine depth of field. Not a must, but the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II really is a great cheap lens...I love it and it gets good reviews as a starting lens. But it sucks for video though, as the motor is VERY loud.
I still use ISO100, the external flash will compensate for the lower light capture.
3. I shoot pictures from hand and first experiment with some shots with flash to get the right settings. Once I get them right, I know how to shoot during games. Just shoot some shots and vary the flash settings and the way you point it.
4. I often use shutter speeds of 1/100 - 1/200 and sometimes that requires maximum flash power.

Here's an example:


In short: I use the stock lens for almost everything...it's fine. I think macro lenses are not needed at all for our hobby. Get some good lamps and tripod if you want to take pictures of painted miniatures. Get an external flash for pictures of your games.
Experiment a lot. Try a lot. Vary settings a lot. It takes time to get the hang of it, but it's a lot of fun!!
“What use was time to those who'd soon achieve Digital Immortality?”

Offline Hammers

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Re: Photography
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2016, 01:40:15 PM »

Next up, Aperture:

Aperture is the size of the shutter "hole" through which light passes to reach the camera chip. In cell phone cameras, webcams, and other ultra-compact cameras, this is fixed (there is no "aperture" or "aperture priority" settings in a cell phone camera's manual mode), as there isn't room for a variable mechanical shutter. In "regular" cameras, this is that mechanical iris thingy behind the lens.

Aperture's primary function is controlling Depth of Field. This is the the amount of space in front of and behind the "sweet spot" of your focus which will also be in focus. The higher the number, the bigger your depth of field, but the less light is let in to hit the chip, so the shutter speed or ISO may need to be changed to compensate. The lower the number, the shallower your depth of field, but the more breathing room you have for your ISO or shutter speed. Aperture measurements are expressed in "f-stops", which is an incredibly woolly mathematical thing the only important part of which you really need to know is that it's also equivalent to stops in powers of 2.
 
When taking studio pics of your minis, you want your depth of field to be deep enough to cover the entire mini, but anything more is unneeded and so by going over you're just inflating your shutter speed for no reason. Moreover, A depth of field that cuts off between the subject and the background is a great way to ensure your background is well separated and abstract-ified.

When taking pics of a game at a club or your mate's house, you'll want a big depth of field to show the complex situation on the tabletop while also capturing your mate's gooney facial expressions and humorous eating habits for future mockery. This may force you to raise your ISO and/or lower your shutter speed to capture enough light. Auto settings typically prioritize depth of field (and thus higher aperture values), so you should be okay with auto.



Very well put.

Online Charlie_

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Re: Photography
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2016, 01:50:40 PM »
[snip]

Wow, great post, thanks! I'm gonna bookmark it. It might all start to make sense to me now...

Offline Ignatieff

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Re: Photography
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2016, 04:33:26 PM »
You wonderful people.  Thank you all.  I honour the greatness in all of you!  :-* :-* :-*

Offline Norm

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Re: Photography
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2016, 09:32:16 AM »
Depth of field is everything for the shot you want.

DOF is the amount of depth that is actually in sharp focus

Generally a low 'f' number say 1.7 to 4 with give you a very shallow depth of field, so just the subject (perhaps 1 figure) is sharp and everything in front of it is blury.

A higher 'f' say f8 - f11 with give you enough depth of field that everything on the wargames table is sharp.

If you have a long lens ( 70 - 300 ),just try that at the long end, as close to the subject as you can get with the lowest f number (i.e. the widest aperture) that the camera / lens combo will allow to give a very shallow depth of field.

At wargame shows, the biggest problem is having enough light to throw the entire table into 'good light', small flashes tend to illuminate the first 3 - 4 foot of table and then you get rapid 'light fall off'.

If using auto modes, use macro for close up and landscape for deep depth of field.

 

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