How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.


Discussion on virtually any teaware related item.

Postby fmoreira272 » Jul 17th, '09, 18:49

tingjunkie wrote:I'm surprised you aren't getting good close-up shots with it.

If you want to get excellent quality macro shots to show fine details, a good solid tripod will be your best friend. The best advice I could give you would be not to skimp on quality in this area.

Good luck!


GeekgirlUnveiled wrote: USE A TRIPOD!


I think i have overestimate a tripod's importance. no wonder my pictures dont show enough detail.
Also it never occurred to me to use the little nikon remote for macro pictures. i got i primarily so i could be in the pictures too.
I ordered the macro filter since they arent so expensive. now i will have to skip a new kyuusu purchase to get a good tripod.
i hike often(i have the gorillapod) and i travel often so a tripod thats too heavy will probably stay at home. any recommendations?
thanks in advance :D
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Jul 17th, '09, 18:55

I have a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod and Manfrotto 486RC2 ball head. It is a middle-weight tripod but feels more than solid enough to use with 35mm size equipment, and isn't prohibitively heavy. I've hiked around with it without issue, though it would probably be a burden on long backpacking trips.

It's also good for tall people, don't know whether that applies to you. :) I think Manfrotto/Bogen makes a slightly shorter (and cheaper) tripod with basically the same construction, but I can't remember the model number.
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Jul 17th, '09, 19:09

Also, while sunlight isn't always ideal for product photography, it can look da*n good in less technical applications. If you shoot black and white, you don't have to worry about how colors look in harsh light and can use the increased contrast to your advantage.
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby coconut » Jul 30th, '09, 20:18

do any of you know how to make photos a smaller file. I take pictures with a Cannon Powerwhot A410; 320 megapixels and the pictures are around 750 megabytes, when i'm only allowed 240 or something in order to post it. Thanks for your help :D
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby Herb_Master » Jul 30th, '09, 20:22

You can download a free application
http://www.getpaint.net/download.html
and do an image or canvas resize
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby bonjiri » Aug 3rd, '09, 13:51

coconut wrote:do any of you know how to make photos a smaller file. I take pictures with a Cannon Powerwhot A410; 320 megapixels and the pictures are around 750 megabytes, when i'm only allowed 240 or something in order to post it. Thanks for your help :D


coconut.
aloha

in photoshop there is 'image size' where u can reduce the size to your needs.

also there is the 'crop tool' in which i can set the size and just crop the image.

Image

above is a shiny glaze. challenging to photograph. i found that using a point source like the sun allowed the glazes to be photographed as close to what my eye was seeing.

one challenging aspect of product type photography is representing the object/stuff as close to what it looks like if you were holding it your hands. creating a 2D image from a 3D object is challenging.

later i'll talk about VR in which 20-30 images are stitched to create a 'movie' of the object that allows the views to see the object in 360 degrees. hehe !

aloha

c
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby bonjiri » Aug 26th, '09, 14:05

coconut wrote:do any of you know how to make photos a smaller file. I take pictures with a Cannon Powerwhot A410; 320 megapixels and the pictures are around 750 megabytes, when i'm only allowed 240 or something in order to post it. Thanks for your help :D


canvas resize

also, a simpler way is to set the size in the camera. your particular camera might be able to produce smaller images, thus more images on your card.

secondly, if u have photoshop you can resize and/or crop using image size or the cropping tool.

thanks.
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby Herb_Master » Aug 26th, '09, 17:45

bonjiri wrote:canvas resize


On my application Paint.net, [Image] Canvas Resize crops, chopping off part of the picture.

[Image] Resize shrinks the whole picture


However that is only affecting the dimensions of the displayed picture. To affect the size of the stored file, reduce the %quality of the resolution when saving the file. The dialogue box shows the size of the file before you choose whichlevel to save.
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby bonjiri » Sep 10th, '09, 14:59

Image

photograph showing setup. notice frontal reflector and the light bank slightly pointed forward to create falloff, less light falling on the background.

Image

above image. no front reflector.

Image

above image with front reflector and a small paper placed in bowl to create more 'life' in the form of the chawan.
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby Seeker » Dec 10th, '09, 18:41

Okay, so I'm getting a little bit interested in playing some with photography - brought on by sharing chawan and matcha. Yum.
Thank you GG for your feedback about my playing with composition and such the other day.
I thought I'd share my camera playtime today.
Here are the follow ups (based on your feedback) I played with using the front reflector idea (piece of white paper on a clipboard) and messing with the position of elements in the shot as well as greater awareness of what was around the borders. 4 shots, in the order taken.
1st:
Image
2nd:
Image
3rd:
Image
4th:
Image

Looking at these, I'm not completely happy with what I ended up with, but ran out of time (this "playing" gets my critical eye going, and it seems there's no satisfying it :x ). Fun to play tho! :D

ps - oh, I used a different camera, this time a canon powershot s2is. Seems it won't let me mess with the white balance tho :evil: At least not that I've figured out yet. (I learned to do that here - merely switching between auto and daylight or auto and incandescent). Other than that, I have virtually no understanding of the elements of photography (f-stops, light measuring, how to even define white balance, etc, etc; I don't know very much; super-novice!)
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby Geekgirl » Dec 12th, '09, 13:41

I'm back! :lol:

Okay, first the critique. Well, before that, a word about critiques. When you ask for constructive criticism on your photos, always keep in mind that you are going to get part "rules of composition" and part "personal opinion." What proportions of each really depends on how much training (either self-taught or formal) the critic has. Always listen to criticism, then decide which pieces you can use and which are the personal style of the individual advising you.

That being said, Seeker, of the 4, I like the 3rd and 4th best, but the image doesn't do justice to the idol. The angle is poor. And yet if you kneel down to adjust the angle for the idol, you will lose some of the interesting circle effect of the bowl/chasen. In this case, the idol, no matter how lovely, is a distraction. It pulls the eye up away from the circles. Your lighting on the front of the bowl is much better, and does help pull focus back down, but if it were my photo, I'd like to see even more emphasis on the circles, and would probably make use of additional symmetry in order to highlight it - such as removing distractions and framing the shot in a square crop.

Like so:

Image


YMMV, and ultimately the best picture is the one that pleases the artist. Especially if you are taking images for your own enjoyment. One of my personal favorite shots is artistically without merit, but I love it, because it makes me laugh.
Last edited by Geekgirl on Dec 12th, '09, 14:34, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby Geekgirl » Dec 12th, '09, 14:28

Backing up a few steps in the How To:

Do I need a fancy camera?

There's a popular misconception that to take good pictures, you need to have costly gear. While there is some truth to the claim that you can't do the same things with a point and shoot as you can with a DSLR (especially an EXPENSIVE one,) if you are going to mostly use your camera on AUTO, there's really no need to step up to the top of the line gear. Auto function on a point and shoot utilizes the same processing decision hierarchies as the auto function on a "prosumer" level DSLR. Your image quality might be a bit better, since the DSLR usually has a larger sensor, and with it, a better capability to handle dim lighting, but the p&s market is improving in that area with every release.

Ahead is proof that your super expensive camera on AUTO will not do any better than your P&S. To get this example, I set my DSLR (in this case my "entry level" XTi with the kit lens (Canon's digital Rebel which sold for $800 back in '06/'07,) on auto, made note of the settings, then went to manual and set all the exact same settings into memory. Then I grabbed the p&s, put it on AUTO, noted it picked almost the exact same settings as the xti. (I can't be sure of the zoom, since neither camera tells me that onboard. So I just tried to line up the same positions.) Then I set the P&S to hold those exact settings, and took the shot.

Both cameras are on F4.0, 1/80th, 400ISO. WB on Auto on the p&s, I manually set the WB on the xti to Tungsten because it was flipping back and forth on Auto between tungsten and fluorescent.

Image

Image

Not much difference. If you click on the above images, you will see larger sizes. In these, you can see that the dslr (top image) does a little bit better job with ISO, the image is slightly less grainy. The p&s handles the color a little bit better, the image is slightly warmer and richer. The little camera applies a little bit more saturation to the image. If I had remembered to turn that feature off :lol: these two images would have been even closer.

So, why do my shots look so much different with a DSLR (generally speaking) than with a compact camera? Often it is the lens. I took the top image with the kit lens, it has a maximum aperture of f3.5, and at the focal length I used, the maximum aperture was f4.0. I'll write about aperture and lenses later, but the short version is the smaller the F#, the more blur you will have in your background. My DSLR, with a kit lens, is not capable of producing that blur at that focal length.

Remember that "AUTO" is designed to pick out the ideal settings to give you a clear image with average lighting, average depth of field and decent color. To get anything different, you have to use the manual or partial manual modes. That means a learning curve. Learning curve means either you will produce a lot of crap before you figure it out, or you will have to spend some time with the instruction book. :lol: I know this from experience.

Moral of the story: if you drop a lot of money on a fancy DSLR kit, then set it on auto, you will likely get the same shot you got with your powershot p&s.
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby Geekgirl » Dec 12th, '09, 15:22

Note that no post processing has been applied to the photos in this, or the previous post.*

So, what can you do, right now, to improve your images in your "crappy" point & shoot camera? (my p&s is a Canon Powershot SX100IS. I don't care for it, so don't take this as a recommendation. :shock: )

If you are indoors, USE A TRIPOD. If your lighting is low, USE A TRIPOD. If the little numbers on the back of your camera say that your shutter speed** is any lower than 1/100th, USE A TRIPOD!!! Why, you say, 1/100th? You say that you can get a clear shot all the way down to 1/30th, and you have image stabilizer (vibration reduction, etc) on your camera, so why 1/100th? Because now we are going to use the zoom to improve your shot. When you zoom in, it gets more difficult to get a clear shot at slower shutter speeds.


Most of your digital p&s cameras have a zoom, some of you have "super" zooms, that offer 10x the optical zoom in. (Beware of using the "digital zoom" portion of your focal length, it wrecks the image quality. If you can, turn it off in your settings so you never even accidentally use it. Yeah it will reduce your "reach" but it will improve your images.)

Next: back up, way up. You are not far enough yet. A little more. There. Right there. Yes, your teapot is now tiny and your shot is fubar. Don't worry, we'll fix it.

Image

Yes, that IS a wee little teapot.

Now, zoom in. Zoom in all the way to the end of your OPTICAL zoom. Do not, repeat, DO NOT use the digital zoom. Your camera should tell you if you are in optical or digital. If your lens is all the way extended, but you are still zooming in, that is digital.

Are you zoomed in?

Is your camera attached to a tripod? Good, now set your camera on timer mode so you don't have to touch it while the shot is firing. This means that even if the light is low, and your camera has to record the image very slowly, you can't mess it up with your shaky hands or shifting your weight. This also means that your camera can work as slowly as it needs, to get decent lighting.

The image below was captured at 0.6 second shutter speed. That is SLOW, I don't care what anyone says, you can't hold the camera rock still at 0.6 with your hands. I used a tripod and a timer.

The zooming in makes the background begin to blur out. Nice.

Image

Same setup, but the camera is close to the object, no zoom, no nice blur.

Image

Picture #3 makes me a sad panda, because now I think I need a $1k camera to get some nice blur.

Conclusion:
$150 camera + tripod + timer + zoom in = nice

*A word about post processing: Some people feel that post processing tools like photoshop or lightroom or picnik is "cheating." They claim that the photo "greats" were shooting on film, where what they shot was what you got. This is not exactly true. Part of what made Ansel Adams great*** is that once he got in the darkroom he didn't just make a plain old print off that negative. His developing was as skilled as the composition of the original image. Using an editing tool in digital is not much different from using darkroom techniques to enhance contrast, burn and dodge (darken and lighten selectively,) retouching, or forming composites.

**shutter speed, for the beginners, is how fast your camera takes a picture. 1/100th means .01 seconds. If you are photographing a running child, you can freeze their movement (IOW, their feet, hands and faces won't be blurry,) at somewhere between 1/125th of a second and 1/250th of a second. At that shutter speed, neither your own movements or the movements of the moving child will register because the camera will record the image too quickly. When you are shooting something that is perfectly still, your shutter speed still has to be fast enough that it won't record movement from your hands shaking, or your body swaying.

***This comment should in no way be construed as a comparison of my "skills" to Ansel Adams'. :lol:
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby edkrueger » Dec 12th, '09, 22:16

One more thing with using a point and shoot. Point and shoots meter the scene when you depress the shutter to the halfway point. Since cameras meter the scene as if it were middle gray –the "average" color– just pointing a shooting with a dark or light scene will produce an incorrectly exposed shot. In order to fix this, you can aim at something middle gray depress the shutter half way, then, while continuing to hold the shutter halfway down, frame your and shot and then depress the shutter the rest of the way.
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Re: How to: photograph your teaware. A beginner's guide.

Postby Victoria » Dec 12th, '09, 22:48

I finally ordered my new camera today. Thanks Geek for your time, advice and answers.

And Seeker, I like #2 best so even though Geek is a much better judge, that's the one that appeals to me. :)
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