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Subject: photography tips rss

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Shawn
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I would like to put together the occasional AAR with photo illustrations, but my pictures always end up being filled with light bouncing off of the plexiglass or grainy when I turn off the lights as my house isn't blessed with an abundance of natural light. I've seen a lot of great photos here, and I was wondering if the photographers among us could give us some tips on taking better photos with a simple point and shoot camera.
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Reinhard Mueller
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deutschlehrer wrote:
I would like to put together the occasional AAR with photo illustrations, but my pictures always end up being filled with light bouncing off of the plexiglass or grainy when I turn off the lights as my house isn't blessed with an abundance of natural light. I've seen a lot of great photos here, and I was wondering if the photographers among us could give us some tips on taking better photos with a simple point and shoot camera.

Get a tripod (a cheap one is better than none). Or get a camera with a bigger sensor. The bigger the sensor, the less noisy and you can take photos without flash.
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Steve Willows
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A lot of point and shoots have a setting called "museum" which is specifically designed for low light situations where flash would be unacceptable.
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Jason Koskey
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Kahului
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1. Get a tripod, and secure camera to it.
2. Put camera into manual mode and choose settings with the f-stop set for proper depth of field. If trying To depict the entire gameboard use a higher depth of field (higher f stop number) if trying to show a stack of counters you can use a lower f stop number. Then set shutter speed according. By leaving shutter open longer and on a tripod you can capture more natural light without added shake or grain. This is a good choice if you are not going to use a flash as described in 5 below.
3. If you have direct overhead lights you can turn them off (if you have secondary lighting that is adequate) or use a diffuser between direct overhead light and plexiglass. This can be something as simple as a white sheet.
4. Turn up the ISO on camera. How high this gets set depends on how well your camera deals with high ISO. The higher the ISO the better the chance of visable noise but most modern digital cameras can take a fairly high ISO well.
5. Turn flash off on camera or again use a diffuser between flash and plexiglass. This again can be as simple as holding something in front of teh flash before taking picture. A single white sheet of computer paper works well for this. I often use this method when shooting reflective material.

Of course that is a generic overview but should get you in teh ball park. The big one is a tripod or anything that you can secure teh camera to without it moving. The next step not outlined above would be a cheap shutter release so you don't have to touch camera and thus introduce unwanted movement. But that is getting more critical and advanced....nto sure how far you want to take this.

I am happy to give you more specifics is you need....just GM me....

Hope that helps...
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Carl Fung
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The issue is more with the light source with plexiglass and the angle at which you are shooting. If you are shooting top down, a tripod helps stabilize, but if the light source is from above, the plexiglass will reflect the light. Even glossy maps cause a bit of this glare without plexiglass.

A problem with standard tripods is that they don't shoot straight down. If you manage to do so, you are just shooting the tripod legs. You can get one of these tripods, but who wants to pay for something like that if this is really just for fun?



You can reduce the glare by shooting at an angle, but you don't get the overview POV. You can produce a different light source that is at an angle to the table so it doesn't reflect back up to the camera. Don't use camera flash (obviously). The issue with most light is that its direct light. Diffusing the light as Jason suggested helps, but the material needs to be diffuse enough to let light through.



Dare I suggest but can you play without plexiglass? That will help.

Another tip is to make sure the image is properly exposed. Cameras are inherently dumb even in auto mode, because it expects everything it shoots to be at an 18% gray. So a light colored map with light colored counters to a camera is "whoa, this is waaaay to bright! I need to dial this down and underexpose!" and BAM: dark image. In full auto if the camera sees its too dark, it'll trigger the flash, but that goes back to initial problem. If you are comfortable with the camera modes, try manual mode as Jason suggested. You can set the ISO (if your camera is newish then you can set the ISO to like 800 to 1600 and get not-so-grainy results) and set the f-stop as low as possible. Usually at its widest zoom you will get the largest aperture (bigger hole, smaller f-stop number), like f/5.6 (lower if you can - no worries about depth of field since you are shooting close up).

Other tidbits are to watch your distance from the map. Some folks get super close up and try to take a shot but is within the minimal focusing distance of the camera. You'll see the camera struggle trying to get focus and if it does lock, it'll be a blurry (i.e. out of focus) shot.


While you aren't shooting salsa, this link may help. Of course the article does say to use a tripod arm, but unless you have a really bad back and aren't shooting salsa or wargames for a living, you could save the $$. Note how they use the white sheet to diffuse the light.

http://fstoppers.com/shooting-overhead-save-your-back-with-a...

Oh, and remember, don't let your shadow be in the picture.
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Roger Hobden
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Use a camera with a shutter that moves faster then the speed of light.

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Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
New Jersey
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A polarizing filter can help with glare.
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Kristopher
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And, if using the tripod and a natural light setting, ABSOLUTELY use the timer! I screw up more pictures and can never photograph anything right, so you're not the only one. (Though I got better pictures with my point and shoot real film camera than I ever do with my point and shoot digital one!)
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Alan Sutton
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Without a lot of extra equipment or even a superb camera I think my pics come out reasonably well.

I have found the trick is to supply enough light to avoid the flash going off but not too much.

So, I usually turn off the lights above the table but keep on the ones in the room to the side. These supply enough light for the camera but no reflective glare.

It usually looks too dark when you look through the camera but they turn out OK. The newer cameras can take surprisingly good images like this.

Edit: I just noticed some other comments. I should state that I never use plexiglass. This is obviously more problematic for glare, although a lot of maps by themselves can do this as well.




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Forty One
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Jason gives good advice on using a tripod and diffusing the flash. Here's my additional 2 pence worth on using flash. You don't want to fire the flash straight at the plexiglass. For your point and shoot camera, the simplest thing is get a bit of aluminum foil (kitchen foil) and tape it in front of your flash at about 45 degrees from horizontal.
http://aboutphotography-tomgrill.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/so-w...


The idea is that this directs the flash upwards and bounces the light off your ceiling, to create a large diffuse light source. (Experiment with the 45 degrees, you want the light to be hitting the bit of your ceiling above your wargame). Results will depend on how low your ceiling is, what colour it is (if it is white set the camera white balance to flash, if coloured set it to auto white balance)and how powerful your camera flash is. Since you flash is short duration (~1/1000 of a second, you can set your exposure to be short e.g 1/100 to 1/200 of a second with out losing any of your flashes light. (At this exposure time my point and shoot has to turn on its autofocus light in order to get enough light on the scene, to focus before I take the flash shot) The 1/100 to 1/200 exposure time will help avoid any blurring due to hand shake. If the image you take is too dim, increase your iso, although the penalty is your camera sensors noise will become more visible("grain"). The aperture setting is as per Jason's point 2, with the comment that higher f number will reduce your light but due to using flash longer exposure won't work and you have to use iso.
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Erwin Lau
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tms2 wrote:
A polarizing filter can help with glare.


I am not a photographer at all. If I talk silly things here, please bear with me.

Like the OP, I am not into photography. I take photo shots on games by iPhone and know the pain he describes. I ask my friends and end up ordering a polarizing filter clip on iPhone. It can be as cheap as US$4. I am sure you can buy similar/better stuff in the US.

http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.1.y5eDvh&id=2...

Click the demo video on the same page to see the effect.

The issue is using filter reduce the amount light pass thru to the camera lens. Thus you want to turn ON all the lights, which is fine in my case because when I take photos, I don't want to disturb other players by turning off and on the light.

Hope this helps.
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Kev.
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Austin
Texas
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I've taken 10's of thousands of very average pictures.
you can see most at my blog.
For a start I would think about what are you trying to capture?

-Situation
-Status
-Mood
-Narrative
???

I use a phone camera:

Placing light boxes and filler light is nice, but on real wargame not practical and makes your game room all hot and cluttered.


I receive a lot of compliments and criticism, but you just ignore it and do what works for you in your circumstances.

Think about adjusting your angles to minimize glare, maximise the intent.

Lamps/LCD or otherwise are helpful - I mess with all of that but really just try and capture my 'story' as I see it.


There is a cool little app called Snagit that can be used to add text etc to enhance the information displayed on the image if needed.

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Shawn
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Thanks everyone for the great advice. Looks like my first step is to purchase a tripod!
 
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Ashfield
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deutschlehrer wrote:
I would like to put together the occasional AAR with photo illustrations, but my pictures always end up being filled with light bouncing off of the plexiglass or grainy when I turn off the lights as my house isn't blessed with an abundance of natural light. I've seen a lot of great photos here, and I was wondering if the photographers among us could give us some tips on taking better photos with a simple point and shoot camera.

If you don't want to buy any new stuff or dig into manual settings, try this.

0. Switch off the flash.
1. Zoom out as far as you can, to a wide angle. On a point and shoot this will make wider apertures (and thus more light) available.
2. Change the camera's ISO number from AUTO to as low as it will go (probably 100 or 80). Or, if you don't know how to do that, choose a sunlight or beach scene mode, or a nighttime long exposure mode. This will reduce noise / grain but requires the camera to hold still for a long exposure.
3. Put the 10 second timer on. This will stop the vibration of you press the shutter from blurring your long exposure photo.
4. Prop the camera up on tripod (or a coffee mug as a tripod substitute), and take the photo.

To get rid of the glare you can either move the camera, put a few sheets of white paper in front of the lightblub, or experiment with sticking recently-cleaned polarised sunglasses in front of the camera lens (move the sunnies around until the glare goes away).
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Ashfield
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Oh, and Amazon is practically giving away Olympus E-PM2s right now. Same size, weight, and controls as your point and shoot, exact same sensor and CPU as the fantastically awesome won-every-award-ever E-M5.



E-PM2, crappy lighting, no tripod, no flash
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