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Subject: How to get good (inexpensive) lighting? rss

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除名山 蔵芽戸
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My biggest difficulty when it comes to photographing games has been lighting. The apartment that I live in doesn't have good lights, I haven't ever really figured out using the natural light by the windows. My best option is usually just shooting outside, but I tend have more time to photograph in the evening after the sun has gone down.

I bought a couple lamps, pictured here, from a hardware store. I can't off hand remember the bulbs that I have in them, but I went for whatever was labeled "natural light." I think they are 100, 120 watts. I tried to place a lamp on each side to cancel out the shadows, but it doesn't quite work.

Are there any relatively inexpensive, easy, tricks I can do to improve my lighting? Also, would getting a mountable flash for the camera do me good?
 

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Try putting the lights at 45 degree angles to what you're photographing:

____________


X X



Check the white balance on your camera.
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Paul DeStefano
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Richard S
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Do you have an example of a photo that you are unhappy with? That might help generate suggestions as well.

Three off the top of my head ideas:

1. You need to defuse the light. Putting something white and translucent between the lights and the object will get rid of some of the harshness of the light. You can fake something like this


2. Get a third light and aim it behind the object. (at the shadows).

3. Search for "small object" or "ebay" photo suggestions online. You will turn up potentially helpful pages like this one I just found (but have not read in detail): http://www.sigma-2.com/camerajim/cjglighting.htm
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Helen Holzgrafe
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Check This out:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/232995

It's about how to make a light box for photographing small objects out of a cardboard box, some tracing paper and a small desk lamp. I found it as an article in MacWorld magazine, but someone else followed up with a link to a longer article online by the same author.

I posted it a while ago, but might fit your bill. You should check out the BGG photography forum in general, too.

-Helen
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David Short
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You definitely need to diffuse your lights. Try using some translucent paper or some really thin fabric to put in front of the lights. Also you may try putting the lights at a higher position so that the shadows (if any show up after the diffusing) aren't as pronounced.
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Jeff Jones
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As suggested you need some way to diffuse the light so a tent or light box would be idea. This will cost you a stop or two so make sure you tripod the camera and remember... slow shutter speed is your friend.

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http://thescreamingalpha.com/2009/04/22/better-mini-photos/
http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=11534.0
http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=6052.0
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Orlando Ramirez
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I just want to chime in here.

1.The light tents and such are great, but only work for smaller objects, tiles, counter, pawns, cards..etc They won't work for a full game set up type shot. The larger ones that will work for such a setup can get pricey.

2. Yes diffuse light is what you want, but you have to have enough light to diffuse. If your just using kitchen lights, and trying to diffuse it, your taking a low light situation and lowering it by diffusing it.

3. Get more lights, preferably the same kind. By that I just mean if your bring over some table lamps, make sure they are all incandescent or all florescent..etc. Mixing the lights will play havoc with color correction.

4. Did I mention more light? You can always turn lights down/diffuse..etc but you can never recoup missing photons. The camera needs to see the subject.

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Kurt Keckley
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Mount your camera on a tripod and do a timed release. That way the exposure will be long enough and you wont have the blur associated with holding the camera.

If you want to diffuse your light, try wrapping some tissue paper (the kind you wrap gifts with) over the light. This works well on the camera's flash as well.
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Mark Hamzy
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Just how inexpensive are you looking for?

I own two Lowel Ego lights and they are great for lighting on a kitchen counter top. 2 x $89 at B & H Photo.

Recently, I tried the Home Depot route. $30 for a portable halogen work light (750 Watts), $8 4 foot aluminum window screen frame kit, and a $18 roll of tracing paper. A couple of negative things about that setup is 1) that you have to tape the paper together, and the tape could cast a shadow in certain situations 2) a 4"x4" screen is somewhat awkward to store.
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Chevee Dodd
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest less light.
I know. It sounds crazy, but stick with me.
More light makes nice, sharp, and in my opinion, HARSH images. Use the absolute least ammount of non-ambient lighting you can get away with. Diffuse any extra lighting you have to bring in with tissue paper, or any of the other suggestions our fellow geeks have suggested. But honestly, the more you try to overcomplicate your lighitnig set up, the more you overcomplicate your lighting set up and the longer it will take for you to get it right.


Let image editing software do the deed. Photoshop, Corel, GIMP, Inkscape, Illustrator, Paint Shop.... whatever you use, they all have the ability to create duplicate layers for you which you can then use to lighten or darken your base layer. Basically, you're going to duplicate your image to a new layer, and set that layer to "screen." You should see an instant increase in brightness. If it's too much, you turn down the opacity of the layer. If it's not enough, add a lighten layer and see how it turns out.

Playing with lighting to make it look right is hard. Playing with software to make a dark image bright is easy.

If you need specific help on how do to this with the software you are using, I'd be glad to assist.

Chevee
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Orlando Ramirez
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I just noticed the two lights to the side of the table...

Seeing that, I'd say those lights need to be as close to the subject as possible, without being in the frame. Diffuse them with whatever you can, something that won't catch fire from hot incandescent bulbs.

Camera sensors aren't as sensitive as you think, you really need to flood the subject with light until you can shoot with a decent enough shutter speed/ 1/40 if you got a tripod/self timer as mentioned above.
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George Kinney
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The simplest way to eliminate shadows is to make sure the subject is lit from all directions. Not being Mr Obvious here, just pointing out that even if you diffuse the two existing lights, you're still only illuminating the subject from one side. Adding another light, bounced off that wall, or possibly moving one of the two you have would help fill that in. If the ceiling is light colored and low enough (or the light is bright enough), bouncing a light off of it could help as well.

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Andreas Krüger
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If you diffuse the light, do not burn down your house...

A tripod may be useful for outside photography as well. If you have a light camera, a cheap tripod will do. If the camera is heavy, you must spend some money to get a stable one. Really, it is worth the money and will last a lifetime. If you use low light, set the camera to night shot or chose a long shutter time.

And you can use Gimp or something else for editing to change the light a little bit. It is easier to make an image brighter than to darken it (I do not know why, but this is what I have been told), but the image must be bright enough to show all the details you want.
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除名山 蔵芽戸
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thorndor wrote:
Do you have an example of a photo that you are unhappy with? That might help generate suggestions as well.

Three off the top of my head ideas:

1. You need to defuse the light. Putting something white and translucent between the lights and the object will get rid of some of the harshness of the light. You can fake something like this


2. Get a third light and aim it behind the object. (at the shadows).

3. Search for "small object" or "ebay" photo suggestions online. You will turn up potentially helpful pages like this one I just found (but have not read in detail): http://www.sigma-2.com/camerajim/cjglighting.htm


You will have to pardon my ignorance, but with a device like this does the object of the photograph go into the hood and the lights set up around it?
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Orlando Ramirez
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You'd set up your lights just outside of the tent, to the sides and front the top and it diffuses the light for a soft "global illumination" look.

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除名山 蔵芽戸
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Thats what I figured, but the image with the camera inside of it confused me a bit...
 
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Quote:
2. Yes diffuse light is what you want, but you have to have enough light to diffuse. If your just using kitchen lights, and trying to diffuse it, your taking a low light situation and lowering it by diffusing it.

As long as its inanimate objects and you have a tripod, open the shutter longer.

Quote:
Mount your camera on a tripod and do a timed release. That way the exposure will be long enough and you wont have the blur associated with holding the camera.

Reminds me of a trick i do.
My D40's timed shots are set to 2 seconds. When im doing event photograpgy with low lighting, and shooting at 1/20(no vr :S), i set it to time, press the button, steady and hold my breath and its significantly sharper.
You can do the same with tripods, set to 2 secs, press and ensure your hands are not touching it.
..
..
*click*

Quote:
The simplest way to eliminate shadows is to make sure the subject is lit from all directions. Not being Mr Obvious here, just pointing out that even if you diffuse the two existing lights, you're still only illuminating the subject from one side. Adding another light, bounced off that wall, or possibly moving one of the two you have would help fill that in. If the ceiling is light colored and low enough (or the light is bright enough), bouncing a light off of it could help as well.

Hes right on the all around light thing. With two lamps, that table and your wall, you can add another white reflector on the top, so it reflects some light downwards too.

I would do as they say, realinging it to 45 degrees, and maybe raise both of them higher for a shorter shadow at the back.

Quote:
Thats what I figured, but the image with the camera inside of it confused me a bit...

me 2!
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jim b
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p38_Lightning wrote:
If you want to diffuse your light, try wrapping some tissue paper (the kind you wrap gifts with) over the light. This works well on the camera's flash as well.

A white/off-white napkin or fabric will also work - anything that won't color the light. It makes a big difference, even with a bounce flash.
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