Setup for Good Photography?


#1

I bought some white backing paper online to create a permanent photography station / table.

I have two photography lights that I plan on placing on either side of the table for extra light. I also bought some new batteries for a DSLR and can shoot in RAW format.

What are your tips and tricks for getting good, consistent photos? What are the best ways to get consistent, true to life color representation in photo sets? Also, how do I keep shadows from the photos - is it best to simply use a zoom lens on a DSLR and stay far enough away from the photo area?


#2

Try to keep your light source to one type. For example: either just sunlight or just tungsten, or just fluorescent. This will make setting the correct white balance much easier. You can simply pick the correct temperature and you’re set.
Also for shadows, the further the light source is from the scene the softer the shadows will be. This is also affected by the brightness of the source as well.


#3

For photography basics, the best is to start with making sure you are working in a well lit area (preferably with natural light like sunlight).

Following that would be to ensure proper white balance. You can do that by placing a piece of paper in frame and seeing on your viewfinder if that white is the same white you see with your eye. If you’re using artificial light to illuminate your photo setup, the lights may make the paper look more orange than white so you’ll want to make sure you change your settings accordingly.

The best way to work on keeping shadows from the photos is to keep in mind all of your light sources. For example if you’re using a light box with lights on the left and right of the box to illuminate the box, you should make sure no lights are behind you (or even above you depending on the setup).

When I use my lightbox, I will turn all of the lights in my room off except for the 2-3 I want to use to illuminate the light box. This is so I can have control of all of the lighting that will effect the subject in the box.

From there, it’s best to mount your camera on a tripod or desk stand to make sure it’s steady, and you won’t be in the way.

Just going to ping @Nebulant in here since he knows a thing or two about cameras, lighting, and photography.


#4

Thanks for the suggestions!


#5

A good, reliable target for setting white balance is plain old white coffee filters - reliable, neutral, with little to no optical brighteners. If you are shooting raw and then post processing in Capture One, Lightroom, or similar, you can shoot one at the beginning of your set, and use the custom white balance in post and sync the setting across everything you capture in the same series.

A more difficult aspect is setting proper exposure. While auto can work, you would run into issues with shot to shot consistency if your scene is high contrast. Using ‘spot’ metering can help if you choose the same point each time. The Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority settings will be more consistent, but really you would like to use Manual exposure control so that you can ensure that the you have best control over your depth of field and shutter speed. Getting manual exposure right without something like an 18% Gray Card can be more bothersome, but if your camera has live view with a histogram, you can see if anything in your scene is clipping and adjust from there. As long as everything falls within those bounds and you are working images in post, you are reasonably safe.

As Far as color reproduction, I am super picky about this when I am doing serious work. I use color checkers. They can serve as a white balance reference, an exposure target, and a point of comparison for color accuracy. They can be quite pricey, X-Rite makes the best ones.

For lighting, I will mirror what others have said. More (and bigger) is generally better. You want your camera to be on a lower ISO setting to get less noise, and your lens should be 2-3 stops down from wide open for optimal sharpness (in general for most lenses) while having a decently fast shutter and the only way to do this is with a lot of light.


#6

I purchased an Orangemonkie Foldio2 a while ago, and it really helped me to make my stage for photography consistent. Still working on the other angles, as I’m a mediocre photographer at best, but I have seen a marked improvement being able to reproduce my set up easily.