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  1. #1
    The peak of Mt. Pancake terminal_insanity's Avatar
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    Default Basic Photography 101

    Disclaimer: I hardly claim to be a photography prodigy of some sort, but the influx of blurry photos prompted me to post this, since a lot of the new owners (who prior to this, have likely not used their cameras extensively of for similar purposes) seem to be having photography difficulties.

    I know little to nothing about composition or the advanced usage of lighting, etc. But perhaps I can at least help you along in improving you basic photography skills. Also because I suffer from the same 'shakey-hand' phenomenon that most of you complain about. :3

    My n00b photos were once grainy, blurry examples of fangirl horror. You can probably still see some of them up on my older LJ posts. I dare say they've improved significantly since then. At least in clarity, if nothing else. What I've typed out below are steps that have helped me take better photos, and while I'm hardly representative of the population in general, they ought to work for most of you as well.

    So on to the pseudo-tutorial...


    Starting Out:
    Things you will need to know for any sort of photography will be your camera's settings. the camera I use is a dinky little compact digital camera. To be precise, it's a 5-year-old Nikon COOLPIX 775 (which my dad got for me for when I was leaving to study overseas). It's survived 5 years, numerous falls/droppage, and even being flung at a wall and falling to the floor afterwards. It's nothing fancy, but it serves it's purpose...most of the time. -__-;;



    Conquering the Blurriness:
    For doll photography, the most important fuction you need to know about on your camera is the macro/micro function. It's often represented on your mode dial as a little flower. What is allows you to do is take extreme close-ups. Different cameras will have different limits as to how close you can go before you max it out (I think mine is between 4-5 cm: meaning that if I go any closer than that distance, anything I take will be blurry, even if the macro mode is on).

    Once the macro mode is on, you'll have solved the problem where your doll (in the foreground) is blurry, but images and people in the background are in focus.



    Lighting:
    Another issue to touch upon is lighting. Many people like to take pictures of their dolls in their rooms, probably because it's where you and your dolls are in the first place. And if you have family member who are rather freaked out by your dolls, it's a nice, private place to cam-whore them out.

    First, make sure that you have adequate lighting in your room, especially if your camera doesn't work well in low-light settings. Most people have fluorescent lights in their rooms (as do I) which can alter the colour of your pictures. Simply change the white-balance in your camera and/or use photoshop to correct it. Obviously, there's a limit to the amount of photoshopping you can do. I can't seem to get any better pictures regardless of white-balance setting on my camera, so that leaves the next option: using different lights.

    If the lights in your room sucks, get more alternatives. I know many people who use desk lamps (those with the moveable/bendy necks) and you can filter the light through various materials so that your pictures aren't over-exposed. There's a tutorial here on how to make your own light-tent/macro studio of you want to take doll-centric shots against a homogenous background.

    I just use a large white board (over which I can also drape large swaths of fabric for simple backgrounds) and my various desk lamps. I've also found windows to give lovely natural lighting, and pictures taken by my mom's/sister's windows seem to come out nicely. Obviously, I wait for times when they aren't around, before I go about my merry way in their rooms.

    But the ultimate point is, just because the lighting in your room is terrible doesn't mean that it has to affect your photos. Just get more/better lights, or go to another quiet place in your house with better lighting.



    RESOLVING OF THE SHAKEY-HANDS SYNDROME:
    I'm just as human as the rest of you. Perhaps more so. My hands love to tremble, especially if I'm concentrating on something. This makes photography a real pain, because I end up with loads of phots, of which I can only use a small fraction (since I have enough shame not to want to plaster my terrible photos in public ;o;!!).

    The first thing to try is using two hands if you're only using one. Two hands will give the camera more stability, since you can use one hand to hold the camera and the other to give added support and press the button, instead of relying on only one hand to do everything. Failing which, use a tripod, or something which works just as well.

    I don't have a tripod. It'd probably help if I did, but I don't have one. But what I've found helpful--which doesn't cost a cent--is to either arrange yourself in a position where you can rest your hands and/or camera on your leg/knee/random body part which is more stable than your hands. I've found my knee to work as an excellent impromptu tripod for moments where my hands are unusually shakey.

    If you're at home, or in a place with random things lying around, improvise! A stack of books or little boxes/CD holders makes a cheap-and-good psuedo-tripod. :3

    If you want to buy something that will work well as a tripod, but find a tripod too limiting, on of my overseas friends gave me this link: http://www.joby.com/. I have no idea how well it works, but it's cute, and it's an option if you want to try it out.

    Over time, you'll also notice your hands becoming less shakey. Like all things, hand-stability comes with practice. Once your hands become accustomed to holding a camera in a stable position, you'll find that it won't tremble as much, and you'll be able to take non-blurred shots without any help.



    Additional Aids:
    Photoshop. Wahahahaha!!! But really, you need some sort of quality in your pictures for you to use Photoshop, or any other image-manipulating programme. After all, there's only so much photo-editing you can do before your photo starts to look fake and obviously edited. I can't elaborate here, since I scarcely know a thing on Photoshop. As it is, all I use are the various colour controls, the hue and saturation controls and the contrast one (or whatever the ctrl+M function is), mostly. :\ And I could probably do better if I knew what I was doing.



    End-Note:
    An important point to remember is that these are the basics of photography. If you don't even have mastery of basic concepts/functions, getting a super-good camera or a SLR will not help. Because if you don't know how to focus your camera by using one button, manually focusing your camera will probably kill you. And much as higher-end cameras are generally more able to capture images in low-light settings, if you have really bad lighting, even a better camera will give you grainy pictures. If you aren't able to stabilize your camera beyond a certain degree, even a camera with the anti-shake function can only help so far. :\



    I hope this little post has helped in your basic understanding on how to improve your photography, at least for rudimentary pictures. Don't ask me anything about photo composition or atmospheric lighting, because I suck at that. Go ask someone with better knowledge than me. Perhaps someone can go post something on those topics. :3
    Last edited by terminal_insanity; Oct 29th, 07 at 01:42 AM.

  2. #2
    Verbal Bakemono meeve's Avatar
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    Default

    Hurray for such an informative post~!

    A trick that i use for my average consumer camera is, (for those whom have super shaky hands like me) :

    Raise the ISO to 400 and set the image resolution to the highest.

    It will result in a sharper image but the downside is, the image at its full resolution will be grainy. But you can bring it to photoshop, resize to the average 450x600 (the grain will be greatly lessen, then blur 1 pixel or 2, and you can have a pretty clear image.

    I play with photoshop alot due to the limited function that i can do with my normal average digital camera. It takes a bit more effort and time to edit and enhance in photoshop to make the photos looks presentable. Photoshop really works wonder! but then again the photo itself must not be too blur beyond redemption.

    About composition, I guess it takes time to improve with practises. Go look at those photography books at Kino, Pageone..etc and look at various styles, lighting, colors...etc
    T_T I'm working on that too.

    {♥}

  3. #3
    Word Master kyoru304's Avatar
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    hurah for this post too!~<3


  4. #4
    Verbal Bakemono Marcus Neo's Avatar
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    i love sony cybershots cos they won't blur if you shake your camera @[email protected]
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    WTS, WTT, WTB and G.O details all here:
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  5. #5
    Word Master Iruka's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips =D

    And just to share a link from DOA which I found the tutorial really useful for making doll pictures looks better with photoshop

    (you may need to sign in to see)

    Strengthening Photos with Photoshop

  6. #6
    Verbal Bakemono
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    thx for da tips!

  7. #7
    Word Master
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    wah thanks for tips!


  8. #8
    The peak of Mt. Pancake terminal_insanity's Avatar
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    iruka>> thanks for the link!! :3

  9. #9
    Word Master Iruka's Avatar
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    terminal_insanity: no prob! =D DOA photography sections got a lot of interesting tips to check out.

  10. #10
    Astro Boy Lilaciel's Avatar
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    I really find this sticky useful and I believe it will be of some good pointers to the rest too ^^

  11. #11
    The peak of Mt. Pancake terminal_insanity's Avatar
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    iruka>> i totally forgot about that section. when i'm more free, i'm so gonna head there. :3

    perhaps i can finally instill some emotion into my pictures. XDD

  12. #12
    Word Master Iruka's Avatar
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    Just remembered a small tip someone taught me about taking pics with shakey hands/body etc (which I am). Always take a deep breath and hold it when you press the shutter. I wouldnt say 100% you'll get clear pictures, especially if your camera is very sensitive, but it helps a lot in stabling the shot. =D

  13. #13
    Kawaii Poster yagamijo's Avatar
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    Hurray for this thread. It is really enlightening XD
    齊, 將司, 歲三, 勝雄, 昊, 誠生, 恭平, 綾瀬, 奈直, 花弥, 小唯, 美樂, 聖, 小立, Narsha, Sophie

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    Fueled by Milk Tea SchizoCheese's Avatar
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    Reminds me of my very first few doll photos, they were atrocious, lighting, clarity and compositonal wise. XDD

  15. #15
    The peak of Mt. Pancake terminal_insanity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iruka View Post
    Just remembered a small tip someone taught me about taking pics with shakey hands/body etc (which I am). Always take a deep breath and hold it when you press the shutter. I wouldnt say 100% you'll get clear pictures, especially if your camera is very sensitive, but it helps a lot in stabling the shot. =D
    on that point, i'v found it to help if i exhale and hold that. since it tends to slow down your heart rate, leading to fewer trembles in the hands. :3

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