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Lighting is one of the key elements to taking a good photograph. Since most of the pictures I was going to be taking for Black Dawn (hence the logo) were going to be on a white background, I wanted to keep shadows to a minimum. You still want to have some shadows to make the object “connected” and not appear to be floating but I didn’t want them to stand out and detract from the product either.

Although taking pictures outside on an overcast day is very desirable and gives great results, I needed something more along the lines of studio lighting offering more consistency along with the ability to leaving it set up. After much research, I decided to use a fluorescent bulb due to the heat output being minimal since they were going to be on for an extended time. I also made sure it was rated at 6500k and I use two different wattage equivalencies of 100 and 60 watt. My lighting fixtures are nothing more than the clamp on lights with the reflective aluminum dome using the larger ones for the 100 watt and a couple of smaller ones for the 60 watts. The link below is similar to the bulbs I use and I get them, along with the clamp on lights, at the local home improvement store.
Amazon.com : GE Lighting 89095 Energy Smart Spiral CFL 23-Watt (100-watt replacement) 1600-Lumen T3 Spiral Light Bulb with Medium Base, 1-Pack : Compact Fluorescent Bulbs : Home Improvement

Bayco SL-300 8.5 Inch Clamp Light with Aluminum Reflector - Amazon.com

Now I needed a way to diffuse the lighting in order to make it softer which meant I had to build some type of light box. The problem was that unlike handguns where the setup can be minimal, doing a full size rifle or shotgun offers a completely different and unique challenge. What I did was to use ½” PVC pipe along with elbow and T connectors to build the frame. The T connectors offer that extra stability and I place these halfway on each side as well as the back to offer support. Since I am placing these on two 72” x 30” resin type fold up tables, I need that extra support. You need to use two tables for long guns as it gives you the extra depth for your pictures while offering greater flexibility for posing your gun. The really nice thing about his setup is it breaks down easily plus you can have different sizes of PVC cut to fabricate smaller boxes depending on the need. In hindsight, I should have gone with a larger diameter PVC as with all the lights I use, it is a little flimsy.

The only thing left was to get some type of diffusing material that was large enough to cover this “box” and for that, I used a 200 thread count king sized white flat bed sheet. I use cheap plastic clamps to clip the sheet to the PVC frame in order to keep the sheet taut. Due to the size of the box, placing the lights on the outside to diffuse the lights didn’t give the result I was hoping for so I place these on the inside and “bounce” the lighting off the sheet or the background to give me a softer lighting for a majority of my shots. Here’s a picture of my setup with a white background:


The nice thing about the different size of lights is I can go for a more focused, spotlight type effect especially just utilizing the smaller lights. Many times, I will hold a light in my hand to help illuminate any unnecessary dark spots (especially when the gun is laying flat) or maybe directed toward a specific part of the gun I’m wishing to highlight. Although I don’t have any nickel plated guns, I would imagine the indirect lighting with one spotlight to highlight the shine would give great results. Here's some with nothing more than adjusting the lights I had turned on.




This is one of my early attempts at photography before truly understanding camera settings and lighting. I did this one with nothing more than a flashlight and had I better understood camera settings at the time, I think it would have came out nicer.


This thread I posted when I bought a Galco holster/belt that shows pictures using my light set up:
http://www.defensivecarry.com/forum/defensive-carry-holsters-carry-options/169781-new-galco-rig-pictorial-review-extremely-picture-heavy.html

Understanding lighting makes a big difference in the appearance of your photograph. Here's two identical setups showing a dramatic contrast in technique. The first one is one of my early photos and using nothing more then an overhead fluorescent shop light


This one was taken more recently after having a better understanding:



Many photographers use gel filters for their lights to give the image a different color effect and you see that lot with gun photography. Although I don’t have any gels, I have experimented a little with different colored bulbs but not with any diligence. Still, the effect was decent and there is potential to make an interesting photo. I read on one blog where the photographer would buy a roll of colored cellophane at hobby stores to get the same effect of gels. Obviously, you wouldn’t want that right next to your light source but it wouldn’t take much to make it work. I think I’ll look into that too as that’s what helps keep things interesting.

That’s what’s great with lighting and this set up is you can change the dynamics of the photo with nothing more changing to a different style of bulb or utilizing cheap, translucent material. Sometimes, you just have to think outside the light box 
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Lighting is one of the key elements to taking a good photograph. Since most of the pictures I was going to be taking for Black Dawn (hence the logo) were going to be on a white background, I wanted to keep shadows to a minimum. You still want to have some shadows to make the object “connected” and not appear to be floating but I didn’t want them to stand out and detract from the product either.

Although taking pictures outside on an overcast day is very desirable and gives great results, I needed something more along the lines of studio lighting offering more consistency along with the ability to leaving it set up. After much research, I decided to use a fluorescent bulb due to the heat output being minimal since they were going to be on for an extended time. I also made sure it was rated at 6500k and I use two different wattage equivalencies of 100 and 60 watt. My lighting fixtures are nothing more than the clamp on lights with the reflective aluminum dome using the larger ones for the 100 watt and a couple of smaller ones for the 60 watts. The link below is similar to the bulbs I use and I get them, along with the clamp on lights, at the local home improvement store.
Amazon.com : GE Lighting 89095 Energy Smart Spiral CFL 23-Watt (100-watt replacement) 1600-Lumen T3 Spiral Light Bulb with Medium Base, 1-Pack : Compact Fluorescent Bulbs : Home Improvement

Bayco SL-300 8.5 Inch Clamp Light with Aluminum Reflector - Amazon.com

Now I needed a way to diffuse the lighting in order to make it softer which meant I had to build some type of light box. The problem was that unlike handguns where the setup can be minimal, doing a full size rifle or shotgun offers a completely different and unique challenge. What I did was to use ½” PVC pipe along with elbow and T connectors to build the frame. The T connectors offer that extra stability and I place these halfway on each side as well as the back to offer support. Since I am placing these on two 72” x 30” resin type fold up tables, I need that extra support. You need to use two tables for long guns as it gives you the extra depth for your pictures while offering greater flexibility for posing your gun. The really nice thing about his setup is it breaks down easily plus you can have different sizes of PVC cut to fabricate smaller boxes depending on the need. In hindsight, I should have gone with a larger diameter PVC as with all the lights I use, it is a little flimsy.

The only thing left was to get some type of diffusing material that was large enough to cover this “box” and for that, I used a 200 thread count king sized white flat bed sheet. I use cheap plastic clamps to clip the sheet to the PVC frame in order to keep the sheet taut. Due to the size of the box, placing the lights on the outside to diffuse the lights didn’t give the result I was hoping for so I place these on the inside and “bounce” the lighting off the sheet or the background to give me a softer lighting for a majority of my shots. Here’s a picture of my setup with a white background:


The nice thing about the different size of lights is I can go for a more focused, spotlight type effect especially just utilizing the smaller lights. Many times, I will hold a light in my hand to help illuminate any unnecessary dark spots (especially when the gun is laying flat) or maybe directed toward a specific part of the gun I’m wishing to highlight. Although I don’t have any nickel plated guns, I would imagine the indirect lighting with one spotlight to highlight the shine would give great results. Here's some with nothing more than adjusting the lights I had turned on.




This is one of my early attempts at photography before truly understanding camera settings and lighting. I did this one with nothing more than a flashlight and had I better understood camera settings at the time, I think it would have came out nicer.


This thread I posted when I bought a Galco holster/belt that shows pictures using my light set up:
http://www.defensivecarry.com/forum/defensive-carry-holsters-carry-options/169781-new-galco-rig-pictorial-review-extremely-picture-heavy.html

Understanding lighting makes a big difference in the appearance of your photograph. Here's two identical setups showing a dramatic contrast in technique. The first one is one of my early photos and using nothing more then an overhead fluorescent shop light


This one was taken more recently after having a better understanding:



Many photographers use gel filters for their lights to give the image a different color effect and you see that lot with gun photography. Although I don’t have any gels, I have experimented a little with different colored bulbs but not with any diligence. Still, the effect was decent and there is potential to make an interesting photo. I read on one blog where the photographer would buy a roll of colored cellophane at hobby stores to get the same effect of gels. Obviously, you wouldn’t want that right next to your light source but it wouldn’t take much to make it work. I think I’ll look into that too as that’s what helps keep things interesting.

That’s what’s great with lighting and this set up is you can change the dynamics of the photo with nothing more changing to a different style of bulb or utilizing cheap, translucent material. Sometimes, you just have to think outside the light box 
Gels are a lot of fun to play with, but it is important to spend the money and get theatre quality gels from a theatre supply store. They are heat resistant, whereas many plastics willm melt under a normal light bulb. also they come in an infinite variety of colors as well.
 
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Ok, this subject touches on a pet peeve of mine.

Please -please stop jamming junk into the trigger guard only to take a photo from an angle that does NOT benefit from the fact that you stood it up. If you are going to prop it up by the trigger guard then take a photo from an angle that would otherwise not be available if you didnt prop it up. Its just like the people who take pics of sports cars with the wheels turned sharply to the right but then take the photo from the rear left??
 

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When taking a photo of a shiny object, you need to be not only concerned about any light reflections, but also about your own reflection in the firearm. I've seen a few eBay posts where the person did not consider this which might not have been that big of a deal except for the fact that they weren't fully clothed when they took the photo. Instead of posting a link to such a photo, I'll just let you do your own Google search for "ebay photo nude reflection". :)
 

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Ok, this subject touches on a pet peeve of mine.

Please -please stop jamming junk into the trigger guard only to take a photo from an angle that does NOT benefit from the fact that you stood it up. If you are going to prop it up by the trigger guard then take a photo from an angle that would otherwise not be available if you didnt prop it up. Its just like the people who take pics of sports cars with the wheels turned sharply to the right but then take the photo from the rear left??
ARGH, I hate that too! Turning the wheel so the face of the wheel is facing you is optimal.
 

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Great tutorial! Unless I missed it, you didn't mention anything about HDR (high dynamic range) photography. I love this photo:

SA1911-5.jpg

Looks like it could be HDR. Is it?
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Great tutorial! Unless I missed it, you didn't mention anything about HDR (high dynamic range) photography. I love this photo:

View attachment 87685

Looks like it could be HDR. Is it?
It is faux HDR.... if you crank the fill light and the recovery, tweak the blacks and throw is some contrast you get an HDR effect, but it must be used judiciously. Too much and you will get a halo effect that is generally ugly in most circumstances. HDR can be used in the studio but I generally see no point as I can control the lighting as I see fit. Sometimes it is fun to play is post editing though
 

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Besides the subject you need equipment AND ARTISTIC TALENT. I have a lot of the first but lack equipment and talent.
I disagree completely !! A common misconception of photography is that you have to have a 5k dollar camera and loads of gear and the latest gadgests, but that could not be furthest from the truth. I always recommend a digital SLR, but that is because it has the most useful features. It DOES NOT need to be fancy. My beater camera is a Nikon D70s ... 6mp, poor high ISO performance, but a great camera for the day. You can pick them up now for less than two hundred bucks. My Nikon D7000 is lightyears ahead of it, as is my D90, but I get the exact same pictures. The biggest challenge is learning. It is not as simple as point the camera and shoot. Just like shooting is an aquired skill, so is photography.

I started with brooder lights and 100w lightbulbs, and still use them for certain things. for 400 bucks you can get a good used Dslr, a good kit lense, and an older hot shoe flash such as a SB28Dx, some small doodads and be all set. It is all about learning the limits of the gear and working within those limits.
 
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While I prefer my DSLR, which happens to be a very old, and dated EOS-350D, I've taken great pics with even my iPhone.

I took these with my iPhone5. Edited it only slightly.



Many of my "on wrist" watch pics are taken with my phone. Generally taken spur of the moment.
The 350D is still a great camera even if it is old.. its prob right there with my D70s. I have been looking forward to getting a smartphone with a good camera and experimenting with using but I like studio work and they really dont work well with studio strobes lol. That is a great cell phone pic though. If I didnt abhor apple and everything it represents, I would consider getting one just for the camera . Love the citizen eco drive too... I lost mine in 2007, before my switch from sheep to wolf, to a scumbag. Never have been able to afford to replace it...one of these days though i will.
 

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As I read your excellent tutorial a question occurred to me...have you tried elevating the gun above the back ground useing a high aperture setting to try to maximize the 3D effect of back ground blurring and an in focus subject(gun)? This may be best accomplished with a macro lens but there maybe an 'elevation' distance which would work for standard lens.
 

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Very informative thread! As a photographer myself I appreciate your detailed instructions to the 'non-professional' photographers of the forum. It might take several shots at different angles to the firearm ...and using props (in this case a magazine) to keep from getting too much reflection but decent results can also be had with less elaborate setups & some photoshop tweaking for those of us in a hurry to post a photo of our new piece. Attaching a photo of my new PRIZED piece.
PM9_Camo.jpg
 

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OK, so now I am completely intimidated to take photos of my firearms and embarrassed by photos I have previously posted. I will now need to remove all photos from photobucket so no one can see how bad a photographer I am. But this does inspire me to take more time and pretend to be creative. Nah, forget that. I am as good a photographer as I am a vocalist. I is what I is.
 
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Very informative thread! As a photographer myself I appreciate your detailed instructions to the 'non-professional' photographers of the forum. It might take several shots at different angles to the firearm ...and using props (in this case a magazine) to keep from getting too much reflection but decent results can also be had with less elaborate setups & some photoshop tweaking for those of us in a hurry to post a photo of our new piece. Attaching a photo of my new PRIZED piece.
View attachment 93600
That sir is fantastic looking. I am truly jealous of your new prized piece lol. One day a dan wesson will grace my collection. I love the lighting your photograph as well. It really pops.
 
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