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p.briden

Photographing Airsoft Guns: Tips & Guides

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A good tip for diffusing light, is to rig some baking paper (?) in front of a high power light, that way you won't end up with a huge spotlight on the item.

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@mods: If this is not suitable for this area, please move or delete as necessary. Didn't know it this was better off as a tip/trick or on its own (and no mods are online/visible).

 

Due to requests and an initial intent to explain what was created cheaply...

 

As a forward, I'd just like to say that this probably isn't too organized since I'm trying to cover whatever I can think of rather than writing a streamlined tutorial. Truth be told, you can just look at the photos and figure it all out.

 

We've all seen the professional studios lingering around the internet. After messing around with what works best for a few months, I've found a cheap and effective solution for those of us with cameras a step above point-and-shoot. Granted, I have not used one of the newer Sony Coolpix 1,000,000,000s so they could have everything necessary (especially a hole in the bottom for a tripod's attachment threads) to do the same... For the tutorial, I'm using a Nikon P80 which retails at $240 and sits comfortably between eco point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. Between using the P80 an a buddy using a Canon Rebel XTi, I've found that the single most important thing is knowing how to change your white balance, apature, and exposure. The white balance on the Rebel XTi seemed so complicated that I, with no experience using that camera, had no ideas on making it suitable for setup. Nikon cameras, however, have an auto-measure function where you point the camera at what should be white in the final photo and the camera will adjust to make it so.

 

DSCN2977.jpg

 

DSCN2892.jpg

 

DSCN2903.jpg

 

This is what was achieved by the end of 10 minutes of preparation (the first photo is what I took when getting the photos for the tutorial). The means was much simpler that I had originally thought - it took a little trip to Target and a "what the hell" mindset to get it going. Below is what you will need:

 

DSCN2960.jpg

 

Soft White Light Bulbs - $.69 ea

White Electrical Tape - $1.19

Foam Board - $3.19 ea x6 -> $19.14

Dust Off - $3.99

Black poster Board - $.57 ea x4 -> $2.28

 

Total - $27.29

 

All the items are optional given you have some around the house. I recently moved into an apartment so I have no spare materials on hand. The soft white light bulbs are there to replace the otherwise yellow bulbs that are typically found in peoples' homes. Dust-Off is best for cleaning parts since it does not leave any residue behind. Great for scope lenses, metal surfaces (dust is bad on dark surfaces) etc. definately worth getting for any photography. We used a tree light and pointed the lights at surrounding surfaces to get a more diffused/ambient light rather than a direct spot. You can point the light straight at the target, but you will get very defined shadows. We had no diffusors on top of the bulbs...

 

DSCN2966.jpg

 

With three lights, we found that we could get very soft shadows after some fiddling with orientations. Lamps and other light fixtures would work well too given the use of soft white bulbs. Now for the boards... If you tile the boards for a 2x2 square, you'll get about a 3'x5' surface which is perfect for top down shooting. However, if you shoot at ground level, you'll need to lift one edge and therefore lose some area. The result is like the second photo I posted at the top (the bipod was on the kitchen floor so I chose not to include that portion). We decided that 3x2 (6'x5') was perfect such that we get a good bottom surface and backdrop.

 

Using white electrical tape, We taped the edges together in an effort to limit the visibility of the seams. The tape is a little more reflective that the glossy foam board but a much better alternative than black shadows caused by imperfections. This is the end result of the surface:

 

DSCN2968.jpg

 

You can see the seams fairly well but those are easily removed when the exposure is lengthened or levels are changed in Photoshop. As you can see in the following photo, the automatic adjustments will try to balance the photo making anything dark grey seem almost black...

 

DSCN2969.jpg

 

This is because the camera is trying to capture all the detail in the scene. People with point-and-shoot cameras that do all the adjusting automatically will have this problem - again, I don't know if its prevalent in the newer cameras. All you need is control over the white balance, exposure, and aperature. Here is the setup I mentioned above: a 2x2 bottom surface and a 1x2 angled surface.

 

DSCN2987.jpg

 

The back boards help both in eliminating the background of the environment it is in (the kitchen, in our case) as well as bounce additional light towards the target. The tri-pod was $15 at Target (Targus 50" Camcorder Tripod) and works much better than furniture I was using before. If you do not have a tri-pod, this is definatley a nice one for the price and a recommended buy if you plan on doing longer exposures (anything longer than .25 seconds). From here, the photographer now has the freedom of choice for picking the shots and the targets. I've found that more interesting items always look better in the long run, especially free-standing ones (read: AEG with bipod). From the setup above, I was able to get the initial photo using a 2" exposure and F8.0 with the three lights behind me and windows with the shades closed.

 

Since the boards are foldable, there are a few options for better lighting. Such is the case with an AEG that does not stand on its own:

 

DSCN2988.jpg

 

IMG_7313.jpg

 

Cheers guys. I hope this was remotely helpful. Please let me know what I could clarify. If you shoot any photos with this setup, I would love to see them (maybe post 'em here as a Studio Photo Thread or something).

 

eta - added reason for getting Dust Off.

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fantastic mate, Easy when you know how i guess, it does help if youve got some beautiful rifles as well.:)

 

I'll certainly be giving this a shot at some point.

 

regards,

jim.

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Excellent guide QDRenegade, thanks!

 

Haha thanks. Kinda got burried in here (no views in over two weeks with no more than a dozen since I posted!) so I think I'll be PMing one of the mods ;)

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I'll think I'll write something up later, but since later could be a long, long time from now; I'll throw out a quick tip now. If you want to really draw attention to a single area on an object, try messing with the depth of field so that ONLY the part you want to highlight is in focus. Example below:

 

gun04.jpggear08.jpg

 

 

The smaller the aperture number, the shallower depth of field (the less stuff is in focus around your focal point). Closer focal points also result in a shallower depth of field. Even most point and shoots allow you to change the aperture, but since most point and shoots don't have a lens that can open up past 3.5 or 4.5, the results will be less :/

 

Here's a great review on DOF

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials...th-of-field.htm

 

-Sean

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Here is my own contribution to this thread:

"How To Make Your ##### Camera Take Nice Pictures"

 

Ok, well as the title say, we are all airsofters, which mean countless $$$ poured into guns and gear, leaving very little left over for a nice camera. I hated using my 3 year old Sony Point-and-Shoot camera simply because something was always wrong with the pictures; whether they be to bright or too dark, they just never turned out well. Very recently, however, I had a very great expirience with my camera and that is what i want to share with you so the whole world can see how sweet you gun really is.

 

Step One: I find that the best way to get good pictures is to go out when the sun is completley out; some say overcast weather is best, but for me, that just makes my flash go crazy. Try to find a place slightly shades, i.e. not with the sun literally beating down on you gun/parts.

 

Step Two: Set up an interesting composition. This has absolutly nothing to do with the camera or what you are taking pictures of, but it will REALLY help make you pictures nice. I really don't have much gear, but I do have some vintage 50's and 60's army stuff. What I use in my pictures:

-Flight Helmet Bag

-Wool Scarf

-Bandages

-Patch

-Laundry Bag

 

As you can see, it is nothing special, but a composition will do wonders to help you photos, especially if youy have a #### camera.

 

Step Three: Take some test shots. I usually find that the sun is a bit to bright, so I take ann old screen from my window and hold it above the entire composition (have the camera under it). For me, the sreen bring the amount of light down just enought so the pictures turn out the way they should.

 

Step Four: Take lots of interesting photos. Try not to take a sright on photo of you gun or part, it is very easy to get every part of you gun or part in the frame while shooting at an angle, and the shooting angle adding to the composition, all helping to make you picture turn out well.

 

Step Five: Once you take some pictures you are happy with, it is time to edit. I currently have GIMP installed on my computer, but I actually prefer the standard Vista editor. After much expirimenting, I have found that the best things to change are:

-Contrast

-Saturation

-Color Temperature (most of the tine cooler is better but warm will also work in some cases)

-Brightness (should usually be left untouched, if it does need to be changed, only change very slightly)

 

Examples:

Before:

gggggggggggggggggg.jpg

After Editing:

yesxvb.jpg

 

Examples of Different Shooting Angles:

yes2t.jpg

yes3v.jpg

yes4.jpg

 

Thanks for reading, hopefully this helps someone!

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More great advice.

 

Regarding this:

"If you do not have a tri-pod, this is definatley a nice one for the price and a recommended buy if you plan on doing longer exposures (anything longer than .25 seconds)."

 

A tripod is definitely a great investment for any number of reasons. The magic number for stable exposures is 1/f where f is the focal length.

 

That is, at 300mm you should shoot at 1/300th (1/250th, normally expressed as just 250, is probably the closest setting). If your camera or lens has image stabilization then you can go two to three stops better than this. From 250 three stops is 125, 60, 30. A well supported position may be worth a stop as well, depending on your skill. Bear in mind that the options are normally in half- or third-stops so the options are actually 180, 125, 90, 60, 45, 30.

 

An aside: One 'stop' equates to doubling the amount of light reaching the sensor.

 

This matches with your own observation. At the widest angle your camera has a focal length of around 4mm and you can get stable photographs at 1/4th of a second. This observation, however, is not necessarily helpful to every photographer out there.

 

Hopefully this will help some people avoid blurry photographs.

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More great advice.

 

Regarding this:

"If you do not have a tri-pod, this is definatley a nice one for the price and a recommended buy if you plan on doing longer exposures (anything longer than .25 seconds)."

 

A tripod is definitely a great investment for any number of reasons. The magic number for stable exposures is 1/f where f is the focal length.

 

That is, at 300mm you should shoot at 1/300th (1/250th, normally expressed as just 250, is probably the closest setting). If your camera or lens has image stabilization then you can go two to three stops better than this. From 250 three stops is 125, 60, 30. A well supported position may be worth a stop as well, depending on your skill. Bear in mind that the options are normally in half- or third-stops so the options are actually 180, 125, 90, 60, 45, 30.

 

An aside: One 'stop' equates to doubling the amount of light reaching the sensor.

 

This matches with your own observation. At the widest angle your camera has a focal length of around 4mm and you can get stable photographs at 1/4th of a second. This observation, however, is not necessarily helpful to every photographer out there.

 

Hopefully this will help some people avoid blurry photographs.

 

Just meant that I found holding the camera was fine enough for exposures of .25 seconds or less. When I would go above that, photos became noticeably blurry. Im not sure, but I think you might have read aperture when I previousily wrote exposure :P In any case, the amount of time, regardless of what aperture someone is shooting at, will be what necessitates the use of a tripod. Basically, Im a little confused as to how your addition, give that my assumption two sentences prior is incorrect, pertains to what you quoted me saying.

 

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Right, this is getting complicated.

 

Basically I was talking about shutter speeds the whole way through. I never thought you were talking about apertures. .25 is only a number which you yourself have discovered through experimentation. However this is not a good guide number for other people unless they are using the same camera as you.

 

The shutter speed at which you can take a stable photograph is dependant on the focal length of the lens being used. If you have a telephoto (variable zoom) lens then the required shutter speed will vary depending on how 'zoomed in' you are.

 

Try for yourself (with the Nikon P80 you mentioned) taking a photo fully zoomed in at .25 of a second and you will probably find that it still becomes blurry. Set the shutter speed to around 1/90th of a second ('90') and it will become clear again. This assumes you have the image stabilisation switched off. [switch it on and you should be able to work at around 1/10th of a second.]

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I guess it depends on the user, but I was taught a shutter speed of 1/60 second was the minimum for hand held.

 

I used to work to this, until I found out the reasoning.

 

With 35mm film, a 50mm lens gives you a 'normal' photograph - that is, the same field of vision as the human eye. Way back when everyone used 35mm film with 50mm lenses and only a select few had any kind of adjustable lenses teaching that 1/60th was required is a simple rule.

 

Nowadays, on the other hand, nearly everyone has a telephoto lens of some kind. I've got an 18-70mm on my SLR, my compact is 8-24mm, my dad has a 20-50mm, a 28-300mm and a 100-300mm. The Nikon P80 mentioned earlier has a built in lens with a 5-84mm focal length.

 

With lots of small sensors around, lenses are getting smaller and smaller focal lengths.

 

The rule is basically 'shoot faster than the reciprocal of the focal length you're using'.

 

Taking photos at 300mm? 1/300 second minimum. 20mm? 1/20 is enough.

 

Edit: if need be I'll take some test photos to demonstrate.

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I used to work to this, until I found out the reasoning.

 

With 35mm film, a 50mm lens gives you a 'normal' photograph - that is, the same field of vision as the human eye. Way back when everyone used 35mm film with 50mm lenses and only a select few had any kind of adjustable lenses teaching that 1/60th was required is a simple rule.

 

That makes sense now, It was a traditional photography class; I used a Pentax ZX60. 28mm-80mm

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Ordered a tripod off Ebay.co.uk, setting up my sleep schedule to pickup some dawn-light, fidgeting with my camera which appears to be quite decent to get a grasp of the technicalities.. and hoping i don't screw everything up. Anyhows i'll be damned if i don't take alteast one pic that'll make my VFC 416 look as awesome as it is. >.<

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Anyhows i'll be damned if i don't take alteast one pic that'll make my VFC 416 look as awesome as it is. >.<

 

Want awesome VFC HK416 you say?

Natural lighting, good old dirt-cheap Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens

some Swedish sand and a quick snap before going out on mission on Berget 6.

I like it.. :)

 

http://gallery.mr-airsoft.com/displayimage...m=38&pos=13

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When I photographed mine for the close ups I held the camera further away and zoomed in. The flash didn't cause a problem, in fact the picture came out really nicely I think... Is nicely a word? Well whatever, I found that method pretty good.

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Airsoft Still Photography 101!!

 

Ok well the winter Build Off is rapidly approaching and I feel a quick guide to Airsoft still photography is a must!

 

I'll keep it simple. I know most of us have basic photo equipment at best. I have some serious stuff, but that doesn't mean

 

that I can't rip off an amazing pic with my $100 Canon powershot point and shoot! You can too!

 

IMG_1850.jpg

IMG_0556.jpg

 

First thing on the list is Composition. This is how the "subject" is positioned in the picture. As a general rule of thumb,

 

you want to fill the viewfinder with as much of the subject as possible. Nobody wants to see a 5x7" picture of your dirty

 

carpet with a 1x1" pic of your replica in the center. You have wasted the rest of the picture!

 

Try to fill the viewfinder corner to corner like this. Try to get sweeping angles and triangles when possible.

IMG_9413.jpg

IMG_9384.jpg

 

DON'T do THIS!!

 

IMG_0545.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This takes me to Backround. This is everything else in the picture that is NOT the "Subject." Just a little effort here

 

goes a LOOONG way.

 

Let me give some examples of HORRIBLE BACKROUNDS IN AIRSOFT!!!

-Your dirty unmade bed!

-Your Dirty Carpet/Floor!!

 

Let me give some good examples...

- A variety of related equipment like a Tac vest, shemagh, uniform, backpack etc etc

- Any clean plain backround that doesn't distract the viewer from the "Subject"

 

If you have a Bad *ss $10000 dollar GBB M4 with a poorly composed distracting backround, you will not win. Sorry.

 

Do This!!!

 

IMG_5171.jpg

 

IMG_8029DesktopResolution.jpg

 

DON'T DO THIS!!

 

IMG_0547.jpg

IMG_2030.jpg

 

If no backround is available use the floor, but make it look clean and uniform as possible like these...

IMG_2447.jpg

IMG_2646.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trigger Control!!

Sometimes I see guys that have a great backround and good composition but then when they hit the shutter release button they

 

are suddenly stricken with cerebral palsy! Slowly and deliberately squeeze the shutter release being careful not to shake

 

the camera~! Follow through! just like shooting a gun! Why? because Blurry\soft images suck!

 

Do this...

 

IMG_8807.jpg

 

Not This!!

 

IMG_8808.jpg

 

Lighting

 

Generally speaking most in camera flashes suck. Try not to use them if you can. In most cases they will over expose certain

 

areas of the gun and look unnatural in general.

 

Try a steady hand and lots of natural/artificial light. Turn on all available lights or take the "subject" outside instead.

 

Flashes aren't all bad, but techiniques like bounce flash and using diffusers gets complicated when you are trying to evenly

 

distribute the light.

 

Do this...

 

IMG_0550.jpg

 

Not this!>>>

 

IMG_0548.jpg

 

 

 

Focus

Most cameras have a "half shutter" function where metering and focus take place. Try to use it. Once the camera indicates

 

it has focused(usually a beep and a green box on teh focal point), keep your camera steady and slowly deliberately depress

 

the shutter the rest of the way(sound familiar?)

 

Do this...

 

IMG_0551-1.jpg

 

Not This!>>

 

IMG_0552-1.jpg

 

Tripod and Timers!

 

These two things will greatly improve your shots! Even a $1.99 flexy tripod will do wonders. You can get a decent Beginner

 

tripod for less that $20 bux. Once you have your tripod set up and aimed at the "subject" use a remote or timer to take the

 

shot. This way you will garuntee that your hand will not shake the camera at all during the shot. Keep in mind that some

 

flex leg tripods may take a few seconds to settle out after adjustment. Allow time for this before firing off the shot.

IMG_0557.jpg

 

Some key things....

ISO- Is just like film speed. The higher the number, the quicker shutter speed you can use, which equates to a less blurry

 

shot. Keep in mind though, the higher the number the more grainy the shot will look, the lower the number the clearer the

 

shot will be.

 

Do this...(100 ISO)

 

IMG_0554.jpg

 

Not this(1600 ISO)

 

IMG_0553.jpg

 

Shutter speed- This is the amount of time the shutter stays open to expose the shot. You want this to be as quick as

 

possible generally speaking. If the shutter opens for 2 seconds, then any movement or change in that 2 seconds will

 

represent a blur in the picture.

 

Apeture value(F-stop) This represents how wide the shutter will open. the lower the number, the wider it will open, which

 

will allow you to use a faster shutter speed. if you zoom in though, you may lose some of your AV adjustments.

 

This is it guys, just a brief guide to get you in the right direction. Hope it helps in some way!

 

>>Golgo 13

 

 

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So you're recommending a low ISO, and a fast shutter speed. This'll produce very dark pictures. So I think it's just quickly worth pointing out, a tripod will allow you to increase the exposure time, without such a risk of blurring. Once you have a tripod, you can drop the ISO right down, and tweak the shutter speed to the levels of light you want in the picture. May sound obvious I guess, but if you're giving a guide to people who've not done it before, I thought it might be worth mentioning.

 

Very good guide by the way.

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