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The Dark Room -- Photo Editing and Picture Taking. Advice, tutorials, questions on all things photoshop, photo editing, and taking pictures of beads or glass.

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  #1  
Old 2008-03-29, 9:19am
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Dale M. Dale M. is offline
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Default Lighting Thoughts!

Al lot of discussion have been on using diffusers with "direct" lighting. Often resulting in hot spots (reflections) that just wont go a way. Why not turn your lights around and face them away for your "subject"... Yep turn them away from marble or bead, and use a WHITE reflector to bounce a softer light back on subject.

By using a curved reflector you can even further concentrate or diffuse the light... Something as simple as a piece of WHITE printer paper can be a effective reflector...

Dale
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  #2  
Old 2008-03-30, 1:45am
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Hey Dale, First let me say your thoughts about lighting are very advanced. However it's not practical for the average lamp-worker. Keep in mind that most of the people here do not have lights powerful enough to pull it off. Or a camera stand sturdy enough to work with the long exposure it would require.

As Far as reflections go, what's to stop the it. Glass reflects every thing. No matter how you light glass the lighting source will show in the glass. So what we're really talking about is a trade off.

The idea your putting forth is indeed valid, and a key stone in the photographer's arsenal. Bounce lighting! But without a key ( main light ) light contrast is lost. Colors are lost and motion is lost.

My problem with light tents are they are too soft. They reflect over the entire surface of the bead creating a film of sorts that blocks contrast. Also its unnatural. Our minds expect to see a high light. So a high light is not a bad thing. The trick is to understand that and to use it as a design element. In the words of Blue Oyster Cult " don't fear the Reaper". Meaning its not always the best course to try to improve on nature.

Take a look at this photo. Are the strong high lights a blessing or a curse?


Just a thought
Scott
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Last edited by Tanner Studios; 2008-03-30 at 1:55am.
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  #3  
Old 2008-03-30, 12:14pm
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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For me, when I'm shooting products, the idea is to get a shot that shows the object the best it can. I think the highlights in each bead are distracting. The white square and dimond shapes are the brightest areas in your picture and cases the eyes to go right to them.

The reason you have them is not that your light is too harsh, it's because your light source is too small. With a light tent, you will still have highlights, but the light source is so much bigger (the whole light tent is the light source) that the highlights are not pinpoint areas of light like on your beads. The only time I've found that my light was too soft was when I used 6 foot light panels. Because the light source was so big, the light was too soft for what I was shooting at the time and I had to switch back to my softboxes. In most cases though, I've not found where an image is so soft that increasing the contrast a bit in the editor didn't fix that up.

But unless I'm going for specific specular highlights because of what I'm shooting, I'll take big, soft, diffused lighting for stuff like this. Although you are right in one aspect... probably a lot of the people do not have a good solid tripod to put there camera on. They also don't understand how shutter speed, fstop and ISO play a bit part on the outcome of the image.

Mike
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Old 2008-03-30, 5:35pm
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MY total frustration is I have played with photography for over 30 years, used to shoot B&W and had own darkroom for a while... Over time I let film photography go. A some years ago my wife bought me a digital camera, and her not not knowing anything about cameras, got one that has almost no control over lighting (white balance) or "asa" speed, "F" stops etc....... All my work has been in trying to actually provide lighting that makes camera happy and I do not have to rely on software to make picture acceptable.... I have probably 4-5 "sets" of bulbs, assorted bulb holders with reflectors, tried several handmade photo tents, "a lot" of back ground materials, quite a few sets of different diffuser materials....

Think its time to chuck "no control" Olympus and get real camera.... DSLR sure is beginning to sound like a solution.

Dale
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Old 2008-03-30, 5:43pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanner Studios View Post

Take a look at this photo. Are the strong high lights a blessing or a curse?


Just a thought
Scott

Well for my tastes, back ground while it does enhance beads ( south-west element) is a little busy, reflections on beads are distracting because I am sitting here trying to figure out what caused reflections instead of looking at beads.. More softer light (reflected) from opposite main light source would further reduce shadows under beads....

If you want highlights on beads, something like a "star burst" filter (if you can get one that creates very small stars) would be better..... Just let a few pinpoints of light through diffuser to create "starburst".

Some time ago I discovered a filter system by COKIN that has a lot of different filters they offered that could provide many differ special effects that one could control....

http://www.cokin.com/

Dale
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Last edited by Dale M.; 2008-03-30 at 6:01pm.
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Old 2008-03-30, 6:45pm
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OK I am going to share (please go easy on me!) two pictures taken with my new camera it's a Nikon D70. I love it I just need to sort out my lighting issues. The first picture is taken from the front of the tent, and I am fairly happy with the lighting. The second is taken from the top and you can see I get some reflections and shadows.



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Old 2008-03-30, 8:18pm
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Mike and Dale could you post pic's ? It would be a big help for any one reading this thread. After all how can we compare Apples with Oranges if all we have are Apples.

I have two objectives when I shoot. First to show the beads, the second and most importantly create a branding for my product. When people see my photos they know who's beads their looking at. This is a tried and true concept of marketing and advertising.

Your wondering what the heck does that have to do with this topic. Well simply this. I try to create an image that is more then just showing the beads. An image that has emotion, movement and seduces the viewer to spend time with it. Dale, you are proof of that. Your last comments although dismissive were still engaged. You had to study the photo and think about it. In short you were draw in.

Everyone will have different reactions to one style or another. The real trick to selling on the internet is stopping people in their tracks and making them look. The more time you can get them to spend look at your photography the more they spend with your beads. Thats what you want.

I ask the question about blessing or curse because I use to retouch out the high lights. This showed the beads better but I lost the movement and emotion. When I started to leave the high lights in I got hundreds of comments like " Wow you have to make the most shiniest beads in the world." And we all know that one non etched bead is just as shinny as the next no mater who makes it.

Like I said its all about trade offs and personal preference.
Scott

P.S. Don't get me started with starburst.
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Last edited by Tanner Studios; 2008-03-30 at 8:22pm.
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  #8  
Old 2008-03-30, 9:05pm
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I would post pictures, but that would only prove what I have stated. They are poor quality, just as I have stated in my text. No point in confirming what I already know....

http://www.lampworketc.com/forums/sh...38&postcount=4

Dale
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Last edited by Dale M.; 2008-03-30 at 9:31pm.
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  #9  
Old 2008-03-30, 9:21pm
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Nicker.... I think most of the problem may be you are putting your "subjects" on a a sheet of glass for a base. You may want to try a non reflective surface to shoot on like poster board or cloth....

Believe it or not you can get a reflection from underside of sheet glass. This is what I think I am seeing in bottom picture of goddess bead.

Dale
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  #10  
Old 2008-04-01, 8:34pm
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Lighting is lighting, weather you are shinning it on apples or oranges. All of the jewlery shots I've done were taken back in the late 70's with an RB67 system. I don't have those images scanned in. All of the pictures I could show now are not about glass, but about things inside of glass and liquid, which throws a whole lot more complexity into the lighting because you no only have to not get reflective highlights showing up in the wrong places, but you have to light the object inside correctly. I do use a light tent a lot and understand about reflective light, highlights, when it works and when it doesn't. The example work I have done with the glass I'm fusing were all done with a single flash just to record the object. I've not really created any glass work that I feel worth taking the time to set up my equipment for. I'm new at fusing glass, just not photography.

If what you do works for you and you are happy with it, then that's all that should matter to you. But to me, you aren't showing your work at it's best.

Mike
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Old 2008-04-02, 2:41am
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Well, I think the lighting has a lot to do with the camera you have, and whether you can adjust the lighting effects if you use incandescent bulbs.

I use a Sony camera for product shots. Yes, Canon's are better... for action shots. The reason I use Sony is because of how it handles low light. Sony's can shoot in the dark, and my camcorder actually DOES shoot in the dark with an infrared function, I can shoot things I can't see. Sony's are slow, not as good with color and clarity (good enough tho), but NO camera handles low light like Sony.

I don't want to set up a lightbox, and buy more junk. So my sophisticated setup consists of an old Sony Mavica (bought it new ages ago, but you can probably get one on Ebay for $100 or less), a $6 60-watt walmart clamp light over my computer desk. A piece of white printer paper.

I put the white paper on my mousepad and prop it on my table clock in back. I throw object on the paper, turn on the 60 watt bulb 1' away, and take a pix. There's no focusing or adjusting, just turn on the macro lens, point and shoot on automatic. The macro will take sharp images as small as 1/2".

The photos do come out yellower due to the lighting, so you have to correct the levels/contrast/brightness in photoshop (or whatever graphics program, any cheapo one will be able to do this), crop the image and I'm done. Takes a minute and costs very little.

This is what they look like (white paper, a white shirt background, a purple scarf background, a white towel background).

The soap pix I shot for a client who needed a pix for her site and didn't have any. I used her soap from our last swap. Soap's nonreflective, but because it's bigger, I put it on my computer chair, got a white towel, threw it over the chair, and turned my clamp light on to the chair. Then point and shot. It's that easy, just get a Sony Mavica if you're lazy.

There is no other photo work done to the below images, other than color correction and cropping, that's what the Sony camera shoots.
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  #12  
Old 2008-04-02, 7:47pm
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Tanner, here are a few shots that I have taken using my light tents.

This is one of my set up while taking some images of dunking fruit into soda water:


In this case I'm using three lights... two softboxes with one on each side. The softboxes give me additional diffused lighting and a larger light source before it even hits the sides of the tent. This reduces the amount of small specular highlights that can occur from a smaller light source. I also like using a black background a lot, which is what the black Photo Disc is for in the back of the tent. The 3rd light in front is a small controlled light with a snoot on it so I can aim the light exactly where I want it. Sometimes I even put aluminum foil over the front so I can poke a small hole in the foil and control the amount of light even more. Foil also lets me shape the light to match what I'm lighting. Having a shaped light source (masked light) to match your object can really help the object sparkle.

Here are a couple of my Lily shots that I took using similar setups to the above:





And this is one where I was shooting a sliced orange and kiwi in the tank of soda water shown in the above setup shot.



Here is one example I could find that shows controlling the highlights. This is a plastic container sitting on a waxed black tile. I moved the lights around so that I didn't have any reflective highlights on the face of the plastic or on the tile in front of the container.



As I said above, although not of glass jewlery or other glass objects, setting up the lights for glass will be very much the same... except the glass transparancy or depth needs to be taken into consideration. That's a whole different ball of wax. I hope to be able to create some glass items one of these days that looks as good as what you have shown and so many others on here. But fusing glass is still something I'm learning.

Mike
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Old 2008-04-02, 8:09pm
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Mike I think the bigger, softer lights may work better. I have a horrible time finding any light locally here though. Here's a new picture with my tweaked lighting. I am pretty happy with it.

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Old 2008-04-03, 3:32am
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Default Nice pictures Mike

Did you mention what you are using for a camera.
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Old 2008-04-03, 6:44am
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The larger light source does work better. You might try increasing the brightness a little as well as contrast. The increased contrast will help bring out the colors more. To create a bigger light source, you could put one or more layers of white nylon or cloth panels between your subject and the lights. Each at least 2 times bigger than your light source. Then adjust your light so that it lights up the panel as evenly as possible. The even light is key to this. Many people use a light tent but then they use lights that are real strong (like halogen) and put them so close that the light just blasts through the tent walls and doesn't get a chance to diffuse and spread out. So they still end up with bright spots all over any reflective surfaces.

The light needs to be positioned so that it evenly lights the whole surface. This will give you maximum diffused light and a even light source. On my set up above, each of the softboxes I use have two nylon panels to diffuse the light, one inside and the one on the end. So the light is already diffused by the time it hits the sides of the light tent, which diffuses it even further.

Although I'm using studio lights and softboxes, it's not to difficult to achieve this with home brew tents and lights as well. I've made a number of panels out of PVC and Sport Nylon (sold at Jo Ann's next to the Rip Stop Nylon). Sport Nylon is a smoother finish and a lot closer to the type of nylon you find on light tents, umbrellas and softboxes than Rip Stop Nylon is. It's not a neutral white, but it's not that far off either and easily corrected. I've also used white plexiglass and the frosted light diffussion panels you can get in the lighting section of Home Depot. And then you have all kinds of other material, white paper, tracing paper, frosted shower curtain material, white cotton bed sheets, white cardbaord to reflect light off of, translucent plastic bowls to put over your lights, etc. Almost anything can be color corrected, either in camera or during editing... unless you want to use colored material for effect, which some people do, just like they use colored gels to change the color of their lights. Lots of possibilities.

Bob, thanks. I believe these were shot with my Canon 10D and 24-70 2.8L lens. My wife now has the 10D and I shoot with a Canon 1DMKII. I kept the lens though.

Mike
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Old 2008-04-03, 9:08am
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Mike,
I was wondering about the light with the snoot... Can you tell me more about it?

Love your flower pics!!

Thanks for sharing your setup!

Mary
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Old 2008-04-03, 10:00am
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Thanks Mary,

A snoot is used to provide more precise control of light than you can get from a light source that is more open, i.e. a light source with a shiny aluminum reflector, an umbrella, softbox, etc. Depending on the size of the snoot, you can create a pin point of light or something bigger. You can put grids on the end that help direct and restrict the light even more. The one I have is about 2" across. I use it mostly for when I'm doing close ups of small items or like in the flowers where I want light on a sprecific area.

You have to be careful with them though and watch out for heat buildup. Since they are enclosed, all that light that is being restricted and held back turns into heat. So I have to keep an eye on it and make sure I'm not flashing the flash too fast and I don't leave the modeling light on once I get it set up the way I want.

You can make snoots out of aluminum foil, black construction paper, or other material that will not let light shine through except where you want it to. For glass, they are good for adding side light, back light or even additional front light in very controlled amounts. Something that is also handy to have is called barn doors. They are flaps of metal on hinges that you can open and close to block light and direct it. They come in 2 door and 4 door flap types. The 4 door is best because you can close the flaps down until you have just a small hole to allow light out of. They are also very handy to use.

Mike
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Old 2008-04-03, 9:34pm
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Mike,
Thanks for the info. I melted some rented lights once because I didn't know about the problems with heat build up from closing the barn doors!

I searched awhile back for a snoot that would really pinpoint the light, but never found anything. I never thought of al foil!!

I appreciate your tips!

Mary
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Old 2008-04-04, 12:10am
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Mike, First off very pretty flowers. And your photo of your set up with the light tent is going to really help some here on LE. But I was hoping you would post images of high gloss glass sphere images. So we could really compare the different lighting styles and open a discussion about different techniques. Examples of glass would really help separate the reality from theory. Also our LE friends could see the difference between the two styles.

With all respect.
Scott
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Old 2008-04-04, 12:48am
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I'd like to see a reflection photo too.

Just for comparison's sake (expensive vs cheap), my now less than $100 mavica with only regular lighting and factory macro lens does flower closeups pretty well too.

A small flashlight in the dark behind the white flower (night blooming cereus), kitchen table shot water droplets on hibiscus, a moth on my back porch under the porch light (no flash- note, the moth was roughly 8 mm in wingspan).

No photoshop work at all on any of them, except cropping, not even color correction. If I played with the color saturation... they would be something. The orange flower btw is what I used as a background for my website. Picked a flower from my backyard, wet it at the sink, put it on my kitchen counter and shot it.

The last pix is all messed with, saturation, few thingies added, massive compression (to 10kb), but it's the 2nd shot.

You guys may not be interested, but I got a few PM questions about the Mavica, so I thought I'd keep this on the same thread.
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Old 2008-04-04, 1:34am
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Helen, Are you sure that first shot isn't a jelly fish encased in a marble. Don't try and fool us.
Scott
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Old 2008-04-04, 1:52am
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LOL! Scott, if I could make a jellyfish that looked like that, I would be John Kobuki and you'd pay ME for classes!!! hehehe. I WISH! Oh my... I was supposed to make jellyfish marbles tonite (for the first time). I completely forgot because I was doing taxes. We should revolt! Oh yah... didn't we already revolt once to avoid paying taxes? What happened? Waaahhh.

I thought I'd mention something about the photos... I knew I was shooting these for the net, so the originals are the smallest possible size, 640x480. This is relevant because you know I didn't cheat to get clarity by cropping a 10 mega pixel image a bit. If I did that (note that my Mavica is only capable of 4 megapixels), my images would be SHARP. If I cropped down from 4 mega pixels, they'd be SHARPER than you see. These are cropped to 400 from 640 pixels.

The only reason I brought this up is that not every lampworker needs to be a photographer too. While you can definitely get crisper shots, for the 72 dpi resolution of the net, and the 96 dpi maximum screen resolution of the typical monitor... you can save a whole lot of money and time with an old Sony camera on regular automatic, and a cheap photoediting proggie. You do not need fancy equipment to make decent product photos, just a good eye (which most artists already have in spades).
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Old 2008-04-04, 12:14pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanner Studios View Post
Mike, First off very pretty flowers. And your photo of your set up with the light tent is going to really help some here on LE. But I was hoping you would post images of high gloss glass sphere images. So we could really compare the different lighting styles and open a discussion about different techniques. Examples of glass would really help separate the reality from theory. Also our LE friends could see the difference between the two styles.

With all respect.
Scott
Scott, I know you did. Which is why I was hesitant at first to even post those. But I know how easy it is to just assume someone is blowing smoke when they go counter to what you believe. So even though I don't have the glass to shoot, I decided to post what I did anyway. It might not be what you wanted to see, but I hope it does show that I do know how to use my lights and light tent. If not, I guess it will just have to wait till I get some glass worth shooting.

Mike
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Old 2008-04-04, 1:12pm
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Mike, I have read all of your posts here in the Dark Rm. So I know your not blowing smoke. You have shared some fine wisdom. Your knowledge of photography reflects in your writing as well as your photos.

So please don't be offended. I just thought it would be fun and educational for all. To have a debate on the different ways to photograph glass. A dialogue between glass lovers with professional photography back grounds. A discussion on the pros and cons of all type of lighting equipment and styles.

Scott
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Old 2008-04-04, 6:38pm
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I agree. And Mike, I wanted to see what your glass looked like with that setup, not to pick either!

I know I put the mavica pix in the wrong section to begin with (I do that a lot). I just know that a lot of hobbyists can't afford a full setup, and it's an easy inexpensive option. There's no doubt that better photos can be made with better gear such as yours and Scott's... particularly if the intention is for printing vs web.

I'd still like to see some glass pix.
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Old 2008-04-13, 6:57pm
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Since I don't have anything that comes close to what has been shown above, I have bought a few pendents and marbles from a couple of people on here (I will give them full credit for their pieces of course). This will give me several nice looking pieces of glass to work with and demonstrate (I hope) what I've been talking about. Hopefully, this will be a little more benificial to those interested. If not, I'll just go shoot some more flowers.

Mike
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Last edited by Mike Jordan; 2008-04-13 at 7:01pm.
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Old 2008-04-26, 7:29am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicker View Post
OK I am going to share (please go easy on me!) two pictures taken with my new camera it's a Nikon D70. I love it I just need to sort out my lighting issues. The first picture is taken from the front of the tent, and I am fairly happy with the lighting. The second is taken from the top and you can see I get some reflections and shadows.



Hi Nicker,
I am loving your photos, I have a Nikon D70 also, are you using a macro
lens? or close up lens?

Suz
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Old 2008-04-26, 8:35am
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I have a 60mm macro, I've tweaked my lighting yet again and just love this camera!
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Old 2008-04-26, 12:17pm
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Thank you Nicker,

I do so want a macro lens! Its on the list..
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Old 2008-04-30, 2:22pm
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well, having been awarded the "Queen of the Crappy Photo" contest (that I didn't enter) I do have a lot to learn.

Thanks for all the info.

Sara
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