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Thread: Photo box problems

  1. #1

    Photo box problems

    Okay, I'm really new at photography, and I'm getting really frustrated with what I'm working on. I'm trying to take pictures of sewing buttons for my little online shop.

    I've been using a photobox and my camera is the Kodak DX7630.

    I have the settings on custom, fluorescent setting for whitebalance, and the aperture setting on 'high'. I also have it set to close up mode, and I have the flash off. I 'think' these are the settings I should be using.

    The problem is that I can't seem to get the colors right very consistently at all. I was using a blue background, but I was told blue can make the problem worse, so I switched to a furry white fabric. The fabric turns out yellow tinted usually, but sometimes it will look brown or pink. This is usually during the same photoshoot. I assume some of it is from the buttons reflecting some light and making the fabric appear another color, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do to make the pictures look consistent.

    I am now trying a gray background, and it's looking better then the white, I presume because it reflects less color, and yet I end up with pretty much all shades of gray. I don't really know why the background seems to 'change colors' on all the pictures, sometimes on the same set of pictures with the same buttons, the background will look light light gray to a dark gray. I assume this is somehow my fault. Generally I don't move the lights, but I do scoot the camera around some so I get different angles of a shot. I'm also certain it's not a shadow because I've stayed out of the line of light.

    Can someone help me?

  2. #2

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post

    Can someone help me?
    No.

    ... OK, just kidding - would be glad to try and help. It's sounding like a white-balance problem to me - the trick is to work out what it should be and figure out a way to change it for you.

    I'm assuming that you're using the flourescent room lights for illumination?

    Does the camera have a custom white-balance setting?

    Are you able to post some examples for us?

    Are you able to post several examples that also have something that's white or gray in the scene (eg even a piece of white paper) (even though it may turn a different colour in the shot).

    What software are you using to process the shots? (if anything)

    PS: you can easily post images here by creating a gallery for your self - just start by clicking on COMMUNITY above, and follow your nose to upload images from there (we can help you link them to the posts later - just be sure to make it a PUBLIC gallery thought).

    PPS - Welcome to CiC - great to have you with us

  3. #3

    Re: Photo box problems

    I couldn't figure out how to upload pictures, I went to community, picture albums, new album, and it says I don't have administrative rights for whatever it is I'm trying to do.

    So I uploaded a bunch of them on flickr. Most of these are the white background because those are ones I haven't edited yet. I also have a few with a gray background that I used photoshop on to adjust the levels. I had the gray background and I put my little button bag on the picture which has a black and white, and then used the levels feature so I selected the white on the bag, the black on the bag and the gray background. I 'thought' if I saved that level change it should work for most of the pictures and then I could just use that, since again, I'm just taking them in the same photobox with the same lights.

    The lights I have have those fullspectrum bulbs in it, but they seem really flourescent colored, but maybe I should set that setting differently. I'm not actually sure anymore because everything I've been doing isn't working at all.


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11202629@N04/?saved=1

    My camera doesn't have very many choices for custom settings. I haven't changed the exposure metering from center spot, I did change the whitebalance from auto to fluorescent, and I have it set to aperture priority.

    All of those pictures on my flickr stream were from the same photoshoot (the gray ones were about an hour later I guess).

    Okay, well hopefully that's enough information that someone can help me figure it out. Thanks.

  4. #4

    Re: Photo box problems

    Any ideas anyone?

  5. #5

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    Any ideas anyone?
    Sorry, I was asleep at 4am when you posted your first reply

    I think I'm seeing 2 issues here; exposure and white balancing.

    Differing exposure will saturate or wash-out colours - so it's important that we get that right first.

    Does your camera have a manual-exposure mode (where you can tell it the shutterspeed and aperture that you want to use)?

    PS: Sorry about the gallery issues you've had - now that you mention it, I think that there is a minimum number of posts required before you're able to use it (not sure what it is off the top of my head) (Dave, Sean, do you know?)

  6. #6

    Re: Photo box problems

    Okay so it has four options on the exposure mode program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual. If I click manual it just then says M, and I have absolutely no idea what I'm supposed to do to actually 'choose' settings. I've been having it set to aperture priority. (okay, now that I look at it further apparently manual means the some number on the screen changes when I point the camera around at things, from negative to positive, I'm not actually sure what those numbers mean.)

    Then there is the exposure metering, it has three settings multi-pattern, centerweight and center-spot. I don't actually know what those settings do really, but it's set at centerspot.

    White balance options are Auto, Daylight, tungsten, and fluorescent.

    The only other setting that I don't know what it really controls is the AF control, it's set at 'continuous" instead of 'single' or accessory lens... which I presume you need a different lens for the last setting. (bright, aren't I?)

  7. #7

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    Okay so it has four options on the exposure mode program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual. If I click manual it just then says M, and I have absolutely no idea what I'm supposed to do to actually 'choose' settings. I've been having it set to aperture priority. (okay, now that I look at it further apparently manual means the some number on the screen changes when I point the camera around at things, from negative to positive, I'm not actually sure what those numbers mean.)

    Then there is the exposure metering, it has three settings multi-pattern, centerweight and center-spot. I don't actually know what those settings do really, but it's set at centerspot.

    White balance options are Auto, Daylight, tungsten, and fluorescent.

    The only other setting that I don't know what it really controls is the AF control, it's set at 'continuous" instead of 'single' or accessory lens... which I presume you need a different lens for the last setting. (bright, aren't I?)
    OK - this is mostly good news

    It's all about getting the right amount of light hitting the sensor. Aperture allows you to control how big the hole that the light passes through is (you'd think that the "bigger the better" but the bigger the hole the less that's in focus in front and behind what you focus on) - and shutterspeed allows you to control how long the shutter is open for (so you might be thinking a small aperture will get lots in focus - so I need a long shutterspeed to expose the sensor for longer ... and you'd be right). The downside of long shutterspeeds is that if they're two low you get camera shake and possibly subject motion (the latter isn't applicable in your case). There's another setting called ISO which basically changes how sensitive the camera is to light - so with higher ISO settings you can have narrower apertures and/or faster shutterspeeds - but the photos will look grainier.

    Trick here is to figure out what the right combination of settings are for you.

    OK next bit of info that I need ... when you put the camera in Aperture Priority mode you'll be able to change the aperture through a range of settings - probably starting somewhere in the region of F4 and going down to something in the region of F18 - would you be able to quickly go through them and tell me what they range from?

    Also - do you have a tripod or something you can rest the camera on?

  8. #8

    Re: Photo box problems

    Well, my hands are about as steady as an earthquake so I ALWAYS use my tripod. It's a really tiny one I think it's in my photobox picture.


    Okay, so I'm looking at my camera a little closer, if I choose Aperture Priority, again, I don't get to 'choose' anything, it just says that aperture is prioritized. But when I'm holding the camera apparently the numbers on the screen change as I point at different things... Hmm, I hadn't noticed this before so that could be a big reason why my shots have been so different. It says ISO 100
    f - some changing number
    1/ - some changing number

    I really don't know what I should be looking for to get more consistent shots. Probably the same numbers each time I take a picture, but roughly what should they be?

    If I got a different camera that didn't automate all of this would that be smarter? I really just want consistent shots so that my website doesn't look silly with all the variations side by side.

  9. #9

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    Re: Photo box problems

    If they are full spectrum lights you should use the daylight preset if you don't have a custom option.

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    If I got a different camera that didn't automate all of this would that be smarter? I really just want consistent shots so that my website doesn't look silly with all the variations side by side.
    Interesting how 'back in the day' people paid a premium for automatic features; now people pay a premium for manual features! If you have the budget, yes. If you don't, but will be taking a lot of pictures, then as a business person make it happen

    I would expect the better the images the more it would help sell the product; Inferior images make the product look like it is low quality.

  11. #11

    Re: Photo box problems

    I can definitely try setting it to daylight, however, that tends to give it a yellow tinge. But hey, I don't actually know what I'm doing, maybe toying with the other settings will settle that down, afterall it's the terrible inconsistent color that I'm most frustrated with- I was just thinking that maybe the full spectrum bulbs just didn't work that well.

    I put some pictures on my flickr account with each setting, but on none of them does the paper look white...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11202629@N04/?saved=1

    That was with the aperture priority again, and the lights on, though they all seem a little dark.

  12. #12

    Re: Photo box problems

    If upgrading a camera is what is necessary I'll definitely do it, I'd just prefer not to lay out the dough if it's really my incompetence, instead of my camera's wrongdoings.

  13. #13

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    If upgrading a camera is what is necessary I'll definitely do it, I'd just prefer not to lay out the dough if it's really my incompetence, instead of my camera's wrongdoings.
    The main thing you'll get with a dSLR is the fact you can tell the camera to do exactly what you want it to, thus achiving great consistancy in your shots, and minimized the need for photoshoping. From your previous post it sounds like you're after consistancy. The fully-automatic cameras make up their own minds, and rarely come to the same decision twice even in the same environment! A middle tier dSLR would suit your needs well - and can be bought used to minimize the cost.

    Edit: The fact that you're here, doing your research, commited, already puts you above what you can get out of the fully-automatic cameras. While a full dSLR will offer a ton of options you won't use for product shots, you will be able to quickly dial in the setting needed for great looking, consistant shots. We'll be here to help you through it.

  14. #14

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    Well, my hands are about as steady as an earthquake so I ALWAYS use my tripod. It's a really tiny one I think it's in my photobox picture.


    Okay, so I'm looking at my camera a little closer, if I choose Aperture Priority, again, I don't get to 'choose' anything, it just says that aperture is prioritized. But when I'm holding the camera apparently the numbers on the screen change as I point at different things... Hmm, I hadn't noticed this before so that could be a big reason why my shots have been so different. It says ISO 100
    f - some changing number
    1/ - some changing number

    I really don't know what I should be looking for to get more consistent shots. Probably the same numbers each time I take a picture, but roughly what should they be?

    If I got a different camera that didn't automate all of this would that be smarter? I really just want consistent shots so that my website doesn't look silly with all the variations side by side.
    Aperture priority means that it gives priority to the aperture (size of the hole) that you select - and will then vary the shutterspeed to compensate. So in aperture priority mode you should be able to change a number using some of the cameras controls.

    Since you have a tripod, it's a good thing

    Basically the plan of attack that I'm working on here is to ...

    - Get the camera in manual mode

    - Work out what aperture and shutterspeed is needed for a correct exposure (which shouldn't change once we figure out what's needed)

    - Then work on the colour issue.

    Exposure is critical because it will also affect the colours - if you can, make up a little card with a black, a white, and a medium grey square - set the camera in manual mode - set the aperture to be as big a number as possible (say F16) and then change the shutterspeed so that the black square is black - the white one is white and (you guessed it) the grey one is grey (don't worry if they're the wrong colour though).

    Unfortunately, you're going to need to work out how to change these things on the camera

  15. #15

    Re: Photo box problems

    I've been drooling over a Canon Rebel, is that middle tier? Is there something a little less pricey that will do the same thing? Should I look at Ebay for a used one? I don't actually know where else I'd get a used camera. If getting a new camera is really the only way to be consistent, then I"ll start looking for one, I just really need to know what I should get. That way I can actually get something worthwhile.

    So if I'm doing mostly shots of buttons in a light box, and shots of running toddlers, can the same lens work for that? Is it going to be hard to get decent pictures of the kids in all sorts of random settings, or will there be a camera that can be generally easy to use, and yet take nice product shots? I "think" the Canon Rebel would work for me, but to be honest I've never held it or anything. Hopefully you guys can help me out.

  16. #16

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Rebel's are entry-level. E-bay should be used with extreme caution - you're better off finding a used camera dealer or buy used from a local shop. I recommend trying at a minimum to make what you have work before running out and getting a camera, unless quality and consistancy is of the upmost importantance.

    To help you pickout a camera, the two more important things we'll need to know is the budget, and what it'll be used for. It sounds like you use your camera for product shots (I assume that it is it's primary purpose), and snapshots. Do you want a camera to get into photography, or just good product shots and snapshots? Again, don't ditch your current camera quite yet - let Colin and the rest help you dial in the settings the best you can, and if it still isn't professional quality and that's what you need - go for a new camera.

  17. #17

    Re: Photo box problems

    Oh wait! I think I just might be able to set the settings. I was reading the manual (again) and it says I can change them, so I think I can now.

    What kind of settings should I be starting with?

    I've got that f number, which is apeture I think

    the ISO number

    and the fraction number.

  18. #18

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    What kind of settings should I be starting with?
    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    I've got that f number, which is apeture I think
    Yes, it is. Set this to something in the range of F/8 or F/11; Anything fixed will do for the momment (fixed as in adjust the shutter to get the correct exposure, not the apeture).

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    the ISO number
    Set this to 100, if you can

    Quote Originally Posted by Missnibbles View Post
    and the fraction number.
    Thats your shutter speed, adjust this as Colin suggests taking multiple shots until everything is correct

  19. #19

    Re: Photo box problems

    Okay, so I think I'm finally getting somewhere, (yay!). So I had to change it back to Manual because apparently Aperture Priority meant I could only change the Aperture and it made shutter speed automatic.

    Okay, I added more to flickr again, http://www.flickr.com/photos/11202629@N04/?saved=1
    I think it looks like I should be using 1/20 shutter speed. I just used stuff I had, so a black car, a white card and a gray box. Do you think this will be enough for the colors to look right and more consistent? Should I do a button photoshoot, or is there more to fiddle with first?

  20. #20

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    Re: Photo box problems

    Alright now we are getting somewhere. 1/20 to 1/30 looks best. Do you have your room lights on while you're shooting? They might be causing issues with the white ballance (if they're bright enough and a different tempeture than the other lights - called a mixed lighting environment - is very difficult to work in). Try shutting them off (room light) and use just the lights for the photobox - you might need to adjust the shutter speed again. Run through all of your wb options after you've done that and see if one looks correct.

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