Reply To: Crisp and sharp pics.

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chris mabbott
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Hi Ed,

I also collect German WW 1 & 2 medals, on that collecting forum there have been many discussions regarding taking good, clear photos because these medals are really hard to photograph and detail is important because there are so many fakes.

Although commercial retailers would have you believe otherwise, that you have to spend $1000’s on expensive gear, the reality is quite simple and just requires a bit of practice, and that you follow a few simple guidelines.

Basically, you can take fantastic photos with a 4 megapixel mobile phone camera, in fact, FORGET MEGAPIXELS 😆 It’s the camera manufacturers marketing technique to sell more cameras. Megapixels are directly related to SIZE. If you plan on making a huge billboard poster, then the more megapixels the better.

For our purposes, to post on a forum, 4 mp or less is fine, for the simple reason that the internet only display photos at 72 dpi, Dots Per Inch
This is the amount of dots that make up your photo. Forgive me if I’m stating the obvious. So this “rule” immediately negates the need for high resolution photos.

What you do need to follow are the simple rules that apply to any photo taking process, first…

Use natural, indirect light.
DO NOT use incandescent or fluorescent lighting NOR a flash.

Position your target so the light illuminates behind you, or to the side. Experiment and try different techniques. The beauty of digital is that you can take 20 and pick the best. Usually out of 20 I take, I have two and I’ve been doing it for a long time LOL

The MAIN RULE, most people shoot free hand, this is the best way to SCREW UP a good photo.
We are shooting close targets, the slightest movement and the image is blurred.
Buy or make yourself a tripod or some sort of steady rest.
Think of the target as the lathe, and the camera as the work. If the work is not straight, or wobbling around, you won’t get an accurate cut.

Choose your target background: Most cameras come with a multi focal lens, which means that is will try to focus on the brightest object and disregard any darker spots.
For a watch, place it on a piece of black cloth, or dark red, the lens will automatically disregard the dark spot and focus on the watch.
Also try to AVOID taking photos where the object is laying flat. You have to bend over and you have no control, and you cast a shadow. Buy a little stand, or make one, and set your target in the vertical position.

Buy a photo editing program, I recommend photoshop elements, it’s the cut down version of photoshop but still comes with tons of options that you’ll never use, but the price is $75 as opposed to $800 for the full version. It basically does everything you’ll ever need to do with your pics.
There are lots of free options, but beware, nothing is free. So expect spyware, pop up adds, and the amount of junk you’ll receive after you register for your FREE product.

When taking close up shots of very small items, like jewels, you do not require a macro enabled camera (if you don’t have one) nor do you need to purchase a macro lens.
A simple trick is to use your mobile/camera in conjunction with your eye magnifyer. I’ll post some examples..

Here are a few German medals that I used my iphone to capture, as I mentioned, these are one of the hardest things to shoot, because the silver frames are shiny and the iron cores are black, so it really messes with the cameras mind.
Lighting, natural outdoor, in the shade, not direct sun, AND positioning, are very important. So is a steady hand. I rested the phone on a piece of wood for these shots and I had to mess around with the distance, it’s not easy but the pics turned out very well, and I didn’t have to break out my tripod and canon camera, which is a pain. Notice the different effects with the different background colors..

Disclaimer: I do not condone national socialism, any practices of the third reich nor Imperialism. The items shown are of purely historical significance and value and are intended to further the collecting communities knowledge of military regalia. I post these items from my personal collection as examples for the improvement of close up detailed photographic techniques, for those who may find it of help.

OK, Here is an imperial iron cross 2nd class, the problem with these is that we have to have enough light to illuminate the black, but avoid too much slight to reflect the shiny silver frames, which would cause a wash out effect.
This one I had in the shade, outside, with the sun behind my right shoulder. It was at 2 pm ( I wrote it down haha)
I had to tilt the case to a 45 degree angle to get the right light, but I think it turned out good for a 4 mp phone camera.

chris mabbottReply To: Crisp and sharp pics.