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Photographing your work

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by MidnightsBrokenToe, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. MidnightsBrokenToe

    MidnightsBrokenToe Member

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    I'm in the middle of work on my senior project show and when the lights are all up and ready for the run, I want to get some really good pictures of my work for a portfolio. I'm surfing around on Ebay and other sites looking for a camera I can afford that will yield good results. I have a dinky little digital camera that doesn't photograph anything too well, so it's time for a new one.
    So what kind of cameras do you guys from the forum generally use to get good pictures of your work? Also, when you're taking pictures of your shows, what do you find are the best settings to use on your camera?
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Dave will probably be around to add a bit to this as well. Buy the best camera you can afford, or see if your school has a nice camera you can use. Talk to one of your "artsy" friends to see if they have a DSLR. I would attempt the borrow thing right now if you don't have the money to spend on a camera. 200 bux will get you something decent, but you are going to need a good chunk of change to go the extra mile. To photograph the stage you need something with the largest pickup possible as well a VERY fast shutter.

    Now, the first way to get good picture on the stage with any camera.... Use a tripod, every time, no matter what.
     
  3. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    You want a camera that works well in available light, especially if you're planning to capture movement. Try a mid-range Digital SLR like the Canon Rebel XTi or Nikon D70. We opted for the older Canon Rebel XT for archival photos of our productions and have been happy with the results.
     
  4. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    I have had good results with my Canon Powershot A570IS, I suggest learning how to work the manual settings, there are youtube videos. I got my camera for $180 a year ago and it probably goes for $120-150 I personally like Canon cameras.
     
  5. bdkdesigns

    bdkdesigns Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah, I have the Cannon Digital Rebel XTi 10 mp myself
     
  6. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    when it comes to cameras check out dpreview.com and flickr.com. flickr more so because there's a forum that i have learned so much from. i personally use a nikon d50 (i prefer nikon) im working on saving to get a decent lens before i upgrade my camera body. you dont invest in the camera body but rather the camera system...lens, flashes, etc. i bought mine used on craigslist. i found a good deal, granted i had to drive about an hour to meet the guy half way but it was worth it. like someone suggested that you could find a friend who has a good camera and knows how to use it. kenrockwell.com is also a site i recommend.
     
  7. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

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    Most importanly, if you're going to get a dSLR or SLR, don't spend more on the body then you do the lens, glass is much more important. The faster (lower aperture) glass you can get the faster you can shoot with a low iso.
     
  8. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I have a Cannon Elph. I can not take good pictures in low light cause I can not hold still enough. But my girlfriend can... So its my opinion that the camera really has to fit the person. My dad has a REBEL, and I can take beautiful pics with that. I think that its because I can adjust more settings on it, but mainly because it is heaver and I can use both hands to stabilize it.
     
  9. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Stay away from the sony digital cameras. Every one i have used or bought does not take great low light pictures. All blues and magentas all come up as being blue so I have lots of pictures from shows where all the pics look blue even though the ligting isnt. I really suggest the cannon cameras, it is what i am going to buy next. Kodak makes some nice digital cameras also, my girlfriend has one and the pics are great. Its an 8.0mp btw.
     
  10. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I have a Nikon D80 with a Nikon 18mm-135mm Lens and it works really well. Make sure you get a camera and lens that works really well in Low Light which is what you will be using it in a lot. I find that using a Exposure Correction of around -1.3 works best with adjustments depending on the contrast of the particular scene.

    Another thing I recommend is to take as many pictures as possible, especially in this day and age with Digital camera's you don't have to pay for film or processing so there is no drawback to taking a ton of pictures. I usually take almost 300 pictures for each show then sort through those and pick out the best ones.

    Here are some of my shows I have Designed which I have photographed on the D80

    Dead Man Walking

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Orestes

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I have, for a few years now, been shooting for theatre with my Nikon D70s. I always recommend Nikon, some people recommend Canon, ultimately it doesn't matter except that you should choose one of the major brands. Here is a link to my website with lots of my photos: IceWolf Photography. I am actually saving for a new camera for next season at the theatre, probably a D700. As technology has developed it has become apparent that you really want a camera with a CMOS chip these days. The Less expensive CCD chips have done well, but in the low light situations CMOS can handle higher sensitivity with lower noise than CCD which is important when shooting in the theatre.

    One of the big things that you want, which has been mentioned in passing is that you want a fast lens and a camera with a high sensitivity chip. However, more important than a fast lens is a good tripod. I have achieved great photos with lenses that would not be considered fast, and that is all because having a good tripod. You never want to shoot handheld as you will have slow shutter speeds.

    I would look at the Nikon D90 as an entry point into the dSLR world. It is the lowest end Nikon that comes with a CMOS sensor. With a List price of $999, it is a great jumping off point, in fact it is less than what I paid for my D70s when I got it. I would imagine there is also a Canon equivalent, I just don't keep up with them.

    In terms of glass (lenses), you will want to start with one or two lenses that cover a good focal range. There is a D90 kit that comes with an 18-105mm VR lens for $1300. While this sounds like a great deal, it isn't the best lens, but it is a good starting point. If you feel like you can make more of an investment, I would suggest buying just the camera body (not in a kit) and picking 2 good lenses. One that I would recommend for theatre photos as well as everyday use is the Sigma 50-150 f2.8. While it isn't the cheapest lens, it will get you far. Also, Sigma makes very good lenses, and they make them for most of the major camera brands. I can make more lens recommendations if you like.

    Here are some other things to think about. If you are going to get a dSLR, don't be fooled by high megapixel counts. In the DX and FX (35mm equiv.) formats you won't gain any image quality from anything higher than 12MP. Why? At higher resolutions what you start to see is not more image but the imperfections in your lenses. The sensor and image area is just to small to benefit from more pixels. So, you don't need to go out and buy super high resolution just because you can.

    Once you are all set up with a camera, lens, and tripod you can start to think about actually getting the shots. If you don't have some basic photo knowledge, now is the time to pick up a book ad do a little reading about things like lights metering and white balancing. If you want I can go into the basics, but even that can get long. Just know that often you have to play with the light metering modes and the white balance settings on your camera to achieve the exposures you want. Also, if you are at all familiar with Photoshop or other professional image editing programs (lightroom, aperture, etc.) I would suggest shooting in RAW or RAW+JPEG. RAW images can be tweaked amazingly well in post (almost to the point of re-shooting the image), which is useful for theatre photos, though it adds an extra step to your workflow.

    When you go out to shoot, grab a couple big storage cards. You will want 4GB or larger cards. Take LOTS of photos. It doesn't cost you anything to take a lot of photos so just keep shooting. Sure, you have to sort through them later, but I would rather have too many images than no good ones. As for settings, I keep my camera in Auto ISO mode, so when the shutter speed drops below 1/30 of a second it kicks up to higher ISOs until it can get to a faster shutter speed. Most of the time auto white balance works for me, but sometimes i find that switching to tungsten WB is better (especially for amber heavy shows).

    I am sure that there is more that you would like to know, so please feel free to PM, email, IM or just post questions, I would be happy to answer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008
    chausman and (deleted member) like this.
  12. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    If you are consistently underexposing your images with a -1.3EV Exposure Compensation then I think you may want to look at how you are metering your images. What metering mode do you use? I have found that to get correct exposures I often need to use spot metering as Matrix will either wash out the people or the background depending. Not that using exposure compensation is a bad thing, but it is a complex concept for beginners, and we want to make this as simple as we can for the OP.
     
  13. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    when ive shot theatre its always been photocalls, as in we set up the shots we want and that gives me more control. i shot in manual with the widest aperture and the lowest iso i could (800 most of the time) and just adjusted the shutter accordingly. understanding the camera settings and light are what will help you the most.

    here are my main gallery --> foryoutoknowtice on deviantART

    some shows ive shot

    beloit civic theatre's "laura" (i designed the lighting) - coobie52088/bct_laura - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    new court theatre's "broadway bound" - coobie52088/broadwaybound_nct - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    for the last one i was just a board op and i brought my camera that night. after showing them to a few of the people involved the ended up asking me for a cd instead of using the actual photographer's who they brought in
     
  14. dvsDave

    dvsDave Benevolent Dictator Administrator Senior Team CB Mods Fight Leukemia

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    okay, I don't have a whole lot of time to post, but let me give yo my credentials first. My day job is to run the ecommerce department of a professional camera store. We sell equipment to pros and amateurs alike. From National Geographic down to the soccer mom, we have every camera, lens, and accessory in stock at our store.

    The Nikon D90 or the Canon XSI are your best bets for a budget DSLR (Nikon D60 if you are stretched) They have the latest generation of image sensors and processing engines that give a much better picture (i.e. much, much lower noise) at very high ISO's (i.e. film speed, 1600 or faster)

    For the Canon XSI, get the "Nifty 50", Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, runs about $100. That will get you the aperture that you need to pull it off.

    For the Nikon D90, get the Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8, (D60 users will have to wait for the new Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.4 ED lens, coming soon)
     
  15. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I've tried that but we don't use cyc's usually at my college and so the background is usually Black Velour Curtains and it throws the metering way off. I don't usually need to use Exposure compensation when we DO have a cyc...which is rare. I have also noticed Matrix Metering washes out the actors. I usually use Center Weighted
     
  16. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Try spot metering as it meters wherever you put the focus bracket. So if you set the focus bracket off to the side of the frame on a actor it should meter off the actor as opposed to the center of the frame. However, at the same time, if your results don't change than don't change what you are doing!
     
  17. MidnightsBrokenToe

    MidnightsBrokenToe Member

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    Okay, wow, this is all really helpful. I think I've found a camera I like that I can afford, so I'm going to go for it.
     
  18. GreyWyvern

    GreyWyvern Apollo Staff

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    Hey icewolf08. In the link to your website, you dropped the e so the link didn't work.
     
  19. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Do tell what you have chosen.

    Link Fixed.
     
  20. tcahall

    tcahall Member

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    We use 7 & 8 mega pixel point and shoots with good result (on a tripod). However, if you are looking for great pictures at a bargain barn price, consider buying a used Nikon or Canon film camera and scan the finished photo. Digital cameras have only recently achieved "film quality" and, depending upon the quality of your scanner, you can get a great result.

    Finally, since the whole world is going digital, these cameras are pretty cheap. Unfortunately, they lack the primary feature of digital that you can shoot all the pictures you want for free. However, if you are trying to populate a portfolio, you don't necessarily need to shoot by the hundreds.

    Tim.
     

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