1. Welcome to TalkBass 2014! If you're new here, we just went through a major site upgrade. Please post all concerns and bugs to the Forum Usage Issues forum. We will be monitoring that forum. Thank you for all of your feedback.

    The TB Android app is working, you may need to uninstall/reinstall. The iPhone app is now updated and should work after you upgrade. TalkBass is responsive to any screen size, so we recommend using your mobile browser for full functionality.

    Please read the TalkBass 2014 FAQ for lots of great info on the new software.

Photography Fun

Discussion in 'Rocket Music' started by RocketMusic, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    One cool tidbit for you photography buffs... I tried something new today!

    I usually shoot about 5-6 feet away from the instruments using my 20-35mm wide angle zoom lens. Today I scooted back 30-35 feet and used my 75-300mm telephoto zoom lens. I can't tell a significant difference, especially at the resolutions that I usually publish. What I was going for was a slight blurring of the background. I don't think I achieved that because the subject (the bass) is still pretty close to the backdrop, so both the subject and the backdrop are within the focal range of the lens. Next time I shoot, I'm going to move whatever instrument out about 5-10 feet and see what happens... does that make sense, youse guys in the know?

    Here's the bass that I shot today with the telephoto (the front & back shots were telephoto, the body closeup was wide-angle and I was right up on it).

    G&L L-2500 (Blackburst)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    If this pans out and I get good results, I might not build a photo room after all. I need the whole width of the warehouse to shoot like this, so I'm just shooting down the middle aisle between our pallet racks in the back. Here's the wide-angle view from where I shot with the telephoto lens. When I shoot with the wide-angle, I usually plant my tripod in amongst the power cords down there at the other end.

    [​IMG]

    Glorious digs, no?!? :rollno::D
  2. PrietoBass

    PrietoBass How does he do that? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Likes Received:
    4
    If you want to blur the background...

    Shoot at the largest aperture your lens allows (smaller f-stop, like f/2.8, or f/4) and that gives you reasonable sharpness. Depending on the focal length of your lens the results you can get are dependent on your distance to the subject and the distance of the background from the subject. The smaller the focal length (your w.a. lens) the closer you can be to the subject and the background to achieve a nice blurring effect.

    You could also shoot at a medium aperture and blur the background in post processing via a plugin or through layers.
  3. PrietoBass

    PrietoBass How does he do that? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Likes Received:
    4
    ...and I forgot to add, that's a nice bass!
  4. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Wizardry! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Likes Received:
    15
    I don't understand the theory behind it, but I think I see what you're up to.


    I assume you want to soften the background, to draw the eye even more to the subject matter?
  5. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Whoa!!!! Check this out! Front & back done telephoto, body closeup wide-angle...

    This was done the usual way I shoot (fixed exposure time, which usually results in about an f4.5 aperture). In the past, I've found that a long exposure time really emphasizes the figure in intensely figured woods like this. Still, I'm happy to start experimenting with different aperture settings instead. If this is good (and it's definitely the best result I've achieved yet), then better is... well, better! :)

    Thanks for the info!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Oh, and I got these results by doing what I said I'd try. I moved the guitar about 15 feet away from the backdrop... time for more experimenting! This is fun!

    [​IMG]
  6. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Here's another one, done the same as the previous guitar. This is a "Rasmus" guitar, it's a $1000 Suhr guitar that is partially built in China, but setup and Plek'd in LA. The finishes are good, but not as exciting to me as a beautiful piece of wood. But, my goodness, these photos really do bring it to life!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I used to think my body closeup shots were usually the most exciting visually... but they look kinda crappy against these new front & back photos. I'll have to work on that, I think using a larger aperture on my wide angle lens will be the solution there.

    I've done some more experimenting with the front & back shots, and it looks like the approach I took initially is going to work best just based on the physics involved. When I get far away from the guitar and use the telephoto, I avoid capturing any of the box that the stand sits on. When I get up close and use the wide angle, there's no getting around capturing some of the box. So that part of the green backdrop stays in focus, and the stuff further away is blurry. And that just looks bad. No worries, I've found something that works. I'll just keep refining it from here!
  7. PrietoBass

    PrietoBass How does he do that? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Likes Received:
    4
    All the exposure time does is control the time that the shutter is open. Longer (slower shutter speed) exposure times = the shutter stays open longer = more light gets in. It's possible your photos were being underexposed before, whereas now the more light is exposing the guitar correctly and letting all that color under the finish to shine through.

    So, you control the light in different ways: a) aperture (how big the shutter opens), b) shutter speed (how long the shutter stays open), and c) film speed, or now in the age of digital, ISO (the higher the ISO the more receptivity to light)

    Shooting with a long lens is more flattering to a subject because of perspective. For the same reasons shooting with a wide angle can be more "dramatic". One possible reason you don't like results with your shorter lens might be that creating a short w.a. lens that shoots quality at wide apertures requires some expensive glass! It's possible your long lens is just the better of the two. Also, shooting close with a short lens wide open is more critical and reveals more of the lens flaws than with a telephoto.

    Back to lighting... some people make a living shooting products. There are so many factors that can make or break a product photo; lighting is everything in photography.

    Thank you for sharing these photos. Keep shooting; I agree it's a lot of fun!
  8. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    I'm stumped trying to blur the background for my body closeups. I tried putting the guitar on a little box that you couldn't see, that raised the guitar about 6-8" off the floor (and the floor is covered with the backdrop material). The blur was minimal, I'd need to raise it up even more, but that's getting kinda sketchy from a stabilty point of view. I want nice photos, but I don't want to ding any guitars trying to get them.

    Soooooo - for the body shot, I resorted to PhotoShop tricks. I think it turned out OK, but I need to discover a better (faster & more accurate) way to select the subject so that I can then blur the background all by itself. You can see a little "feathered" border around the guitar in my first effort here.

    Here's the original photo from this afternoon:
    [​IMG]

    Here's the "doctored" version (the guitar was elevated off the floor 6" or so, and then I Photoshop'd more blur):
    [​IMG]

    Any recomendations for doing better here? I certainly appreciate all the input so far! It's been a fun afternoon/evening of reading, studying & experimenting.
  9. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Ah, nothing like online tutorials. Here's a more crisply selected guitar along with a less obviously "Photoshop'd" blurred background...

    [​IMG]
  10. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    There's some really great advice above. I'd be silly to try to add much. But of course, I'll try.

    Two things first: depth of field, and the aperture setting itself. If you can add distance between your subject and the background, you can create bokeh even with a higher aperture setting. This way you can leverage your existing lens and its better light & detail capturing abilities @ ~ f/4.5. Another option that may provide some benefit is adding distance between you and the subject, and increasing the focal length of the lens. This accomplishes the same basic goal, but to a lesser effect. When I was heavy into auto deailing, a magazine photographer taught me that. He never shot vehicles from less than 40' away. Interesting concept, and in fairness, it is more applicable in outdoor or large room environments with significant light.

    Second thing...better low light lens...one with a nice low aperture number, like say f/1.8. My absolute favorite lens is a 35mm f/1.8 and it was remarkably inexpensive. The danger here is that you can overdo...not sure if you remember that "portrait" I took of Gard, at the aviation museum, but I accidentally abused the term bokeh. :D

    Our fellow Roscoehead, Pacman, is an absolute master of lighting and portrait photography, which in simple terms, applies to what you're trying to capture. Mostly because of a lack of space, I've held off on a lighting rig, but it's totally on the bucket list. For now, I rely heavy on aperture mode, along with ISO adjustments. i've learned how far I can go with my camera, and I try to factor in the environment as well...namely depth of field as well as available light.

    One other option, and I hesitate because your current one is somewhat of a trademark, but...have you considered a solid background? To really capture detail, it may be worth considering a different approach...such a background with an aperture setting of f/8 or even higher. Black background, for example, perhaps with a Rocket logo watermark applied....might be stunnning. Plus, I've discovered that such aperture settings tend to offer more consistency with white balance and color control. Leveraging a tripod, you'd easily manage the longer exposure time, and could probably also keep the ISO @ 200 (or at least 400), which will also help with w/b.
  11. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    I love it! I barely understood a single word you just typed, Jerry! LOL. At first, I though bokeh was a typo... wiki cleared that up for me! More wiki and google work tomorrow before I can digest the rest of your advice!

    Many, many thanks to both of you!
  12. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    I'm like a little puppy with a new chew toy... I just had to make use of my new found photograhy tricks on this gorgeous bass!

    Here are the old & new versions side by side:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In the full body shot of the front, I can see that I obviously have better control over my lighting the old way I shot. There's glare, but it's where I want it (just a nice accent here and there on the edges of the bass body). With the new way of shooting, I've got glare all across the front of the body. Now that I'm shooting down a long tunnel, I'll have to find all the things that are reflecting light and either re-angle them or cover them with something dark. It'll be worth the effort to do that, though, I must say that I greatly prefer the newer shots with the fuzzy background. Man, the instruments just jump out of the photos now!
  13. carl h.

    carl h.

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    Likes Received:
    3
    Instead of laying the bass down for the closeup, hang it from some cord or other device and keep the backdrop in the distance. That should keep the backdrop nicely out of focus.
  14. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Greg, those last couple of pics look outstanding! The bass pops out, almost to the extent of a tilt & shift edit. (Yet another term to google...sorry about that.)

    I have to tell you, I really and genuinely admire how you embrace imagery and sound. Your ambition, energy, and hunt for perfection go well beyond good marketing practices. I think this is one of many reasons you and Rocket are held in such high regard. Kudos, my friend.
  15. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Wizardry! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Likes Received:
    15
    If you wanted to mess more with photoshop blurring, one idea that might be easy, if not super quick, is to take two pics, one with your preferred background, and a second with a white background, if you can slide a white sheet behind the guitar without disturbing the guitar, or camera(need the guitar in both images to be lined up the same).

    Then all you'd have to do is blur all the pic with the cloth background, to the level you want, take the white pic, and use the select by color(Color Range command in photoshop, I think?) tool, select the white, invert selection and you just have the guitar selected, then copy/paste it over the blurred image.

    That's what I'd try anyway, if it wasn't too much trouble.

    EDIT: Also, utterly love the new pics, has a lot more effect that I'd imagined it would.
  16. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Thanks for all the tips and kind words, fellas!

    I think the long and short of it has become the max aperture size on my lenses. My current lenses top out (bottom out?) out at f4 and f4.5, so I decided to order one of these lenses last night before I left. It's dirt cheap, but it's f1.8. I'll experiment with that, and if I find it lacking in any way I can always grab something different with very little pain.

    On the positioning for the body shot - I have been contemplating how to do that such that I can safely get the subject away from the backdrop. I haven't come up with any really good ideas yet, but I'll keep thinkin'... I'm sure there's a solution out there...
  17. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Ah, the power of nice pictures (and nice guitars, of course). This one just went up last night, and I just sold it. :)

    :hyper::hyper::hyper:

    [​IMG]
  18. VroomVroom

    VroomVroom

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Greg, I think you'll love that lens. I bought its Nikon counterpart soon after taking the DSLR plunge. If your camera allows you to select focus points, I think you'll find it even more useful.

    Photography has more terms than music, but welcome to the world of "fast glass" - essentially any lens with a maximum aperture starting @ f/2.8. I'm anxious to hear your thoughts as you experiment.
  19. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Likes Received:
    5
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Yeah, I'm pretty excited about that lens, Jerry. Once you ditch zoom capability, the glass gets pretty cheap!
  20. PrietoBass

    PrietoBass How does he do that? Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Likes Received:
    4
    Ah, a kind soul on the GOOD side of The Force...

    ;-)

Share This Page