Help Required - Still Life Shooting - Nikon CP950

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Blaine, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. Blaine

    Blaine TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello fellow photography fans,

    I'll try to dispense with a long preamble and get right to the heart of the matter.

    Here is my tale of woe. I'm trying to shoot still lifes in my makeshift home studio. I have a lighting set from Smith Victor that consists of two 500 watt photo floods with umbrellas and a boom with a 500 watt incandescent. Large roll of a very white backdrop and the aforementioned Nikon CP950, a few tripods, and a full compliment of software running OS X on my Macs.

    Although the CP950 has issues with chromatic aberration and a tendency to leave a lot of purple pixels throughout any images, for the most part it's worked well for traditional outdoor daytime and night shots.

    Working indoors is a completely new pursuit for me, and my results, so far, to be charitable, have been awful.

    It seems no matter what exposure mode I use, how I set my white point, metering, lighting compostion, etc., my stills are just awful.

    My white backgrounds have a yellow, gray to dark gray, or blue cast, way too many shadows that do not appear to the naked eye, and just look awful.

    Despite the naked eye view of things looking quite bright and clean with a good white background, the camera results are dark and do not have good color fidelity.

    For example, last night I was shooting a jet black object and no matter how I lit the thing, tinkered with the camera settings, lighting, etc. the item appeared to be navy blue once brought into my calibrated monitor. While it's true that a lot of these issues I can address in Photoshop, but there just has to be a better way.

    Give the equipment involved, I would welcome any suggestions for improving myresults. I took several hundred test shots varying f-stops, exposure adjustments, lighting tweaks, etc., and then reviewed the results and the EXIF datum.

    Although I learned what would result in truly awful results, I came away frustrated, disappointed and feeling like a complete nincompoop. Everything was awful, some just more awful than the rest.

    I checked the camera performance in daylight today, and the results were normal.

    I know my gear is not state of the art, and I know this kind of studio work is not easy to do well, but I've been taking photos for almost 40 years and I never imagined my stuff would look as bad as it currently does. I'd upload some of the images, but I'm just too ashamed of them.

    Anyway, if you have any suggestions by way of books, advice, tips, links, etc., to assist me in ramping up the learning curve I would be most appreciative. I'm currently thinking my lighting set-up is far too inadequate but I don't want to invest in more lighting or other gear before I develop some confidence in my technique.

    I *could* move the shooting outside where my comfort level is higher ad my results much better, but it's getting very cold now and I'm desperate to work in a climate and lighting controlled environment.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and for any assistance.

    ~B
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,817
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Welcome to the forum.

    I don't have any experience with that camera but is it possible that it's just not good enough to meet your standard? (which I would expect to by fairly high after 40 years of photography)

    The CP950 would be considered old technology in the world of digital photography. Only 1.9 effective mega pixels...and it's a small 1/2" sensor.

    Also, could it be possible that the white balance is confused by your lighting? You said you have both photo floods and incandescent lighting?

    It would really help if you uploaded some samples...shamefull or not ;)

    With all that lighting equipment & experience...my suggestion would be to upgrade to a better camera...but I always suggest that, when it's someone else's money. :D
     
  3. photosoup guru

    photosoup guru TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2004
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    with 40 years experience, I would have thought you were using an SLR (digital or film)...
     
  4. Blaine

    Blaine TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a dSLR (and several dozen other cameras) , but the problem is not the camera but rather the lighting technique. More precisely, the lack of technique.

    Buying a new camera or using a "better" camera would be like buying a new car to improve the quality of your driving.

    If you're a bad driver, a better car may help massage your ego, but you'll still be a crummy driver.

    Thanks

    ~B
     
  5. photosoup guru

    photosoup guru TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2004
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, you stated that you were using that older camera. The reason we think that the cheaper cam may be thrown off by the very white background in contrast to the darker image. What are your results with a better camera?

    (You are right about the photographer making the pictures better not the camera... but if the camera can't handle the job then it doesn't matter how good you are!)
     
  6. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    16,728
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Where am I now?
    But a good photographer should know his camera's limitations and work with them ......
     

Share This Page