Salt and Pepper

magicmonkey

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No, not the horrible 80's girls!

I'm trying to take a macro shot os a grain of rock salt and a corn of pepper but I just can't get the exposure right. I'm having to do a reverse lens macro as I don't have a macro lens which means both my hands are tied up with the lens and I'm using a remote shutter with my toe which isn't really a great way to do things! The problem is that if I get the exposure right for the pepper then the salt is overblown and if I expose for the salt then the pepper is too dark, does anyone have any suggestion?
 

rmh159

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Without putting too much thought into this the first suggestion that comes to mind is to put the salt and pepper on a grey peice of paper and expose for the grey in order to get a happy medium and then try different shades of grey as needed.

I'm sure someone else would have a better idea though.
 

dsp921

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Take two shots, expose one for the salt and one for the pepper, then combine them in photoshop or similar.
 

el_shorty

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Use a tripod, one shot get correct exposure for salt, second shot get correct exposure for pepper, then blend images together in photoshop.
 
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magicmonkey

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I did think about taking 2 shots then blending them but I honestly have no idea how...
 

Digital Matt

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Change the lighting. Your contrast range is too great for your medium. Since it's controlled lighting, you can modify to suit your purposes. You should meter each grain seperately, and if the difference is more than 4 stops, you need to alter the light.
 

Philip Weir

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"Digital Matt" is right on as far as the lighting goes. As Ansell Adams used to do with his zone system of exposure, he appreciated that film has a range between highlight and shadow and if you went past that range, something has to give. With Photoshop, you can indeed take two images and combine them, but I would first attempt it without resorting to that. Remember the harder the light source, the more contrast there is. Try a very soft light source, and try and mask off the light hitting the grain of salt
with a small dodger or baffle. Think in terms of what you would do if the subject was a lot bigger, then do the same a lot smaller. I often use very small mirrors reflecting into the dark subject in these cases, when shooting jewelry for instance. Post a couple of shot, one exposed for each object and maybe a shot of your lighting setup and we can probably better advise you.
 

Torus34

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I have a suspician that a photo of you taking a picture as described might be an interesting entry in Photo of the Month!
 
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magicmonkey

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Thanks for the advice guys, following your suggestions I've created my first ever 'softbox', it looks like this:

overview:

thumb_setup.jpg

Inside:

thumb_softbox.jpg

basically it's 2 pillowcases and some books, I later added the photo paper to reflect the light around inside the box and found it worked a bit better but still not well enough. I also started releasing the shutter remote with my teeth instead of my foot as the whole balancing act was making me shake and loosing me a stop or 2. This is the first time I've tried to make a softbox so any advice would be gratefully recieved! here's the best result I've got so far if it helps at all:

thumb_salt-and-pepper.jpg

ps. please excuse the state of the room in the background, I'm not usually that much of a slob, honest! :)
 

Digital Matt

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It's an imaginitive setup, but the results are not what one would expect from a softbox.

Tip #1:Try using the self timer, vs dancing around or biting the remote release.

Tip #2 Instead of trying to build a softbox for this type of thing, I would build a light tent, and use two lights. That's the best way to remove the shadows. Have a light coming from a 45 degree angle on each side. The two lights will help to cancel out each other's shadows.

Here are a few links that will help you make yourself a light tent.


http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/19002.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/EKTSDWUR5HEP286OV2/?ALLSTEPS

Also, try white balancing for the tungesten light, and it will look 100% already.
 
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magicmonkey

magicmonkey

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Torus34 said:
I have a suspician that a photo of you taking a picture as described might be an interesting entry in Photo of the Month!


lol, with the balancing act I was doing it could even be called 'extreme photography'! I had to have the shutter release on a pile of books as the wire didn't reach the floor, I never realised just how bendy I can be when pushed :)
 
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magicmonkey

magicmonkey

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Thanks for that DM, I've had time to prepare a light tent but I had to go to work before I could give it a go. I'll try it out and post some results tomorrow...
 
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magicmonkey

magicmonkey

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lol,it's the first thing I thought of after a 14 hour night shift, was never going to be spectacular, shame it didn't even work though!

I would take you up on the pillow frame idea but that light gets so hot that the pillow cases would go up in flames within a minute, I'll be buying a few desk lamps next week though so I'll give that a try then. Thanks for the help...
 

hobbes28

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Try putting the salt and pepper on a non reflective surface or not as reflective like construction paper or a piece of wood. Any of the salt and pepper super macros that I've taken were on the countertop in our kitchen using the florescent lights as the sole light source or an external flash on manual. You can bounce it up and tape a piece of white paper in the path of the flash to get a nice diffused light source that should balance out your color contrasts.
 

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