Trinkets and Small Stuff

So.. the other day, it was snowing all day like it was a blizzard.  Not quite that hard but it Day 2 of non-stop snowing and blowing….  we got about a foot of snow.  Late afternoon, the wind slowed down enough for me to get out there and get sidewalks shovelled. 

deckDoorStepswall

I did grab one of my cameras, actually two different ones on two different days.  My Nikon S3400 (pointy shooty, 20MP 7X zoom) and NikonS9400 (Travel Cam, 18MP 18X zoom).  So why these two, you say.  Well… they both had Scene modes that incorporated presets for snow.  It was just cold enough that I wasn’t going to stand out there and fiddle with settings, etc.  There was snow to move Smile  Plus, both of these units fits easily into a coat pocket.  Some of the pointy shooties do have snow settings, but also many don’t.  For instance, my Panasonic SZ1, doesn’t even have a snow, but it has everything else.  Now, in reality too, I guess it depends on where you live, etc. to determine of this shot option is even required.  Hot sunny palm trees is much more pleasant for me Smile  Just a nitpick here – no way I could have done this easily with a DSLR – had to shovel too Smile

This weekend was actually kind of good for me.  I realized a needed a break from job hunting and simply needed to divert my thoughts a bit away from this.  I’ve been taking a series of courses on job hunting.  Yes, I know – there is tons of stuff on the internet about this stuff – guess what?  They tell you what to do but don’t necessarily tell you the “hows” of things.  I already knew a lot of how to look for work but that wasn’t working.  The courses showed me a whole new perspective on things.  Right from how to look for work to how to prepare and make interviews count.  Market’s a little tougher than a couple of years ago, so every little piece counts….

Ranting……onward. 

So…. normally, with my light box, I’ve been using my Panasonic GX1 with the stock zoom, and my lighting set up allows me to, get this, stay in full AUTO mode Smile  Yup – makes life a lot easier.  I went out and got a bigger ball head recently and it actually works pretty well, though attacking a camera is a bit of a pain, but once it’s there it’s OK.  I do need to do some cropping on certain shots, but for the most part, very little software manipulation after.  I have a Pro Master Carbon Fibre Tripod that I’ve been using and it’s fantastic for this type of shooting and where my light box is situated.

Before this, I was using my Fuji X10 or Panasonic LX7 for this type of work and they work every bit as well and I’ll probably switch around every once in a while, but again, this is a “we’ll see” type thing. I had a smaller tripod I was using before the Pro Master and it simply wasn’t strong enough to hold the GX1, so the X10, LX7 or one of the travel cams was used.  Now that I have better gear….  I really got thinking on this a bit and this time around, I decided to use my Nikon 1 J1 on this pass, more to see how it performed.

The Nikon 1 J1, is a bit of an interesting unit.  Based on the reviews, this unit was actually designed at the crowd that wants to upscale into an interchangeable lens arena but still be able to get both photos and movies and still be able to do it with a minimum of fuss and bother.  Full Auto, all the time basically. I got a great deal on this with two zooms and I probably wouldn’t have bought it otherwise.  Do I like this unit?  Well, you know – YES.  I don’t use it really all that much but when I do, I’m always pleasantly surprised at how well it does for an Auto type camera.  I’m not a DSLR person yet (getting there…), but I do want something that is more advanced for certain things.  The Compact System Cameras have addressed that for the moment. 

OK – about Trinkets and Small Stuff.

My wife likes to collect these things – we decorate our house with them – literally.  Heck, I even do that a bit depending on where I’ve been.  Now that I think of it, those little things I got when I was jumping on airplanes…….We have a quasi country themed home, so there is a bit of a Western touch everywhere.  If I get tired of cataloguing stuff like my knives, or other things in my collections, or some of my DYI projects, and taking those “trinket” pics is a lot fun.  Especially on a snowy day AND when one needs a diversion Smile 

In it’s own right, product photography in general, is a great place to learn about lighting.  Trinkets or small objects in general, I find that the shot is more interesting if you don’t get the lights to render a totally “flat” look.  OR at the other end of the spectrum, that “pro” look.  Sure you want to get close to that, but you also want to put a bit of “you” in there too.  One of the nice thing about these things, is that you don’t necessarily have to take photos of these individually.  Remember, this is supposed to be a creative exercise, not a cataloguing type thing.  Sooo… why not bunch some stuff together that is related, play with the lighting a bit and go for it!!!  Smile  From a building block standpoint, one might call this branding or searching for your style.

bootscoachlanterrnouthousespaintSkull and coupletrio of boots

Light boxes and Lighting – I’ve put this in a previous post, but my light box is in a very confined space – I simply can’t point the lights thru a diffuser, from the outside in, so I’m either using direct lighting or bounce lighting. For me, on doing these, I use a 3 light setup.  A big reflector on one side and a smaller spot one on the other.  I also have a spot from above.  I can move that smaller spot to the side and both of these have a bit of offset to the larger reflector, depending on what I want to do.  It does force a bit of creativity when you do need slightly flatter lighting, but nothing that can’t be overcome with a little light shifting.  Eventually, I will either buy or make a larger light tent so I can do more, but for now, it’s more than adequate for what I’m trying to do.  Sometimes the results are nice.  For the above photos, I wanted to render a clear shot but wanted to bring out the details too, so I put the top light directly down without trying to bounce it.

A Little on Photography in General – I don’t know about anyone else, but I like to take pictures Smile  Mind you, I’ve got a long history with photography that stems back into the world of 35mm too.  I’ve tried a lot of things in my time and when I jumped back quite aggressively into the world of digital, my world had changed quite a bit.  Back then, each piece of equipment I bought was hard earned.  I had the time and not that much money.  It was a wonderful learning ground.  In today’s world, with the advent of technology and me, making a living in technology (I’m a Business Analyst), the tables have reversed a bit.  I have money I can spend on this fantastic hobby, but I have less time.  Comparatively speaking, technology in photography has reached a point where the there is this HUGE selection of equipment, all of which can take a high quality photo (notice I didn’t say take a good picture Smile).  You can literally buy anything off the shelf and it will work.  It can be an inexpensive entry point to a pretty neat hobby.  Most of us own computers, so getting photos to your computer nowadays is pretty easy.  For me, because of how much I was commuting (in between at the moment), my picture taking opportunities were very limited.  Everything had to be based on mobility if I was going to take any pictures at all, so I decided on this pass, to use that as my entry point, and add more equipment as I progressed.  From an equipment standpoint, I’m finding that “out of the box” it’s pretty reliable I haven’t encountered anything that hasn’t worked.  Reading the manual doesn’t hurt either Smile

SD Cards – you know, I have a LOT of SD cards.  So far (fingers crossed), I’ve only had one out of about 20 or so crater on me.  Despite the manuals all saying I can get away with Class 4 cards, I’ve been using either Class 6 or 10 cards.  My research is indicating that this only impacts movie stuff, getting fast write times doesn’t hurt.  Plus, hopefully, in the long run, they’ll be more reliable.  Only time will tell.  I have 4 to 32 GB cards depending on the occasion.  Also, sometimes, when you have a lot of things on the go, which I tend to do, it’s easier to swap out the card than try to back it up.

A couple of observations coming from 35mm.  One of the things I’ve noticed in using more than a few types of cameras now, is that digital photography, in a couple of ways, is a little different from 35mm film.  Under certain circumstances, it’s not quite as good as film.  Maybe that’s why we need the software.  It’s close, but I’m not quite seeing the “richness” of color from film.  Not that it’s far off, mind you, but still for some reason my digital photos in some cases, aren’t the same.  Maybe it’s just me too Smile  Digital, I’m finding, to a certain degree promotes a certain level of “laziness” in the actual photo taking part of the process.  Software makes it easy to “fix later”, so there’s this tendency to be a little sloppy in the initial framing of the photo.  For the snapshot crowd that’s fine, but for the more serious person that wants to actually learn, I think there has to be more concerted effort at the very start.  I dunno… maybe it’s me. In the 35mm days, it wasn’t cheap to take photos, little or no easy means to make changes later, so you kinda had to make sure you made each shot count.  Digital is nice because it’s an inexpensive way to take multiple shots if you are not sure.  BUT then again, I ask myself “Why shouldn’t you be sure?” Smile 

Photo Quality – You know, this seems to be an interesting point of contention.  To me, it’s what YOU are happy with.  I own basically 3 layers of equipment – pointy shooties, including the travel cams, the larger sensor pointy shooties in the Fuji X10 and Panasonic LX7 and my Compact System Cameras with the Panasonic GX1 and Nikon 1 J1.  The thing that I’ve found, for the most part, is that depending on what you are doing with them at the time, they pretty well will take a pretty high quality shot in most cases.  In fact, over the summer, I got into the habit of taking something like the GX1 and a couple of travel cams.  If I needed the wide angle – the travel cam.  Needed a more critical shot with more control – the GX1.  For all intents and purposes, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got and the results I’m getting. 

Onward….

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About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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