notes on the photos



I’ve had many requests (1) for information on the photo posted on lightscatter a while back.  I’ll try to make this as brief as possible but usually when I get talking (or writing) about photography I can’t help myself and go into too much boring detail.

The photo posted on 2/16/17 is a cropped version of the original, which I can’t show here since I didn’t shoot it.  The photo was a published ad in a pennysaver newspaper and was about twice the size of a postage stamp (as was the photo above).  For many years I’ve taken photos of newspaper and magazine pages (most of them macro shots) over a lightbox to show the complexity of a printed page and the texture and transparency of the paper.  When there is printing on both sides of the paper there are some interesting patterns.

The setup to take these photos was not complicated.  The camera (with a 90mm macro lens) was mounted on a tripod with the lens pointing straight down.  The subject is placed on a lightbox below the camera and the shutter is tripped remotely.  This is the technique I’ve used for years and you can see some results here. It works well but it’s very inconvenient since my tripod (a great 33 year old Slick) isn’t very flexible with the camera pointed down.  To help things out I purchased the 3Pod Orbit tripod from Adorama, which allows the center column to pivot 90 degrees.  This is a well made, sturdy tripod at an excellent price and I’m very happy with it.

I also downloaded digiCamControl, a free program that supports tethering a Nikon to a PC (a Dell laptop in this case).  There are other cameras the program can be used with and there are other programs available for Apple computers and tablets.  I also bought a 10 foot cable (you can’t have too long a cable) to tether the camera to the laptop.  The camera can be tripped by the software but I think you can use a wireless or wired remote.  I used the software to focus and trigger the camera.  The software also saves files to the PC and to the SD card in the camera.  I used the files on the card since I don’t edit on the laptop.

Everything worked very well.  If I could change anything it would be my lightbox, which is an old (early 1970’s) x-ray viewer I bought in 1985 for $2 (US) at auction.  The new LED ones are so much nicer and brighter.  The camera did a good job in auto white balance but there was a little tweaking in Lightroom.  This was an enjoyable project to work on and I think I will get a lot of use out of the setup.  If anyone wants any more information, please feel free to ask.  I love talking (or writing) about this stuff.


13 thoughts on “notes on the photos

    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Linda. All the leaves were collected on my daily walks through my neighborhood. I picked up dozens of leaves (the neighbors thought I was crazy) and I had no particular criteria in mind. Some of the leaves that had too much curl didn’t photograph well so I stuck with those that lay flat. It wasn’t much of a concession since most laid flat anyway. Next year I’ll expand my walks to include more parkland with a more diverse variety of trees.

    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Howard. I have used the scanner many times. I put a huge Hosta leaf on the scanner and scanned it at several locations to get the entire leaf scanned. Then I stitched it together in Photoshop. I don’t think I ever posted that photo but maybe I’ll dig it out.
      At the time I was using an all-in-one scanner/printer and it did a fair job (not a great job). I have recently purchased a new Epson scanner capable of much higher resolution. It’s been very busy scanning old family photos but when that job is finished I might try something more creative with it. I think it would be fine for smaller leaves but not the newsprint project.

      1. Howard Grill

        I have never tried it mainly because my old Epson scanner (it was supposed to be pretty good, I think its an Epson Perfection 750 or something like that…I’m not near it now) seems to have a lot of light falloff away from the center. But I have seen people do artwork with scanners and it can be pretty spectacular!

  1. disperser

    Nice. I have my original aluminum Manfrotto I bought in 1990 when I bought my first Nikon film camera, and it allows the center post to be mounted horizontally. I really should buy a 35mm DX lens for those items that are too large for the 100mm macro. I have the Sigma 17-50mm I’ve used to shoot large printed sheets but because I don’t have a tethered setup, it was a pain to do the shoot. The results were OK, but it required a lot of trial and error.

    Nice leaves shots. I had done a similar thing some time ago, and then bought a large heavy book (about writing C++) and slipped many of the leaves and a few flowers between the pages.

    I then put heavy weights on top of the book and waited. I had plans to reshoot them, but when we moved last year I just chucked them all. Once I settle again, I’ll probably repeat the experiment.

    1. oneowner Post author

      I have used some Manfroto tripods and they seem to be built like tanks. Their tripods were a bit overkill for my needs but I will say that the Orbit is very well made and supports the D610 with no problem.
      There’s probably not a lot of deciduous trees in Hawaii but I wouldn’t let that stop me from shooting leaves. It may require a bit more work but I think it can be a fun project. I’m sure you could tether the Nikon to your desktop and use the same software with no problem (unless space is a problem). The tethering was easier than I thought. I downloaded and installed the software, ran a USB cable from the camera to the PC, started the software and the program immediately recognized the camera. It’s fairly intuitive (and convenient) from there. The real challenge is to find the subject matter to shoot.


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