A Quick and Dirty Science Class

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Original Post

bomobob says

Digital cameras: For those days when you just want throw it at the wall as hard as you can.

Just like film cameras, digital cameras collect light. The shutter opens, and light comes in. Your camera’s sensor looks like a Shreddie, with lots of little square wells. The light pours in and starts to fill up those wells.

But the sensor is an electronic device, and as such, it produces “noise” like all electronic devices. It’s not noise you can hear, like the humming of your old stereo when the music stops. It’s image noise, which makes photos look grainy and fuzzy. And you know how if you turn up the volume on that old stereo, the humming gets louder? Well, same thing on your camera when you set it to a higher ISO. There’s actually a little amplifier inside that cranks up the sensitivity of your camera so you can take pictures with less light. Problem is, it cranks up the noise even more.

So: High ISO=BAD

There’s another thing that can happen that has the same effect, even on low ISO. If your camera sees there’s not much light, it just leaves the shutter open longer to collect enough to give you a decently bright picture. So the light’s coming in, making an image, but guess what? That @#%^&% noise is building up too. And it accumulates. And the picture ends up looking as bad as on high ISO.

So: Low Shutter Speed (long exposure)=BAD

This is just about when you start looking at that wall, and wondering how hard you can throw this piece of junk. And your head starts to spin…

I should buy a better camera
I can’t afford a better camera right now
My pictures suck
*bite nails*
What am I gonna do?

The solution is so simple; it’s almost a joke. More light. Yup, you’ve heard it before, but your house is dark, the sky is always cloudy, the kids are screaming…

All you have to do is grab a couple of lamps and put them close to the stuff you’re shooting. If your Lowes sells OTT bulbs, even better. The more light the merrier.

Fact is, you probably don’t need a new camera. In fact I’m willing to bet that just about every camera any of you own can take amazing photos, even if it’s a $30 Walmart special. Even the crappiest digital camera can take really good photos. It’s just a matter of giving it some light. Lots of light.

Posted at 9:09am Apr 18, 2010 EDT


Can I just pay you to take my photos for me? :/

Posted at 9:10am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

bomobob says

Yeah, as if YOU need help :P

Posted at 9:11am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

I think I do---some of the photos I've seen on here from other soap sellers are STELLAR. I wish mine looked that good. I just have a $99 Nikon Coolpix digital camera...The last camera I had was so old it didn't even *have* a macro setting.

Posted at 9:14am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

bomobob says

KreatedbyKarina said:
I think I do---some of the photos I've seen on here from other soap sellers are STELLAR. I wish mine looked that good. I just have a $99 Nikon Coolpix digital camera...The last camera I had was so old it didn't even *have* a macro setting.

Throughout the history of photography, people have done amazing work with the junkiest of cameras. A $99 Nikon can be a superstar!

Posted at 9:15am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

If I take photos using anything other than natural light, the photo comes out blindingly white---even without the flash---can't see anything. Wouldn't more light make this worse??

Posted at 9:17am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

FJCruiser says

I need to get me some lights. My pics suck.

Posted at 9:19am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

marking, 'cause this is useful stuff, and anyhow, I know my camera has gremlins and hates me.

Posted at 9:21am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

Karina, I think you have some of the best soap pics around, personally.

Posted at 9:22am Apr 18, 2010 EDT

bomobob says

Nope. Your camera will just adjust the exposure by speeding up the shutter and/or closing down the aperture to get the perfect exposure.

If your photos are blindingly white, then it sounds like either the camera isn't on automatic, or something is fooling the exposure. Often when people shoot items on a dark background, the camera says, "Hmm, most of this frame is quite dark; I'd better expose it more", and what you get is a nice looking background and a blasted white item.
The key there is to be sure there's not too much contrast between the item and the background.

Posted at 9:22am Apr 18, 2010 EDT