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Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
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Slug Factory---Help!


I occasionally do freelance copy-editing here in China and have been asked by a friend in a slug factory (slugs are little round aluminum or alloy metal objects with holes in them) to edit an old brochure. But some of the photos in the brochure are unsatisfactory, and knowing that photography is my hobby, she's asked whether I can take some new photos too.

Although I've warned her that I'm still really a novice and it's hit or miss, I'd like to try my hand. Probably a mistake because I haven't the faintest idea how to prepare a photo for printing--I've never printed a photo. But if they don't turn out, no harm done, they can hire a photographer. I also only have my inbuilt flash, so it may be impossible.

Anyway, it's a HUGE factory floor--lots of windows, fairly well lit with florescent lights (though parts are darker), so I don't think flash would help anyway. (I might take one or two in the offices, but think I can handle that.) But for the factory floor--any suggestions anyone on any aspect of the job---particularly settings for aperture, shutterspeed, ISO, etc? Any other suggestions?

Also, the photo they have of the slugs themselves is kind of cheesy and they might want me to take a closeup photo of some slugs piled up one on top of the other. So, it'll be like a portrait photo and portrait photos need professional lighting--should I just assume that I won't be able to do it with my inbuilt flash and decline to do one? If I try, I assume I should make a backdrop with cloth--probably dark coloured to contrast with the whitish metal and I could do it at home. I'd have to use my Rebel XT kit lens 18-55 kit lens, which I've read is not bad for portraits. But, the only direct spot kind of lamps for home use that I have at home here in China are bedside lamps with 60wt bulbs (lamps where you can use 100wt bulbs are non-existent--they melt, burn up or explode). Should I use two, one closer one one side and one further away on the other side, and perhaps use my inbuilt flash? I think it might burn it out...but I can't get too close anyway, with this lens...

Should I give up before starting and tell them to hire a professional?



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4/5/2006 10:00:20 AM

 
John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  First, your camera can do the job if you can.

Second, I'd use my flash, and I'd set up a reflector on one side to fill in the shadows a little on that one side. Use a large piece of white paper or a bedsheet. That will give a feeling of dimension and depth to the photograph. I'd take the pictures in a room with an exterior window, not in direct sunlight, and turn off all of the interior lights.

Third, for brochure usage, you need to determine what the image size will be on the brochure, and also what the desired dpi setting is. For example, maybe they want a 3" x 2" image at 300 dpi, so you'll need to end up with a 900 x 600 pixel image that contains your subject. This will allow you to get the shot you want by cropping it from the full-sized image after you get as close as you can.

This task isn't that hard, but you should practice first, and get the photography aspect buttoned down.


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4/5/2006 3:18:45 PM

 
Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
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  Thanks so much John for your kind and patient reply! Your first sentence seems so daunting (!) but it's encouraging to know that it can be done by the right person with the lens and inbuilt flash--at least it's incentive to try!

I assume your second paragraph is in reference to taking the closeup slug shot. Very helpful advice! I'll try it for other things too!

I was planning to take the whole day in the factory and take my computer and experiment for the floor shots. What camera settings would you suggest I begin with for the large floor area? I know you can't really know how much light there will be (and it might be cloudy that day!), but in general, lots of light through big windows, and florescent lights inside--but very high up and some darker areas because of the big machines...


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4/5/2006 6:38:31 PM

 
David Earls   Always ugly, color management rears its head again.

If the brochure is being printed, it will be printed in CMYK colorspace. Your photos, taken in RGB colorspace, will have less snap than when they get printed. At the very least, convert to CMYK color before showing anything to the client -


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4/5/2006 9:22:24 PM

 
Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
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  My camera can shoot in sRGB space or Adobe RGB space. The manual says that the latter is for commercial printing and other industrial uses and that it is not recommended unless you know image processing (which I guess I do) and "Adobe RGB and Design rule for Camera File System 2.2" (don't have a clue what they are referring to).


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4/5/2006 10:06:55 PM

 
Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
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Sorry I didn't finish that last response and when chatting with a friend accidently clicked something and it sent! Okay, to continue I'll paste what I started writing again...

First, thanks David! My camera can shoot in sRGB space or Adobe RGB space. The manual says that the latter is for commercial printing and other industrial uses and that it is not recommended unless you know image processing (which I guess I do) and "Adobe RGB and Design rule for Camera File System 2.2" (don't have a clue what they are referring to).

If I show them some images, it will be on the computer, so perhaps I'd better show them in the format I usually use for the computer, and then, if they want to use a photo, perhaps then I should convert it to CMYK? I mean, if I show them a CMYK image on the computer, it won't look as nice, right?

I'll have to do a lot of reading up before giving them a photo for printing, I guess. I'm so tech-impaired and so lazy about learning the tech end of things. I guess that's what distinguishes the Pros from the amateurs---enough dedication to master these things.


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4/5/2006 10:16:18 PM

 
David Earls   Hi Susan,

Cameras only export images in sRGB or RGB colorspace. You have to convert them to CMYK in your image processor.

I would encourage you to do your conversion to CMYK colorspace before showing them to your client. They will be a little dull compared to RGB or sRGB, but you'd rather have the clients see what they're going to get than show them something they can't have.

These things are easily done in Photoshop. I don't know whether Photoshop Elements supports CMYK color, nor do I know about paint Shop Pro or the new Microsoft image editor.


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4/6/2006 7:05:42 AM

 
Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
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  Thank goodness I have this advice! I use CS2 and I've seen where it can be converted to CMYK. I've never used it, but I don't understand why the photos have to be dull. I mean, you see all kinds of gorgeous printed photos in magazines...

Should I shoot in sRGB or Adobe RGB? Does it make a difference?


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4/6/2006 10:35:13 AM

 
David Earls   Susan,

I'd shoot in Adobe RGB; it's a slightly larger colorspace than sRGB.

Your photos won't be "dull" but you'll see that bright greens and blues won't be as bright as RGB. A lot of the "pop" in magazine printing comes from using coated stock and applying varnish to the pages.

Remember that your monitor is an RGB device, and you can't display actual CMYK color; however, PS will attempt to replicate CMYK color.

I don't think you'll have any problems with this - it's all pretty simple.


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4/6/2006 11:02:10 AM

 
Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
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  Oh, okay, got it. And the brochure is indeed one of those slick varnished ones.


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4/6/2006 11:04:56 AM

 
John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  Don't get over-complicated.

To handle color management issues, shoot in sRGB mode at first. I can't believe that metallic slugs against a black background will be all that hard to convert from sRGB to Adobe RGB in a desktop app (like Photoshop) without losing color info... or better yet let the brochure publisher handle the conversion on their end.

Second, to avoid color balance problems, use daylight and flash, not the interior lighting. Shoot in RAW mode. Don't use the interior lighting from the factory unless you ONLY use the interior lighting from the factory.

Let the camera's exposure meter determine the exposure, and then fine-tune it using the histogram and looking at the image on your PC.

Forget about CMYK colorspace conversion. Let the printer worry about it. I'm sure they're used to printing all sorts of images and are most likely a lot better at this type of stuff than you are.

I've done brochures, with color shots, and used sRGB, and they turned out fine. Yes, Adobe RGB has a larger palette. Can you see the difference in a photograph of metallic slugs against a dark background? (No!)

In short, keep it simple. You're not producing a fine-art portfolio.


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4/7/2006 11:57:44 AM

 
Susan Jane Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/20/2005
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  Definitely consoling advice. I had told my friend that I'd like to talk to the agency that would handle the layout and printing of the brochure, hoping for just this possibility! What a relief!

David's advice is useful because I'll have to tell them that the final version of the photos would be a bit different from what I'll show them.

I have never shot in RAW mode, but I've seen it on the camera. I've heard that it requires a lot of post processing, but the results are better. Do I just apply the same kind of PS techniques for RAW images that I do for jpeg formatted images?

Think it takes a lot more memory, but I'll have my computer and will be able to download and shoot again and have 2GB anyway. This will be quite a learning experience!

The advice about lighting on the factory floor is extremely useful. I will probably use their daylight (indeed, it's impossible to shut it out), but was just looking at prices for the Canon SPEEDLITE flashes and it seems quite affordable and am kicking myself for not thinking of buying before. Any suggestions on what to buy? This is a BIG place. Can any (affordable) flash that I buy really have significant reach in such a circumstance? I suppose I don't have to take long distance floor shots, but concentrate on machines and smaller areas.

Thank goodness they just told me that they're in a busy period and won't be able to think about this project for a couple of weeks---it gives me time to learn more and try out any new flash I'll buy. Have plenty of time anyway--a light teaching load, so can go a few times for several hours when I want. Don't mind spending the time for a learning experience. Could even try at night relying only on their interior lights I suppose. In fact, I might post my first tries here and get additional advice about light and camera settings (if everyone's patience holds out!).

Thank you all so much. So much patience with rank beginners! BetterPhoto is absolutely the best find I've ever made---it's like a gold mine!


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4/7/2006 12:58:00 PM

 
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