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Well, I didn't really discover it. I've always admired Robing over at Roville for her meticulously crafted interiors and her mastery of clear, even lighting. So finally I asked her what her lighting techniques were. She reported that she used overhead light + 2 inexpensive studio umbrella lights. Clearly I need to acquire some of these, even though I have very little studio space. I've been putting up with crappy lighting for as long as I've had a camera, and I'm really sick of uneven, washy-outty, dim, supersaturated, etc., etc., etc. shots.

Here is a complete two-light set that's relatively cheap. I'm considering its purchase.

This tutorial on portrait lighting gives tips on best positions for the umbrella lights.
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I've had three avatars in my history online. The first was a picture of a contemplative cherub that I took in a Boston-area cemetery. The second was a screencap from Labyrinth, showing the Goblin King in "Oh shit!" mode during Within You. The third and current one comes from a photo session this morning with Jareth and my new 60mm macro lens.

I'm so pleased with the clarity and detail that my new lens picks up! In fact, I shot all of Me and My Muses E.2 with it. Given how many medium-length and close-up shots of small populations that I do, this could be my new default lens.

Read more... )
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I got a 60mm macro lens yesterday. At $470.00, it cost more than my camera.

Read more... )
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I think I'm going to use some of my self-standing display boards to make a partial light box. I'm going to cut out frames from the side panels and then put white pillowcases in the holes for added light filtering.

For easy reference, here's a link to the first light box I made.
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goldi was using a simple, inexpensive macro filter set on her Canon digicam at doll club. The lenses just screwed on top of her existing lens to provide +1, +4, up to +10 magnification. Coooool. Clearly I need some. 
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No thanks to the Canon EOS 30D Digital Field Guide I bought to supplement my manual, I finally figured out how to adjust my camera's shutter speed, which should take care of my long-time bane: washed-out photos.

The Digital Field Guide [an independently produced book] went off on a tangent about the philosophy of shutter speed and what every different mode does, until I eventually wanted to yell, "Just tell me which buttons to push dammit!"

Turns out it's as easy as hitting the DRIVE ISO button, then turning the main dial on the camera to the left to increase or right to decrease the ISO.

With my new knowledge of autofocus points and ISO control, I'll be unstoppable!

Goddammit.

May. 26th, 2012 10:16 am
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I think I need a new compooper. After just over 3 years, my current laptop now has problems. As I discovered when trying to install Adobe PhotoShop Elements, the CD/DVD drive does not register. This would not be a very big problem, as I rarely use it, BUT THAT'S HOW I INSTALL SOFTWARE. Interestingly enough, it was working a week ago, when I tried installing Elements the first time [didn't work -- faulty copy]. I don't know what went wrong.

Fine. Be that way, you stupid compooper. I guess I'll be getting another one.

While I'm at it, I should also get Norton AntiVirus and a [cough] legitimate copy of Manga Studio EX 4, which, I see from Amazon, is down to ~$80.00-90.00...finally affordable! I think I'll leave Daz Studio on this compooper, though. I haven't touched it in months. I will be able to transfer all my documents, movies and music over easily, as I have been backing them up on a separate hard drive with some regularity.

EDIT: Also need a lap stand that cools the compooper, as I use it on my legs all the time.

EDIT 2: A possibility. ...Oooh, look -- it's in stock locally! Instant gratification!

EDIT 3: Here's where I'm doing some comparison shopping.
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She was supposed to be rubbing her hands together evilly, but she looks like she's praying for an afflatus of sarcasm...
Read more... )
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So I used my new camera this morning and took some awesome closeup shots of my dolls and their accessories, but you can't see them because I haven't figured out how to get them off the camera yet. Things I have learned about my new digital camera:
  1. It is very sensitive to shaking, so I have to hold it very still.
  2. It's also very sensitive to light, and I haven't figured out how to compensate for that.
  3. The greater the number of mm in a lens, the closer it can get to the subject!
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Right here!

I just bought Canon EOS 30D Digital Field Guide to help me in my pursuit of DSLR photography too. For $4.00!
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Just spent $436.39 for a used Canon EOS 30D 8.2MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens from amazon.com, as well as $40.39 for a CompactFlash memory card and an extra battery. It comes with a battery, battery charger, manual, lens, et hoc genus omne. Now to learn to use the damn thing...

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http://www.digital-photography-school.com/how-to-buy-a-dslr-camera

Canon EOS 400D? 30D?

I'm so sick of my current camera crapping out when I try to get in really close to my dolls.
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So here are old lighting results with parchment paper over the lamps:Read more... )
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EDIT: Uh oh, the light looks too brown. I'll have to substitute wax paper for the parchment paper.

I put some parchment paper over my lamps this evening to diffuse the harsh full-spectrum light. Here is a picture of the lamps.Read more... )

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Lesson: 1:6 food doesn't work well with 1:3 people.

Also a test of my new light setup on a grey, rainy day. Verdict: I need to soften the light a bit because the whites are blinding!

Sarah [at left]: "So I thought we'd have a welcome party for you..."
Janvier Jett: "Purrrr!"Read more... )

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The title says it all. The little thing costs $28.00, excluding shipping. Why is size inversely proportionate to price???!!!
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I got my new full-spectrum lamp today! Here's my desk with the new setup. Please ignore the piles of 1:3 clothing I have to either get rid of [on left] or dress Janvier Jett in [on right]. I'm preliminarily pleased with the brightness and clarity of the results.Read more... )
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Soon winter will be here and, with it, permanent darkness. I won't be able to just frolic outside and take nicely lit photos of my dolls. To that end, I should ensure that my indoor lighting setup in my photo studio -- read "on my desk" -- produces adequate photos.


I currently have one full-spectrum gooseneck lamp on my desk. I just bought a matching one from LampsUSA for $39.00 including a light bulb and shipping, woo hoo! This will hopefully produce enough light so that I can take reasonable photos when it's dim or dark outdoors.
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I love to take pictures of Sarah. She's very photogenic. Sometimes the pictures actually come out well! I think this set is particularly nice. The increased file size of my photos and the accuracy of where I want the focus to point both seem to improve the photos.Read more... )
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Taking advantage of the clocks turned back and the early dark, I tried taking some photos of Sarah under my one desk light, no other lights on in the bedroom, and the flash. Amazingly enough, the flash didn't totally wash out her features. I did some burning and dodging on her eyes in the first picture so you can see what a lovely green they are.Read more... )
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Thinking about the pretty Soom Breccia head that I sort of want, I ask myself what I would do with her. Of course she’d get a body. I’m sure she would dress up in the cheap, tacky remnants of my 1:3 wardrobe. It’s entirely possible that I would give her some sort of sloppy custom faceup that would further decrease her value, not to mention pink hair. And then…

Then what? Then she would go on the “big dollies” shelf along with Sardonix and Junebug, and she would sit there, making friends with them and quietly yellowing. She would come out for doll meets, where the audience would ooh and aah over her and take photos, and I’m sure she’d have televised chats with Sardonix and Junebug occasionally, but I don’t think I’d take lots of pictures of her or play with her a lot. Certainly not as frequently as I play with my 1:6ers.

I’d like a big doll with pink hair. None of my past BJDs had the appropriate type of pink hair. Zephque had a pale pink wig with double buns, but it wasn’t pink enough. My Soom Uyoo version of Jennifer had a wig of pink yarn for a while that looked good, but too much like Anneka’s hair. My Soom Sabik Will had a bright pink fur wig of the appropriate color, but it didn’t have double ponytails, and he was too big for me anyway…

I think I would get a Volks Dollfie Dream body for the putative Breccia head. It’s nice and light and sexy and relatively poseable. It’s also kinda cheap. The only problem is that Dollfie Dreams stain really easily. I’d have to make sure that all her clothes were lined, and nothing denim and/or black for her! That’s easy…I already have the an42 pink and orange paisley dress that I’d want her to wear…and the stripey black and white socks.

She would be such a pretty doll!

I think I need a camera with a really good zoom lens, or I need a good zoom lens to put on my current camera.

This disjointed entry has been brought to you by the Society of Useless Sexy Expensive Dolls, or USED.

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I made a little Web site dedicated to Hasbro Shoezies and linked it to my Flickr photostream [yes, I have one now] with pictures of Shoezies and their use as 1:6 footwear.
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I found a video, along with a transcription, that gives advice on how to use one's body to stabilize one's camera so that one won't have a whole lotta shakin' goin' on when one takes photos.
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Andrea's lighting set up.

Best repaint of a Monsieur Z doll ever: Wella, who reminds me of a 1950s piece of clip art in the best way. Simple, effective lines.

Tonight I am going to make 1:6 grass out of a doormat, as previously discussed here. Need to get me a lot of green and yellow paint and a big brush at the art supply store.

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It is compact, portable and perfect for removal from my desk so I have more room to take pictures. Also it weighs less than a gallon of milk. Also it was disgustingly inexpensive, insofar as these things are quantifiable. It should be here by the end of this week!
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On Flickr, NickIsConfused has a set where he took pictures of a Star Wars walking robot AT-AT toy so that it looks like a house pet.
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I used my magnifying glass and my macro setting on my camera to take a portrait of Absinthe. This is how she sits on my desk, her head bent, her voluminous hair obscuring her closed, inward-turned face and shy, thoughtful smile. She turned out exactly the way I wanted her to [except for her damn plastic body]. Read more... )
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Earlier I mentioned the possibility of using a magnifying glass as a cheap telephoto lens. In today's ep of LHF, you can see the results of my experimentation. All close-ups of Anneka and her grandmother were taken with me holding the magnifying glass right in front of my lens with my camera on the autofocus for close range. The magnifying glass, which has 2x power, allows me to get a bit closer to my subjects and fill the frame with super close-ups. I'm pleased with the results. I just have to remember to angle the glass correctly so that it does not catch glare from the lights.
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Because I am notorious for wanting the best results with the minimum amount of effort, I pass along this possibly intriguing tip, which D7ana alerted me to.  Apparently an easy way to increase the macro function on one's cheap camcorder is to put a magnifying glass in front of the lens. See video by k6yarddotcom for proof. Because I do not feel like dropping huge amounts on extra super special lenses [and because I am too lazy to learn how to use them], I shall try this with my digicam and report on the results. I just need to find a magnifying glass....
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Besides poor posing, I really dislike poor doll photography. Like any other visual art, photography has many aspects that one can alter for varying effect: lighting, framing, focus, etc. [No, I don't know the technical terms.] However, I have, unfortunately, experienced way too many photos where these aspects are altered out of sheer ineptitude, rather than artistic consideration. While we poor amateurs may not be able to take photos as beautiful as those of the masters, we can at least follow some basic rules to make our own works functional:
  • The camera should be focused on the subject. If the subject is a particular doll head, I don't want to see fine-grained, macro-level detail of the wall just behind the doll. [Here's a beautiful example in the first panel of Unreal Life 1.5.]
  • Lighting should be appropriate to the subject. Consider that fluorescents make things yellow, and flashes tend to wash out the subject. [And here in Unreal Life 4.6, we can't even see what's happening because it's too damn dark.]
  • The level of blur should be appropriate to the subject. If the dolls are supposed to be running, feel free to move the camera as the shutter is closing. But, if you're supposedly taking a static shot, blur sabotages all the detail that you're allegedly capturing. [Unfortunately, all the pictures of Meg's Onyx that I took at doll club on Saturday were blurry!]
I really can take a decent picture, though, you know!

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I do not like displays or photos in which dolls are poorly posed. A doll's hands/feet shouldn't be twisted around, nor should its elbows/knees bend backward or sideways. A doll should be in a position that is either a) physically possible for a human being or b) physically impossible for a human being, but fine for the character. Ideally, a doll's clothes and hair should behave appropriately for the photo [disarrayed if you need disarray, neat, tidy and controlled otherwise]. I find poor posing such a distraction that I don't care how unusual, rare or interesting the doll is; if it's imitating a pretzel with bed head, I will ignore the overall picture in favor of sloppy details.

There are no visual aids for this post because I couldn't find any suitably anonymous examples and I'm not subjecting my own dolls to the humiliation of illustrating what NOT to do in posing.
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To soften the light from my desk lamp, I put fabric softener sheets over the bulbs...not because they are supposed to soften things, but because they were the only appropriately translucent papers I could find. [I wonder where the tissue paper went...] Not only are the results much easier on my eyes for all desk-related tasks, but they also produce photos with lower contrast and better, unwashed-out detail. As a bonus [?!], my desk smells like a dryer sheet. I deem this experiment successful!  Read more... )
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So Doctor over on MWD picked me up some $5.00 Uneeda fashion dolls from an Indianan clearance store. He had previously posted pictures of the outfits from said finds. Amazingly enough, all pieces fit CGs, except for shoes and underwear. Attracted by the neon colors, I sought the Uneeda outfits for those characters of mine without fashion sense. Results are shown below.

Oh yeah...and a note about light. As shown in this photo, my spiffy full-spectrum lights are much too harsh, focused and intense, creating dramatic shadows that I don't need all the time. I must figure out how to diffuse my light sources. And now back to our show.  Read more... )
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I am playing more with my new camera. I learned how to turn the autofocus off so that it loses battery power more slowly. I also note that my new camera does much better in low light than my old camera. Both of these pictures are taken with my desk lamp pointed up at the wall to the far left of Anneka and Will.  Read more... )
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Since I have finally figured out how to force my new camera to default to memory card use, I hereby present the Pink Squad [not actually a real group] of the LHF cast. Read more... )
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I ended up getting not a Kodak charge and spare battery, but a generic charger and generic spare battery. The charger is charging the battery as we speak. This had better work. I'd like to really use my new camera in the next few days.
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I pulled out Zinnia Pascale's dull default molded ponytails and bangs. In place of the ponytails, I glued two buns from some Bratz doll. In place of her molded bangs, I glued doll hair bangs from the same Bratz. Zinnia Pascale may now legitimately be counted among my pink-haired dolls. Furthermore, she has crazy hair to match her crazy outfit. She is the awesomest zombie I know!
Photographic proof of kick-assness. )
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...for the overwhelming price of $2.99 + free shipping from Ebay. Why didn't the seller just pay me to take it off their hands?

Still needed: A battery charger and a backup battery.
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Davry now has pink hair. Unfortunately, that doesn't make him any less self-righteous.

I finally got a passable close-up of Will. Unlike other dolls of mine, his face is done more impressionistically, with fewer definite borders. My new camera picks up details such as this that I don't even notice in real life. Also please note that the Cy Girl relaxed hands may not be the most detailed out there, but they are the most graceful and elegant. I think they work equally well for male and female figs. Will looks very amused by something in this picture.

In other news, the battery charger + battery that I ordered is out of stock, so I have to get one somewhere else. I also need to get an SDHC card reader. Fleargh.     Latest results from my new camera... )
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Scratch that. I don't have a dock for my camera. Ergo I ordered a camera charger and another battery. Blather! )

Then I tried to transfer the pictures off the memory card and on to the computer, only to discover that my computer does not read high-capacity SD cards, just regular ones. I'll have to get an SDHC reader. Blather part II! )

Anyway, here are some more test results from my new camera. One shows some pieces of my latest Rement acquisition, Secret Shelf from the Storage Beauty collection, just to demonstrate that, yes, my new camera focuses passably well on small things.

The next picture is one that I sneezed out, by which I mean that I took it without any conscious planning, forethought or composition, but it still came out pretty awesome. It's Rori, of course.Pulchritudinous pictures. )
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I just got a rechargeable battery for my camera and 2 4 GB memory cards. Since Staples was selling the memory cards for almost half off, I got a backup. Now to charge the battery when I get home.... I should probably get another battery too when I have a bit more money to dispose of. Well, there went my Momoko refund... :p
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Here is the page on the Kodak Web site for my new camera. I got it with a dock too. I really hope it came with a neck strap and a lens cap, but I can't tell because I'm at work now, and my camera is at home. I also can't tell if it came with a rechargeable battery pack, which I hope it did because then I can recharge the batteries on the camera dock. If not, it takes Kodak brand KLIC-8000 Li-Ion rechargeables. Damn proprietary batteries.

So far, this is what I have learned about my camera: Read more... )
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I got a new camera in the mail today, a Kodak EasyShare Z712, refurbished, for <$125.00. I've spent the last hour learning its features and swearing at it. Its default pictures have much higher resolution, thus crisper detail, than my old camera. Witness the following picture of Michaela, who now has the red hair appropriate to her character. She's not finished; she may get a haircut and her neck painted to match her head, but she's in much better condition now than she was yesterday.

I hope I can work out my puzzlement with my new camera and get to work taking better close-ups.  Read more... )
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I've learned a few things while taking outdoor shots for LHF backgrounds:

1. I should NOT use regular AA batteries or regular rechargables for my camera. My camera eats them quickly. Lithium ion ones are the best. Sources say that they last a lot longer.

2. I should not take pictures at night time. Pictures at night time on the street usually have two colors: black and BILIOUSLY YELLOW [from the streetlights].

3. There are four meteorological conditions that provide an acceptable substitute for night time: right around sunrise, right around sunset, cloudy [but not rainy] weather and rainy weather. All of these conditions balance my need for distinguishable detail with my need for a sense of dimness. Anyone who claims that sunrise, sunset, clouds and/or rain make backgrounds that are "too light" for my characters will be summarily ignored.

4. I should not take too many pictures with snow on the ground, since this dates the pictures too obviously in winter. Instead, I should take pictures with bare ground.

5. Pictures with green leaves can successfully signify late spring, summer and early fall. Green leaves have a broad applicability of dates.

6. Pictures with brown, yellow, red or orange leaves successfully signify fall and early winter. Fall leaves tend to date pictures too narrowly.

7. Pictures with no leaves can successfully signify fall, winter and early spring. Pictures with no leaves have a broad applicability of dates.

8. I should avoid taking pictures of people, but sometimes they will get in front of my camera.  Fortunately, if they keep moving, they will blur, so they are easy to anonymize.

9. Pictures should never, ever, ever, EVER be taken inside a business, including one's workplace, even with permission from the head honchos. Pictures may be taken inside the private homes of friends and family with permission.

10. Pictures at the following locations are best taken early in the week, when crowds aren't so large: parks, gardens, squares, campuses, malls, stores, sidewalks and streets in general.

11. However, pictures at the following locations are best taken early in the morning on the weekends, when almost no one is there: subway station exteriors, subway station interiors, subway car interiors.

12. Cemeteries are in their own category as far as scheduling photos. The best times to photograph them are on weekdays early in the morning and early in the evening. The heavily trafficked Granary and Kings Chapel cemeteries in Park Street should ideally be shot just after opening or just before closing because, unfortunately, they are locked at night, and, during the day, they attract hordes of tourists.

13. Background shots should be simply framed from simple angles, such as front view, side views from both sides, back view and maybe some three-quarters views. Side views from both sides should be taken so that the characters can have some variety to stand in front of. Background shots are not about artsiness or individual details, but about a sense of place.

14. Background shots should capture the distinguishing feel of a place, but they do not need to be comprehensive. E.g., photos of Central Square do not need to get the Town Hall and the view toward Boston and the aboveground entrances to Central Station and all the bus shelters and the crosswalks and the painted utility covers and all the benches.... Likewise, photos of the Old Burying Ground in Cambridge do not need to cover every single inch of the cemetery.
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In the Farber Gravestone Collection, the American Antiquarian Society collects over 13,000 images of pre-1800 gravestones, many in Massachusetts. Daniel and Jessie Farber were photographers active in the early 20th century. The collection also incorporates the work of other gravestone photographers. It's very Massachusetts-based. More later after I poke.
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Now that I have a designated photo studio [= a corner of my desk], I also have designated photo lights. One is a pharmacy lamp with a regular fluorescent bulb in it. The other is a gooseneck lamp with a full-spectrum bulb in it. I have been taking pictures with various combinations of lights and backgrounds. Here are my results:
Read more... )
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Tonight I was filming an ep. I accidentally discovered that the colors as seen under my full-spectrum light were more realistic and much less yellow than those seen under fluorescents. Therefore I placed one full-spectrum in front of my subject as shown and then took some example shots.

Conclusions: Full-spectrum light obviates yellow correction in post-production. Full-spectrum also errs on the side of excess blue, but, since most of my characters are cold and dead, I welcome the increase in blue light, which seems thinner and crisper than the thick, yellow, sludgy light.

Also, the crisper the light, the better my photos. My wienie of a camera functions best in full-blown natural light, which is best approximated by full-spectrum bulbs. Ergo, under my full-spectrum experiments tonight, I achieved sharp levels of detail and color more accurate than that under fluorescents.

Also, Will looks incredibly sexy in black.Photos of setup and results within )
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I got some new lamps recently and made the following set-up... Below that is a picture of the results, slightly corrected for color and darkness. I'm pleased with the results. With proper lighting, my crappy camera takes crisp photos!
Read more... )

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