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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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Mission: To improve the overall quality of images found on Overclock.net by teaching some of the core fundamentals of photographing complicated subjects such as black, shiny, led-lit computers.

Why?: Many of us spend countless hours researching, building, perfecting, polishing, and benching our systems. We are proud of them, and want to share them with the world. However, even the best rigs can look like trash when the same care attention to detail is not taken with the camera. To do our rigs and community justice, we should know how to capture images of these machines that are appealing and nice to look at.

I'm going to be using a plain old P&S camera, a Samsung S730:

samsung_s730_400.jpg


Some key concepts:
1) Good photographs come from people, not cameras. Even a cell phone can be used to take amazing photographs when the photographer has prepared everything else correctly.
Don't believe me? Here's a link to a high-fashion photoshoot done entirely with an iPhone 3Gs:

http://fstoppers.com/iphone/

2) Photography is the capture of LIGHT. Therefore, LIGHTING is everything. Without going into a masters thesis on it, there are a few basics.

Hard Light vs Soft Light: Hard light is undiffussed and direct, like the sun on a clear day. It leaves sharp, defined shadows. Notice how a car with little imperfections in the paint shows it all in direct sun light? Soft light is diffused, like an overcast sky. It creates very little shadow. Getting the right kind of light for you photo is absolutely essential.

Large source vs Small source: A smaller light source creates hard shadows, and a larger one softens them. That's why a camera flash can look so terrible. It's a tiny light source and throws huge ugly shadows. A larger light source (like an open window in a room) makes softer, more appealing shadows.

So, now we translate that to photographing our rigs.

The worst kind of photo that we see on these forums a lot uses the camera's flash straight into an open case, letting huge reflections come back at the camera and destroying all lighting effects in the case. UGLY.

s7300001.jpg


The next kind of sub-par image we see is a blurred one. This happens for one of two reasons (or both). Either A) The camera did aquire focus, or B) The photographer moved the camera during the exposure, creating motion blur.

Solution to A: Hold the shutter button halfway down first to activate the camera's focus mechanism. Wait for a focus confirmation, usually a green light or 'chirp', then GENTLY press the button all the way, being careful to keep it steady. If you are too close, the camera will not focus without being switched into 'Macro' mode (usually a flower icon).

Solution to B: Lay off the caffeine, or use a tripod. Photos don't happen instantly. There is a time when the camera is exposing the image. This time changes depending on amount light. Given that our rigs are usually dark and in dark places, the times are long, making blurring the photo easy to do. If you can't hand-hold it, USE A TRIPOD.

Missed Focus:
s7300005l.jpg


Motion Blurred:
s7300002p.jpg


There is also the problem that comes along with digital cameras called "Noise". This is a phenomena seen in dark areas in a photo. This can be reduced by turning the camera's sensitivity down, known as the ISO. Images are cleaner at lower ISOs, but they also take longer to expose, which increases the risk of motion blur.

camerasettingssmall.jpg


So far, this is enough information to take shots of rig in ambient light. 'Ambient Light' means the light that already exists in the area you are taking the photo. This works for showing of your case lighting ONLY. It really doesn't display you system very well, and people will have a hard time seeing your hard work.

So, we need to add a light, one that we can control.

Option 1: Open Window
Window light is generally soft and directional, and you have the ability to adjust the angle of your case to it to control the reflections. This is the most effective cheap way to light up something nicely.

DPP_Power_Blue0003.jpg

Photo above by denydog

Option 2: Reflect Light from a lamp
By aiming a light at a large white surface (like a poster board) you make the source larger. This gives a window-light effect that you have more control over. Reflect the light on to the rig, and adjust as necessary.

ig4r0033.jpg


Option 3: Use you monitor (My personal favorite for a quick, great looking photo)
You can set your background on your monitor to blank white, and then turn your monitor towards your computer for a large, even light source.

monitorlightsetup.jpg


monitorlightps1.jpg


My old 775 system:
systemhires.jpg


Helpful Tips:
-Use different angles to position reflections where you want them
-When photographing anything shiny, light up the area around it instead of the object itself
-Use camera angles to emphazize the good and disguise the bad
-Strive to make it look good in camera without the need for editing programs
-If your camera has a mode that allows you to adjust the ISO, turning it down low (100-200) will help get rid of the excessive grain. This will also lenghten the shutter speed, so make sure you're on a tripod.
-Be creative! Show us why your case rocks, give us a reason to look at the pic for more than a second or two

Some of my best shots, using a Point and Shoot:

59695045.jpg


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Alright, get out there and start shooting!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by GlockZoR IV;11973953
bout time someone showed it. would you have any tips for lighted fans?
Keep the flash off, and the ambients lights low enough so that they really show. The LEDs in those fans are extremely weak compared to normal lights or camera flash. If the lights in the room are on a dimmer, dim them a bit to let the fans glow a little more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanScott;11973988
that is a white balancing nightmare haha, opposite ends of the color temp spectrum right there.

Good tips though, even the best of builds are ruined by sub par photography.
Yup, and thought that would look really cool. The tones contrast each other very well.

And yes, color correcting multiple lights sucks...
 

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4,258 Posts
Thank you for starting this thread.

I am so sick of "New build pics (56K warning)" threads full of poor-quality images that are out of focus, use poor lighting, etc... Funnily enough, it is usually these posters who seem to think that we need 3000x2000 images as well.
 

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Nice tutorial. I'm a bit surprised no one on the photo forum thought of this.

Speaking of which, you should check out the photo forum here on OCN
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by r31ncarnat3d;11974041
Nice tutorial. I'm a bit surprised no one on the photo forum thought of this.

Speaking of which, you should check out the photo forum here on OCN
biggrin.gif
Will do, I didn't even realize there was a photo forum.
 

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Ill be honest, I was thinking to myself really, this guy made a thread just to embarrass people with horrible pic quality. But after seeing the pictures and reading through I was impressed. I'll make sure to follow this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roweyi7;11974291
Brilliant tut, Subbed! +rep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PCnooob;11974151
Ill be honest, I was thinking to myself really, this guy made a thread just to embarrass people with horrible pic quality. But after seeing the pictures and reading through I was impressed. I'll make sure to follow this.
Thanks guys, I hope it helps. I wanna see some people try it!

People see my pics all the time and I usually here a bunch "Wow, nice camera!" or "What kind of camera do you have?". What they don't realize that a camera can't fix bad lighting or incompetent users. People need to spend a little time with their cameras and learn some fundamentals. I hope this thread gets people thinking and takes their photos in a new direction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by cee;11974345
That is the best looking computer I have seen in a while.

Also, nice guide, but I am no photographer and I only have my mobile to take pictures
frown.gif
Thanks.

I could have done this entire shoot with a camera phone. It doesn't matter.

LIGHTS > Camera
 
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