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How to photograph your collection

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    How to photograph your collection

    A lot of people ask me how I get such great shots of my collection. It is really easy so here is a short tutorial. I use an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera, a cheap desk tripod, and room lighting. If you use better equipment you can get stunning results, particularly from lighting, but here I will show how to get great results from realistic situations.

    The rules of thumb:

    1) NO FLASH - shut the flash off on the camera as it will blow out the details.
    2) Learn to turn on the MACRO mode - it will let your camera focus close up.
    3) Use a TRIPOD - you need to make sure there is no camera shake.
    4) Use the TIMER on your camera. Let it do a 10 second countdown since you will not be able to hold the thing steady enough to let the light in, and even on a tripod any movement from depressing the shutter will cause a visible shake.
    5) Set the ISO (speed) to 100. You want to let in a lot of light.
    6) You can let the camera set the shutter and aperture, but if you control them you can get extra special results - see below.

    Here I have to take a quick shot of something and make it look nice. Nothing special - I set up on white paper and get ready:

    Now for my settings. The flower tells me the macro is on, you can see the flash is off, I like to use RAW, which lets me change the white balance, but JPG is just fine and is easy for beginners. This would work fine for this shot. But I also want to do something special - I want everything in fine focus. I will focus on the tank turret, but if I just shoot the shot it will be in focus and the rest will be blurry.

    So, I set the shutter speed to a very slow speed - here 1/6 of a second. The longer the shutter stays open the more all things will be in focus. If you have a helmet with a badge in front use this to make everything come into focus.

    I shoot it, dump it into the computer, crop the photo and here is the result:

    But now I want to make an artistic shot with the badge in focus but the document fade out of focus. Here is the setup:

    Nothing special, but the settings will do the trick. By changing the speed of the shutter to a fast 1/125 of a second it will blur the background. The open aperature of 2.8 will also help with the blur, making just the badge in focus.

    The result:

    Now, if you get even a cheap lighting solution with diffusion panels you will get spectacular results. This is available on Amazon and Ebay in a variety of countries for very little money. Just get one that runs on the electricity in your country.

    I hope this helps!

    With the right lighting and settings:

    Last edited by Marc Garlasco; 03-27-2007, 07:03 PM.

    I think I'm more impressed with your posting ability! Posting pics and text the way you did was very helpful and very well done.


      I just take stuff outside. Great list though!


        While outdoor light is great, it is not diffuse. It is often too harsh for militaria. I think the results of a closed environment you control are superior and the results speak for themselves:



          great tips Marc. thanks, I will definitely be trying this on my mannequin. Glenn


            Hi there!
            maybe this could help! Scroll the page, you'll found the indication to built and home made studio!
            Cheers, Frank


            The traslation is:

            proiettore = PROJECTOR

            diffusore = DIFFUSOR

            carta da ingegneri = ENGINEERING PAPER

            limbo = LIMBO (just the same!!!)

            soggetto = SUBJECT

            riflesso polisirolo = REFLECTION PANEL POLISTIRENE

            proiettore = PROJECTOR

            macchina (fotografica) = CAMERA
            Last edited by frank savage; 03-28-2007, 04:06 AM.



              Great post, I have been looking for information on how to take nice pics. Now if someone would do post on how to take pictures of daggers, especially the blade. I do have the portable light room.
              My word is my honor and my bond. CMSgt, USAF Ret.


                Thanks for that, really appreciated, the slow speed is a great bit of advice i will try out. Also recently i came to realise that i need a tripod.


                  Thanks for your advice Marc. There are a few things I didn´t know.




                    Wonderful tips that some of us had to learn the hard way.

                    I cannot overemphasize the importance of the tripod -- and the timer.


                    Collecting mint condition Imperial German uniforms, visor caps, and Pickelhauben.


                      Originally posted by ADOLPH View Post
                      Thanks for your advice Marc. There are a few things I didn´t know.

                      I agree. Thanks Marc. I'll have to try a few things next time. Just so damn many buttons for a non-professional Photo guy


                        I played with it today abit. the delay is a definite. I just stacked some boxes on end as my temporary tripod. for right now that will do. still, great advice here. Glenn


                          Marc,Very useful advice! Thanks
                          I'll show you where Iron Crosses grow...
                          Sgt Steiner "Cross of Iron"


                            Originally posted by Ian Lim View Post
                            Marc,Very useful advice! Thanks


                              Well i've had my 1st go & i'm an idiot with a camera. This was an indoor at nightime attempt to see what it looked like when a useless photographer tries it without taking the advice (turn the page to see the amazing results with advice, you wouldn't believe it was the same cross):
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