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Question About Journal Article Photos

 
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Brandontmyers



Joined: 13 Apr 2016
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:33 am    Post subject: Question About Journal Article Photos Reply with quote

Hi! I am an amateur of many things with macro photography being one of them. I like to keep up to date with news in the insect world as well.

One thing that I have always wondered is how are the pictures used in journal articles taken? An example of what I mean can be found http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/02/24/phasmidae_dryococelus-austr_custom-3fc4cd1e3fcc9a47a51f6c94629eec79eb4f8450-s800-c85.jpg.

Are these photos usually stacked and then cut out and pasted on a white background? When I try, I can never get the selection close enough to where it does not look like a jumbled mess on the really tiny objects.

Thanks in advance!
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 18244
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That particular image could have been photographed as a single exposure on a white background. Note the scale bar -- that is a BIG specimen!

Smaller subjects may require focus stacking, but that by itself should not be much complication.

The key thing is that if you want the subject isolated on a pure white background, then it's best to start with something close to that and then just clean up the background. Trying to photograph on a background that is midtone or darker, then mask in post-processing, often ends up looking artificial.

If you can post images showing some of the difficulties that you're having, we can possibly provide more directed help.

--Rik
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Brandontmyers



Joined: 13 Apr 2016
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Rik!

I will get some examples tonight.

One thing of note that may not be helping the issue is that my equipment is not great. Right now I have a Nikon D3300 and Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP AF/MF 1:1 Macro Lens. I have tried using white computer paper as the background and for some reason either get no detail on the subject, or the white turns to a slight yellow-ish color.
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Chris S.
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Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 2848
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brandontmyers wrote:
One thing of note that may not be helping the issue is that my equipment is not great. Right now I have a Nikon D3300 and Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP AF/MF 1:1 Macro Lens.

Brandon, this is very nice equipment for work up to 1x magnification. Very Happy Your camera and lens could certainly produce the image you linked to.

Quote:
I have tried using white computer paper as the background and for some reason either get no detail on the subject, or the white turns to a slight yellow-ish color.

This suggests two issues: Exposure and white balance. In the case where you get no detail on the subject, you are perhaps overexposing to the point where the background is "blown out" (nothing is recorded except maximum values in all three color channels) and the foreground, while not blown out, is simply overexposed. In the case where the white becomes slightly yellowish, you are perhaps obtaining more appropriate exposure, but the camera's white balance is not set properly. (For example, the camera is set for sunlight, but you are shooting under incandescent light, which looks more yellow to the camera; or the camera is compensating as much as it can for incandescent light, but your lights are so yellow ("warm," in color-temperature speak) that they exceed the range of in-camera compensation (in this case, either shoot in raw and adjust color temperature during conversion, or shoot jpeg and adjust white balance in post production).

Do post examples, and please include information on exposure and white balance. If you are going to shoot examples for this, let me suggest that you first do a custom white balance, then shoot in manual exposure mode, paying close attention to full-color histograms of test shots (not live view histograms, which are inaccurate). When viewing the histogram, use the ETTR method ("exposure to the right") to adjust exposure until the highest values are just inside the right edge of the histogram. (Don't mean to bury you in jargon, but provide search terms in case these concepts are new.)

--Chris S.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 18244
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It may be getting ahead of the game, but I'll mention that a common technique for getting pure white backgrounds is to make the background actually brighter than the subject, either by shining light through a translucent background or by physically separating the subject from the background and shining a separate light on the background.

Google search on photography insect pure white background to find discussions of this technique and others.

--Rik
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Brandontmyers



Joined: 13 Apr 2016
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You guys are fantastic!!

I will get some examples of past attempts and then give it a try this weekend. I will report back with everything.

Thank you so much!
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Brandontmyers



Joined: 13 Apr 2016
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, I took two shots today where I can definitely tell the difference. The first is on the Auto WB settings. The second is on Flash setting. These are both before post processing, I just wanted to get an idea. I have not tried the custom WB settings yet. But plan to do that ASAP.



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