Help please!! photography

I’m trying to help organise a digital camera setup, to be able to capture a variety of oversize documents that aren’t suited to scanning (large maps, drawings, etc). The equipment’s all there, but nobody has a clue, and I have less of a no-clue than most :wink: …(there’s a photographer available freelance to advise, but obvioulsy his time costs money)…

Basically, we’ve got the camera & lights set up OK, and actually taking photographs isn’t a problem. What I want to know (and what I’m struggling with on Google) is how to set the shutter and aperture? Given it’s a steady object, my instinct was a slow shutter and small aperture…but then again, I know nada…any suggestions?

Indeed, any suggestion whatsoever would be welcome :slight_smile:

Take a light reading with an incident meter (measure the light falling onto the subject). Then, set yoru camera to manual mode, and use the settings indicated on the meter. If you just take a reading with the camera, of say a drawing on white paper, it will be underexposed. Remember, the camera will “want” to set whatever it measured as a Zone 5 gray tone. For the focus, as long as the film plane is perfectly parallel with the drawing (a flat subject), there will be no problem with depth of field. Lay the subject flat, use a tripod, and point the camera straight down. Use a cable release cable to cut down on vibration. Be very critical and exact in your focus. If you have no handheld meter, and you are shooting a mostly white subject, take a reading with the camera and then open it 2 stops.

This book has a lot of good information about photographing art work. It talks exclusively about film photography but it has some good general information (especially about lighting) that’s applicable to digital as well.

If the camera is on a tripod or some other steady support, shutter speed does not matter. Most lenses will perform best (i.e. give you the sharpest image) in the middle of the aperture range. Therefore I suggest you set the aperture to the middle value and use whatever shutter speed the meter suggests. Since you are using a digital camera you can aford to take several shots at different exposures (i.e. adjust the shutter speed above and below what the meter indicates) and just keep the best ones - trust your eyes. If you are photographing several similar documents you will only need to establish the ‘correct’ exposure for the first one.

I would advise that either you use a cable release or, if none is available or perhaps your camera can’t use one, try using the self timer. This will help give sharper results as prodding the shutter release button with your finger can make the camera vibrate a little.

What make and model of camera do you have? Very few digital cameras, that I know of anyways, even allow you to adjust shutter speed and apeture.

Actually lots do, just not the basic P&S models. But go one step up and there are many cameras (the Canon A series seems to be the most popular) that allow you nearly full manual control.

Thanks - I’ll try that.