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How to Photograph a Pipe

(58 posts)
  • Started 1 year ago by jpmcwjr
  • Latest reply from mikethompson
  1. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    For users of smartphones or small cameras mostly:

    Reduce the contrast between the pipe and its background. Specifically, don't photograph a dark pipe on a white background. Nor a white or light pipe on a dark background. The reason is many cameras on auto exposure average out the light, so dark pipes get underexposed, and light ones on black get under exposed.

    Have the light come mostly from behind the camera. Indirect natural lighting is best. Not direct sunlight nor flash if it can be avoided.

    Some smartphones allow you to choose the focal point and it will also set—to some degree— the exposure to that area.

    For experienced photographers none of the above need be said as there are countless ways to make adjustments. Please add any further comments below.

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. danielplainview

    dave g

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    That’s good advice to follow. I use my iPhone for posting pictures. The drawback: I can only get the grain to show if I have very bright direct lighting. No glare, no grain.

    Make aromatics great again.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. workman

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    Thank you. I will keep that in mind when I get around to take some photos.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. dochudson

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    Cheap or homemade light box and a small tripod will greatly increase your odds of getting quantity pictures.

    I Enjoy Aromatics
    I Enjoy Peterson Pipes
    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. olkofri

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    Shameless plug: Quick n' Clean by Window Light

    In addition to bringing out texture, side light from a window will also add a nice longitudinal highlight to the stem and/or the pipe itself if it's got a smooth finish, not unlike what one'd get with a strip softbox:

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. chasingembers

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    I just point and click with my phone. Seems to get good results, and I'm not terribly techy.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. jpmcwjr

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    You're innately talented.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. chasingembers

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    Either that, or I get very user friendly phones.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. npod

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    This a great topic JPM. Thanks for starting it. I’m very involved for years in the fly fishing boards focused on fishing photography and I am also a medical photographer. The techniques for both of those interests translate well to pipes (i.e. flesh tones, fish scale colors, emotion, capturing detail and tones and color, etc). I’ll post some more thoughts this weekend when I have time, but for now the number one skill to understand is lighting. Catch the light and the pipe will stand out. Best to avoid snapping a quick in the basement with only a ceiling light or using the camera flash. Thus, taking pictures in the daylight is the best way to get a good pipe photo, excluding DoF, shading, creative light, and the like. BUT, avoid harsh sunlight, that will screw up a photo fast. And the iPhone 8s and X are phenomenal cameras! I am very impressed with the new technology. You don’t need high end equipment. Also, a white sheet or white t shirt to diffuse the sun helps and I use that technique frequently.

    Outside at late afternoon, the golden hour, iPhone 8s

    Next to an open window with direct sun light, but a t shirt to diffuse the light, iPhone 8s

    Neal
    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Excellent points, 'pod! And nice illustrations. A plastic gallon milk jug can be cut in half for a decent makeshift light diffuser, also.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. craiginthecorn

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    Excellent photo, Neal. GREAT subject. The Mandu, that is.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. npod

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    Shameless plug: Quick n' Clean by Window Light

    @Olkofri, that is a great link and article!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. olkofri

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    Foamcore sheets (or anything similar) are your friends: use them to bounce and diffuse light, or to fill in shadows if placed on the other side of the main light.

    BTS:

    Result:

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. olkofri

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    Mirrors are good too, but take more skill to use.

    BTS:

    Result:

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. olkofri

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    Not precisely a pipe, but to support what npod said above: this image was taken in a hotel room, with only window light diffused by a translucent curtain:


    Meine Premiere by Henry Godnitz, on Flickr

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. bonanzadriver

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    Some great photographers here.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. jpmcwjr

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    Yes, good skills apparent. In general, let's try to keep this aimed a bit more at the inexperienced.

    And, while lighting, arrangement, subject contrast, and focus are all right, there's a real bad reflection in the glass. Shame!

    Iphone X, natural light through windows.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. chasingembers

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    The level of detail from a phone camera always impressed me with this one.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. davek

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    My phone doesn't take near the quality of pic seen here.

    The most important thing, phone or not, seems to be "indirect, natural light". I've taken good pics just going outside on a sunny day and taking pictures in the shade.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. chasingembers

    Embers

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    My phone's nothing special. A $50 Samsung Galaxy Luna Pro. I use it for all of my internet use and shopping, plus pics.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. mikethompson

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    Lots of good little pointers here. I appreciate the tips.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. npod

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    Good morning, happy Saturday. Time is 6:58 at the start and 8:01 at the end of this post. Tobacco is Rattray's Red Rapparee. Let's play a game called, "Finding The Light" or conversely, "Please See My Pipe The Way I Do". Remember, the human eye has a dynamic range thousands of times greater than megapixel cameras. So how do you get that grain to pop with a phone camera? Find the light!

    My model: Castello Collection Opera Shape 44

    6:58 am, balcony, sun just coming up to the east. HARSH light!

    Now we have to look around and dissect the shadows, find the right light. Notice the harsh demarcation between shadow and bright light, that makes camera phone very unhappy.

    Off to a good start, but too much of a differential between sun and shadow, not gonna do it.

    See the shadow vs the bright on the pipe? Not good, doesn't look the way my mind's eye wants it to.

    Another example, too much differential in light, but we are starting to see tobacco in the chamber.

    Let's keep moving and exploring.

    Harsh

    Backlit, yuck

    Getting warmer, but a hot spot on the pipe and the grain is not the way I want you to see it

    Backlit again, can't see the grain, no definition

    Ooh, getting there, I found a shadow without direct sun, metering is much better, grain starting to pop.

    Closer, but now hot spots and bright highlights.

    SO! THIS is as good as it gets in THIS location at this TIME in THIS light.

    But I'm not happy.

    So! Let's take a walk and bring the dogs along. Let's go exploring outside.

    Wow, just outside on the west side of the house, there are SHADOWS, nice. Already the pipe looks better and much less of a challenge to find the light. Nature is playing nice!

    Look at the definition and dynamic range in the bricks! It's open.

    Ooh, pretty flowers in the shade, probably a good place to take a pipe picture.

    Much better! The pipe is starting to look in the photo the way I see it in real life and detailing the grain I want to show off.

    BINGO! A nook with trees and shade and dew on the grass. I FOUND THE LIGHT!

    A little prop, a lighter, find a good spot, light is good, compose the shot, rule of thirds, etc.

    Now that is what I wanted to show. Time 8:01 am.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. npod

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    My phone doesn't take near the quality of pic seen here.

    @davek, yes it does. All phone cameras are capable to taking good pipe pictures. It's not the camera, one just needs to find the right light and location and time of day, etc. I point this out because it is a topic I preach all the time and one I take to heart. Even the basic phone cameras can and will take good pictures.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. metalheadycigarguy

    metalheadycigarguy

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    I use my Samsung Galaxy 7, and depending on the look I'm going for use the soft light in the room, or the natural light from outside. I will also take the same photograph from different positions to get the image I'm looking for. I'm no professional, but I think I do a okay job with my photographs which I mostly post on my Instagram page.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. woodsroad

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    Although I'm a photographer by trade, and do a lot of location lighting in the course of a day's work, I've never set up lights to shoot any of my pipes. I mostly make pix of them with the iPhone, when the spirit (and available light) moves me.

    The most important advice that I can give on the subject is to be observant of the light around you. When you see light that is pleasing to the eye and camera, take note of the source, the room, what it's reflecting off of, what direction it's coming from. Quality and quantity of light is the first thing that I look for when I'm working, it's key to making good pictures.


    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. unkleyoda

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    You're all wrong!

    You want dimly lit, dark backgrounds. Hold the pipe in your hand and shoot the picture toward the floor, and have the floor in focus and not the pipe. That's the way to shoot pipe pictures.


    So you say you can drink? Well, I'm from Wisconsin. Try to keep up.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. mikethompson

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    I knew Dan would show up sooner or later.

    Lots of good advice in this thread for sure!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. ssjones

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    I bought this light box from Ebay, $8 shipped.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Light-Room-Photo-Studio-Photography-Lighting-Tent-Backdrop-Cube-Box-US-KY/112956762872?hash=item1a4cbf6af8:g:gL4AAOSwcjhaze6V

    Using a 10 year old Casio point & shoot cast off from my daughter...

    We recently bought a $600 Canon G7 MKII (well, the wife bought it ). Even with Dan's advice, I'll be damned if I can get it to take decent close up pipe pictures...

    Al

    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. woodsroad

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    Al, that's a decent photo! You just need to get the color set, it has a cyan tilt to it. Your new camera has a "custom white balance" setting. Read up on it and use it, it's pretty simple once you figure it out from the lousy instruction manual.

    Next, I'd play around with different background materials in the lightbox.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. darwin

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    For those ancients among us with formerly steady hands a cell phone is not up to the task of reducing the shakes that often accompany advancing age, especially when making close-up images. A good dedicated camera is necessary for this duty, one that has built in image stabilization, whether lens based, internal, or a combination of both. Good cameras have other advantages but unfortunately one needs to be something of a photography enthusiast to want to wade through the menus and to nurture a photo learning curve. A tripod is a good solution but that is frequently not an option.

    One other factor is that us old dogs who've been shooting since we were sprouts can have a tough time rewiring our brains to use photo devices that do not have good eye-level viewfinders. This problem can put the kibosh on using any and all cell phones, period.

    Viewing with alarm since 1948.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. olkofri

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    I don't care for phones' cameras. I quite dislike them, even though in a pinch I find my phone's camera useful—like when something's out of place in the building and I need to send a quick text with a pic to report it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. woodsroad

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    I’ve sold several photos made with my phone, photos I wouldn’t have made otherwise.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. jpmcwjr

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    With good phone with less than 3 years on it, you should be able to extract very good photos. Lighting is the key, and exposure set to the pipe that's being captured.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. olkofri

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    I prefer to work with RAW files.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  35. jpmcwjr

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    So do many when the need is there. However, for small product type shots that won't be printed to any size—if printed at all—good camera phones are more than up to the task.

    Why uncover and fire up the Maserati for a two block jaunt to the store?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. jpmcwjr

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    Darwin-

    I am the ancient class, and have been lucky my hands are steady.

    If you put the object on a table, good lighting, then prop you elbows on it, two hands on the camera, you should have good results with out setting up a tripod.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. olkofri

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    Because the Maserati just rocks!

    It's a camera thing, jpmcwjr. I despise phones because I like the feel of the camera in my hand, looking through the viewfinder, carefully composing and lighting. I like to have control over my focal length, my depth of field. I enjoy the snapping sound the mirror makes when flipping up and down, and I love the pop and burst of light from my strobes. It's not just taking a photo, however neat it ends up looking: it's the EXPERIENCE. Same reason I prefer to shoot RAW: developing the file on the RAW processing software is a satisfying experience in itself. A point-and-shoot gadget doesn't give you that. Camera phones are the photographic equivalent of cigarettes; real cameras are pipes.

    You know, you guys just gave me an idea. I've a roll of Ilford loaded on my camera for which I've not found worthy subjects. I should use it to make some photographs of pipes... I've a MM 2018 LE Reverse Calabash sitting here still unsmoked.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  38. woodsroad

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    I prefer to shoot RAW, too. But it’s not a prerequisite. I’ve had iPhone files used in annual reports, magazines, displays and yes, billboards. Clients never knew (or cared) what camera was used to make them. They hired me to make the pictures, not my camera.

    For me (and my clients) it’s the photo that matters. Process is just a tool.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. mikethompson

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    Why uncover and fire up the Maserati for a two block jaunt to the store?

    because that's as far as it could go?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. woodsroad

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  41. chasingembers

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    I've a MM 2018 LE Reverse Calabash sitting here still unsmoked.

    Me too.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  42. jpmcwjr

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    I built my own darkroom in 1969 and did a fair amount of film processing and printing. Only B+W, as by the time color became feasible, I had no room for a dark room nor the time to devote. FF to the dawn of the age of digital, I helped develop Lightroom and was a beta tester for a couple of versions of Photoshop. I had three digital bodies, 5-6 good Canon lenses, and shot RAW files from dawn to dusk some days. That was put aside 4-5 years ago.

    I too like the control and feel of an SLR, but have nothing but love for my iPhone's camera.

    If you wax nostalgic over film cameras, I doubt we'll ever see eye to eye!

    But shoot what you like, how you like, when you like. Just no reason to knock small sensor cameras that take great photos.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. darwin

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    jpmcwjr pipe photography takes up a very small fraction of one percent of the shooting that I do which is walkabout style in towns, countryside, and scenic areas of the west where toting a tripod is not very practical. Therefore good image stabilization is necessary so I don't always have to shoot at 500th of a sec. or faster. I just acquired a Sony RX10 Mk. IV which has upped my keeper rate dramatically in low light situations, plus it has a very sharp 24-600 mega-zoom. It doesn't have a huge sensor but it's more than enough for what I like and need. Two recent pics below.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  44. woodsroad

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    Can you get the squirrel to hold a pipe?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  45. sablebrush52

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    This is quite a fun thread. It's amazing what advances have been made in photography since Henry Fox Talbot came up with that damned paper negative!

    Now you're taking pictures with a phone! And I'm impressed with how good those images are considering the lens used. Pretty good software onboard!

    One of my friends is a still photographer who works on movies. The guy is an absolute genius at what he does. Canon hires him to photograph some of their line. He can make exceptionally great looking images and it's not because he's always shooting with the finest equipment. It's because he knows how to make an image. When we're on a trail he's not lugging one of his "pro" cameras. He's shooting with his phone, and he's getting great shots. Phones, within their limits, are great picture taking tools.

    I shoot both RAW and JPEG. RAW gives me the most to work with when editing images and I appreciate that later flexibility when shooting under adverse conditions. Otherwise, I try to get the image as close to right as I can at the start.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  46. warren

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    Each generation of phone means an upgrade in camera and software. They are impressive, on par with many SLRs of a couple of generations ago.

    As observed above, photography is all about light. How the light is to be used or manipulated is totally dependent on the photographer's vision of the shot and the intended end use. I've sold files taken with phones, mostly scenics, today's iPhone excels for this. Other phones may also, can't speak to them.

    Cell phone cameras are certainly more than adequate for pics to be posted on-line, if the light is used to advantage. Eliminating "hotspots" is as easy as diffusing the flash or, dispensing with flash totally. Check your settings prior to the shot to minimize "post" time. See the light!

    If I had but one piece of advice it would be, stabilize the camera and use the delay for the shutter.

    Perfection is tough without the proper monitor, printer, video card, etc. all correctly calibrated to the color scale used in the camera. Most are not going to spend a few grand to achieve this. There is no reason to do so as most are not viewing the small, on-line files with a monitor calibrated to what the poster was using. My monitor, on the computer I'm usually on is calibrated to sRGB. I suspect most of you haven't given such calibration a thought or, have a monitor that can be fine tuned.

    So, in a nutshell, do the best you can with the equipment at hand and, post away! Not all here are viewing your pics with a well developed eye on large, calibrated monitors.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  47. ssjones

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    My Samsung S7 does have a setting to shoot in RAW mode.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  48. darwin

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    ssjones RAW mode can allow some amazing things if you have Photoshop or something similar that can handle the files. Manipulating RAW files with Adobe Camera Raw works especially well at rescuing overly dark images. However a good dedicated camera image, even a jpeg, usually needs less work to get to where you want to be because it can resolve a significantly greater range of tones than most phone cameras. Ya gotta want the flexibility pretty bad though because learning to use PS requires a fairly steepish learning curve.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  49. jpmcwjr

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    Just noticed this last reply.... Shooting a stationary pipe should be like shooting fish in a barrel. No need for RAW format, HDR, bumping exposure on dark areas, etc. Just good lighting and mostly in focus!

    But RAW is the bee's knees for flexibility. Love it.

    Posted 10 months ago #
  50. jpmcwjr

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    I prefer to shoot RAW, too. But it’s not a prerequisite. I’ve had iPhone files used in annual reports, magazines, displays and yes, billboards. Clients never knew (or cared) what camera was used to make them. They hired me to make the pictures, not my camera.

    For me (and my clients) it’s the photo that matters. Process is just a tool.

    Right on.

    It's almost difficult to take a bad photo with a new iPhone (or other phone, I guess). But mediocre? I'm guessing more than a million are taken every hour on average, in the U.S. alone.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  51. elektronikfreak

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    I will upload some photos in the future. I don't use a smartphone. Only a Nikon D90 or a Nikon Coolpix P7100.

    Very nice photos btw.

    Information is not knowledge... Knowledge is not wisdom... Wisdom is not truth... Truth is not beauty... Beauty is not love... Love is not music... Music is the best! *** Frank Zappa 1940 - 1993 ***
    Posted 1 month ago #
  52. forciori

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    Using smartphone...





    Posted 1 month ago #
  53. elektronikfreak

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    I'm really suprised of the high quality a smartphone can create. But of course it's not true... it's the photographer who HOLDS the smartphone who is the biggest creator.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  54. npod

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    Another great trick for phoneography is to use a matte filter. There are lots of Apps available in the App Store for your phone. It smooths out the exposure for pipe and product photography.

    Examples of Matte filters from iPhone images

    Posted 1 month ago #
  55. npod

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    Posted 1 month ago #
  56. hawky454

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    Some excellent photos in this thread!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  57. pappymac

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    A lot of good tips. I do it the hard way and transfer the photos to my computer and the edit them in photoshop.

    I am glad we have a good admin and responsible moderators.

    Heave to you dark colored ship under sail! Prepare to be boarded!
    Posted 1 month ago #
  58. mikethompson

    mikethompson

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    Joined: Jun 2016
    Posts: 3,751

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    I feel this should be stickied, so we can refer to it when needed. The lens in my tablet is not the best but I'd like to squeeze all I can from it.

    Posted 1 month ago #

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