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Old 07-25-2002, 08:43 PM
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Dble Haul Dble Haul is offline
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Digital pic woes

I've tied up a ton of flies to put into some of the archives, but I'm having some trouble getting quality pics. They either get bleached out by the flash, come out fuzzy or blurred, or distorted. I have an Olympus D520 with the full software pic editing package, and even the software hasn't been able to resurrect the images. I've tried the usual.....backlighting, natural light, tripod, framing, and all the other pointers that are included in the 130 page manual that came with the camera. I'm afraid that I may have maxed out my limited experience in this area and am soliciting advice from some of you out there.

Please fire away with suggestions. As I roll through them, I'll say yay or nay as to whether or not I've tried them already. Again, keep in mind that I'm only having trouble with stills of flies. All other pictures are great.

Thanks as always.
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Old 07-25-2002, 09:05 PM
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If you have access to a scanner, it does a great job as long as the flies are OK with a little pressure on them from the background. I suppose a white box would provide a sheild while not squeezing the fly... have to try it sometime.

Hope to see them soon!
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Old 07-25-2002, 09:35 PM
John Desjardins John Desjardins is offline
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What I've noticed, from my limited experience.[list=*][*]Try having the backdrop far enough behind the fly so it is out of focus.[*]Use manual focus and bracket the focus.[*]Set the camera to it's maximum resolution and crop the extra area out of the picture in the software. [*]Some flies just don't seem to come out good in pictures, try the scanner on them. [*]Modify the pics in the software in the same order every time. e.g modify light intensity, contrast, color balance, etc [/list=*1]

What I've noticed is that if you get the focus right, you can normally get the software to adjust the colors balance.
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Old 07-25-2002, 10:42 PM
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Well, I've found at least one of my problems. In macro mode, I need to hold the button down half-way until a green light blinks, telling me that the focus is locked. I then press the button down the rest of the way to take the picture. I haven't been doing this (rather, I've been pushing the button all the way down without waiting for the green light), so the focus isn't locked, and the pictures come out fuzzy! I just tried the correct way and it's made a world of difference. Now I have the problem of macro mode creating bigger files which don't fit our limitations here. I reduce the picture size dramatically, but some still won't come under the 30KB limit. I'll mess around with it this weekend, and if things work out I'll try to take second pictures of some flies already in the archives that I feel could be much better.

I don't have access to a scanner, but I definitely like the idea. And I've been taking all of my pictures with the flies laying directly on a surface. Perhaps I'll take a stab at shooting them in the vise with a backdrop. Thank you both for the suggestions.

Let's keep this thread going. I think I've found the answer to my problem (right under my nose), but I'd like to hear other ideas for taking nice fly pics.
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Old 07-26-2002, 11:44 AM
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I use a flatbed scanner and it works pretty well. You can scan with the lid open to get a black background, or use something for a background to change the background color. Using different materials and colors and varying the distance of the background to glass will yield different results. I've used paper, flybox foam, file folders, pieces of cardboard and tissue paper for backgrounds. Best colors are white, pink, light blue and gray. I sometimes lay the background right on the fly and sometimes prop it a short distance from the glass. I played around a little with backlighting but haven't had good results with that yet. I like Juro's idea of using a box for the background. A box about an inch deep should be about right. The inside of the box should be white or some other light color because having the background away from the scanner glass has a darkening effect.

As for sizing the image, remember that you can't "see" a higher resolution than what the monitor shows (72 pixels per inch???). My scanner has a low resolution setting of 72 ppi, and if I scan something at that setting then the image on the monitor is "actual size". If I want to enlarge the image or make high quality prints then I need to scan at higher resolutions.

It seems like resizing the photo sometimes distorts the image (sharp lines get blurred). I'm guessing it's because the data is digital and the software sometimes has to interpolate when the image is resized. If you don't need high resolution for prints or enlargements, then it may be better to start with low resolution so you don't need to resize.

Image compression (which is not the same as resizing) also causes distortion. I usually save a scan as a .bmp file, which is not compressed, and then edit it in that format. When I'm done editing I convert it to .jpg, which compresses the image. That way I only compress it one time. I'm pretty sure that repeatedly resizing or editing a compressed image causes additional distortion so I try to avoid that. I think that most digital cameras save images in .jpg format, but allow you to select the compression level. If your photo will need a lot of editing, then it may be better to save the photo using little or no compression, edit the file, then compress to reduce file size.

I don't know of any specific guidelines, and each camera and photo software is probably different. Guess you just have to keep experimenting and make notes of the settings that work well for various applications.

Hope this helps!

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Old 07-26-2002, 12:55 PM
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Thanks, Q. I already start at the lowest compression that my camera allows (320X160), but even at this size the macro function yields pics that are between 70 and 80KB. That's a longshot from 30! And without the macro function, the pictures just aren't good at all.

I'll keep fudging around with it.
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Old 07-26-2002, 03:29 PM
John Desjardins John Desjardins is offline
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Counter intuitive approach-illustrated

Mark, I think you may have some terms confused. The 320x160 you refer to sounds like the number of pixels, rather than a compression of the image. It's a good size for posting pictures of flies, but will make focussing on the flies difficult.

The problem with focusing is with the depth of focus. A term that is not frequently used in photography literature. When you zoom in on an object the object gets bigger, and the depth of focus gets smaller. If you are trying to take a picture of a small fly the problem gets extreme. Flies being a 3 dimensional object start to have part of the fly in focus and parts out of focus. At its extreme in a microscope (where my experience in photography lies) the depth of focus can be less than a micron (~0.00004").

Now how to work around it. This is the counter intuitive part. Set your camera for the Maximum # of pixels you can. Focus on the fly with a LOW magnification and take a picture. The example below is a picture that was taken at 2048 x 1362 pixels (reduced to 590 x 392 for showing here) that was 1.12 Mb.


Now crop away the area to show only the fly, slightly compress the image, and the result is a 26 kb file at a size of 290 x 150 pixels. Aside from the cropping there was no resizing of the image. I agree with Quentin on the effects of resizing images.


What this does is trick the optics of the camera into having a greater depth of focus, while still producing the size, in pixels, image you need.
The flies a size 20, RS2 by Brad from the trout fly swap. I think it would look better with a light green background.

I hope this helps.
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Old 07-26-2002, 03:33 PM
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To get around the 30Kb if you want...

http://www.nikonnet.com will give you free space to upload pictures to. Then you can link to them by cutting and pasting the address from the address bar into your post.

Juro/Sean will like that as well, since it will help keep our bandwidth down!

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Old 07-26-2002, 04:43 PM
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John, you are absolutely correct. I was speaking in terms of pixels, and not really trying to say anything about compression (brain cramp :eyecrazy: ). I'm going to try your counter-intuitive approach tonight and see how it goes.

Nick, that tip is a good one. It could also save some serious space on my hard drive at home. Thanks.
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Old 07-26-2002, 06:10 PM
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Sorry for the confusion . . .

My discussion about using low resolution was for scanning things that you intend to display as "actual size". I don't have a digital camera so I don't know how the resolution settings on the camera affect what you see. I also don't know if all cameras will let you set the level of compression. The camera I looked at had settings for high, medium and low (and maybe zero?) compression.

John, Interesting info about field of focus. At college, one of other students gave a presentation about "depth of field" and "circles of confusion". All I remember is that he had me thoroughly confused!

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Old 07-26-2002, 08:30 PM
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John, you da man! I took your advice with the counter-intuitive approach and got great, sharp, clear pictures by taking images at 1600X1200 pixels (my camera's highest setting). Cropping worked out the pixel size issue.

Nick, I opened an account at nikonnet.com, but I'm a bit confused as to how to post a pic from there. I've started a photo album, but I haven't been able to identify any addresses that are particular to each image. If possible, please advise.

Thanks John, and thank you Nick in advance.
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Old 07-27-2002, 03:57 PM
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Mark,
As with many free things in life, its not perfectly easy. What I did was to right click on the pic, and open it in a new window. That address then is what you would copy and paste into the forum post. Make any sense?
Nick

Edit: I was apparently lying to you about this... What I did is click on the thumbnail that opens the new window. In there, right click on the picture, go to properties, then copy that link into the Post. Sorry:eyecrazy:

Last edited by Nick; 07-27-2002 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 07-27-2002, 06:09 PM
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Nick, it worked like gangbusters. Check out the "test post" in the bonefish archives that's no longer a test.

Thanks again to everyone for your helpful thoughts and advice. You're the best!!!
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Old 07-28-2002, 12:02 AM
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Posting pix

I don't have a digital camera (yet - but we were out looking). To facilitate e-mailing and posting of photos from our recent 25th Anniversary trip to Cape Cod I had my film put on CD as well as prints. This worked really well for e-mailing, but I have not been able to post any of them as they exceed the new 30k limit on the forum. Sean has offered to reduce them for me and post them, but I'd kind of like to figure out what I need to do.

I am not a total Luddite, but I can be somewhat challenged by the technology. If I need to get some new software - so be it, suggestions are welcome. My machine has Windows XP and apparently it has some capabilities that may suffice, I don't know.

It seems that it is time for some turnabout, I have answered a number of questions re speycasting, now somebody can give this digital beginner a hand!
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Old 07-28-2002, 07:32 AM
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software

I am far from being an expert, but in the local paper every Sunday they have an " Ask Jim" column, of sent in computer questions. A couple of years ago his recommendation was a program by Image Disk called "PhotoVue Plus" It resizes, changes file formats,over 35 file formats. reads movies, and sound files, makes slide shows, changes contrasts, and much much more. It has a compainion program called "Vuelcons" which allows you to view images through their actual window icon. Even I am finding I can do about anything with pictures.:eyecrazy: Imagain what one could do if you knew what you where doing? I just lookedup their website, here it is. http://www.imagedisk.com

Last edited by artb; 07-28-2002 at 07:40 AM.
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