Technical Photography Primer, How-To, FAQ: A Project

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
So, I have in mind to create some sort of documentation to help people take good photographs to document technical items. It could take on, and probably will do, several forms with different focus.

One version will be a primer on the technical basics of photography like exposure (shutter speed, aperture, ISO), focus (depth of field, methods, etc.), file formats and their applications (RAW, JPEG), and processing for color and dynamic range, and lighting. The idea is to cover what you need to know without things that don’t make it easier to understand how to take better shots of technical items for documentation.

Another version would be a how-to on taking pictures with phones and point and shoot cameras for the purpose of documenting things in support of a question here (or elsewhere) to get help. The idea would be to help people use what they have to get shots that will most assist others in helping them. It would include things like lighting, angles, distances, and some information on how to judge if the photos will serve the purpose (e.g.: markings on chips are readable, resistor color codes can be seen and colors recognized, etc.

A third outcome would be a FAQ which would allow people to get answers to questions about common techniques and equipment.

I expect this to be a long term project and don’t currently have a date for completion, but as I think about it, I am very interested in ideas from others here.

What sort of things would you like people to know about photos they post as part of questions?
What things have you had to help people with more than once?
What kinds of questions do you have yourself that you’d like answered?
What recommendations (gear, tips, ???) do you have that you’d pass on to someone starting out in this sort of photography?
What question should I have asked in this list, and what’s your answer to it?

Any help is appreciated. If anyone is interesting in collaborating on this, please let me know.

This is a great place and this is one way I might be able to contribute. Thanks to all of you for what you do here.
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,503
What sort of things would you like people to know about photos they post as part of questions?
I'd want them to think before they post, and ask themselves whether the photo is going to give people the information they'll need in order to help the poster. Is it blurry, or too dark or light, or low contrast, too small or has highlights or reflections that obscure important detail? Then take a better picture before you post.

I'm skeptical about whether such a FAQ would do very much to change people's behavior: I fear that those who need its advice will not bother to take the time to read it, while those who do read it will mostly be people who already know the importance of posting good quality photos and know how to take them and process them appropriately.
 

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
I'd want them to think before they post, and ask themselves whether the photo is going to give people the information they'll need in order to help the poster. Is it blurry, or too dark or light, or low contrast, too small or has highlights or reflections that obscure important detail? Then take a better picture before you post.

I'm skeptical about whether such a FAQ would do very much to change people's behavior: I fear that those who need its advice will not bother to take the time to read it, while those who do read it will mostly be people who already know the importance of posting good quality photos and know how to take them and process them appropriately.
I was hoping that by providing some rules of thumb and simple steps people could provide consistent photos. I understand your skepticism, but it's worth a try.
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,503
I was hoping that by providing some rules of thumb and simple steps people could provide consistent photos. I understand your skepticism, but it's worth a try.
Yes, it probably is, especially if it reveals "pro tips" techniques/methods that people might find handy even if they already know and practice the basic principles and techniques of good photography.

What also might be worthwhile is to put together a "rogue's gallery" of bad photos, together with detailed descriptions of how and why they are defective and information on what to do to correct the problem(s).
 

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
Yes, it probably is, especially if it reveals "pro tips" techniques/methods that people might find handy even if they already know and practice the basic principles and techniques of good photography.

What also might be worthwhile is to put together a "rogue's gallery" of bad photos, together with detailed descriptions of how and why they are defective and information on what to do to correct the problem(s).
I like the idea of examples. I can also take bad and good versions of example items.
 

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
Some thoughts.

What do we need to be able to see in photos?

Component Markings
Component Cases
PCB Traces
Solder Joints
Colors
Geometries
Scale

Added:
Detail for Components in Question
Context for Components in Question

???
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,503
I think that list pretty much covers it.

Another common photo flaw we sometimes encounter: inappropriate field of view, too narrow or too wide. The latter is most common, where the area of interest occupies just a small part of the overall photo and has too little detail.
 

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
I think that list pretty much covers it.

Another common photo flaw we sometimes encounter: inappropriate field of view, too narrow or too wide. The latter is most common, where the area of interest occupies just a small part of the overall photo and has too little detail.
Yes, I added those things at the end. I realized that it was very common to request additional photographs, close-ups or zoomed out.

I am going to pair up the things we need to see with the technicalities that need attention to render them well.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,840
No expert on any of this, but it seems today, most people take their photos with a cell phone. So if you want to do a tutorial, it needs to include cell phones and their limitations.
 

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
No expert on any of this, but it seems today, most people take their photos with a cell phone. So if you want to do a tutorial, it needs to include cell phones and their limitations.
I agree, I think that's a very important idea.

Another version would be a how-to on taking pictures with phones and point and shoot cameras for the purpose of documenting things in support of a question here (or elsewhere) to get help.
 
I am not opposed to this, but I am, honestly, very skeptical of how much impact it will have. OTOH it is your effort, so I have no reason to criticize. But, as feedback....

I would stay away from asking too much. Baby steps.

I would not use anyone else's photos as do's or don'ts, use your own (I note that you did not say you would use the pics of others). That way, you avoid pointing any fingers and you are better able to illustrate a point. Yes, I would sometimes like to give awards for "worst photograph" accompanied by "worst text" for describing a problem. "This not work [insert out of focus blob], how to fix?" , but it would not do much good, I fear.

I would not bother with an attempt at anything like a general photography tutorial. There are so many of these out there, it makes no sense to me to add another. Further, it is an electronics site and not a photography site. A short list of existing tutorials would be fine...for further reading.

Concentrating on a small list of fundamentals is not at all a bad idea.

I was just looking at a poster's pic - project doesn't work, here's a pic of the project. Of course, the critical connections can't be seen too well (or at all) in the pic - that repeats itself regularly. Breadboards, in particular, represent an electronics-specific problem... that fits into "fundamental" as I referenced earlier and I would phrase it as, show all of the connections on your circuit even if you have to use multiple pics...blah blah.

The same goes for component identification, board identification, and some others on the previous list. You have to balance the number and length, toward, "guidelines to help us help you" versus "how to be a good photographer".
 

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
I was just looking at a poster's pic - project doesn't work, here's a pic of the project. Of course, the critical connections can't be seen too well (or at all) in the pic - that repeats itself regularly. Breadboards, in particular, represent an electronics-specific problem... that fits into "fundamental" as I referenced earlier and I would phrase it as, show all of the connections on your circuit even if you have to use multiple pics...blah blah.

The same goes for component identification, board identification, and some others on the previous list. You have to balance the number and length, toward, "guidelines to help us help you" versus "how to be a good photographer".
My intention is to focus on the requirements for this particular use of photography touching on principles that assist in that.

In particular, I am taking a goal-oriented approach, and the list of requirements will allow a person so inclined to do QA on their own photos and help them figure out what is needed in the photos to get help.

People who don't pay attention to advice aren't the target, obviously, but I hope there are enough folks who want to learn that this will be helpful.
 

Aleph(0)

Joined Mar 14, 2015
597
So, I have in mind to create some sort of documentation to help people take good photographs to document technical items. It could take on, and probably will do, several forms with different focus.

One version will be a primer on the technical basics of photography like exposure (shutter speed, aperture, ISO), focus (depth of field, methods, etc.), file formats and their applications (RAW, JPEG), and processing for color and dynamic range, and lighting. The idea is to cover what you need to know without things that don’t make it easier to understand how to take better shots of technical items for documentation.

Another version would be a how-to on taking pictures with phones and point and shoot cameras for the purpose of documenting things in support of a question here (or elsewhere) to get help. The idea would be to help people use what they have to get shots that will most assist others in helping them. It would include things like lighting, angles, distances, and some information on how to judge if the photos will serve the purpose (e.g.: markings on chips are readable, resistor color codes can be seen and colors recognized, etc.

A third outcome would be a FAQ which would allow people to get answers to questions about common techniques and equipment.

I expect this to be a long term project and don’t currently have a date for completion, but as I think about it, I am very interested in ideas from others here.

What sort of things would you like people to know about photos they post as part of questions?
What things have you had to help people with more than once?
What kinds of questions do you have yourself that you’d like answered?
What recommendations (gear, tips, ???) do you have that you’d pass on to someone starting out in this sort of photography?
What question should I have asked in this list, and what’s your answer to it?

Any help is appreciated. If anyone is interesting in collaborating on this, please let me know.

This is a great place and this is one way I might be able to contribute. Thanks to all of you for what you do here.
@Yaakov All I can say is this is best idea for a thread I've seen on here! Both for ppl who capture images as regular part of their participation on here AND ppl who look on questions with images! When ur done I say your thread should definitely be made _sticky_ so it stays in plain view on top of threads:)!
 
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