Camera and Gun. It’s Two! Two! Two Hobbies in One

Revolver Camera That Shot Bullets and Photos at the Same Time

A .38 Colt with a built-in camera geared to the trigger. From 1938.

Time to make the doughnuts. The .357 Magnum doughnuts of doom!

JayG catches a wicked fireball on camera.

I just walked a friend through the process of buying a revolver. He wanted a .357 Magnum. He eventually decided a J frame revolver like the one above would be the perfect size. JayG’s revolver above is the Snubbie from Hell in .357 Magnum. For my friend I suggested a 642 in .38 Special, like mine. He was disappointed it wasn’t a .357 and I was like “I don’t think you want to shoot .357 out of a gun that light.” I’ll have to show him Jay’s pic.

Need a camera strap? Use a rifle sling in a pinch.

Rifle Sling on Nikon D7000

My new camera came with Nikon’s freebie strap, which is way too short. I noticed the camera’s metal studs for attaching a strap looked just like the sling swivel studs on a rifle. I dug through my gun gear and found a sling that’s just about the perfect length. I’m probably the only person who has a Gander Mountain rifle sling on his DSLR.

The sling has quick detach swivels. To remove the swivels you have to unscrew the pin, push it in a quarter inch or so and rotate it.  They aren’t going to come out accidentally

Downside? Rifle slings aren’t designed for camera use. The mounting hardware doesn’t have as much freedom of movement as a camera strap’s, so the swivels tend to get kinked up if the sling gets twisted too much. Mine is developing a wear spot in front of the right attachment point, so for me this is a short term solution.

P.S. A few years ago my wife ordered an UPstrap based on Ken Rockwell’s recommendation. It’s pretty awesome. Its claim to fame is the large rubber neck pad. It spreads weight over a large area, and it’s grippy enough that the manufacturer claims you can safely carry it over one shoulder. I never do that, but I like it as a neck strap because the rubber neck pad never slips or bunches up and the narrow straps aren’t bulky or inflexible like some other straps. And hey, they offer them with Kevlar ends, so there’s another guns/camera crossover.

Robb’s new gun has granite countertops

Robb shows off his latest gun:

Now, for those of you who say “Robb, that looks more like a kitchen”, you’d be depressingly right. I wanted a Kriss… Instead I got a leak in the sink that destroyed the counter and thus had to replace the entire kitchen instead.

Yep. Last year I spent a 1911 on new gutters. Last month I spent an AR-15 with a nice optic on scheduled maintenance and brakes for two cars. This month I spent a Glock on new bathroom floors.

Heck, I still don’t own an AR-15. I was telling someone the other day that every time I have a thousand dollars of disposable income rolling around I wind up buying camera gear. With work and family obligations I’d shoot the AR-15 a couple times a year, versus using the camera gear at least once a week. If the zombie hoards arrive tomorrow they’ll have to settle for being shot with a $125 SKS.

Color Accent Lighting Tutorial

Guy Sagi of Shooting Illustrated shows how he uses accent lighting with colored gels in his gun photography. Cool. I just got a gel holder and a set of color gels. I bought them for matching the flash color temperature to ambient light, but adding a splash of color is something else I look forward to trying.

Via The Firearm Blog.

Techniques for Holding a Camera at Slow Shutter Speeds

Vote for David has them, with illustrations. Most of them are based on techniques for holding rifles. Cool stuff.

“Are Cameras the New Guns?”

From paperghost via Adrian,

GizmodoAre Cameras the New Guns?

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

From that article I discovered there’s a Web site called Photography is Not a Crime.

Also from paperghost, the same story is playing out in the UK:

BBCIs It a Crime to Take Pictures?

From today, anyone taking a photograph of a police officer could be deemed to have committed a criminal offence. That is because of a new law – Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act – which has come into force.

It permits the arrest of anyone found “eliciting, publishing or communicating information” relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

That means anyone taking a picture of one of those people could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years, if a link to terrorism is proved.

I can imagine a sci-fi story where the protagonist has to obtain an unregistered camera or pirated camera ROMs.

S&W’s New Web Site Still Needs Better Photo Editing

Via Uncle I see that Smith & Wesson has a new Web site. Downrange TV reviews the new site and notes a long-standing problem with the product photos:

There isn’t much that I can complain about after this first brief review this morning. But three things do jump out. The first is photography. The product images are not that great.

For instance, I covet a 627 V-Comp to be tricked out by master gunsmith Randy Lee. It’s a secret desire that’s not so secret anymore. This is a gun that from the factory carries an MSRP of $1,706.

It’s a good looking gun that should look great in its main shot online. S&W has the photo talent to do this type of shot in photographer Yamil Sued. He’s a friend of mine and his work never fails to impress. Hopefully Messrs. Smith and Wesson will think about adding new pics over time to spruce up this aspect of the site.

Here’s that 627 V-Comp from S&W’s Web site:

Original Photo From S&W Web Site

I can tell right away that the black and white levels are wrong. The picture has a milky cast because there’s too  much white and not enough black. My first digital camera, a Canon SD400, produced pictures like that almost every time, so I had to learn to fix them in post-processing. Here’s what I see when I open the picture  in Adobe Photoshop and look at the levels (Control-L):

Photoshop Levels on Original Photo

That graph of dark and light tones is called a histogram. In an ideal exposure there is little to no data at either extreme of the histogram.  Underexposing throws away details at the black (left) end. Overexposing throws away details at the white (right) end.

Notice that the white values are stacked up in a steep spike at the extreme right of the histogram. That tells me the picture is  overexposed. At the black end of the histogram on the left there’s no data. No data in the histogram means there are no tones like that in the picture. These two problems explain that milky white cast.

Here’s how to fix that. See the black, gray and white arrows under the histogram? Those are sliders used to set the blackpoint, midpoint, and whitepoint. This is the adjustment I made by sliding the arrows to fit the histogram:

Adjusted Levels

I moved the blackpoint right, to the beginning of that first big hill in the histogram. That moved the gray midpoint a little too far right, so I moved it left directly under the middle peak.

Because the picture was overexposed I didn’t adjust the whitepoint. Doing so would have discarded even more information. I experimented with adjusting the whitepoint leftward. What happens is that the detail in the silver parts of the gun and especially the cylinder start disappearing.

You can use Photoshop’s Auto Levels (Control-Shift-L) if you’re in a hurry, but you get better results doing it by hand. Here’s the picture after adjusting levels:

After Adjusting Levels

Another way to do pretty much the same thing is to use one of the little eyedropper tools in the bottom right corner of the Levels window. For instance use the black eyedropper tool and click on the darkest black in the photo. That’s what I do in Google’s free Picasa software. Picasa doesn’t have light adjustment tools as sophisticated as Photoshop’s, but it does have an eyedropper tool. The free, open source GIMP photo editor has a levels editor very similar to Photoshop’s.

Finally, I used Photoshop’s basic Sharpen filter to bring out details. How much sharpening to use is a matter of taste, but a little sharpening can improve almost any digital photo. After adjusting levels and sharpening you can see that the gun is actually made out of metal rather than Play-Doh:

After Adjust Levels and Applying Sharpening

Here’s the original again for a side-by-side comparison:

Original Photo From S&W Web Site

Smith & Wesson doesn’t need to retake their photos. They just need to spend a few hours editing them. More thoughts on how to improve S&W’s Web site tomorrow, particularly in terms of page loading time.

UPDATE – Part 2 is now online: How S&W Could Improve Their New Web Site

. Part 2 addresses the need to drastically reduce download times, add social media, and tweak usability.

More photographers use right eye than left when taking pictures

That’s from an online survey by Digital Photography School. The results were 57% right eye and 37% right eye, with another 7% looking through the viewfinder with both eyes (I assume they meant sometimes one and sometimes the other, but see below).

I know from shooting a gun that I’m right eye dominant. I’m lucky in that I’m also right handed.

When your eye dominance and hand dominance are different you have cross eye dominance, which can create some problems when shooting. For instance, if you mount a rifle so that you can pull the trigger with your right hand you’ll have a hard time craning your neck over far enough to look through the sights with your left eye. If you put the rifle in the other hand you can look through the sights, but may have trouble working the bolt and other controls with your off hand, even if the rifle is set up for a left handed shooter.

Some cross dominance shooters get around that by learning to shoot with both eyes open. For pistol shooting the isosceles stance bypasses the problem by putting the gun in the centerline of the body. Other tricks here.

Here’s a simple test to determine if you are right or left eye dominant. Until I read Wikipedia I didn’t know what it was called.

The Porta test. The observer extends one arm, then with both eyes open aligns the thumb or index finger with a distant object. The observer then alternates closing the eyes or slowly draws the thumb/finger back to the head to determine which eye is viewing the object (i.e. the dominant eye)

Photographing inside gun barrels

Vote for David has the how.

Which 3 camera lenses?

If you’re to be stranded on a desert island, which three camera lenses would you want to have? Thom Hogan gives his answers and his readers’ answers.

It’s interesting to see the range of choices and how they reflect different photography styles. Some people are more interested in telephoto, some wide angle, and some macro. Some are content with mostly consumer grade 3.5-5.6 apertures, while some demand 2.8 or faster apertures. Some people like zooms and others want their primes. A few people are very keen on a quality lens in the 85mm to 105mm range for portraits.

Me, I’m still working up my kit. I’d definitely want my 70-300mm telephoto for wildlife and portraits. Beyond that my choices are a  lot less certain.

I take most of my pictures with the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my camera because that focal range is so useful. With good light it works fine, but in poor light the exposure times go long and with no anti-shake technology like VR or IS the pictures get dark and/or blurry. I’m looking for a replacement or supplement that offers more range or a faster aperture.

I have the new Nikon 35mm 1.8 AF-S on order to take care of low light and shallow depth of field applications. I’m curious to see how much of my photography I can do with a prime. I’m a bit skeptical.

I have no experience with macro or ultrawide angle. Macro appeals to my inner natureboy, but it sounds time-consuming, what with the tripods and the rails and the bellows and the flavin! I’m leaning towards buying a close-up filter for the 70-300mm and going semi-macro for now. I’ll take up real macro when I have more time, like when  my pre-school kids learn to feed themselves, cook for themselves, buy their own groceries, and drive themselves to the grocery store with the money they earned from the good jobs they got after graduating college. So that might be a while.

Wide angle looks interesting, but a little pricey on the zoom side. I’m knocking around the idea of renting a Nikon 10-24 or 12-24 for our next vacation to make sure I like it, but I reckon I will.

P.S. Added a “guns and cameras” tag. The desert island hypothetical reminds me of the gun board scenarios like “which three guns” and “what if you could only have one handgun and one long gun?” I especially liked Kim du Toit’s Crossing America scenario.

Guns and cameras, together again

Dr. Strangegun has an illustrated post on detail-stripping a 1911. The camera part is his light rig, which is amazingly practical. I think I have that same tripod (it’s a Sunpak, right?) and I have a basically similar clamp-on worklight I used in my pet scorpion’s aquarium. Looks danged handy.

P.S. Once upon a time I started a Guns and Cameras category, but it stalled out after a few posts and I nuked it. Now thanks to tags I can do something similar without committing to a new category. I’ve been having way too much fun playing with tags lately.

Oleg’s tilt-shift photography

When I met Oleg Volk at the Manchester Appleseed shoot I noticed something funny about the lens on his Canon camera. It had a big squared-off area close to the camera body. I asked him if it was a PC (perspective control) and he answered in the affirmative, then explained why he used it.

Perspective control is also called tilt-shift. It allows you to alter the angle of the lens elements inside the lens body. The best-known use for tilt-shift photography is architecture. Using a tilt-shift allows you to keep the architectural lines parallel, even when shooting tall buildings from the ground. (You can sort of fake correct perspective using Photoshop.)

Oleg explained that he used tilt-shift because he often photographs rifles and shotguns for product literature and for his right to keep and bear arms work. To get the entire longarm in focus he has two options. One is to photograph the gun perpendicularly from the side so that the gun is in the same focal plane from one end to another.

That works, but it provides a boring perspective that’s visually unappealing. By using the tilt-shift lens Oleg can photograph the gun from any angle yet keep every part of the gun in focus. That’s how he made yesterday’s photograph.

I Like Cameras. I Like Guns.

But cameras that look like guns just seem like a bad idea. This one’s pretty nicely done, though:


Looks to be about a 400mm. You’d definitely want the recoil pad when you fired that sucker.

UPDATE: At first I thought it would be hard to mount this on your shoulder, look through the viewfinder, adjust focus and focal length, and press the shutter release. I just noticed there’s a remote shutter release on the forward stock. So you use one hand to fiddle with the lens and the other hand to hold the stock and fire the shutter. Pretty clever.

Via Breda via Xavier Breath.