Old 09-18-2009, 06:21 AM #1
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Default any tips on photographing beam shots?

Does anyone have any advice on how to make a good beam shot without using smoke or fog?

A while ago, I made an indoor beam shot, which I think is pretty good: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ixfd64/...57618971913431

That night, I managed to make a good photo of the beam being aimed into the sky:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ixfd64/...57618971913431

(The double dot was probably made by moving clouds; the camera was set to use higher ISO sensitivities in darker settings, so the night exposures last longer.)

However, I tried to take a beam shot during early dusk, and the beam isn't as visible in the picture as it really was:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ixfd64/...57618971913431

The camera's ISO settings made the environment brighter than it really was, and lowering the ISO sensitivity makes really blurry pictures.

Is there anything I can do to make better beam shots, short of buying a really expensive camera? :P I'm using a Nikon Coolpix S550, by the way.


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Old 09-18-2009, 06:48 AM #2
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Default Re: any tips on photographing beam shots?

Nothing beats a tripod and a long exposure. It also helps to keep the laser behind or in front of the camera, it's much less visible from the side.

If your camera doesn't have a manual exposure setting, try "night mode", and if you don't have a tripod, set the camera down on a table or whatnot and try to press the shutter button as gently as possible. Even some of the cheapest digital cameras nowadays have night settings that can make a 5mW red visible.
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:40 AM #3
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Default Re: any tips on photographing beam shots?

Hmm, it seems I just have to take a picture at the right time. I tried taking another beam shot this evening, and it came out really well!

I've replaced the original photo, by the way.
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:59 AM #4
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Default Re: any tips on photographing beam shots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudolobster View Post
Nothing beats a tripod and a long exposure. It also helps to keep the laser behind or in front of the camera, it's much less visible from the side.

If your camera doesn't have a manual exposure setting, try "night mode", and if you don't have a tripod, set the camera down on a table or whatnot and try to press the shutter button as gently as possible. Even some of the cheapest digital cameras nowadays have night settings that can make a 5mW red visible.
Also using the timer function for your camera is good too, to avoid shaking the camera when you press the shutter button.
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Old 09-19-2009, 12:41 PM #5
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Default Re: any tips on photographing beam shots?

1) Tripod for sure
2) Timer function for sure
3) 100 Asa
4) f. 5.6 - 8
5) Time: 20 sec. exposure
6) A dim light in the room only, pointed toward the wall or ceiling, just to allow you to see where to point.

Try to come as near to these data as you can; maybe the "night landscaping" mode will help.
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Old 09-23-2009, 12:59 AM #6
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Default Re: any tips on photographing beam shots?

I agree with all of the above advice. I'd also suggest "bracketing" heavily, which is taking your first shot of the scene with the exposure that your camera's metering system recommends, and then, keeping everything else the same, take more shots using longer and shorter shutter speeds if you can over-ride the exposure settings (manual mode?). I usually take each "shot" at least 3 times if not more.


It's also useful if you can over-ride your camera's aperture, and try setting various combinations using different shutter speeds.

If you find you are limited in the above respects it may be time to move up to a DSLR or a more advanced digi-cam. Being able to control all aspects of exposure is very useful with a subject like lasers.

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Old 09-23-2009, 02:40 AM #7
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Default Re: any tips on photographing beam shots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudolobster View Post
Nothing beats a tripod and a long exposure. It also helps to keep the laser behind or in front of the camera, it's much less visible from the side.

If your camera doesn't have a manual exposure setting, try "night mode", and if you don't have a tripod, set the camera down on a table or whatnot and try to press the shutter button as gently as possible. Even some of the cheapest digital cameras nowadays have night settings that can make a 5mW red visible.
Exactly, a tripod plus a 1-2 second exposure in complete darkness is the best.



That one was taken with ISO 800 and a 1/25" exposure and f/5.6 The room was not dark, but all of the light was from outside. Then again, 2W makes it hard to not show up in the picture.
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Old 09-23-2009, 03:27 AM #8
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Default Re: any tips on photographing beam shots?

very helpful. I'm going to redo some of my pics now. THX!
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