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Photography And 3D Applications

April 15, 2010

So why the photography posts on a site that’s supposed to be about 3D stuff? It’s because they’re so closely related, and they go hand in hand. Things I learn in 3D help my photography, and vice versa. And since I started using Daz Studio, the learning experience has become even better. I can bring in a figure model, test a scenic or an interior, experiment with model poses, and even simulate a studio shoot because I can place lights wherever I want. I can adjust the intensity, spread angle, and even the color of the lights.

Since I started using Daz Studio, it’s even become a valuable complement to my professional work. Recently I used Daz to comp a figure model into a local scenic as part of a presentation to a photographic client. He was sold on the shoot concept immediately. Because almost everything was laid out in detail and in advance for the art director, the shoot went very smoothly. We were even able to test out some changes in advance right within the 3D program. So, less time wasted on the shoot, and our live model knew exactly what needed to be done because of the pre-visualization we did.

For photographers who just need to do some basic setups or composites, all you would really need to get started is a copy of the free version of Daz Studio, male and/or female figure models, and maybe a few basic clothing sets. In Daz Studio you can then impost your model, fit a set of clothing, set up as many lights as needed, and you’re on your way. Want to try out a model in a scenic or interior setting? You can set your own background image, or put a desired image on a primitive plane for better control of the background.

For 3D artists who want to improve their ability to envision scenes and better use camera capabilities in 3D programs, I recommend a basic (cheap) DSLR with a good fast moderate zoom lens. Unless you are going to get really serious about shooting, the brand really doesn’t matter that much. Canon and Nikon are the leaders of course, but don’t discount the merits of the lower priced Olympus and Pentax models. Camera brands are a personal choice, so I won’t argue them here. I’ve been a Nikon shooter for over 20 years, but I may add a Canon to the lineup in the future because of one specialty macro lens I would love to use. Those who are constantly embroiled in the camera wars have way too much time on there hands IMO.

I recommend a DSLR because the lens data in the resulting images will more closely correspond to the way camera ports function in 3D programs like Carrara, Max, Strata 3D, and others. Having access to a DSLR, even if you have to borrow one, will help you better understand exactly what Depth of Field is, how it is affected by camera aperture and focal length, and what effect it has on the aesthetics of your image. You can then transfer what is learned to your 3D application of choice.

Point & shoots, while valuable for grabbing texture images and general scenes, will not help you out as much here. Because of the way point & shoots are physically engineered, there are differences in the way the record a scene onto the camera sensor. Generally with a P&S, you won’t be able to get that shallow depth of field look, aka that Blurred Background or Bokeh, simply because of the limitations of the point & shot camera engineering.

So am like the guy in the image here? For leisure shooting, not even close. On leisure days I like to travel as light as possible. For casual shooting, I’ll generally travel with Nikon D90 or the old trusty D200 and a fast 28-70 2.8 lens. When I’m very lazy, I’ll take a smaller Leica or even my old archaic 5MP Olympus C5050. These days the small Leica D Lux 4 is almost always with me. Great in low light, I can document things I see in a relaxed and unobtrusive manner.

Photographers can expand their creative horizons and even plan shoots by using a program such as Poser or the free Daz Studio. 3D artists can vastly improve their images plus expand their technical and creative abilities by incorporating a basic DSLR into the learning process.

One Comment
  1. Michael Brown permalink
    April 15, 2010 4:35 pm

    Very interesting idea, using a virtual model to set up a real shoot. I wonder if any of the many thousands of photograhers on the microstock sites know about this. If not, don’t tell them, they will be learning 3D and then before you know it competing with CG illustrators!

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