Tutorial: Better Photos
Happy New Year, everyone and welcome to the first tutorial of 2013!
Quite some time ago I found myself laughing while reading an article about how to take better photos of objects for your blog. I found something of myself in nearly every “wrong” photo and it made me both want to die of embarrassment AND learn how to do a better job! I’m no photographer for sure. Not going to lie, I still don’t know what all of the fancy buttons and settings on my digital camera are for. Snapping pictures with my phone and uploading them just didn’t yield the quality that I wanted. I’ve often been confused about whether or not I should use a flash or natural light? How do I “pose” my cards in a good angle that doesn’t look like I just threw them on the table and took a picture? Now go ahead and laugh at my experiences… in the past I thought that the answer was to set up my cards meticulously with pretty matching background props or locations!
See what I mean? All of these card photos gone wrong could have been avoided, if I had just learned from Paula these very easy steps. Today’s tutorial will teach you everything you need to know about taking simple, professional appearing photos of your cards for use in your blog posts. Just take a look at Paula’s Blog to see what I mean. Her photos are wonderful! I’ll copy most of the tutorial here, but please do stop by her original post for some more fantastic tips. The tutorial by Paula is as follows:
Better Photos Made Easy
If you’ve created a beautiful card and want to share it online, but you are finding it difficult to take a good photo, you’re not alone, but it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive you just need to know a few basics. In this tutorial I’ll outline the steps for creating a simple light box and set up so that you can photograph your cards any time day or night. If you are trying to come up with a simple formula that will get you good results every time, this will work.
BUILD AN INEXPENSIVE LIGHT BOX
You will need:
— Ruler (steel is ideal)
— Basic Utility Knife
— Desk Lamp & Light Bulb
— Straight Pins and/or White Glue
Using this simple light box will result in better photos by creating optimal lighting and eliminating anything in the background that might distract from your beautiful card.
(Do trees count, Paula?)
Do you need a very fancy expensive camera to take your photos? No, you don’t. You will be able to take good photos with just about any camera on the market today. The key is getting to know a few basic things about your camera.
Resolution: Most cameras have a choice of several settings such as Good, Better, Best (on mine it’s done in stars, 1, 2 and 3 stars) that represent the resolution of your photo. For posting on the web, where a 72 dpi resolution is the standard, a ‘good’ setting will likely suffice.
Zoom: You will probably have a zoom option — if you position your camera carefully you probably won’t need to use it.
Flash: There is a way to turn the flash on and off — you’ll want to set it to OFF when using a light box so you’ll avoid those bright, hot spots in your photos.
Focus: Most cameras have an auto-focus feature that you just need to figure out (mine has guides in the view finder and will ding when it’s focused) — no matter how beautifully lit your shot is, if it’s blurry it won’t be good.
PHOTO SHOOT SET-UP
For the photo shoot set up I have placed my light box on a small folding table and clipped my desk lamp directly above it on shelf. I set up in a room with normal lighting, in this case one table lamp on a side table, but the room is definitely not brightly lit outside of my box and my desk lamp.
You will also notice in this image I have lighlty taped a piece of white tissue paper over the ‘open’ top of my box to diffuse the light. (There are more photos in the original post showing the difference between photos taken with and without the tissue paper.) You’ll want to experiment a bit, but if you find you are having an issue with strong shadows, diffusing the lighting in this manner should correct it. Be very careful not to have your light bulb close to, or touching the tissue for safety reasons.
WHITE VS. COLORED BACKGROUNDS
You might be tempted to use a colored background in your photos but keep in mind that when you use use a white box the light from your bulb reflects off of it and creates additional brightness. The photo of this card above is taken in the white box and the result is photo with fairly accurate color.
Here it is with a colored background and base. As you can see the yellow and orange are reflecting onto the card and my white card stock no longer looks very white. Also notice the lighting is not nearly as even. This image can be adjusted in photo editing software but you’ll need time and significant skills to get back those whites and restore the true colors in the photo so it looks like the actual card.
CHOOSING A LIGHTBULB
The lamp you see in my set up is a basic $10 clip style desk lamp I bought at WalMart. As far as light bulbs are concerned I have used both OTT Light Bulbs and Sylvania Daylight bulbs with equally good results.
Can’t wait for those cropping and watermarking tutorials! Thank you for joining us this week for this lesson. Please leave some love for Paula for sharing these great tips with us. Now go make more cards and try taking photos of them using these tips but please, no climbing trees. See you next week!