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How to make your products look great!!!

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November 11, 2013 by plickindia

When you sell your creations online, photos are vitally important to your success. Without a physical item to touch and look at, your customers rely on your pictures as their tactile experience. Nothing will turn away a customer faster than a blurry photo with inscrutable details. Fortunately, there are many solutions to this common frustration that can help you achieve a sharp, crisp, and alluring photo.

Taking great photos is a skill that you can learn!

We hope this article helps you on your photo-improvement journey! Make sure to go slowly while reworking your photos; try re-doing just a few per week. Take a lot of photos of an item as you learn. This helps you to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and it also gives you a lot of photos to choose from. You’ll find that you’ll get better and better as the days go by. Once you’re taking gorgeous photos, then go back and re-do the rest of the photos in your shop if necessary.

Hera are a few concepts and details that would make your photography

Know Your Camera

The first and the most important thing you can do to help your product photography is to read the camera manual. It might be boring, I know, but it’s worth it, as you need to know what your camera will and won’t do. There are lots of settings and terms, which can be confusing, but your manual will help with this. Visit the website of the manufacturer and also YouTube, as many manufacturers and photographers offer free online tutorials.

Colour

Problems with colour are almost always the result of an incorrect exposure or white balance setting.

  • Exposure

To fix over or under-exposure you need to experiment with the features that your camera offers. Step away from the “automatic” setting! If your camera allows, the features you will need to use to manually alter exposure levels are shutter speed, depth of field/aperture, and ISO — these are the three elements that make up exposure. If your camera doesn’t allow for manual setting adjustment, then you can still try the other automatic settings, such as landscape, macro, etc. Also look for a feature called “exposure compensation,” as this will allow you to tell the camera to expose more or less than it normally would.

As a general rule, I suggest placing your product in a well-lit area, such as under a window or outside, and aim to shoot it using only natural light. This means turning off the flash and other lights, which is the best way to achieve a photograph that shows the true colour of your product.

Flash is great for product lighting, but small flashes (those on most digital compact cameras) can cause harsh shadows. Use white cloth as backdrop to enhance the finer details of the products. I understand shooting with natural light alone is easier said than done, so more tips on lighting are coming right up…

  • White Balance

White balance is the balance between cool and warm light color temperature captured by your camera’s sensors. Color temperature describes the spectrum of light.

Not all digital cameras offer white balance customization, but most offer preset white balance settings that match commonly used light sources. Use your camera’s manual to locate the white balance function. The icon usually looks like a little lightbulb. Select it and you should see several presets from which to choose. You may also see an icon “AWB” which stands for auto white balance, which is the default setting.

 
If your camera has a custom white balance setting, take advantage of it! Select the “custom” option icon and place a white piece of paper or cloth in the scene. Aim the camera so that the entire frame is filled with the white object. Press the “set” or “enter” button on your camera. The camera reads the white object and uses the data from it to set a custom white balance for your composition. Now you can continue to photograph your items.

Aperture

Put most simply – Aperture is ‘the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken.’

When you hit the shutter release button of your camera a hole opens up that allows your cameras image sensor to catch a glimpse of the scene you’re wanting to capture. The aperture that you set impacts the size of that hole. The larger the hole the more light that gets in – the smaller the hole the less light.

Aperture is measured in ‘f-stops’. You’ll often see them referred to here at Digital Photography School as f/number – for example f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6,f/8,f/22 etc. Moving from one f-stop to the next doubles or halves the size of the amount of opening in your lens (and the amount of light getting through). Keep in mind that a change in shutter speed from one stop to the next doubles or halves the amount of light that gets in also – this means if you increase one and decrease the other you let the same amount of light in – very handy to keep in mind).

One thing that causes a lot of new photographers confusion is that large apertures (where lots of light gets through) are given f/stop smaller numbers and smaller apertures (where less light gets through) have larger f-stop numbers. So f/2.8 is in fact a much larger aperture than f/22. It seems the wrong way around when you first hear it but you’ll get the hang of it.

So how do you know what aperture to choose? You’ve got to answer, ‘how blurry do I want my background to be?’ and ‘what is my photo about?’

Aperture is more than controlling the amount of light entering the camera, as the quality of the resultant image varies with aperture. Image quality usually drops off approaching maximum aperture, and improves as the size of the aperture reduces. Then as the aperture reduces further, image quality deteriorates as smaller apertures suffer from the increased influence of diffraction around the edges of the aperture blades. So in most of the normal lights cases mid Aperture setting between f/4 to f/8 should suffice.

ISO

In traditional (film) photography ISO (or ASA) was the indication of how sensitive a film was to light. It was measured in numbers (you’ve probably seen them on films – 100, 200, 400, 800 etc). The lower the number the lower the sensitivity of the film and the finer the grain in the shots you’re taking.

In Digital Photography ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The same principles apply as in film photography – the lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds (for example an indoor sports event when you want to freeze the action in lower light) – however the cost is noisier shots.

100 ISO is generally accepted as ‘normal’ and will give you lovely crisp shots (little noise/grain). Most people tend to keep their digital cameras in ‘Auto Mode’ where the camera selects the appropriate ISO setting depending upon the conditions you’re shooting in (it will try to keep it as low as possible) but most cameras also give you the opportunity to select your own ISO also. 

When you do override your camera and choose a specific ISO you’ll notice that it impacts the aperture and shutter speed needed for a well exposed shot. For example – if you bumped your ISO up from 100 to 400 you’ll notice that you can shoot at higher shutter speeds and/or smaller apertures.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is ‘the amount of time that the shutter is open’.
In film photography it was the length of time that the film was exposed to the scene you’re photographing and similarly in digital photography shutter speed is the length of time that your image sensor ‘sees’ the scene you’re attempting to capture.

  • Shutter speed is measured in seconds – or in most cases fractions of seconds. The bigger the denominator the faster the speed (i.e. 1/1000 is much faster than 1/30).
  • In most cases you’ll probably be using shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second or faster. This is because anything slower than this is very difficult to use without getting camera shake. Camera shake is when your camera is moving while the shutter is open and results in blur in your photos.
  • If you’re using a slow shutter speed (anything slower than 1/60) you will need to either use a tripod or some some type of image stabilization (more and more cameras are coming with this built in).
  • Shutter speeds available to you on your camera will usually double (approximately) with each setting. As a result you’ll usually have the options for the following shutter speeds – 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 etc. This ‘doubling’ is handy to keep in mind as aperture settings also double the amount of light that is let in – as a result increasing shutter speed by one stop and decreasing aperture by one stop should give you similar exposure levels (but we’ll talk more about this in a future post).
  • Some cameras also give you the option for very slow shutter speeds that are not fractions of seconds but are measured in seconds (for example 1 second, 10 seconds, 30 seconds etc). These are used in very low light situations, when you’re going after special effects and/or when you’re trying to capture a lot of movement in a shot). Some cameras also give you the option to shoot in ‘B’ (or ‘Bulb’) mode. Bulb mode lets you keep the shutter open for as long as you hold it down.
  • When considering what shutter speed to use in an image you should always ask yourself whether anything in your scene is moving and how you’d like to capture that movement. If there is movement in your scene you have the choice of either freezing the movement (so it looks still) or letting the moving object intentionally blur (giving it a sense of movement).
  • Focal Length and Shutter Speed – another thing to consider when choosing shutter speed is the focal length of the lens you’re using. Longer focal lengths will accentuate the amount of camera shake you have and so you’ll need to choose a faster shutter speed (unless you have image stabilization in your lens or camera). The ‘rule’ of thumb to use with focal length in non image stabilized situations) is to choose a shutter speed with a denominator that is larger than the focal length of the lens. For example if you have a lens that is 50mm 1/60th is probably ok but if you have a 200mm lens you’ll probably want to shoot at around 1/250.
  • Remember that thinking about Shutter Speed in isolation from the other two elements of the Exposure Triangle (aperture and ISO) is not really a good idea. As you change shutter speed you’ll need to change one or both of the other elements to compensate for it.

To summarise:

Each setting controls exposure differently:

Aperture: controls the area over which light can enter your camera

Shutter speed: controls the duration of the exposure

ISO speed: controls the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to a given amount of light

For example if you speed up your shutter speed one stop (for example from 1/125th to 1/250th) you’re effectively letting half as much light into your camera. To compensate for this you’ll probably need to increase your aperture one stop (for example from f16 to f11). The other alternative would be to choose a faster ISO rating (you might want to move from ISO 100 to ISO 400 for example).

Hope this section helps you click excellent Photos of your items.

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