Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Taking Pictures

Soon after setting up my shop on Etsy.com it became apparent that one of the biggest challenges would be taking good pictures of the products I hoped to sell. I've mentioned before in my blog that I've been a photographer for quite a while, but small-product or table-top photography was never my specialty.

The key to any good photograph is the lighting, though, and I've had a lot of practice being aware of what the light is doing before I ever push that shutter button. So I thought I'd show you what I've been doing to get pictures like these:





I've seen where others have posted instructions for making your own light box or tent for small product photography and I've tried doing that, but my set up is simpler. I live in a very small house and I'm operating on a very small budget, so I needed something cheap that I could set up and take down quickly and store in a very small space. Here's what I came up with:



I use the light coming in through the sliding glass doors to my deck (which means I have certain times of the day that work best for this). I bought a couple of pieces of foamboard and scored one down the middle with an exacto knife, then folded it in half. One serves as the surface I place my object on as well as bouncing some light from the top of the frame. Another piece of foamboard, trimmed and scored and standing on end serves as a reflector when place opposite the light source, filling in shadows on the left side of the object. I can easily reposition the reflector as needed depending on the light coming from outside and the size of my subject. When I'm done, I can fold these pieces of foamboard flat and store them easily, even in my small house.

Here's another reflector I use that bounces a little more light. I recycled an old cannister of Instant Breakfast that has a silvered interior, cut the rims off , then cut it in half. When I set that opposite the light source I get more light wrapping around a small object like this:



Here's another view of the same thing:



I cropped this photo to take out the reflector on the left of the frame and used it for this listing in my Etsy shop:

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=6587120
(Edited to add: Since the link to this blog is still being shared from time to time, I'll try to keep this link updated to always show something currently listed in my shop.)


It's all about being aware of the light. It might help to set your camera to use the spot meter, if it has that capability (if you don't know what that means, leave me a comment and I'll explain further). You can also cover your foamboard reflector with aluminum foil if you need more light. If you try these tips, leave me a comment and let me know how it worked for you.

22 comments:

  1. nice, thanks! I have been trying to figure out how to get that pure white background that you have. I think I will try this...

    foamcore... you never know what will be of use!

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  2. Thanks for the tutorial! The final images look great!

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  3. That works well! I've been thinking of using a clear plastic tote and draping some sheer white fabric over it to diffuse sunlight or bright incandescent light. I haven't done it yet, but may, the next time I'm shooting smaller work.

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  4. Thanks! I have some new items to take pictures of before I post them in my Etsy shop. I will definetly use your directions!

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  5. I tried your way and it worked well. Although I definitely need more practice, but I sure know how to improve the pictures!
    Thank you!

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  6. Thank you! I tried your method and it worked far better than my original ones. Great tips!

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  7. Thanks for the information- I need to have a decent light source for my glass pieces since stained glass is notoriously hard to photograph well.

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  8. Thanks for the advise about this light box. I will give it a try. I printed your instructions and will study them..

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  9. Thanks for the nice comment on my blog about "Help Starting a website". I know how hard it is when you don't know ANYTHING about this stuff...
    I'd also like to thank you for posting this, very helpful & I need help! This is my problem...good pics at etsy. I'm getting a *little* better than when I first started on etsy but I have a ways to go.

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  10. those are great shots.

    paper goodies + prints
    http://byleedesign.etsy.com

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  11. ThreeFrenchHens12/01/2007 11:51 PM

    great tutorial! and your images look fantastic! I tried your suggestions today & I'm very pleased. The items were some of my smaller things, so much easier to maneuver ... I still have a dickens of a time with my quilts & large pieces. The close ups aren't a problem but geeeeeez, trying to get a nice full-size image is just about impossible :(

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  12. You are getting great photos. I tried a light box and wasn't happy with the results. I do have the challenge of photographing larger items (bags and purses).

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  13. Hi! I was wondering if I could post a link to this on my new blog "How Do You Do..." that links to a bunch of different tutorials.
    You can contact me on Etsy to let me know: http://babylyons.etsy.com
    Thanks!

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  14. Sounds great--I can't wait to try this out with the new pendants I am selling! Thanks

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  15. Thanks so much for the great tutorial!! I was going to build a light box but I think I'll try your method first!!

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  16. Thank you for this! I was about to set up a whole lot of my dad's old studio lights, but I never thought of using simple foamcore to reflect the natural light I already have!!! :)

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  17. love the idea of using two foamboard pieces. I like to use a piece of stone with the jewelry I'm photographing. This is all pretty new to me - just using a ditigal Kodak camera. I have great afternoon light that comes in the windows. Thanks for the simple solution. {:-Deb

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  18. Thanks - I am alsways trying to take decent pictures - and am still waiting :) Like you, I have a small house, but nearly zero decent light through windows. I'll have to try your method...if I can find foamboard big enough for a 24" x 16" tote bag :)

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  19. okay so how come i am just seeing this DUH definetly a blonde moment donna LOL thank you so much for all that you do and for all of your help your a rock star!
    huge hugs
    ALicia

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  20. thanks for this tips

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  21. I found your page through Pinterest: at last, someone (you) thought of a simple way to make a light box. Thanks for sharing; I'll use this tip very soon! :)

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