Thursday, November 11, 2010

Take Good Pictures

I while back on my Teka and Zoe Blog I posted several articles on my trials and tribulations on Photography (see full set of articles here: ). Although the articles speaks mostly of my Jewelry, which has been more challenging than my dolls, the information is good all around. It has taken me a long time to get to were I feel that I take reasonably good pictures of my goods. In the past articles I never got to actually showing you what my set up looks like (see above). It is a EZ CUBE Table Top Studio. It isn't pretty as it is set up in the back garage. I have also learned since this picture was taken- Don't have natural light streaming in if you have bulb lighting. I actually use Trumpet Daylight bulbs now(to the right). I use these bulbs as they remain cool. I used to used regular photography bulbs but after being turned on for any hour they got HOT! Burn you hot! To mix the color of natural light with daylight bulbs it sometimes gave me a pink cast. I fought it for a long time. YUCK! So I now close the blind and just use the bulbs and even have the same type of bulb in each light. My camera goes on a tripod in front of the tent. I have also added an additional light on top of the tent as sometimes at night it is too dark. Having 3 kids and working at home I do not have the luxury of taking pictures outside in perfect nature light. I have also learned the hard way that if you adjust your exposure on your camera it is sometimes better to go a bit darker than overexposed which is harder to correct in editing. Also, harsher light can mess with the color even when you use white balance. When you look in the picture above showing my setup you will see the piece of travertine tile I bought to shoot on. If I only knew...It has an annoying pink sometimes yellow undertone. Look for this kind of thing in your backdrop. I purchased a tan velvet paper once that had a weird red undertone when photographed. Not good. I wish I had gone grayer in tone in my stone. But I did find a gray rock that I can use as a prop that helps balance the color. I spend more time editing to get rid of the pink then I should have to. But it has helped to cut out the natural light. Here are 2 pictures right out of my camera unedited. One on the more yellow rock that sometimes give pink undertones and the same earrings on the gray rock. They were taken during the same photo session, same light.
But the best part of my photography is that I finally took the plunge and bought a nice camera that I LOVE. I got a Canon Rebel XT. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I use the white balance on my camera but sometimes I just put it on the dummy settings and get good shots without messing with it. I pretty much always take numerous pics of the same earrings in the same setting but adjust the white balance and exposure 2 or 3 times. Then I know I got the shot. Plus I may jiggle even with the tripod. Or if I use auto focus it may focus on the rock not the piece. I learned in my last session no matter how much you focus your camera you will never get the shot in focus if you do not have your glasses on. HA! I have a hard drive that is full of 3/4 bad shots 1/8 good shots and 1/8 am happy with shots after editing. Below are some some shots of dolls. The first one is an old doll picture before the EZCube..notice in the picture the harsh shadows? The second picture is one in taken in the table top studio. Much better I think.


DollZandThingZ said...

What a difference in the photos! Thank you for all the info!

michellemahler said...

The good thing is that the EZCube is reasonably priced.

Carol Kubrican said...

These are great tips. One thing that has helped me with taking better pics is to be mindful of my depth of field. I don't have a macro lens, so I've learned that if I keep an aperture of f8 or above, the depth of field is larger and more things are in focus. This is common knowledge to most people who know photography, but it was part of the learning curve for me!

michellemahler said...

I agree. Believe it or not I have taken Photography classes and my mind still goes blank with the aperture stuff. But I do understand depth of field. Sometimes I want the background to be more blurry so I mess with it. But then you do have to be careful of what you are focusing on as parts of the item with be out of focus. If you sell on Etsy they like those weird partially out of focus pics. Artsy I guess.

Janine Crocker said...

I've finally asked Father Christmas to put a photocube in my stocking ;) - all they all more or less the same or do they come in different qualities? (I was only going to get a cheap one from Ebay)

michellemahler said...

Hi Janine
My friend bought a cheaper one and I borrow it before I bought my EZCube. I found that because the fabric was thinner I got shadows still. Just my observation.