Taking photos - Tutorial

Recently its come to my attention that I might actually take good pictures of my items...I still think they are crap, but I guess thats the perfectionist in me. SO I decided that it was time to write my own little tutorial.

The basics -

First you need a camera. You dont need to go all fancy dancy, and it really doesnt matter what camera you get
so long as you have the following features.

1 - Macro (this is the MOST important all others are just nice to have)

Your camera needs to have a macro setting, this usually is the setting with the flower. The macro setting is for taking detailed upclose pictures. I have a pretty darn awesome came
ra with 12 MP and more gadgets and bells and whistles than I know what to do with. I am learning, bit i still use my point and click macro setting for ALL my pictures! This is a MUST!!

2 - You need white balance.
Now this is going to be trickier as it is in a different place on every camera, usually its in a menu of some kind. BUT You need to set your white balance to the type of light you are using. We will get into light sources in a minute. T
he option for white balance are:
  • Day light
  • Fluorescent
  • Incandescent
In some of the higher end models you will see

  • Cloudy
  • Flash
So if you are taking photos in the sun, you use daylight, If you are using a fluorescent lamp, you use the fluorescent setting, If you are using regular yellow light bulbs you use incandescent.

3- You need Flash compensation, this function is to allow your camera to use up more available light, or less depending upon your need. Again we will go into that later.

Thats it folks, and most of your point and shoots will have these features. I do suggest 8MP or higher for your camera.

OK NEXT step is light source. Its hard to get great pics with out a uniform backround and a excellent light source.

Option one:


This is available to use every single day AND its free! I like to sit on my porch when there is a shade covering most of it. Early morning, or evening hours are the best. natural light also gives your items the truest colors.

What you need for indirect sunlight photos.

A small tripod (i got mine and kmart for 20 bucks)
Props if you wish
a ruler for size comparison

Set your item on a flat surface, and set your camera down on the same surface. Using the macro setting, and changing your White balance to Daylight, let your camera focus on the item first. Most cameras you can hold down the button half way and you will get a green bar that says its focused. Once you get that take the shot!

NOW take a look at the shot in your veiw finder, keeping in mind that this little screen will NOT show you the same results as your computer screen. Does it seem dark? If you think the shot is dark adjust the flash compensation to allow more light into the shutters. Start with just one or two. Too much light will make your photo look grainy, and washed out.

If your not sure upload the photo first and then decide if it needs adjusting. 9 times out of 10 it wont!

Second light source is a light box.

Now some of you are thinking, "Holy cow, thats expensive, how do you do that!" and many other curses may be escaping your lips, but rest assure there are cheap easy ways to make a light box, or a simple inexpensive folding box will do.

You can use fabric and a card board box to make a perfectly fuctional light box. My first one was and it took shots like this:

Now, with a light box you need lights. Some of the fold up kind come with lights, but they are dim, and give off a yellow hue. STAY AWAY FROM THE YELLOW LIGHTS PEOPLE! I only use WHITE light ever.
SO how do I get this white light you ask?

SIMPLE i go to and old department store (k mart, target, shopko, walmart) and buy the ten dollar desk lamps that fold, you know the pixar lamp! I have two of those. THEN its off to the hardware store and i get a big old shop lamp. Its a metal dish that clamps on to a wall. (pics are coming)
The shiny metal surface provides a reflective light source that really b
rightens up the space!!!

The light bulbs are also essential. You need to buy fluorescent DAYLIGHT bulbs. They are great because they take so little energy to use!

Shoot the same way you would in natural light. Only you will be using your Flash compensation much more here. Make sure the walls of your box are saturated in light. Look for tutorials online about building a box. Its really easy! AND if you need help just email me! I love to help my fellow artist!

Anblathpaipeir [at] comcast dot net

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