Learning how to take decent photographs.
I have not done any crafting for 5 days now (as I write this at least a week ago now!) and my fingers are itching. To be honest I am getting very jumpy. However, I am busy on something else. It is to do with crafting but not creative (yet). I am more than aware that my photographs vary greatly. Some are ok and others have much to be desired. I do not mention the bad ones as I believe it is obvious but I do intend to improve!
I knew enough to know about light boxes and so created this little ‘studio’ in my house:
As you can see it is simply a chair covered with a white cot sheet placed in front of the patio doors. It worked ok for some photos but I still need a lot more practice. For Christmas I asked for and got this book:
It comes highly recommended from other crafters and I can certainly see why. Here begins my learning journey:
Step 1: Try to read the first few chapters mindfully. (My instinct being to skim it as fast as possible to move onto the next thing.)
Step 2: Umm (I am a bit embarrassed about this) read the manual to the camera. Not the most interesting material ever but thanks to the book some of it actually made sense to me and I even made some notes!! (Yep I read almost all of the 160 pages!!)
Step 3: Familiarise yourself with how the settings and functions are accessed on the actual camera. What does each button do?
Step 4: Do a bit of research. I spent a whole evening having a look at photographs of jewellery on etsy, Ravelry and Craftsy to see the kind of style I like. The book talks about the story you are telling by the photographs. Will you dress it up with props? What about the background colour?
This all needs to be considered apparently. Having spent some time looking at examples I think that I prefer simple, clutter free photographs on a pretty white cloth as a back drop. I also like close up views.
Step 5: After returning to the book again for a quick refresh (I really do not find all the technical terms that easy to retain!) I then had a play – I took loads of photographs with different settings so that I can compare them to find the optimum setting for my purpose.
I took 116 photographs in total! No wonder I got a bit tired! In case you are wondering, I did write down the settings I used on each one so that I will be able to replicate it again. (How organised am I?)
Step 6 :Look at all the photographs, deleting the ones that REALLY do not work (and there are some of those I can assure you.) So what am I looking for? Basically the photographs that show the best clarity and the best colour match.
As I liked the photographs taken on a pretty white cloth this is what I did the majority of the photographs on. At the end I tried a few different backgrounds. For each variable I took a photograph of three contrasting items I had made (the same three each time.)
(The above photographs are the ones taken before this process started!) I thought that these three items are a good representation across the styles I produce.
The worst are the ones I did under manual setting:
Apparently I got the ISO level wrong in these – lesson learnt: keep to the automatic setting for this
To be honest the amount of the other photographs were quite overwhelming with only small differences between them. The other thing that I did find easy was the surface to use. I did not like the white cloth that I used as it is far too fussy:
The plain white background was good for this:
The one sure decision that I have regarding the photographs that I took was that for the front photo of each item the grey tile is the background I shall be using as it shows the stitching detail off really well.
Do you agree? What experiences have you had with photographing your work? What works for you?