Tag Archives: Photography

Learning How To Take Decent Photographs (Part 2)

English: A photo of a Voigtlander Vito II came...

Since my first post on this subject I have been busy experimenting with the different settings on the camera. I am more confident using it although I still have a very long way to go. The one tip that I have picked up on from the comments on my last post is where to take  photographs at this time of year when the light is so poor. (I am really sorry but I cannot find the comment and so am unable to give the person who suggested this full credit  – if it was you then do please let me know so I can amend this please.)

Bath tub in bathroom next to fire place

No, this is not my bathroom.

Do you get the idea? When I read this I had one of those light bulb moments. My bathroom is tiled in light tiles, my bath is white and I have a velux window letting in a lot of un-obscured light. Perfect, except it has prompted some rather interesting questions from my family (me, fully dressed, crouched in the bath taking photos? yup hee, hee ). it does seem to give better all round light.

This is one example.

This is one example.

Tunisian Wire BraceletSo what next? (apart from a lot more practice) The next thing in the book is editing. Now I have had a little experience with Photoshop. It involved a lot of very long hours, lots of hunting for help on You-tube and a more frustration (just to add to all this my version is VERY old and doesn’t seem to do quite what it should!). I was going to look into this a bit more so I could share some of the wisdom I had learnt with you. BUT I visited Handmade Harbour.

In celebration of the 100th Handmade Monday Wendy is having 5 days of giveaways. Today’s giveaway is photo editing software from Magix.  Wendy gives it positive reviews which sounds encouraging. Now I am not saying that I will win it but it I have entered and may just put off struggling with Photoshop until I find out that I haven’t won. I will then make the decision as to buy that one or …? Whilst on the subject entry to the giveaway is really easy. Details can be found here. I do encourage you to have a look – and whilst there have a look at the other giveaways she has had – up until now there has been a book for creatives wanting to sell their craft and money to spend on resources for craft. Two more on their way.

So until I know I shall hold off the editing part and continue on the practice. 🙂 Do you edit your photos? What program do you use?

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:

My Light sheet!!!

My Light sheet!!!

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?

Simonida necklace

On a bust to show the scale?

English: handmade beaded necklace http://www.e...

On a simple background?

The SpringTime Walk
With a prop?

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.)

A wire choker

A wire choker

A chunky beaded cuff

A chunky beaded cuff

A delicate beaded and wire necklace.

A delicate beaded and wire necklace.

(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:

Would you believe this is one of the better ones of my bad ones?

Would you believe this is one of the better ones of my bad ones? Some were just black!!

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:

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

The plain white background was good for this:

Christmas 2012 and expt 152But not so great for this:

Christmas 2012 and expt 154Especially when compared to this:

Christmas 2012 and expt 148The 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?