Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Photo Critique

What do you think of this picture?  Still out of focus?  I came home from work and tried a few more pictures before the sun went down.  My commenters were kind enough to give me some tips.  I have a few more ideas to improve my set-up such as buying colored foam board for the background.  I tried a table cloth but it was too light and washed out the products.  You can see the photos on the table cloth on my store site  If I still don't get the desired quality, I will see if I can hire a friend to take the photos for me.  She just got a fancy camera as a graduation gift.  It would be much more convenient if I could take photos myself though.    

This photo was taken on a blue dinner plate.  I suppose I need something with a matte finish so that there is no reflection.  It is an improvement because the pot stands out.  Since it is small and light colored wood, it wanted to blend in to the background on previous attempts.  If you have time, go visit my store at Fairy and Fern and then come back and tell me what you think of the product photos.  I'll try to take your criticism like a big girl.


Lizzie@her MFW Homeworld said...

I know nothing about photography but non shiny contrasting background seems like the best bet. Plate is fine except for the shininess

Lev said...

I second an earlier suggestion:

Some random thoughts. The reason for bad photos is mainly incorrect use of a camera and bad light, not camera limitations, or insufficient photoshop skills.
For small items try macro mode and get close. This will also blur the background. What camera do you have?

Use a tripod and delayed shutter release so the camera takes the photo when you are not touching it.

Lighting - you need bright light so the camera doesn't raise ISO which causes noise. Use a large window but avoid direct sun. On the opposite side of the product put a large piece of white poster board to reflect the light onto the side not lit by the main light source. If you are using a lamp use something to diffuse the light (this increases light source size which creates soft shadows).

saro said...

Lev has great suggestions. I think different colored fabrics are a good idea, rather than boards. Your photos don't look too bad but I agree that you need close-ups. Also in the background of one or your shots, you can see the line of the fabric (like it's a sheet or something?). Try to keep that sort of thing out of the way as it just distracts from your product.

Daizy said...

Lizzie, I was so happy to find a background color that worked, at first I didn't notice the reflection and then I saw it. Oh well, I'll try again.

Daizy said...

Levi, I have a little HP M425. Even on macro it likes to focus on the background. It doesn't seem to focus when I get closer than 3 ft. Thanks for the tip about the delay function. I haven't tried that and even with a tripod I get the 'movement' icon when I push the button. I try to push the button fast so that the camera doesn't have time to put that icon on the screen. For some reason, it seems to help. I had terrible results with lamps so I am using a table next to a big window. I will try putting the poster board on the opposite side. That sounds like a good idea.

Daizy said...

saro, I had a terrible time trying to keep wrinkles out of my photos. Then I was trying to get rid of the wrinkles with photoshop and it looked much worse because I don't know how to work photoshop. I think I will try fabric again but near the window instead of in the light box I was trying to create.

Lev said...

Hi Daizy,
are you sure you are using the macro mode? Your camera's manual says it should focus on a subject between 3.9 and 31.5" away when in macro mode. Do you select the 'flower' icon to switch to macro?

It's good that you are using a tripod. The Self-Timer mode should further help to avoid camera movement. The shake icon comes up when the camera thinks that the light is too low and the photo will come out blurry with current settings. But if it's on a tripod you can disregard it - the tripod won't move. In any case, pushing the shutter release button quickly will not make the icon go away and may even move the camera unless you have a Pro grade heavy tripod. I _never_ press it quickly.

It's very easy to make a seamless background when shooting small items. Here's one page showing how to do it:

Good luck!

Daizy said...

Yep, flower icon, and still it wants to focus on things farther away. Well, I'm going to use those tips in the link you sent although the photo editing tips were way beyond me at this point. I'm going to try attaching my cloth to the wall and draping it down to the table. I haven't tried that yet in front of the window. I only tried it with lights and the green cloth turned a funky aqua, not the foresty color I was going for. I did try curving a large sheet of white paper but white is not a good background for my light colored products. Hopefully, I will have time to experiment this weekend. Thanks for all your help!

Lev said...

If the camera can't focus correctly in macro mode maybe it's time to get another camera. There are a ton of them available on craigslist for under $100. I just sold my Canon sx110 for $65.
The paper for background does not have to be white. Craft stores sell different colors.

Daizy said...

Hi Lev, I think my camera has trouble when the light is too low. Especially when I am trying to take a picture of something light colored and 1/2 inch tall. More light and a contrasting background should help. If not, then I will be on the lookout for a good used camera.