Monday, July 22, 2013

A Quick Peek at my Photo Setup (plus tips!)

You asked, I'm delievering!

This is how I take my card photos currently (phone and lens cap included!).

card shown will be posted tomorrow

No lightbox. Just natural light.

My backdrop is posterboard over a foamboard frame (I've used the frame for two years now). Though, I've also used a piece of paper and a plant, or my lawn as the backdrop.  And prior to adding the posterboard cover, I used my foam frame  with a sheet of photo paper on the base, and patterned scrapbook paper as the back.

While I know I don't take the best photos out there, some tips I can offer:

  • I noticed the biggest difference in my photos when I stopped taking the photo on my desk with the dark and yellowish lighting.  If you can't go outside, make friends with a window in your house.  You want lots of INDIRECT natural light.  If the sun is shining right on your card, the colors will be washed out.  So set up in the shade, or wait until the sun is up high enough that it's not shining straight onto your card.  
  • If you have a photo editor, or use a free online editor, learn where to adjust the white balance.  Even though I'm able to adjust this in my camera, sometimes I'm in a hurry and don't change settings before I snap a photo.  You want your colors to be as close to how they are in person as possible.  Most editing programs have this feature in with the "color" settings.  Look for "White balance" or "remove color cast".  You will get an eyedrop tool, and you simply click on a portion of your photo that is white or black.  This will adjust the tones of the color and remove any color cast.  
  • Also, learn to adjust the exposure of the photo in your software.  You can brighten a darker photo, or bring back one that is slightly overexposed.  Don't use exposure compensation to drastically change your photos though.  A small tweak is okay, large changes make your photo grainy and fuzzy.  
  • Check your physical card against the image on your screen.  I generally don't adjust hue/saturation at all in my photos, but you may have to add a bit more saturation if your photo is a bit washed out compared to your actual card.  
  • Finally, (or firstly - depending on the order you edit in) crop out any distracting background.  Keep the focus on the card where it should be!

Remember, monitors vary, so it is likely that NO ONE will see your photo EXACTLY as you see it.  They may have a brighter monitor, or one with a bit of a green cast to it.  So, I always, ALWAYS, make sure to white balance and put the exposure in a range that the image won't be totally washed out in a brighter monitor.

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