Mar 2, 2013

Photography Questions

Thanks everyone for commenting on my last post.  I'm going to keep the give-away open until Monday because I'm loving reading all of your comments.  I'm surprised at how many of you mentioned compliments you received from strangers - that's just proof we don't need to know someone to make a difference in their lives.

I must admit some of your comments have made me tear up a bit - the things we are told can make or break us and I'm so glad we all have at least one example of positive words in our lives.  Good stuff!

So, here's another compliment/ question I get a lot.  I get emails about my photography.  Seems my readers want to know how to take photos for their own blogs and they have said nice things about the product photography I do.  Thank you for that!

I do a lot of photography, I married a photographer and together we have a little business doing portraits so I know enough to be dangerous.  However, I'm also really frugal.  I very rarely invest in the gadgets and gizmos that most in the photography trade do.  The camera doesn't take good photos, the person who uses the camera does.  So, with that said, I have to let you know that my photography for my blog is done so simply, I'm almost embarrassed to show you what I do. I have a camera but everything I use to set up the shots are just things I have around my house.  I don't use light boxes or photo rooms, purchased backdrops or any of those things that you can buy pre-packaged for a shoot.  I don't need them nor do I need to spend the money involved in getting them.

So, now that you know my thoughts on the matter, I'll show you what I do. It's really not pretty but it works.  Here's a some shots I did yesterday at the same time that I did my picture of the smile pendant for my post last night.

It's nice.  It's centered. It's well lit.  You can see the details.  The horizon line is NOT in the middle of the photo (more on that later).  So, you want to see what it really looks like when the camera isn't centered on the product?  Well, here you go...  

Yep!  I stack things on my kitchen chairs and do what looks like fort-building in my living room.

I use blankets as my back drops a lot.  Love the color of this blanket, although because I place it so far behind the subject, you can't really tell that it is blue.  When you drape a blanket, just make sure the part that shows in the photo is flat - no seams, no wrinkles.  You don't want those things to distract from your subject.  And, I usually use solid colors, not patterns.  You don't want your pattern to compete with your subject.  So, what did I use to set up this fancy background?  Well, underneath one side is a guitar and the other side is another chair.  See, told you I'm frugal - maybe cheap is the more honest word!

I always shoot in the afternoon.  Where I live, I get better light when the sun is heading to the west.  Watch your light.  If you are going to do photography in your home pay attention to when the light in your home and the way it looks at different times of the day.  If I shoot in the morning the light is bluer and a little cold.  Afternoon light is warmer. 

The photo above also shows my resourcefulness, ya, that's what we'll call it.  On the chair you see a little white box with pins in it and a binder clip.  I use those items, and others I find around the house, to prop things up.  Case in point?  See the photo below.

(these are new and are on Etsy now)

The pin box was on the left, the binder clip on the right - you can't see them but they did just what I needed them to do.  My product is standing up and ready for a picture.

I mentioned before about light.  I always move my items toward the window but not too close.  The sheers on my window act as an automatic light softener so the harsh western light is filtered as it hits my subject.  And, be careful, if you are using natural light, don't block it while you are taking the photo.  If I had stood in front of the window to take the photo, I would have blocked all the light I was trying to get on my subject.  Instead, I stood to the side and angled my subject slightly so I basically made a triangle between me, the window and my subject.  

The rest of the stuff in the photo above is all optional - the guinea pig cage is not needed to make a great photo.  And, no guinea pigs were harmed during the making of this post.  :)

So, what about composition?

I always use two basic rules.  There are more but for simplicity these two are the ones I do regularly

1 - Get in close.  You want to make sure that your subject is centered and that it fills the frame as much as possible.

2 - Watch your horizon line.  You'll get a better a photo is you place your horizon line either above or below the center of your photo.  When I say horizon line, I don't actually mean the place where the sky meets the earth.  I just mean the visual spot in a photo where the main objects meet the back ground.  In the photo below, it's the top of the rock.  See how the top of the rock is positioned more towards the top of the photo.  If I had placed that "line" in the center of the photo, it would not have been as pleasing because the subject matter, the bracelet, would have to compete for attention because the background space would be equal to the foreground space.

Here's another example with the horizon line towards the bottom of the photo

Hmmm, I think I want some cookies now.  See how the blue line (which happens to be my ironing board) is below the center line of the photo?  

A rule of decorating is to use what is called the "golden mien"  basically, you are dividing up your space into thirds.  Photography is no different.  When composing a good photo divide it into thirds and make sure your horizon line is either in the top third or bottom third - avoid the middle.

Another thing I do, is I mess around with my backgrounds.  Yes, I use blankets a lot, but remember these?

Yep, I use them as back grounds, here's one in action....

I also use things from outside, I use rocks a lot...

This photo was taken on my front porch railing.  I just found a rock, laid out my subject matter and went with it.  The background is actually snow on the sidewalk.   I do a ton of photos on my red couch too. 

Yep, there's my couch.  I let the cushions act as my horizon line, can you see it?

Just play around with different things, it's kind of fun to see what you can come up with. 

So, like I said earlier, I'm not fancy.  Almost all my photos are created just using natural light and a little creative placement of things I find around the house.  If I can do it, so can you - go get your camera and play around with it.  



Inco said...

Hi dearest :-) I think this post is so interesting. I like it! Nice photos, too.
Lot of hugs,

Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations said...

thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. I will keep the horizon line in mind now when I take photos... let's see if my next learning log my photos turn out better. :) thanks again.

dina said...

hello, thanks thanks :)
I'm a zero with photos, I think the difficulty it's the light, but one day I'll do it perfect :)

Bucharoo said...

Wow! I think I might be able to follow these tips. Thanks for the easy to follow lesson in taking pictures.