Friday, August 6, 2010

Photography Tutorial

Although I am far from being a professional photographer, I've learned a few things over the years.  I've read a LOT of books... yada yada yada... I just wanted to share an easy method for taking great product photos for eBay, Etsy, or any number of other online shops out there. 

You definitely don't need to shell out a lot of money to create wonderful product photos, and you don't need a professional studio to do it, either.  All you need is a simple item called a light tent (or sometimes light box), and a lamp or two.  Oh, and a camera, of course.

Do you know how your product photos look better when you photograph them outside on a cloudy day?  In essence, the light tent acts as the "clouds" and and sufficiently diffuses the light source, giving you the same effect.  A simple white background is a favorite of mine, but you can add special touches like a textured fabric as background, or pieces of wood to drape your products on.  This would be particularly interesting for photos of jewelry items.

So you can get a better idea of what I mean, here was my setup for a recent photo shoot.

I used two inexpensive desk lamps I bought from Target, with G.E. light bulbs called "Reveal" that I found in the local grocery store, which are supposed to have cleaner, less yellow light.  I placed the lamps on either side of the tent:  The one on the left is slightly back pointing forward (as if back lighting), and the one on the right is above, pointing down.

Don't you just love my makeshift light stand?  Gotta' do what you can, right?

All you need to do to ensure you're getting the correct color balance is to set your camera's white balance to "Incandescent", or even better set it to "Custom" if your camera has that option.  Even some point-and-shoot cameras have that option today.  When you set it to "Custom", you'll have the extra step of shooting against a white or 18% grey card to set the balance, but it will be well worth the effort.  (So get out that camera manual and start reading up on it!)  I'd only use "Auto" white balance if you have no other options.  You still get a decent photo, but you may need to do some extra tweaks later in Photoshop (of similar) before you post your photo anywhere.

I like to post a number of photos for each of my products, one "glamor shot" of the whole item, then a few closeups using a macro lens.  Most point-and-shoots have a macro setting, too, so you can get some great closeup shots even if you don't have a DSLR.  One way to get the focal point exactly where you want it is to press the shutter down halfway (my camera chirps at me when it's focus has been set), then move the camera back a bit.  Keep an eye on your LCD screen, and snap the photo when you like what you see.

Here are a couple of tutorials on how to build your own light tent out of simple household items and some fabric, or even a blank sheet of paper:
How to make an inexpensive light tent
Here's a fun one made of K'Nex

Or you can purchase a ready-made one, like I did (yeah, I know I cheated, but my son wouldn't let me use his K'Nex set!):
Search results from

Happy shooting!
~@~ Gillian

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Have you seen Ravelry lately?

WOW!  It looks like Ravelry is all dressed up and ready to go out!  The site looks great, guys!  

Congrats on getting out of Beta! (Does this mean you're an Alpha now?)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

G.A.S. Much?

I think I might be suffering from G.A.S. *

I was a bit naughty and got another guitar.  I know---Like 3 isn't enough already?  Seriously?  You need a 4th?

Well, YEAH!

It's a Martin Backpacker.  I fell in love with it because it's easy to travel with, and since we go on several family trips each year, I thought it would be good to bring along.  Imagine, on those long drives up the coast... you've just heard that same CD for the 5th time... You drop too many stitches trying to knit in the car... and you can't read 'cause it makes you car sick...

Sometimes you just want to "noodle"!

Well, anyway, before I had prepared the whole "But honey... I got it USED.  On SALE!" speech for my hubby, he noticed the new addition.  After some initial grousing about expenses ("We need to save money!"), he played the thing for nearly half an hour!  I think he likes it as much as I do!

*There is a bona fide "illness" known to afflict many guitarists called G.A.S. - Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.  Here's an excellent article on this very syndrome, and how G.A.S. sufferers can manage new outbreaks:


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writer's Block of the Soul



I can't seem to motivate myself!  Can't think a thought through to the end.  My brain feels blocked.  I make sketches of ideas for jewelry items and paintings, but it never goes any further.  But at least they are saved for later, when I have the energy to complete them.

But what's wrong with me?  Stress, I guess.  Lots going on in the family.  Maybe when that all settles down I can get back into my groove.

And my art class starts up again in 2 weeks, so maybe that will help fuel some creativity.

Until then, though, I'm still searching for that creative kick in the buns.  

Any suggestions out there?


Thursday, October 22, 2009


I finished my first sterling silver jewelry piece this week.  I'm taking a class and having FUN!  I can really get into this (as the newly acquired tools in my crafting closet can attest!).

The teacher calls this a Hopi-style pin, but basically it's an overlay.  Two layers of silver are soldered together, the top is 20 gauge and the bottom is 22 gauge.  The top layer has been pierced/sawed to reveal portions of the bottom layer, which was then lightly textured to add some interest.  The idea was to play with positive and negative space, and really show that by oxidizing the layer below. 

We were asked to choose a photograph as inspiration, and I ultimately chose a photo that I'd taken many years ago of a Dogwood flower in Yosemite Valley:


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cataloging today

I decided to work on cataloging my photos today.  Not very glamourous work, but it needs to be done.  Have you ever wanted to find a photo that you'd taken years ago, say of a specific flower, but don't remember exactly where it is on your hard drive?  Did you ever find yourself thinking, "Now what did I name that folder?"  Well...

Cataloging/tagging/labeling your photos only way to find photos by keyword searching, rather than guesswork.

So that's what I'm working on today.  Whoo-hoo!

I'm using Adobe's Lightroom, because it plays nice with Photoshop.  But honestly there are many many other options out there.  If you're interested, do a Google search on "photo cataloging software", and see what you find.