This originally posted on February 17th, but I've been thinking about photo quality lately and decided to post it again. I have had a few inquiries on taking pictures of small projects and while I am not a master at photography, I have done a bit of research on picture quality and would love to share what I've uncovered.
I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. De Mille. I just did a quick little Google on this famous movie line from Sunset Boulevard and was surprised that it is often misquoted...as in my case now...LOL! The line is actually "All right, Mr. De Mille. I'm ready for my close-up". My apologies to all of the celluloid aficionados out there!
This post is dedicated to my photo set-up for taking pictures of my cards. I have seen lots of places on the Internet with folks posing the question "should I buy a light box". About a year ago, I was lost in the same conundrum and wanted to figure out a way to add some life to my photos. No matter how hard I tried, they always seemed gray and dull. The colors were never vibrant and never portrayed the card accurately. I started to comb the Internet for tips on remedying these ailments.
Here's what I came up with:
1. There is no need to invest in an expensive light box. The pictures above show my set-up, which consists of a tri-fold presentation board (the kind used for Science Fair projects), an Ott Light, 2 yards of white fleece fabric, and a can of condensed milk...hahaha! I bet that last item got your attention ;D I arrange the fabric over the tri-fold presentation board and then set up my Ott Light to cast light down over the draped fabric. My can of condensed milk is just the right size to prop my card against and does not obstruct my shot in any way. I purchased all of these items, except for the milk, from my local Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars. The whole set-up takes only a few minutes to assemble and even less time to take down.
2. Before I shoot any pictues, I make a few adjustment to my camera. First, I turn off the flash. Using the flash seems to create glare and hotspots in my photos, which in turn drown out details on my card. Me no likey this :(
3. Speaking of details...I want to capture all of them, so I switch my camera to the Macro setting. This allows me to get in really close and not waste any of the hard work spent crafting my little art piece.
4. After I have adjusted my settings and set-up my make shift light box, I manually set the White Balance by going to the White Balance setting on my camera, selecting "custom", aiming my camera at my little staging area so that only the white fleece fabric fills my lens and (on my camera) clicking the DISP button. This step may vary, but will probably be similar for many point and shoot cameras. Once I do that, I am ready to get this show on the road!
5. I get in really close for photos and take LOTS of pictures. Since I am going to the extra effort, I may as well make it worth my while. There is no bigger let down than setting all this up, taking one shot, and then finding out that it is blurry because my hand quivered a bit at the last second. UGH!
6. Once I have my pics and have loaded them on the computer, I do a little editing and select only the best ones, weeding out the ones that just aren't quite there. After I have the creme de la creme of photos sorted out from the...ummm...not so creme photos, I do a bit of editing in my photo editor. I crop out a lot of the background, brighten my white levels, and adjust the sharpness.
Compared to propping the card on the dining room table and just letting the camera do it's thing, there is an amazing difference! I figure, if I am going to take the time and creative energy to build a card for someone special, then I may as well attempt to present my work in the best possible light (pun intended) to the rest of the world. My pics may not be on the caliber of a professional photog, in fact, I can guarantee they're not, but with the use of a few tools and camera adjustments I can easily take a picture from gray and dull to vibrant and bright. Me likey that ;D