Thursday, March 3, 2011

Photo Taking Tips with a Guest

Hi everyone!

Melissa here with a fun and hopefully helpful post for you.  I've got a friend helping me today. His name is Marco and he is pretty adorable.  But let me first tell you what my post is about today and then I'll let you see his face.

We get lots of submissions here at ScrapStreet with talented designers, such as yourself, that want to be published.  One of the things that magazine staff look for is a well taken photo.  Not only does it help us see your project well but getting into the habit of taking good photos is just something we should all work on.  And when you get one of those wonderful project acceptance emails, we want your project to look absolutely beautiful.

So I thought I would share with you some tips and tricks in taking photos of your projects for submission and also just in general to post on your blogs and in galleries.  Now let me just bring Marco into this now because sometimes we have a "helper" who just can't stand not being the center of attention.

Isn't he cute?  Poor Marco.  He would be our lovely Mich's doggy.  I couldn't help but share this photo with you all as she was trying to take a photo of a card for an upcoming article.  While most of it is blurred I thought you might like the sneak beyond Marco's snout.  Also, I can't really help you when your animal wants to get in the photo anyway.

Okay.  Now let's get to business.

First of all.. everything I'm sharing is done with my little point and shoot digital camera. I am not rich enough to have one of those fancy DSLR's although, I would LOVE to have one someday. Not just for photographing projects but just photo taking in general. So you don't have to have anything fancy to take good photos. You just need to know your camera.

1. Lighting. It is best to take photos of projects in natural daylight but we all the know the reality of this time of year. It's at a premium and when it is there, it's either too windy or too snowy or too something. I relish in my Summer time! So if you take photos inside, find some good lighting. I have two Ott Lites. But you can use any type of "daylight" type lamp.

A note about outside though: Don't use direct sunlight as this will create harsh shadows. It's best in the shade or on a cloudy day.

2. Focus and such. Here's the fun part. On my camera, I use the Aperture setting. Usually it's indicated by an A on point and shoots. Typically on any Aperture menu you will see an 'f' with numbers by it, a box with a +/- and a number and then ISO with a number. Each of this is adjustable while in Aperture mode. Here are the things to know about each.

'f' captures light. The lower the number the more light it will capture. So it's best to have it on a low number while photographing indoors. I have mine on it's lowest setting which is 2.8 on my camera.

+/- adjusts the Brightness. Kind of like when you edit the brightness in a photo editing software, you can do that on the camera. I rarely mess with this one. So I leave it at 0.0

For ISO, this is something you would change depending on the lighting in the room. Mine is always kept at about 100. For anything else, you can make the number go higher if the lighting is low but just know that your photo will be grainier. Some photo editing programs will allow you to adjust the "noise" of your photo but I recommend not messing with it when taking a project photo.

The other item you will want to adjust is the macro setting. My camera has the macro button on top. Next to the button is a flower and a mountain. The flower is the one you want... that is the macro. The mountain you would use for distant scenery.

3. Flash. NO flash. That is all.

4. Background. It's best to take photos of your projects with a plain background. That way your project will pop without any distractions. I have two white 12x12 pieces of paper that I prop for my cards. Then I take my two Ott lites and shine one on the background paper and the other on the project.

5. Take several photos. This is good to do. Experiment. Take them from slightly different angles. Farther away. Closer, etc. Then bring them up in your photo editing software.

6. Editing. There is always something to fix. I use Picasa and Picnik. I usually crop first, adjust lighting a bit, sharpness, sometimes contrast and brightness depending the lighting and then bring it up in Picnik to resize. Photos seem to appear better on blogs at about 600 to 800 pixels. 

Here is an example of how editing can change your world.  Here is a before and after photo of a card I recently made:



I hope that these little tips have helped you with your photo taking!  Layouts... well... there are more tips for that but we'll just talk about cards for this post! And if you have any other tips, let us know!  Share your expertise with us. :)

And while we're talking cards make sure you check out the current Card Corner article.  We are featuring Good Luck cards and then mosey over to the Current Calls!  We're looking for manly cards! :)

Melissa Facebook


Jingle said...

This is a beautiful card!

K Andrew said...

Great tips--I've never looked for the aperature--but guess what I'll be asking my hubby to help me find tonight?!

Big Cricky Hugs,
K Andrew