Basic Photography Part Three
Now that you can set your camera and adjust the settings (try different settings and take multiple pictures of the same piece), you want to have other items so you can take the picture in focus and be able to duplicate your environment every time. To do this you need four basic items: lamps, backdrop, tripod and photo editing software.
I use two gooseneck lamps with halogen bulbs (20 watt). Over the lamp front I tape a piece of paper towel to disperse the light and lessen shadows. There is debate about the use of the built in flash for the camera. I use the flash in addition to the lamps. Try shooting your picture with and without the flash, then choose the best pictures.
For a backdrop, I use plain white. This will show all colors well and not overshadow the artisan piece. Since I am photographing jewelry, generally small items (as compared to textile work (quilts, afghans, etc)), I made my backdrop with oil painting canvases. I bought three canvases and put them together to make one right angle corner (from the back the edges are held together with blue painters tape). I can angle my camera from three different basic directions without changing my backdrop. The painting canvases are a matte finish so I do not get reflected light from them.
The most important piece of the outside equipment is the tripod. If you are shooting at ISO 64, then you have many more pixels to expose to light than at higher settings. To make the most of this fine grain shooting, the shutter speed will be slow. The slow shutter speed allows more light to enter the camera and expose the pixels. The drawback is that any movement of the camera will cause blurring. So, the tripod helps hold the camera still, but I can not have my hand (or any other body part) touching the camera/tripod while taking the picture, so I must use the time delay setting. I generally use the 2 second setting, this means that the camera takes the picture 2 seconds after I push the button. There is also a 10 second setting on most cameras, the purpose of this for me would be to allow me to run over to be in the family group picture.
Lastly, you need good photoediting software. There are many commercially available programs. I use GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). This program is open source, so if you write code, you could reprogram the software. Most importantly for me is that the program is robust, with a host of features (many of which I have not tried, yet) and it is free. I can crop, resize, add lettering, edit the coloring, saturation and hue, change white balance, and much more. In general I use crop, lettering and resize as necessary to meet the size requirements of the publication/website that I am posting my image to. In addition, I can save the image in several different formats. I usually use .jpg (JPEG), but others are available. The program also lets me set the pixels per inch that I save my image with. I have mine set at 300 ppi as that is what most publications require. The default is 72 ppi which is what is generally used on the internet.
Mostly, remember, take many pictures. When using a digital camera, you are not wasting film taking many shots, you just download them to your computer, then you can delete the worse shots without any problem. Also when I download my pictures, I automatically have them deleted from my memory chip in my camera. A final suggestion is to use one of the cloud services to store your pictures, then if your computer should crash, your pictures have not been lost. For this I use Ubuntu One as my cloud. I also use Photobucket as an online public storage place (and that allows me to obtain the IMG or HTML code for putting images into my posts).
Camera Basics Series
Posted by Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry LLC
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