Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Secrets of a Camera Novice - TUTORIAL

Well, maybe I'm not a novice, but I'm definitely an amateur. I'm Renovia from Endless Whimsy, I teach music and love photography,cats and polymer clay. I'm a member of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Mentor Team as well as co-treasurer of EFA Artists Helping Animals. I began taking photos for my Etsy shop with a Fujifilm CoolPix before I switched to a Nikon D40.

Here is one of the first photos of my sculptures: ------------>
(right) Pink Catnap Summer 2007
(below) Green Frolic Winter 2007

After I got my Nikon D40, I continued taking photos with my makeshift light box (two pieces of paper!). Only now, I had a better grasp on lighting – notice the background isn't as defined and the shadows are minimal – this is because I used indirect natural light. I also changed the angle of my photography.

Though my photography had improved, I still felt I hadn't developed my own 'style' yet. I looked at some really successful shops over on Etsy to see how they created their style in photos. They all had a way of photographing their items in a unique way that highlighted their beauty and functionality.

Alteration Tutorial

Here I'll walk you through my process of altering photos. I use Aperture (one of the best investments I've made next to my camera and my remote) but you can use Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Fireworks or a free program called GIMP. Either way, you'll need to do some fishing around to see what they call all the tools I refer to in the tutorial.

First, I chose my background for my photos. It's important to pick something that compliments your work. It should be simple and not take away from the object you are photographing. Here I used scrapbook paper.

Secondly, I set up my workspace. I chose my table because it has the most indirect natural lighting. I also have a tripod so I don't have blurry images. Sometimes you need to go a step further and use a remote or the self timer to eliminate camera shake.

***Remote Control and Tripod: it's a small investment for being able to take photos in a not so forgiving light – and NOT be blurry!

After I take the photos (at least 6 of each object) I settle in for some tea and alterations!

p.s. Take many, many photos if you want to fill your 5 slots on Etsy. I took 6 of each sculpture just to get my listing photo!

The Nitty-Gritty of Altering

Step by step alterations of a polymer oyster I purchased from Paula at PolymerPaws:

Photo: 1 Unaltered Photo 2: Auto Levels (not exposure) Photo 3: Up the Black Point
Photo 4: Up the Contrast Photo 5: Reduce the highlights Photo 6: Add Vignette
Photo 7: Crop Photo 8: Tilt the photo



And one more example using my own Ivy Frolic sculpture:

Photo 1: Unaltered Photo 2: Auto Exposure Photo 3 Fix Tint to 'blueish'
Photo 4: Up the Black Photo 5: Reduce the highlights Photo 6: Add Vignette
Photo 7: Crop



To get to this point, I read articles in the Storque on Etsy and also picked up some tips from tutorial sites on the internet. Amazingly, Etsy now has a mentor team that only existed in passing when I first started. When I started, I just asked for help and one amazing seller took me under their wing. Now there is a whole team of sellers ready to help you and answer your questions. Take the time to ask members of the Etsy Mentor Team for advice. They are your outlet for improving all aspects of your store, not just photography.


Julia Catherine said...

I really feel like this blog hit on alot of the really important points of taking great photos. You did an AMAZING job on this one!

Kits and Caboodles said...

this is such a helpful post Renovia! Thanks so much and welcome to the blog.

renovia said...

thanks guys, I appreciate your input! I was home sick when I wrote it!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Great super easy to follow advice!

aswcreative said...

Thanks so much!! This was so helpful, you brought a lot of important points to think about. Really good advice!!

Anonymous said...

fantastic tips, renovia! I could really use a mentor to help me uncover my shop "style"! Off to visit the etsy mentors...

Unknown said...

Thank-you,Renovia! This was truly,truly helpful.I'm going to see what I can do with this newfound wisdom!