Monday, August 27, 2012

Polish Your Photos Series: Quick Tip #5 Know When to Say No

Another great photography skill you can learn is knowing when to just throw away a photo and move on. So often I hear people say "I will just Photoshop it," with the confidence that Photoshop can fix every problem.  Sometimes that just isn't the case.

Here are some examples of "No Photoshop Fix" photos, with ideas of what you might do when you re-shoot the photo to correct the problem.

Problem 1: Focus
There is no amount of sharpening that can fix something that is blurry.  Even if your photo looks ok as a thumbnail, when the customer clicks and it is one big blur, that is probably not going to result in a sale.  For the top photo, there is great sharp focus in the center and blur around the edges.  This is your camera creating a tiny depth of field.  Sometimes it can be an amazing artistic effect (think macro shots of a single flower bud with a soft fuzzy background), but not always what you are going for. 

Problem 1 Re-Shoot Fixes:
For the top photo, the way to get everything sharp and in focus is to add more light.  Adding a brighter lamp or waiting for a sunnier day will get more light in the camera, increase the depth of field and make everything in focus.

For the bottom photo, the easiest fix is probably to turn on the camera's macro mode.  This ball of yarn is so close to the camera that it is having trouble finding the focus.  Macro mode (tulip icon) will help the camera focus really close and get a great detail of the yarn.

Problem 2: Over Exposed and Under Exposed
These are also two related but opposite problems.  In the top photo, there is a big reflection (too much light) on the glass and in the bottom, the whole photo is really dark.  You can do a little Photoshopping on these, but the problem is that in the very brightest brights and darkest darks, the camera didn't capture all of the data.  It just saw that big white blob as 100% white and not as 100 shades of something else.  So there are no colors left to tweak and try to adjust, just white.

Problem 2 Re-Shoot Fixes:
For the top overexposed photo, the key is to make that reflection go away.  A light box to soften and diffuse the bright glare might help.  Sometimes positioning yourself at a different angle will let you not see a reflection.  You can also try using a bright white piece of paper to reflect light back at your piece instead of pointing a lamp right at it.  Point the lamp at the paper instead.

For the underexposed photo, adding more light is going to be a big help.  If you have some manual settings on your camera, it will also help to open up the aperture to allow more light in.  Aperture is adjusted by choosing a smaller f-stop.   (Smaller numbers = more light)  Want to learn more?  Read this article.

Problem 3: Too Many Light Sources
Believe it or not, the photo above is a yellow ball of thread on a white background.  The background has acquired a lovely gradient caused by the light sources I used to take the photo: a very yellow tinted incandescent lamp (top right) and a blue tinted light from the kitchen window (lower left).

Problem 3 Re-shoot Fixes:
One or the other of these color shifts is pretty easy to fix (see this article), but fixing both problems in the same photo is really difficult to keep your item looking the color it is supposed to be.  The solution is to try to use one kind of light source.  Switch to all lamps/lights (make sure they all have the same kind of bulbs), find a brighter window or take it outside.

What are your photo problems? 
Please add your questions in the comments and we will try to address them in future blog posts!
-- Becka, SASsy Team Co-Captain

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why does that t-shirt cost $75?

A really great "food for thought" article by a handmade clothing designer about thinking through what really goes in to making her work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Updates and things you might have missed

Etsy has made a few updates in the last little while.  Here are a couple of items just in case you have been busy with summer barbecues (at least in the northern hemisphere.)
  • Updates to the prohibited items list including tobacco, hazardous materials, motor vehicles and human remains.  What a list!  Etsy has clarified and added to some of the items that are prohibited in these categories and more. (August 8)
  • (Aug 15) "We just launched a prototype that aims to make creating treasuries much faster and simpler by letting you to add an item to a treasury directly from a listing page."  Learn more by visiting this link:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shipping Labels are now built in!

The ability to print your own shipping labels is being rolled out to Etsy shops that have signed up for Direct Checkout.  The cost for the labels will be rolled in to your monthly bill.  Read all the details they have announced here: