I recently had conversation with a cousin who is becoming a professional photographer. It didn’t take us long to agree that the way we have both learned a lot about taking good photos is the fact that we first took a lot of really bad ones! In June, Kay of A Crafty Arab, shared some great tips on how we can improve our Zibbet item photographs. This week, I would like to share some information on how to work with your digital camera to create great images.
As Kay stated, you don’t have to have a fancy, expensive camera to take excellent photographs of your Zibbet items. Instead, you need to know how to effectively use the digital camera you have. I use a “point and shoot” FinePix E550 by Fuji. It has all of the features that I need to take great photographs of my jewelry. My set up is simple–I use a cube-shaped light tent for filtering light coming from daylight rated compact florescent bulbs and I hold my camera. I’ve tried using a tripod but it just doesn’t work for me!
The macro (close up) setting is a must have feature and I use it almost every time I turn my camera on. The macro feature allows photos of objects to be taken less than 8″ from the lens. The macro feature can be identified by the tulip icon on one of the buttons on the back of your camera. A yellow tulip icon will appear on your camera’s LCD monitor, indicating that the macro feature is turned on. Depending on the type of items you create and sell, you may or may not need to use the macro feature of your camera.
Although I use the automatic mode of my camera when taking photos of my family and pets, I use the manual mode to set controls for how my camera will function when I snap a photograph of a piece of jewelry. To set your camera to manual, turn the mode dial to M. This dial is usually located on the top of your camera near the power and shutter buttons. I manually set ISO, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, bracketing and photo quality.
ISO is a number that describes the light sensitivity of your camera’s imaging sensor. For most lighting conditions, I have my camera’s ISO set at 200. In general, as ISO levels increase, image quality decreases. Shutter speed is a measure of how long the shutter remains open as a picture is taken. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure time. Aperture refers to the small, circular opening inside the lens that can change in diameter to control the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor as a picture is taken. The aperture diameter is expressed in f-stops; the lower the number, the larger the aperture. The aperture and shutter speed together control the total amount of light reaching the sensor. Normally, I set my camera’s shutter speed at 60 and the aperture at f/5.6.
White balance is a feature that allows you to “show” your camera what is “white.” Adjusting your camera’s white balance will result in colors being truer, or closer to the actual color of the item being photographed.
Bracketing is a feature that tells your camera to record multiple photographs each time you press the shutter button. The photos are stored as overexposed, normal and underexposed images. I usually delete the underexposed image and select between the normal and overexposed versions when making my final photo selections.
Digital photographs are composed of tiny dots, called pixels, or picture elements. Photo quality, or resolution, is expressed as either the number of pixels counted horizontally by the number of pixels counted vertically or by the number of megapixels. As pixel size decreases and the number of pixels increases, the more detailed will be the photograph. I recommend that you set your camera to take the highest resolution photos possible because in the process of editing your photos for uploading and after the photo has been uploaded, the resolution will be decreased. By starting with a high resolution photo you will still have a high quality photo even after its resolution has been decreased.
As I said in the beginning, I have taken a lot of bad photographs in the process of learning how to take better ones. To help find appropriate settings for my photographs, I looked at some images on Flickr that I thought were very good and I examined the camera settings that were recorded with each. I then played around with those numbers in my camera. I made adjustments until I found a combination of settings that produced photographs that were huge improvements over what I had been taking using my camera’s automatic mode. Those settings are saved in my camera so even if I switch to auto mode, my settings are still there when I go back to manual. Cameras vary so refer to the manual that came with your camera for specific instructions on how to use its features.
I hope that this overview of digital camera features will help you get to know your camera better and that you will feel more comfortable making adjustments to create great photos!
Best wishes for much success on Zibbet!
Vintage camera photograph by designboom
Tags: Aperture, Bracketing, camera, Digital camera, Images, ISO, Macro, Photographing Your Artwork, Photographs, Photography, photos, Pixel, Resolution, Shutter speed, Success on Zibbet, White balance