Photo Tutorial Part 1

with 2 Comments

When you sell products online, photographs are the first thing to catch a potential customer’s eye. With so much competition online, having great photos can often be the difference between success and failure. These photo tips will help take your product photos from alright to awesome!

Size Matters

No amount of editing can turn a low resolution yucky photo into a quality high resolution photo.

Think about pixels like chocolate chips in a cookie. A tiny cookie might be ok with only 10 chips in it. But if you want to make a large cookie, 10 chips won’t be enough.

Interpolation Cookies

Photos are the same way. A photograph without enough pixels might be fine if it’s very tiny, but when enlarged or magnified, it will look blobby and gross.

This is because of interpolation (the digital process of taking a small photo and trying to make it larger). Like a cookie without enough chocolate chips, the program will mathematically invent extra pixels to make it bigger. But these new “chocolate chips” won’t be the real thing, and the results are often not very tasty.

Interpolation Photos

Make sure to go into your phone or camera’s settings and use the highest resolution (largest file size) possible. When it comes to photo pixels, just like chocolate chips, the more the better!

Focus!

For any type of camera, you want to make sure the camera remains very still while taking photos. If you don’t have a tripod, keep your elbows close to your side to add stability and hold the camera with both hands.

Also make sure you have a good amount of light, but DON’T use a flash. (More on that next). The less light you have to work with, the higher the chance that the photo will turn out blurry.

Bright ideas

Natural light is the best light source for photographs. Photos taken with flash or other artificial light can end up looking flat and artificial.

Consider taking your product photos outside. A cloudy day is great for this, as the clouds help to diffuse the light and make it soft. You can also open your curtains or blinds and set up your photo next to a window that lets the natural light shine through. If you are worried that your photos will end up a little dark using only natural light, the brightness can be adjusted using free photo editing software.

Look at the photograph taken using a flash. Notice how the flash washes out all the shadows on the object, making it appear flatter than it is, while the shadows behind the object are a bit rigid and strange. The photo is light enough, but it doesn’t look natural.

Compare this to the photo taken using only natural light. Now we can see some depth in the subject, and the shadows look natural and soft rather than being distracting.

Light-Sources

If you absolutely must take photos using artificial light, use a very bright light along with something to diffuse the light so that it’s not so harsh. A cheap white shower curtain placed between the light source and the thing you’re photographing does a nice job. For a light you can aim (unlike flash), you can use a very bright lamp, such as a halogen garage lamp, and the shower curtain trick to keep the shadows soft and natural looking. Notice the difference in the harshness of the shadows between the diffused and un-diffused light.

The 4 photos above are all un-edited. If the colors are off when using artificial light, or too dark when using natural light, it’s easy to fix in post-production. Which brings us to…

If at first you don’t succeed…

Another very common problem with product photos is failure to optimize your photos after taking them. You don’t have to live with the photos how they look straight out of the camera!

Proper editing can turn a good photo into a great photo and it’s not as difficult or time consuming as you think. And free online photo editing software takes the guesswork out of editing.

This is a nice photo that was taken with natural light, but it’s just a bit too dark. Using a free version of Photoshop, we were able to greatly improve the photograph:

Editing-Light

Go to Photoshop.com and click on the Tools dropdown menu, then choose Photoshop Express Editor. Upload your photo and use features such as Auto-Correct, Highlight. Fill Light, and Exposure to brighten the image as needed. Just make sure you don’t brighten it soo much that you lose important product details.

Other tools such as White Balance can help if the color balance of your photo is a little off, appearing too yellow, too blue, or too green. Here we have the photo we showed previously, using the diffused artificial light source. In the after version, you can see how we were able to fix the issues with yellow color cast from the artificial light source by using a combination of Auto-Correct and White Balance within the Photoshop Express Editor.

Editing-White-Balance

This was after just one pass with the white balance editor, and already there is a big improvement. For even better results, save the edited photo, close the editor, and open the edited photo and repeat the process.

More tools are available for you within the free Photoshop editor. Red Eye and Touchup will allow you to easily remove blemishes and spots. Crop & Rotate lets you change the shape and orientation of the image. Experiment with the different tools to familiarize yourself with what each of them does.

Once you’re done with your edits, click Done and Save your edited photo.

By following these few simple steps, you’ll be able to greatly improve the quality of your photos! In part II of our tutorial, we go over a fun ways to make your photos really shine!

2 Responses

  1. Debra Stocks
    | Reply

    This is a great lesson. Thanks for posting it. Looking forward to getting better photos with these tips.

    • Appliqué Geek
      | Reply

      You’re quite welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

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