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Topic: How to go from bad photos to OK photos for small craft projects! (Photo Heavy)  (Read 2673 times)
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« on: January 25, 2013 02:00:48 PM »

Hi hi!

Forgive me if this doesn't go here but I thought it might be slightly helpful to some folks so I wanted to share! I would like to share some easy photography tips to help people show off their projects! I've spoken with some other crafters recently and they have expressed that they think they have to get a big fancy camera to get good photos of their projects, and that is simply not true! To illustrate this, I am leaving my trusty DSLR (her name is Betsy Tongue ) in the bag, and using my crummy iPhone 4 camera to take all photos for this post. I am including a flat object, a shiny/metallic object, a knitted object, and a random object to illustrate things you can do and the effects of light on different projects. I have included examples for both outdoor photos and indoor photos. These are all natural light with no flash. I chose not to use flash because pop-up flashes on entry level DSLRs, flashes on phones and flashes on point-and-shoot cameras are almost always unflattering.


Problem: If you take a photo when it's too bright outside, it will be contrasty and gross.

Solution: Get some shade!

You can play around with the amount of contrast you want in the shade. Just look at how the light looks on the object you're trying to photograph to see what you like. Walk deeper into the shade to get a softer look, and closer to the bright/non shaded area for more contrast.

Deep shade/soft light:

Close to the edge of the shaded area for more contrast: (I like contrast on metallic objects because it helps define the shape.)

Bonus tip: Use a white object to catch some light and bounce it back onto your object in the shade to fill in some shadows and put more light on the subject. I used a shoe box lid. You can use a piece of white cardstock or anything your crafty little heart desires.


Unless you have awesome lighting in your house, chances are photos you take indoors are pretty dark! The best thing to do when you'd like to get some shots of your crafty goodness is to find the window with the best light. It doesn't matter where it is, because you don't need a ton of space. I have found that I get the best light in my window at about 10:30 AM lately. However, I was too impatient to wait until morning to do this, so I did it in the afternoon when the light wasn't as strong. Smiley

I crafted up a photo studio out of a shoebox for this very purpose. In fact it was so easy, I am a little embarrassed to say it! I literally got a shoebox, turned it upside down. Trimmed to size, and taped a piece of scrapbook paper to it and then folded 2 pieces of white cardstock, and taped them onto the box leaving an opening of just a few inches on one side and leaving the opposite side completely uncovered. What this does, is it takes the light from the window and it bounces it back onto your subject. You can turn your subject and box to see where the light is falling and to get the most light possible. Just don't turn it to where the cardstock is blocking the light from the window because that would put your subject in shade and that defeats the purpose! The bigger your shoebox, the better for this, because it gives you more surface area to work with and the more surface area you have, the bigger the objects you can photograph in it.

Here is my set up. (Note, I turned the box around so that you could see how I had the cardstock folded. The completely open end should face the window with the smaller opening in the cardstock facing you.

Here is the set-up facing the correct way.

Here is a variation on the my photo box. I used scrapboox paper to make a mini seamless backdrop.

Here are some examples using my photo box. Something cool about this is you can still shoot from above a bit and vary your angle to get different looks. You can use your window for a backdrop, or you can shoot from slightly above to use the scrapbook surface of the box as a backdrop, then if you add the "seamless" backdrop to it, you get more options for creativity! Yay!

Jewelry often looks good when placed on other things. Add something small behind flat objects such as ATCs to move it from the background a bit and add dimension, this also helps it catch the light a bit more. Get creative with angles to make the photos more interesting! Don't forget close-ups of details!

Move objects around to experiment with where you want light to fall. THe image with the coin propped up on the left illustrates using the photo box to bounce light on the subject and even out the light and shadows. On the right two images, I moved the coin away from the white cardstock to get less fill light and more contrast.

If you get too close to the subject, you wont be able to focus because camera lenses have a minimum focusing distance. The iPhone camera can actually get really close to the subject, but you may still have this issue with other cameras, so I thought I would point it out! On the left, I was too close to focus, notice how the tape is blurry but the brick wall in the background is sharp? That's because I was too close! So I backed up, focused on the tape and took another picture. (Right) It's in perfect focus! If you want to get closer than your minimum focus distance, you can either zoom with the camera OR take the photo and crop it on the computer.

The only editing done to any of these photos has been cropping to squares for reduced image size. If there is any interest, I can also add a photoshop tutorial on how to edit photos you've taken.

I hope you guys like this and find it helpful. Happy crafting!


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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013 08:12:05 PM »

Well, I don't know if your post needs to get moved or not, but it sure is a helpful post.

Thanks for all the tips.

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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2013 09:51:20 PM »

Really very informative and useful, especially for photographing small things.  Thank you very much.
Jinjeet Phoenix
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013 10:13:40 AM »

This is such a great post!!! Thank you so much. It is very helpful.
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2013 08:18:03 AM »

Thank you for taking the time to put together all of these awesome tips!! This is a great post and really very helpful.

« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013 01:24:08 PM »

Great tips! Always nice to get photography advice.
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2014 07:48:24 PM »

I definitely learned some things. I never thought to manipulate the natural light with white things like shoe boxes and such. Thanks for the great post!

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