Friday, November 6, 2009

Weekend Giveaway - Photography Tips

I consider myself a pretty good photographer. In fact, when it comes to sports photography and travel photography, I consider myself a very good photographer. But . . . I have trouble with still lifes. Which means I have trouble photographing my art. Case in point: these book thongs. Yes, you read that right - they're called book thongs. They're basically beads and charms tied onto either end of waxed linen thread that you place between pages of a book. Think about it a little while, and you'll figure out why they're called that. Very fun to make and highly giftable. But I digress . . .
I had trouble figuring out how to photograph them so they looked good. Layout, lighting, camera settings all gave me fits this morning. So, for this weekend's giveaway, leave a comment with your best photography tip. It can be for photographing a still life or for anything else. Entries close Sunday at 9:00 pm California time. I'll draw a random name from those who comment and send them a prize. I bet you can figure out what it will be. Here's a hint - it will be for your bookshelf, not for your underwear drawer.

23 comments:

Margi said...

I am no photographer or artist or even very creative but my daughter is so what I do is get Krissy to do it cuz she knows what she's doing. Guess that doesn't help you much altho I'm sure she'd be happy to go out to CA to help you out especially since it is 28 degrees here.
Actually, I find what works best for me is daylight. I get close to a window or go outside and photograph in the natural light. The camera likes that lighting better.

Christy said...

Some of the best advice I've ever received is to take lots and lots of photos, and don't be afraid to explore all those buttons and knobs on my camera! Once I started shooting more things in manual mode, I found out I have a lot more control over what my camera will do and what types of pictures I feel most comfortable shooting. For me, it was just getting past the "I don't want to mess with anything on my camera...I don't know what all those buttons, letters, symbols will do" - I've not looked back. I guess there's some truth in "practice makes perfect" - or at least, better...

(nice job w/ your blog, btw! :)

Elizabeth said...

The best tip I ever received is to turn off my flash. Since I only have a point and shoot Canon I am sure you know much more about photography than I ever will!

Anonymous said...

These book thongs are beautiful. Awesome work, Rinda.
My cousin, who is into photography once told me that I should never point the camera down on what I am shooting. That I should put the subject upright onto a dark background and shoot the pictures from the front. Hope this helps you out, as I am all fumbles and thumbs when it comes to cameras. kj

Anonymous said...

Love your book thongs...what a clever idea.

The only photography tip I can give you does not involve still life. Sorry Our good friend Lucy Grijalva says to always photograph a woman from above in order to eliminate those extra chins. :)
Maria

Anonymous said...

Rinda, I like to use the macro setting along with lots of diffuse lighting for small items like your book thongs (which are fabulous!)
As KJ said above, shooting down is not the best. Here's an idea: cover a cork bulletin board with a solid color paper or fabric. (Velvet, velveteen, flocked paper, nothing that will reflect light) Set the board upright (or attach to the wall) and pin your items to the board. Add some extra lighting, placed behind you when shooting, and click away. Get physically close to the items rather than use the zoom and try that macro lens or setting (need to get really close when using the macro). Diane (Ringleader)
PS Yes, you do take totally fab sports pics!

humel said...

lol! I shall read all the comments with interest myself :-)

My top tips (as a new and learning photographer myself) would be: natural light; white or pale and plain backgrounds generally work best for showing off detailed items; Clair told me yesterday though that silver can look much better if photographed _with_ flash on a dark background. Oh, and get in close! I love the macro setting on my camera and I'm trying to get the same effect with manual settings, but getting in really close to show detail can be so effective, and is sometimes better than showing the whole piece. And now I'm wittering on and I'm really no expert so I'm going to shut up...!

Keitha said...

Too funny! I have a book thong - but don't recall it was called that when I bought it! (Not that that would have stopped me, LOL.)

My tip: lots of natural light, and for photographing layouts or art especially, shoot from directly above (or in front if propped up).

And I can't help but comment that I 'know' the Lucy mentioned in a comment above, and I suspect Maria too; I believe we're in an online group together. Small world, eh?

Ammi said...

I was into jewelry making for a while and I always took photos of the final piece. It was tricky to get the whole necklace sharp, without too much shine and so on. What I did find out after a while was that the best photos were the ones taken outside, keeping the jewelry upright and not "looking down" at them. Outdoor light is wonderful, especially in the late afternoon, let the piece hang free from a branch or use a display. The same goes for paintings!

RNBsmom said...

For a still life like your book thongs I would get a lens that has a large maximum aperature and set it to one of the smallest numbers (i.e,. f1.8, f2.2, etc) or on a regular point & shoot I would use the super macro setting (or macro if there is no super macro) and get as close as you can to your item focusing on the most important parts and click away. Another thing to do is put the item away from the background so that the background is blurred out and doesn't distract from the item. I might also put the camera at the level of the item so you see it face on - like at eye level. I hope this makes sense. I'm writing this quickly and need to get to bed so just kind of spitting it out there.

You could also put it on a window ledge if it is wide enough. Also be conscious of your background so that it is no distracting. Make it as plain as possible.

Good luck!

Maria Ontiveros said...

So happy to see all these comments and what great suggestions! Keith, I do love the small-worldness of it all. KJ, I don't know anyone who has extra chins! I also wanted to mention that you can click on the picture to see the book thongs in more detail. Finally, this comment from my SIL who commented on FB:
"You used the wrong book for you layout - should have been something like the Kama Sutra?!?"

Enjoy the Ride said...

I have a point-and-shoot right now, but when I want to do close-ups of still-life,I use the "flower" symbol as my setting which I think is for macro. I don't use a flash. And I try to find an interesting angle. So, for your book thongs, I find a contrasting color book to the thong(s) I wanted to take a photo of, set the book upright (balanced) with the thong hanging off of it, then take the photo near a window with indirect, natural light, not straight on. Perhaps from the spine side, but angled so you can see part of the front cover. The thong itself should be the main focus with the book not so much. I dunno if that helped at all... but try different set ups and angles. Natural light is always best for indoor photography, but when outdoors, I tend to put my flash on to fill in the shadows, depending on where the natural light source is coming from.

Practice and play... that's my motto. :)

Ali H said...

Hi ! thanks for stopping by my blog -every comment very welcome ! I wondered if you might be able to prop a big book up on its edges with the spine in the air. Then drap a piece of non-reflective cloth over it & lay the leather of the thong over the top with the decorative part dangling down onto the fabric. Then you could photo them hanging down with your macro setting. Not sure if that makes sense or sounds like I'm rambling !! Ali

Pam Cook said...

Hi Rinda! I've been told, natural light and make sure you're digital is set on "natural light" setting (didn't even know I had one until last week). Use your macro setting and the timer to avoid the gitters. Hope you get some great tips. You're doing a great job with your blog!

Lauren said...

LOL, LOVE your hint.

Some ideas:
Open a book up and photograph a close up of the pretty end of "thong" drapped over the pages.

Find a non descript cover to a hard back book(maybe take off the paper cover), stand it up on end and have it so the pretty dangle part is close to the top and take a close up.

Take these closes from above, from below, from "straight on" and from another one or two cockeyed angles. You will quickly learn what you like.

Other ideas I've seen and liked:
Photograph close up on piece of music: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31126193@N06/2911779999/

Tie a lose knot (and get a little closer or make the photo a little bigger then the example): http://www.flickr.com/photos/skeeterbess/2738583215/

Oooh... jackpot, on top of the closed book: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dirtroadsouth/3233858671/

And over the side, so it dangles: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dirtroadsouth/3234708090/

Hope those help! I think playing around and figuring out your style will be fun!

Becky said...

My advice would be to turn off your flash, put the items in the best natural light and just shoot loads and loads (as long as you have a digital camera!) and one of them should be ok!

Kathy M said...

I was just at a craft fair and this one lady had earrings displayed on a framed screen. It was kind of a cool way to display them. Not sure it would work with the book thongs but it's an idea.

Anonymous said...

Rinda, I was trying to figure out how to photograph my jewelry. Check this out...
strobist.blogspot.com
Julie S.

Moments Captured said...

Hi!

I recommend using a prime lens for still photos and portraits. You get a clean, sharo photograph. If remember correctly, you can get a 1.8 50mm prime lens for about $100. It is the best investment ever for still shots and portaits. The larger the aperature setting, the more light allowed in, which enables to have more freedom not use a flash for your still portraits. Also, shoot in "P" mode. It enables you to have more control over the flash. If you do use a prime lens shoot in "A" (aperature control) mode, which also you to adjust the aperature size and still have control over your flash. Set your aperature to the desired size. The smaller the number, the more blurring you will experience in the background. Hope this helps! Have fun!!!

Nellie Mae said...

For photographing tiny things like jewelery, or glass, or anything with a reflective surface, use a light box or a light tent for the best glare-free photos. You can maintain a dark background or a white background with a piece of felt or foam core. Google light tent or light box for more information, you can even make a cheap one with a box and some inexpensive lighting...but it will really make a difference in the quality of the photos. And then, once you own the lighting, you can use it to photograph your still life that is too big for the box....try using a 3 light system with 'natural' light bulbs. The lights can be those cheap ones you buy at the hardware store for less than 10 bucks. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

i dont have any words or wisdom except take a TON (with flash, without flash, light in the background, no light in the background) and see which one you like best. I think the ones that have something unrelated off to the side make a more interesting photo but if you aren't careful they can take away from the piece.
love your recent creations!

Mariana

Paula W said...

Hi Maria! I agree with everyone - no flash. I have what is called a 2' Cubelite by Lastolite. If you do an internet search you can find them. It's an investment but it does wonders for product shots.

Another way I take these shots is outside - again no flash

Keep your depth of field very short - focus on the product.

For jewelry try to use natural type backgrounds. Wood, rock, uncooked rice, uncooked beans, etc.

Cat said...

Try shooting somewhere quirky. Go for good light but think of the last place you'd normally consider and give it a go!