Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I love photography.  I love outdoor photography the best, but since I have a business, I'm working on getting better photos of my items for sale.
Most of the time, I can get decent photographs inside, in natural light.  In our office, we have double windows facing North/Northwest, and a single window facing North/Northeast.  The walls are white and reflect a lot of light. In fact, right now, it's really bright in here, and that's partly because it snowed yesterday and the sun is out, so LOTS of natural light. 
I invested in a better camera, a DSLR, last year, finally!  I have wanted a DSLR for years, but couldn't justify the expense, but needing it for "work" was a better justification for me.  I LOVE my DSLR.  It's a Nikon D3100. I did some research and read that it can be very good in low light.  With a lot of Oak trees on our property, this place is always darker than if we had no trees.  So low light is something we live with ALL the time, even in summer.....

Here is what my setup looks like. I took these photos with my IPhone 4S because I wanted my camera in the pictures, and it can't be in 2 places at once.  It was night time, the overhead light with daylight bulb was on, and the camera used the flash.

Here, you can see one of the windows - this is the single window.  You can also see the sheet on the wall, and the back of the mirror (the brown in the front right of the photo).

 Here, you can see a straight on shot of the setup - sheet on the wall, bowl I place things in, a small vas for smaller items to be up against, and the tripod with the camera.  Please don't pay attention to the messy bookcase! 
 Here is a closer version of the setup. You can see the mirror better and how it reflects the light.  It is one of those mirrors you hang on a door, or hallway, to see yourself full length - not really expensive either.  It leans up against the table.
I have tried other setups.  I've tried making light boxes, using the 3 sided cardboard setups kids use to display their stuff in school. I've tried the cardboard box, cutting out the sides and top and placing tissue paper in there and using lights.  The only thing I haven't tried is a real light box, and that's mostly because I think it would be too small for most of my stuff.  I've tried lights of all sorts, and it's never right - the colors don't come true at all, and all the playing in the world with editing programs, never makes it come out right.

I had to download the instruction manual from online, for this camera, but I only printed the pages I needed to tell me how to set it up for the best indoor photos.  This camera has settings on the dial, one of which is an M.  Right now, I can't find the pages I downloaded (not unusual) so I can't tell you what the M stands for, but with the other settings on the camera in the right places, this setting reads the light when I push the button down halfway, then when it's done reading the light, I finish pressing the button, and it takes a GREAT photo.  The only thing is, I have to use a tripod because if the camera shakes at all, the photo is blurry and ruined.  The lens stays open a LONG time, and any movement will cause a blur. 

Mind you, I haven't perfected this whole process yet.  I have a long way to go to really LEARN what I should be doing.  Having a DSLR isn't always the easiest way out and it's not cheap.  But I'm learning and I'm having more success with my photos.  I'm learning to use a bowl and a vase and other props to help make the photos more interesting.

I know a lot of people that have the huge setups - with the professional reflectors, and the extra flash that extends away from the camera, and even fancier backdrops.  I've read reviews of the smaller light boxes and the lights that come with them, and people have said the lights are worthless.  They don't add enough light to really help.  I think natural light is SO much better to work with.  Even if you have to take things outside, in the shade.  My problem is, there is way too much shade on our property and the photos come out too dark.  Or it's too hot outside, or too cold, or raining.  Virginia weather can be fickle......

I'm also learning that running an online shop is a LOT of work, and can be frustrating when I don't get views and sales.  The sales are few and far between.  I've recently had to raise my prices a bit, and add shipping, which previously was included in the cost of the items I sold. 

Pricing is such a tricky thing.  But I'll get into that in a separate post.  :-)

I'm glad you stopped by today.  I hope this helped you out if you've been struggling with a photo setup.  Not everyone can do it this way.  But not everyone can afford the large light reflectors and fancier camera, and fancier lights either.....

Thanks, and take care.

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