Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I will not flash...I will not flash... I will not...

Hi, my name is Splashin and I'm a chronic flasher.

There, I said it. I like to point, shoot, and flash. It's easy ... and the results are, well, not always so great. See what I mean?

Well, as I worked to start listing all those glass paperweights I told you about that I'm putting in the new vintage section of my shop as quick as I can, I discovered I'm a really lousy photographer! I really don't know how to take a detailed picture. Oh, I can handle a shot of the kids carrying on together or somebody making a funny face, and they turn out just fine for passing around the family or hanging on the fridge. But then, I'm not usually trying to sell that subject to anybody (then again,...)
When you're selling online and folks can't pick up the object and handle it themselves, you need to be sure your picture tells it all, just as though there were no words. (Likewise, your written description must also tell all as if there is no pic.)

Thank goodness for digital cameras. You can take hundreds of shots and delete all of them until you get it right. Okay, I've needed to settle for close to right. I'm still learning.

After a couple hundred shots that weren't usable, I took time to go online and look for some suggestions. There are tricks to getting good pictures of shiny glass transparent objects. I, obviously, haven't learned them all but I AM getting better.
Ideally, one should buy a great camera. I really do want one. For now, I have a tiny, easy to use, pocket size Casio that is at least 10 years old. It has a limited zoom range and is only 4 megapixels. (It was impressive when I first got it.) My setting options are limited. In it's favor, it's small and easy to carry everywhere. The best feature is, it simply plugs into my computer for downloading and came with its own software. There is no need to remove the card, -EVER. (I'm still using the original disc in it which has now taken well over 9000 pictures in 10 years.)

First rule is TURN OFF THE FLASH. Use natural light if possible. I tried to do this but I have an old camera that is sometimes determined to do things its own way. It took two days of hitting the OFF setting before the camera agreed to do that. It still is not consistent. Yes, a new camera is on my list of wants.Next, CLEAR THE BACKGROUND of clutter. This requires you to set up the space not just point and shoot where ever.

REFLECT THE LIGHT BACK ONTO YOUR OBJECT. Many folks do this with the use of a light box. (There are tons of online instructions for creating a light box.) I didn't do this BUT I did create a reflecting board and base. I did it in a kind of Rube Goldberg style. Not necessarily recommended but it accomplished what I set out to do and was quick, easy and free.
My first efforts were done on the spur of the moment without a lot of thought and planning. One article I read suggested using aluminum foil to reflect natural light. This helped but was not the solution. Or maybe it's just the way I did it. The writer suggested covering pieces of cardboard with foil and setting them in a fashion to form three walls around a foil "floor". He suggested setting this up on a table pulled close to a window.
I pulled my dining room table closer to the window then I quickly grabbed a roll of foil. I didn't have any appropriate cardboard on hand so I spread one piece on the table and then stretched a sheet between two tall objects (bottles), taping it to the bottles to form one wall. I repeated this effort for a second wall. forming a L-shaped "studio" so to speak. (Hey, I had to grab what was handy. I was in a hurry.)
I accomplished "better" pics but not "good" pics. I used some done in this "studio" and I did make sales using them. But I needed to do better.
Again, I worked cheap with what was handy but I planned a little better. This time, I went for a plain white background. I pulled the same table in front of the same window. I pulled the curtains back to let in full light. I made my reflecting boards a little more stable this time. I still didn't have cardboard available but I DO have a set of 3 Pampered Chef flexible cutting mats that are solid and an appropriate size. I simply covered them with white computer paper (taping the paper in place) and used one for a floor, and two for walls. This worked!! I think I finally got some decent pictures of these beautiful objects.

Look for them all in my shop within the next few days.

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