Monday, June 25, 2012

Creative Chat Photography Tips

Today in My Favorite Things' "Creative Chat" we get to talk a little about one of my favorite! Things have come a long way from the days of scanning my projects to post on gallery walls to being very creative in the photography of my projects.

I am looking forward to checking out what the other girls on the MFT team do in their photography, make sure to check them all out on the MFT blog!

Pin It
  This is my project photography set up in my studio. This is a photo tent that I purchased on-line from amazon. There are a lot of different sizes you can buy so I chose a little larger of one so that I can set up multiple projects for larger shoots. I leave it set up in my studio so that I don't have to try to clear a space every time I wish to use it.

Why use a photo tent? I can get nice and consistent photos when I use this set up. Here in BC we generally have overcast skies, so depending on good natural daylight would not be an option for me.
I have 2 OTT lights. One that you can see peeking in the top of my tent to light my background and the cute pink one that I keep to the left side of my project.

One other light I flash. This is NOT a typical pop up flash, it is a speedlight that I can angle the head of my flash so that it hits the white side of my photo tent and bounces light back onto my project.

My camera you ask?
Canon 5d Mark II DSLR with a 24-70mm 2.8L lens. It is a pretty serious camera....but I loooove it :)
How do I get my whites to look white? How do I get really great exposure?
I use a gray card. Most DSLR's have what is called a "custom white balance" setting. I photograph this gray card and then set my white balance to custom and select the gray card photo. This tells my camera the temperature of the light that I am using. This will help me later when I edit as my whites will be a nice crisp white and not yellow or blue looking.

I make sure to zoom right in on the gray card so that the gray fills my camera screen.

I also use this gray card to set my shutter speed. This means that I am no longer shooting in automatic settings. I shoot in the "M" mode. I press my shutter half way down to focus and I see a little meter that goes from -2 to +2. I adjust my shutter speed so that the little arrow in the meter is pointing at the "0".  Now if this gets a little too tricky....try shooting in the "AV" mode, this way you will be setting the Aperture but the camera will figure out the shutter speed for you. A little more on that later in my post.
Here is my set up with a project in place.
A little "mini lesson" on aperture. Aperture or the "F" number on your camera effects what we call "depth of field" or what is IN focus in our photo. If we use a large aperture (small F number) then we will have a shallow depth of field. This is when you get the effect of a blurred background like you see in the photo below. They were shot at an aperture of 2.8. The photo above was shot at F14 and you can see how much the patterned paper is in focus. 
One last little pointer on using the "AV" setting on your camera. The amount of blur varies depending on the distance your focus subject is from its' background. In this series of photos you can see that even though the settings on my camera were exactly the same.....the closer my "focus here" was to my background the less amount of blur occurs.

These are some of the creative things that you can play with when you move your camera off the automatic settings. I encourage you to try it. Move your camera onto "AV" and then choose you aperture....lots of blur (small number) little bit of blur (larger numbers). In a setting like mine I would choose about 400 ISO and your camera will figure out the rest.

This little post just hardly scratches the surface on what it means to shift over to more manual setting. I have done a lot of my own learning by watching youtube videos. I would highly recommend Mark Wallace from the Adorama learning center.

Hope you enjoyed just seeing a little snipet of my photo process....all the stuff that happens AFTER I make my projects :)
The better that you are at shooting your projects "in camera" the less amount of work you would need to do in editing....which is always a good thing!


Karen Giron said...

Oooh! I've always wanted a gray card and I'm thrilled to see you use one - this would be so helpful to get true white on my poor ambient light set up, haha! Thanks for the fabulous tips!

Inge said...

I see lots of photo tents and the result is wonderful with them, thanks for all your fab tips!

Debbie Carriere said...

Great tutorial! I might give the manual a go! Thanks for the tips!!

Lisa H. said...

great lesson, here Sherrie. thanks for sharing.

Sonja said...

Love this post! No wonder your product photography looks so great!

Lissa said...

Thank you SO much for this! I was getting upset last night because I was taking pictures and my white on the card was white, but the background was grey. I already have this post bookmarked so I can refer to it. I'm still getting the hang of all the extra photography stuff. I decided to relearn my camera from the ground up this summer. ;)

HUGS & Thanks!