Saturday, January 22, 2011

Photographing Your Clay Creations


Taking professional-looking photographs of small-scale objects can often be a challenge. I think the key is having good lighting and a plain background. Of course, a deluxe camera would be nice but it's not necessary. The photo above of some 3 inch tall clay snowmen was taken with a moderately-priced Kodak digital camera that I've had for a few years (7.1 megapixels). I think the photo came out pretty good for an amateur photographer! ;-)

I'm no expert, but this is what I did when I took the photo of the 2 snowmen above.


1) I used a small, portable "photo studio" like the one shown here. Got this one on sale at Amazon and it works great for my purposes.   Love it!

Sunpak 620-EBOX Portable Mini Studio in a BoxThe kit contains the "tent", a background cloth, a camera tripod and 2 little floodlights (click link for details).   Using 2 floodlights eliminates harsh shadows.   The translucent sides of the 'tent' diffuses and softens the light.  The tent box folds up like a flat "briefcase" with pockets on side to hold accessories.

2)  The blue background can be used like a "green screen" to edit your photos to remove the background completely.  But I didn't want a bright blue background for my photo, so  I covered the blue cloth with an old white pillowcase....and that worked fine!   ;-)    Photos of objects like this always seem to look best if the "floor" runs into the "wall" behind the object so seamlessly that you can't tell where the floor line is.

3)  The other thing I always do is turn off the flash on my camera.   Even in low light conditions, I'd rather rely on natural lighting than the harsh glare of the flash.  When not taking photo outdoors or using the floodlights to add light, I always use the "low light" setting on camera.

This mini violet is less than an inch tall!
4)  I place my objects in a few different positions and take a number of photos from different angles and keep just the best ones.   Then I use my photo editing software to crop the photo, removing anything unnecessary or distracting from the image.

5) At the same time I'm cropping,  I duplicate the photo, keeping one copy in high resolution and a copy for sharing in email and on websites.   That copy would be much smaller in size and have a small file size.


If you don't want to buy a "studio in a box", you can always make one yourself from a cardboard box.   Instructions for making one yourself can be found at DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio

If you don't have a box or lighting tent, try draping a kitchen chair with a sheet (for plain background) and placing chair with your object in some good light to take your photo.

Remember, use a sheet or piece of cardstock for a background (keep distracting stuff out of the photo).
Use the best lighting you have but avoid using flash, if possible.
Crop your photo to focus on your treasured object.
Resize and reduce file size for sharing on the internet.

Lotz Studio has a pretty good article about taking better photos of your arts, crafts and items for sale.  Check it out here.

1 comment:

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