Product photography will be the death of me

Discussion in 'The Photo Gallery' started by Primrose, Dec 4, 2018.

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  1. Dec 4, 2018 #21
  2. Dec 4, 2018 #22

    penelopejane

    penelopejane

    penelopejane

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    I am not good at photos either but I have noticed that photos with a lot of different backgrounds are distracting. Yours has the timber deck and trees and a fence in the background.

    If you must photograph outside put up a cutting board or something and maybe drape a plain light coloured towel with texture over it. Not white if you think that is too stark.

    Good luck with it. You are not alone.
     
  3. Dec 4, 2018 #23

    Lin19687

    Lin19687

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    I'm not good either and I had to just get pics up on the web fast. Some of mine are lighted better then others.
    I find the hardest part is getting all the design in when you have it.
    I also like to make sure that my Label in in the pic so that someone can't edit it out.
    I also Hate pics that are So close it's like in your face lol

    Here is a bad one for me, well they all are like this. The background is on purpose as I wanted Rustic but didn't want to take away from the soap.

    20181004_102027.jpg

    IMG_20181120_120619198_HDR[1].jpg
     
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  4. Dec 4, 2018 #24

    SaltedFig

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    A plain, or blurred, background focuses the attention on the subject, rather than drawing the eye away to see other aspects of the photo (as PJ has pointed out - backgrounds can be distracting).

    And example of the difference a bit of extra lighting can make. These two photo's were taken seconds apart ... one with natural light and one with both natural light and a lamp. They are otherwise identical.
    The use of a neutral background, rather than pure white, enhances the colours of the petals (pure white would bring attention to flaws and specs).
    Zooming into the subject makes it important ...

    The dried petals, natural lighting only and zoomed out a little too far:
    Dried calendula and rose petals in darkness.jpg
    The same photo (taken a few seconds later) with zoom and a little extra light.
    Dried calendula and rose petals.jpg

    The original calendula flowers for reference:
    Calendula.jpg
     
  5. Dec 4, 2018 #25

    Obsidian

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    Lots of good advise but a couple things that I notice is the angle of the soap, many shots are above looking down. I've always though pics look better when you are at more eye level with the soap or just slightly above it.

    You can use a pretty background but get it close to the soap, far away scenery is too distracting. Check the cut pictures in this thread https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/surprise-cut-pics-added.72284/ The neutral color along with the close up foliage creates nice harmony with the soap.

    If you check the browsing soap pics thread, you'll see the best looking pics are the close up ones with simple backdrop. If your camera is good enough to completely focus on a bar and fuzz out the background then a far away backdrop would work.

    My last smart phone was chosen mainly for its amazing camera, I can zoom in on the hairs on my hand. Makes for some pretty flower and insect photos.
     
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  6. Dec 4, 2018 #26

    DeeAnna

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    I haven't read all the other posts carefully -- I'll just say this quickly --

    I use an elderly Nikon D70, a Panasonic point-and-shoot, and my cell phone camera. You don't need to mortgage your house to have a camera that can take good product photos. My preference for close-up product photography is a camera that I can use in manual mode so I can keep the F-stop (field of view) at a constant setting and can easily adjust the exposure time. That's usually the D70, but the Panasonic works in a pinch.

    The main source(s) of light should light up the front of the soap, not the back or sides. This main light should be angled so there is a slightly brighter side so the image doesn't look flat. There should be a a secondary source of light coming at an angle from the other side (this could be a reflector or an actual light). Misschief's bar with translucent embeds is an exception to this rule, but even with that soap, the front should still be adequately lit.

    Shoot several photos with varying shutter speeds so you can pick best exposure. Most of your shots are slightly underexposed (not bright enough). I would prefer a longer shutter speed for most of the photos you shared in your first post.

    The soap should be the focus of the image. I often use a white background, but that's just one possibility, but keep it simple and clean.

    Zoom in on your soap. If you're selling, the soap should nearly fill the frame so people can view the product. That said, you also have to keep in mind how you will be using the image in your e-store. Will your images need to be cropped to a square or a rectangle for use in your e-store? Keep that in mind so you can arrange the composition of your photo and zoom in accordingly.

    Here's a typical setup that I use for product photography. There are 3 sources of light -- Light 1 is the main light that shines onto the front at a slight angle. Light 2 is a side light to add brightness to the corners and one side of the arrangement. The reflector softens the shadows on the other side.

    DSC_0036a.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  7. Dec 4, 2018 #27

    Primrose

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    See DeeAnna as much as I try, it's like you are talking another language there
     
  8. Dec 4, 2018 #28

    SaltedFig

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    Primrose, maybe another way to do this would be to post a picture of your DIY light box ... if you are up for it, getting a bunch of comments on your setup might be helpful to you :)
     
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  9. Dec 4, 2018 #29

    DeeAnna

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    F-stop relates to how much of the the image is in sharp focus. Think F for focus.

    Have you ever seen a picture where things up close are fuzzy and things far away are fuzzy, but things in the middle are crisp and sharp (aka in focus)? If you adjust the F-stop to a larger number, more of the things in the picture will be clear and in-focus. If you decrease the F-stop, less of the image will be clear and crisp.

    Bigger F-stop number = More in focus.

    With soap photography, I choose an F-stop that lets the soap look crisp and in-focus but stuff further away (the background) can be slightly fuzzy and soft. I usually start with an F-stop of about 8.

    Exposure is the time the camera uses to take the picture. A longer exposure lets more light get inside the camera and the picture will be brighter. A shorter exposure means less light gets inside and the picture is darker.

    You don't want so much exposure time that the bright areas become a white glare. You don't want so little time that the dark areas become totally black shadow. You want the exposure to be somewhere in the middle where the brights are bright yet show good detail and the darks are nicely dark yet also detailed.
     
  10. Dec 4, 2018 #30

    Primrose

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    That makes more sense DeeAnna! But how do you change these things??
    I have a Nikon D3300 but I just use it on point and shoot mode

    SF I'll have to set it up again ... I put it all away as I live in a shoebox and wasn't getting good photos anyway
     
  11. Dec 4, 2018 #31

    DeeAnna

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    I mostly use Manual mode for product photography, although I know there are other ways to "skin this cat". I often have to photograph shiny objects (sleigh bells) real close up. Cameras in Auto mode don't do well with situations like this. I just carry that over to my soap photography.

    Look at the top of your camera for a large dial. You've probably got it set on AUTO mode (see below). The M on the dial is the manual mode that I normally use. Rotate the dial until the M is next to the white pointer.

    [​IMG]

    Your user manual tells you how to set the F-stop (also called aperture) and exposure time when in manual mode -- see pages 71 and 72 for the details. Your camera is just enough different from mine that it would be best to follow the manual to learn how to change the F-stop/aperture and the exposure time.

    To get started, I'd suggest you set the F-stop/aperture to about 8, and then leave that alone. Next, you will adjust the exposure until to get the kind of picture you want. I would start with an exposure of 1/125 of a second and go up and down from there. What exposure works best will vary a lot with the lighting you have and what you're photographing.

    If you don't have the user manual, download a copy here: https://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/21/D3300.html I'd download the regular user's manual rather than the reference manual.

    If you need more tips after experimenting a bit, I'm ready to help. Lemme know....
     
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  12. Dec 4, 2018 #32

    penelopejane

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    What really annoys me about soap photos is that you set it all up, pick your best soaps, wipe them down, set them up and take the photo. I'm only using my iphone so you wouldn't think this would happen but...every single soap has HUGE flaws in it. It looks like amateur hour at the soap farm. Honestly. Spots, marks, scratches, blotches, bits of soap hanging off...

    I think I will go in for soft focus in future. :beatinghead:
     
  13. Dec 5, 2018 #33

    Loralei

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    White background are tough, especially with dslr cameras - I always found that my background looked grey... now, I do a quick shoot on my kitchen counter, with a prop lately, and use the app snapseed if I need to adjust anything... and the frameurlife app to make my photos Instagram friendly.. like these (the wine was no editing, and the Guinness was frameurlife)::
     

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  14. Dec 5, 2018 #34

    DeeAnna

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    I shoot against a white background a lot, and it does take some practice and fiddling. I still have trouble sometimes. It's important to set the white balance correctly and to get the proper exposure, but another tip is to get more light directly onto the background so the background doesn't look grey.
     
  15. Dec 5, 2018 #35

    Primrose

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    Thank you DeeAnna. That makes me feel like maybe I can attempt it again. I'll have to dig out the manual and have a look, yes I have had it on auto but I did also try setting it to portrait and macro.

    This is the pressure I've been putting on myself. people are buying my soap. I'm sending it out, people are asking to order - but I havent published a website or a facebook page because I dont think the pictures do justice to the soaps.

    I think I am going to just put it aside for the moment. I am trying to find a new place to live and coming up to christmas time extremely stressed about the fact I have 30 days left and nowhere to go with my livestock and my partners cars ... been trying to launch this business too amongst everything else. So all of it is just getting me down

    I think I will stop worrying about this for now
    Find somewhere to live
    Then attempt photos again using DeeAnna's tips and my DSLR
    If still no luck I'll pay someone to do it. Maybe I can trade them in soap.

    Yes I definitely need to invest in a planer, I have a habit of cutting too early. With my work schedule I often seem to have to choose between cutting it a bit early, and leaving it another 12 hours so its rock hard when I get back.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2018
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  16. Dec 5, 2018 #36

    Dahila

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    you do need the light box to take decent pictures, It is easy to build it, then any program editing pics and edit brightness contrast, midtones,
     
  17. Dec 5, 2018 #37

    Lin19687

    Lin19687

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    GL on moving !! I too am looking for a farm/home. But I have some time to look for exactly what I want.
    :)
     
  18. Dec 5, 2018 #38

    amd

    amd

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    I feel your pain. I struggle with photos and editing. I finally got to a point where I think my photos look kind of sort of decent. I use two lights on each side, but thinking after looking at the setup posted here that I should move one light to the front. I'll play around a bit when I get new product to photograph. I did have a professional photographer friend (she did our wedding photos) taking my photos at the beginning of the year (we traded for soap and bubble scoops) but they didn't have the "feel" that I wanted, and the turnaround time was too slow. It would probably help if I didn't use my phone, but I don't have a real camera that isn't 10 years old and cheap. Someday... someday. I did find a maker who takes amazing photos on her phone, so I know it can be done. She was featured on a podcast, but I can't think of her name or which podcast it was (I listen to a lot of business related podcasts...) She had some really great tips for taking pics on your phone. If I find it I will link to it.
     
  19. Dec 5, 2018 #39

    DeeAnna

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    I've seen some amazing photography done strictly with cell phone cameras, so I'm confident a person can use one for product photography. I'm fairly new to smart phones, so I haven't yet tried that but it's on my to-do list to explore.

    In poking around this morning, I see my Samsung S9 has a "Pro" mode for the camera. Pro mode allows you to manually adjust the F-stop and exposure (and other settings) just like using my D70 in Manual mode.
     
  20. Dec 5, 2018 #40

    KiwiMoose

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    Yes - phones are definitely fine to use. Primrose I gave you a few tips to try with your phone further back up there^. I dabble in amateur photography and I used to take some amazing shots all on my phone before I learned to use the manual DSLR.
    Unfortunately I do think it's one of those 'knack' things though. I know a friend who has been to a photography course and learned all the tricks, but she still just doesn't have an 'eye' for it. Do you know any teens? They are pretty good at taking pics on their cellphones.
     

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