Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Phote Editing on a Budget

Getting good photos first is always best, but, if your images are a little less than perfect, there are several things you can do to improve them. Photo editing is a wonderful way to improve your images, even if they are not quite perfect.

Of course Photoshop is the best program to use, but it can be very expensive. Here is a link listing several free image editing programs and the pros and cons. www.readwriteweb.com/archives/free_alternatives_to_photoshop_with_all_the_bells.php I always get my free software from downloads.com I find their rating system to be helpful and they are pretty safe. Although nothing is free, just make sure you have a good spyware and adware removal program running on your PC.

Now that you have a photo editing program, play with it. Your less than perfect photo CAN be improved on. I always take my photos with a fairly high resolution. This will make a crisper picture. You can always reduce your resolution later.

Here is an example of an edited image:

The first picture is too light, not enough contrast and definition, and the composition could be more interesting.

First: adjust levels. Play with these settings until you get a look you like. This can add definition and contrast.

Second adjust brightness and contrast. In this case I would make darker and raise contrast.

Your photo editing program may not have a levels setting but they all have brightness and contrast.

Third step is color balance. Have your item in front of you and adjust the color on your screen to match what is in your hand. This will not be perfect, as all monitors do not have the same color settings. You may get complaints about your color, but it is impossible to have your color match every screen in the world. The best you can do is match yours and add a disclaimer on your site.

Once your photo is perfect, crop your image. Try a few different compositions, until you get the one that looks the most interesting and show off your art. Remember, your first image is a teaser to make a buyer want to see more. Your remaining pictures should show your complete item with as much clear detail as possible.

Finally reduce your resolution to your sites specifications.

Now look at your pictures. Would you buy from this shop? Would you add these pictures to a treasury? If yes, you have done a great job. Congrats!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Photo Tips on a Budget

Etsy Storque has some wonderful tips on photography, (see http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/shop-makeover-series-are-your-photos-frontpage-worthy-3178 and http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/shop-makeover-series-feature-friendly-photos-3222 and http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/give-props-how-to-style-your-photos-1079)

I have a few tips to add.

Your photography should be front page worthy. There should be enough contrast between setting and product to distinguish between them. Not necessarily a white or black backdrop. It can be something with character, a vintage table top, an old love letter, a slab of stone or wood. See Examples of Good Photography

First tip is don't do it yourself. What? Yes really! If you are not a pro, you can often get a student or fledgling photographer to take pictures for the exposure. Try local schools or listing on craigslist. You can find photographers and models (clothing, jewelry) at modelmayhem

Second tip, if you must do it yourself - LIGHTING! Indirect, natural light is best. You can use your camera's flash, but it can wash out. Best light is outside on a cloudy day. You can shoot by a window, but sometimes it's hard to setup by a window. Next best option, Halogen shop lights. I have seen some wonderful pictures taken with them. You will need two to distribute the light source. They can be pretty inexpensive. Make sure you keep an eye on them while working as they can get pretty hot.

Now that you have your layout and your light. What do you do with your camera? You can get decent pictures with just about any digital camera as long as the light and setup is good. MY digital camera was bought on eBay for $120, was $400 new. It is a wonderful for the price.

Take time to play a little with the photography to get the right settings for your camera. You can easily get good pictures with automatic settings. Make sure your camera is set for the proper distance. A good trick for getting a bit of depth of field out of a less expensive camera is to focus on your merchandise, (this will usually be in the center of your item), move your camera so the focus is on the closest part of the item, then shoot.

Get a good picture and then on to photo editing. Tips on next blog!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Down Economy Inspiring Creativity

When I first discovered Etsy, there were only about 1000 members, including buyers. Now there are over 160,000 sellers worldwide.

Can this be bad? Well, maybe for those who have been living on craft for years, competing with the newbies is tough, but maybe idle time inspires creativity.

I for one, was a commercial artist who lost my job as a lighting designer due to cutbacks. I went from designing tiffany inspired floral lighing to designing floral inspired eco-friendly jewelry. Although I am an artist, I wasn't really selling on Etsy before the economic downturn.

My delema, I live in a town where cost of living is managable. To continue in the lighting field, I would have to relocate and live even leaner than I do where I am at. So here I stay and sell on Etsy.

So the downside? So many sellers and not enough money for buying. The upside? Maybe with imagination, the artists and crafters of the world will find a new way to make the world work for us. I see it every day in the creative uses of upcycled and recycled materials.

Hang tight Etsyians, be creative, make our world a better place. If you have food and shelter and good health, isn't that all you really need? Share your craft, be the light in a darker world.
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