I'm a librarian, spinner, knitter! This is my blog for crafty things, updates to my shop and more.
You can check out my handspun yarns here - Kitty Grrlz Hand Spun Yarns and my hand knit items here - Kitty Grrlz Hand Knits

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My lighting set-up . . .

Almost any time you go into the etsy forums, someone is asking about pictures and how to take good ones. There are tons of blog entries about it, tons of tutorials, and tons of suggestions. Today, I'm going to show you what I do . . .

When I first started selling online, I knew pictures were important. From selling on ebay to selling on etsy, I knew if my pictures weren't good, then people probably wouldn't buy. Early on, I tried different things, including scanning items directly. At the time, that actually worked for some of the things I was selling like barbie clothes and pictures . . . but it sure wasn't going to work for jewelry or yarn.

My first pictures on etsy were HORRIBLE. It's amazing I sold anything at all in those very early days, when I only had some jewelry and a few hand knit scarves. The jewelry especially was difficult as I had a crappy digital camera and didn't quite know how to use the "macro" setting. I tried, though. And, failed. One of the first "convos" I received on etsy was actually a nasty one telling me my photos sucked! (Okay, they didn't say that *exactly* but it sure wasn't a *nice* note with constructive criticism in it, it was sarcastic and mean.)

ANYways . . . slowly my "photo set-up" evolved, making use of what I had. At first I only used one Ott-Lite and that crappy camera (3 megapixel, i think, though it may have been less than that). Now, I use two Ott-Lites (well, one is an official one and the other is a knock-off), take pictures at the peak time of day for good, natural lighting, and have a 10 megapixel digital camera (nothing too fancy, but it works for me - it's a HP PhotoSmart R967). I usually use white tissue paper as a background. I also make use of a thread storage thing I bought (it was filled with thread) that i use as sort of the "back" of the "light box" and also to steady the camera when shooting the picture.

I take pictures right in front of a large window. I usually take pictures right around 12noon - if I take them earlier the sun is too bright and streams right into the window and if I take them later it can get a bit too dark. I have a rolling shelf-cart in front of the window where I set everything up. I put a light at each corner, facing in, and the thread storage thing on the side opposite the window. My idea here is that it sort of acts as a reflector for all the light, brightening it up a little since, really, i probably could use brighter lights. I also use it as my "tripod", and basically shoot looking down at the yarn.

I place the yarn in the middle, steady the camera on the thread storage thingy and snap the pictures. Here are some shots of the set-up -

Even as recently as this past December, I was complaining about my pictures. My wonderful boyfriend actually bought me an official light box but it really didn't work for me! I think I needed way brighter lights than came with it, and I didn't like the lights anyways. I really like the natural light of the Ott-Lite. So after that foray into trying to use the light box, I have finally come to accept my pictures and set up as working all right for me. I know I could probably improve them even more, but with what I have at my disposal, I think this set-up works well.

I do also use a photo-editing program to resize and edit the pictures a bit. I usually sharpen them and sometimes adjust the levels (which usually brightens them). Since beginning to use GIMP recently, I also play with the color levels just a bit sometimes as the one problem I still seem to have is the colors appearing duller than they really are. I try to do minimal editing, though, and on a perfect-picture day, I only have to resize and sharpen!

A note - GIMP is FREE! I used PhotoShop as well, but when my computer died and I couldn't find my code to reinstall it, I switched to GIMP. I didn't like it at first, but have really gotten used to it.

I STILL have issues with taking pictures of my hand knits, but at least I've got a good thing going for the yarn pictures! :)

Want to see the difference? Check out my pictures on flickr and look at some of the oldest pictures! :)

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