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Learn How to Photograph Your Product

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NadineJ
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Re: Some tips and examples...
NadineJ   8/31/2012 11:06:50 AM
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Great post!  That studio looks familiar.  I've built many of those over the years.

Tripods are useful but sometimes you just don't have one.  I had a professor who taught us how to use found objects and timers in lieu of tripods. 

I was the best at taking long exposures (traffic mostly) without a tripod.  Framing the shot and hugging a street lamp (hold breath-squeeze tight) did the trick.  It was fun.

Jon Titus
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Re: Some tips and examples...
Jon Titus   8/28/2012 12:48:01 PM
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Hi, DaveJ.  Thanks for adding your comments and insight to our discussion.  I hadn't thought about tile as a background but will give it a try after my next visit to Home Depot or Lowe's. --Jon

DaveJ
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Some tips and examples...
DaveJ   8/28/2012 12:40:50 PM
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(Sorry, my flickr image links are getting mangled; higher resolution images are available via the http address above each image if you're interested) 

Jon, these are great tips!

#2 - the polarizer is a must have and is the only filter that cannot be replicated in photoshop.

#6 - Tripod usage is what sets the professionals apart from the amateurs!

Any discussion of photo lighting should include a link to the Strobist blog.  This link takes you to a <$10 KISS DIY lighting studio.  Keep in mind that you can simply use the sun and some poster board "photon bounce" cards for your lighting.  It's inexpensive and easy to white balance.  Here is a link to an example setup I created:

flickr.com/photos/speednutdave/3605989489


and a photo result:

flickr.com/photos/speednutdave/3605989673


If you have large products to photograph, David Hobby Mr. Strobist shows you how to scale this table top DIY light studio to a 12' cube

Check your local floor tile shop for chipped tiles they give away or sell for pennies. I procured a heavy stack of 1ft/sq granite and glass tiles for <$1.  Acrylic plastic sheets also make for a nice base that contains muted product reflections.

LCD display brightness just can't compete with the brightness of the sun or flashes. The quick answer is two exposures are required, one for the product and another for the screen.  Use a layer mask to blend in the screen display over the product photo. Here is one of my examples.

flickr.com/photos/speednutdave/4169880384


 

A micro lens or lens extension tubes are handy for detailed electronic parts.  Just be careful to control the lighting angles (and a polarizer) to ensure the chip package labeling is easy to read.  Example:

flickr.com/photos/speednutdave/4531970558




Inexpensive light tents are also available if you're not interested in going DIY.  Here is an example of the results from a $35 light tent using only hot mid-day summer sunlight. It simply was a quick setup and shoot with a (fancy) point and shoot camera.

flickr.com/photos/speednutdave/7422870570
 


 

So long post short, for a minimum financial investment and some practice, very high quality images can be made of your projects.  Thanks Jon for starting this informative discussion!

 

gsmith120
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Re: Glare in photos
gsmith120   8/27/2012 7:28:10 PM
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Jon, great article and tips, my daughter is a chef and we are always taking pictures of her food.  Some of the pictures she puts on her web site so the quality of the pictures is real important. I will have to share this article with her.

Tim
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Tim   8/27/2012 7:16:35 PM
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The note about using a frame of reference for pictures is a great word of advice. My job involves dealing with production quality complaints. Some quality departments will take pictures so close to a part that you have no idea where the defect is on the part.

Tim
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Context
Tim   8/27/2012 7:16:33 PM
The note about using a frame of reference for pictures is a great word of advice. My job involves dealing with production quality complaints. Some quality departments will take pictures so close to a part that you have no idea where the defect is on the part.

mrdon
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Re: Glare in photos
mrdon   8/27/2012 4:14:27 PM
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Jon, With Learn Electronics with Arduino book, I probably shot over 200 photos to provide good images. So, I agree with you totally of taking plenty of photos to find good images for the target publication.

Jon Titus
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Glare in photos
Jon Titus   8/27/2012 4:03:03 PM
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Yes, I understand that problem!  I photographed components for my book, "The Hands-On XBee Lab Manual" and it took some doing to eliminate glare.  A polarizing filter helped reduce glare on non-metallic surfaces, but metallic components and pins proved the most difficult.  Diffuse light can help, too.

In the end, I didn't use all of the various photos I took. You don't always know what you will and won't use, so as another comment said, take plenty of photos!

mrdon
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Re: If 1 picture = 1·10³ words, then 250 pictures = 1 Oxford English Dictionary
mrdon   8/27/2012 3:54:01 PM
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Jon, Very good points. I'm going through the process of documenting settings for the photos I'm taking for the second book I'm writing. Glare is the biggest offense while taking pics of glossy surface devices like LCDs.

Jon Titus
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Blogger
Re: If 1 picture = 1·10³ words, then 250 pictures = 1 Oxford English Dictionary
Jon Titus   8/27/2012 3:43:17 PM
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Hi, Nadine and Mr. Don.  Thanks for your comments.  Years ago when I shot mainly b/w photos and 35mm color slides, photographers took pains to compose a photo and try to get it as good as possible in a few shots. Digital photography lets us "shoot" images with wild abandon.  So it's good to make notes about the settings, lights, and backgrounds used.  Last year I took photos for a book, too, and bracketed my shots between many different aperture and exposure-time settings. Digital cameras have many, many of these settings, so you want to know what worked and what didn't when you go back and take more pictures.  

Some camera manuals are sketchy at best. It took me a while to figure out if I corrected for incandescent light I could not use the built-in flash, for example. 

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