What does every successful ecommerce store have in common?
And how do they guarantee the highest quality photos for every aspect of their online presence?
Open access to a quality photo studio.
Fortunately, despite a commonly-held belief, these photo studios don’t have to be elaborate nor expensive — we proved that with part one of our series on how to build a low-cost photo studio. In it, we recommended a comprehensive, low-cost list of essentials.
In part two of our series, we explored how to put it all together.
Now, with part three, you’ll get the scoop on how best to use your camera to take sharp, stunningly clear pictures every time you pick it up. Read on to find out how:
Manual mode: the key to greatness
We know, we know: the idea of shooting manual can be intimidating. With so many options, how can you expect to get a grasp on them all?
Well, it’s not impossible — that’s for sure. Photographers everywhere can do it, and so can you. Besides, it’s worth it: total control over your camera is absolutely key to better photos — and a more successful ecommerce.
We’re not expecting you to know how to shoot immediately, of course. In the meantime, try out the other two modes most cameras have to augment your road to manual mastery:
- Automatic This setting will have the camera take full control of all its functions when snapping away. While this takes all the control away from you, the shooter, your studio and natural lighting will present a relatively simple scene the camera can handle, so no worries.
- Aperture Priority Great to use if you’re still beginning but want to strike out on your own a bit. With it, the camera adjusts its own light meter in response to what aperture you set. (More on that later!) By seeing how the camera works with you, you can speed up your overall learning process!
ISO is the measure of the image sensor’s sensitivity to light.
The lower the number, the less sensitive the camera is to light and the finer the grain in the images themselves. Simply put: the better the light in the room, the lower the ISO value needs to be.
Tip: A good way to approach ISO is by setting it to 200 and experimenting, using your viewfinder to see the effect on the image. If too dark, increase the ISO value.
Since you’ve set the photography studio up to take advantage of natural sunlight, it’s important to avoid overexposing your images. (In this vein, the afternoon is the usually the best time to take shots.)
In addition, if you can use your camera’s manual mode, do it! You’ll enjoy more versatility and control over your results in addition to opening up more of the day to shoot.
Setting your camera’s white balance correctly means accurate colors in your images. Setting Automatic in most cases will do the trick. If you go manual, aim for whites with a bit of substance. In other words, avoid overly bright, florescent-like whites.
Considering our in-home studio setup, setting an aperture of f16 will result in a product that’s completely in focus and as clear as possible.
Tip: Make sure to use an aperture over f11! The higher the aperture, the better!
Shutter speed governs the amount of time the shutter is open when taking a photo.
Fast shutter speeds are ideal for moving subjects and vice-versa.
Tip: Anything below 1/60th requires a tripod or a camera with image stabilization. Why? These speeds are too slow for our hands, which means we’ll need outside assistance to prevent blurry photos.
Since this DIY studio is using all-natural light, aim to use the longest possible shutter speed to allow the most light to enter your camera. Combined with a tripod, you’ll be able to set a slow shutter speed for the sharpest possible image.
Proper use of the light meter will ensure all the rest of your camera settings we’ve discussed will work properly. Below are example of light meters:
The middle arrow is neutral. This typically means favorable lighting conditions with the current camera settings.
- When the arrow moves left of center, the subject is too dark and more light is needed. Set your shutter speed slower.
- When the arrow moves right of center, the subject has too much light and you’ll need the shutter speed to be faster.
The aim with all the photos you take are clean, realistically presented products without distractions.
Achieve this through automatic focus. The camera will do all the work and you’ll avoid blurry images, something that’s more likely to happen after a few hours of shooting and the tired eyes that result.
Image Format: RAW vs. JPEG
- RAW is the original, uncompressed file, allowing you fully access to every aspect of this image with post-production software. If your camera has this option available, definitely use it.
- JPEG is a compressed image file and one of the most commonly used. As a compressed file, it ends up being much smaller but at the cost of some of quality and less flexibility to change the file itself.
With part three of our low-cost photography studio series done, you’re set! With your newly minted studio in place and the knowledge to best use your camera, you’re well on your way to a more impressive ecommerce presence!
Remember, no matter which settings and image format you use, shoot as many images as possible! Doing so gives you more choice when it comes to post-production work — something we at Background Be Gone have a ton of experience handling!