Folksy Ltd

Phone or Camera?

(HilaryP) #1

We’ve collected up all our top tips for photographing your crafts and added them to this one handy Photography Tips post - there’s some brilliant advice over on the Folksy blog and we wanted to be sure you can find it all easily.

We’ll be adding even more advice too and looking at your forum posts is a great way for us to find out what you need help with.

An area we’d like to cover in more detail is advice on using your phone to take pictures - how many of you use your smart phone camera for your product shots? Do you use any specific apps? Do you find it difficult or do you feel you get great results? We’d love to have some feedback on this. Please do add your comments!

(Liz Clark) #2

I used to use the iPhone but now use my husbands digital SLR. The iPhone I found wasn’t great with detail and focusing could be tricky sometimes. It’s great for quick, candid shots for the FB page but that’s about all I use it for for business. Would be interested in top tips for smart phone cameras! Mind you I’m still trying to sort out my styling for my shop using my SLR (the background for images in particular)…

(Hazel Rayfield) #4

It is interesting :slight_smile:
My hubby is a very keen photographer and has all the “Gear” !!! And he has, and does sometimes get it all set up take some of my photos … But it’s not always convenient and / or he is not around when I want a photo taking, I do have my own compact camera which I use and it takes an good picture but no better than my phone !!!

I have used my phone to take some the photos in my shop, I try and use natural light and I do use a reflector to cut back on shadows as much as possible. I don’t edit the pictures on my phone for my shop, I might if I’m going to show it on Facebook where I also sell as others say it’s fine for that. For my shops I upload the photos to my PC and edit them with my graphic software which I use in my other job as a web developer which works OK for quick edits and tweaks. Again hubby uses a Canon software or photoshop but for me it’s a balancing act, as an artist I want to spend my time painting, I also want to sell my paintings - so marketing my work is essential and if I can get a good picture without too much fuss I will …

(Ronald Koorm) #5

Having used film cameras for many years I suppose I’m a bit biased on this, and always use digital cameras rather than smartphones or ipad. (Only ever took 2 pictures on my smartphone ).

I find I can hold the camera easier, also the controls are designed for photographers, such as exposure compensation dial, rather than having to go into the complex and time-consuming menus.

Putting filters on a phone or ipad is tricky, but easy with a camera. I do point out, however, that some smartphones are getting to be similar to standalone digital compact cameras, and can produce very good results.

Attaching a quality flash to a smartphone is not really possible, you have to rely on the built-in flash, which has it’s limitations, but you can soften the harsh contrast by using folded white tissue paper over it, essential for good portraits and close-ups.

Taking a few thumbnails for your website is perfectly fine, for most phones and ipads. But digital noise is much more likely to show up on the tiny sensors of a smartphone, than a decent digital camera. But technology is improving every day.
Note that quality is not about how many pixels your phone or camera has.

It’s about the sensor design and size. And lens quality too.

If you take small pictures/images, you probably won’t notice much difference. Blow up your pictures, and you will, on a side by side comparison. If you don’t, you need your eyes tested !

I have largely moved over to a more compact camera system (Fuji) with interchangeable lenses, and the quality is fabulous, but was not cheap.

You need to feel comfortable with whatever you use to take pictures with. Some digital cameras out there I cannot get on with, they have been designed by programmers, not photographers ! Same is true with many smartphones.

So, in summary, you can do well with either a standalone digital camera (or film camera), or smartphone /ipad. Just make sure you know where all the controls are, and can hold it steady. Camera-shake or ipad-shake has ruined more pictures than anything else , so a tripod or similar is useful unless you set a high ISO speed.

(HilaryP) #6

thanks for all these examples Stevie - it’s exactly the kind of thing I was interested in exploring.

I think that what we want to do is show people that a camera phone can be used to take good pictures. However it depends on your phone - but we think there are some basics we could help with that may enable someone to make a start selling their goods without being put off by the thought of having to invest in a new camera.

(HilaryP) #7

That’s really interesting that you say your compact is no better than your phone, thanks!

(Hazel Rayfield) #8

For one thing my camara has a much smaller screen to see how the picture looks before I take it. I have an iPhone but not a newest one and it does a good job.

I took this picture this morning. On my studio desk - I have a large window and I had a large 3 foot silver reflector balanced on my chair.

The colour is true and it may have a bit of “noise” if you really zoom in but it’s good enough for today in my opinion :slight_smile: as I said it’s a balancing act and I want to show this on Facebook :slight_smile: when I see it in the computer I might think it needs another for a shop listing ?

It’s a miniature dolls house painting. That’s not a real wall btw.

(Sasha Garrett) #10

My photography has improved massively over the years (but there is still room for improvement) not by changing the technology but by improving my knowledge/ awareness and the addition of a few reflectors (made from old silver wrapping paper and some cardboard) and a diffuser to my set up of camera and tripod (both inherited from other half as I know I can’t handhold the digi SLR and get a crisp photo and didn’t have a camera on my phone when I started out). It is possible to take bad photos with masses of expensive kit (I know I have) and good photos with much cheaper kit, sometimes its down to the person behind the technology not the tech itself!

(Rhiannon Rose) #12

I use a Canon digital SLR for my product photography. The biggest difference for me is that I can adjust settings and get a rock steady picture using a tripod. I love my phone for instagram, as it’s far and away the quickest way to work on there, but the picture quality is not the same. I can play around with depth of field as well on my SLR, and get some more “arty” shots. So I guess, it’s phone for speed and SLR for quality!

(Rhiannon Rose) #13

Tried one. It’s now eyed up by my cats as a bed every time the pass by, having been consigned to the floor. Biggest problem was the lights. Just couldn’t get on with it!

(Brenda Cumming) #14

I would like some advice please…
All my miniature paintings are rectangles…sometimes in landscape format and sometimes portrait.
I know that you have to “square off” the paintings for listing…but as a rectangle doesn’t fit into a square…all of my finished photos have borders/gaps at the top and bottom of them. I notice that a lot of people have paintings that FILL the frame…how do they do this?. If I custom crop my rectangular paintings to fit the screen, then when they are downloaded the photos are distorted and some of the painting is missing( on the whole shop listings). It is ok when you click on the picture, as then all of it is shown in full but not on the shop listings…If you take a look in my shop you will see on the photo that I listed today. I use a camera with a macro setting…I don;'t have a scanner…is there a solution to this please? Please bear in mind that I am not very technical…but as I see it…a rectangle will ALWAYS have gaps top/bottom or sides…
here is what I mean.

(Ronald Koorm) #17

It is a fact that if you have a rectangular picture, either portrait or landscape format, to get a square image you have to either have to crop-out part of the image (not good), or have space around it to make up the square.

I use Photoshop to create a square “canvas” to my requirements. You can then decide how much or how little black or white space you want around parts of the picture. (Select ‘Image’ -‘Resize’ -‘Canvas’ on Photoshop.)
A Black surround to an object looks good, unless the object is itself black.

If you take a picture of say a landscape print with your camera or smartphone, you can crop the picture in most software, to form a square or squarish result. To save time, you could use a dark velvet, or black or white sheet or card background. I see you use black, which is flattering on most images.

Then when you crop the picture just make sure the dimensions are equal on both sides. If you are not happy with the texture of the background of the picture, select it and fill it with colour, black, blue, white, or whatever. Yes, it will result with more space top and bottom of the picture than the sides on a landscape picture, and the opposite for a portrait format image.

I try and make sure there is always some background colour even to the ends, whereas in your picture the black is only top and bottom. I think it is improved visually with some black to the ends, even if the picture itself is slightly smaller as a result. Always ensure the picture is horizontal, and vertical to the edges, or it can look off-putting.

Folksy set up their system so that some bits get cropped off until you click on them and blow them up to look at the detail. I understand that some have raised this before.

Macro settings are on many cameras, but you have to be careful that you have the camera lens perpendicular in all planes to the actual picture or object. Best way is to use a tripod for alignment, otherwise you can get tilting verticals and distortion.

(Brenda Cumming) #18

thank you…interesting reading…

(Ronald Koorm) #19

By the way, I like the watercolour ! Quite atmospheric.

(HilaryP) #20

Hi Brenda.

Lovely paintings - when I used to work at Folksy about 5 years ago I amassed quite a collection of aceo’s - they’re so collectible!

I think with these miniature pictures you need to get across the scale.

The aim of the lead image is to grab the attention and either a close up of a portion of the image or a styled image can work really well for this - using a miniature easel / props which not only show scale but how the image would be displayed.

The artist douglas Rickard does this well I think.

and then in the next images you would get across the quality and fine detail of the work with close ups.

I would avoid using the images with the black strips altogether as they detract from the work.

(Cherry Theresa) #21

Hello - I read all this with a lot of interest: it is really helpful. The only tool I have for taking pictures is a £20 nokia phone with a camera and I am - perhaps unsurprisingly - rather struggling with the necessary photography for listings. One of the worst problems is that it has a really bad viewfinder/preview, so I have to get the photograph onto the computer before I can see if it is good enough to use. I’m on quite a tight budget and if I invest in a camera at this point I would need it to be less than about £100, which I’m well aware is really not much for a camera. I’m also not at all good with things like photoshop, so it would help to have something that would minimise that if possible.

Colour contrast and knot-work detail can be quite important in some of my items (I have knotted rosaries listed and several stripy knitted hats waiting for a sunny day), and the largest items I’m likely to want to list in the near future are cot blankets (which I thought I might display on the washing line outside).

Anyone have any suggestions as to any low-budget cameras that might do better - and be less fiddly to use - than an old-fashioned phone camera? :slight_smile: Thanks.

(Eileens Craft Studio) #22

I have two different camera’s I use one is an expensive Pentax DSLR with interchangeable lens which is not cheap.

I also have a much cheaper Samsung compact digital camera, it’s lovely so easy to use and under £100 if you buy the new upgraded they now have but if you buy the one I have second hand it will be extremely cheaper.

I have the Samsung ES28

Hope that helps

(Cherry Theresa) #23

Thanks :slight_smile: