Folksy Ltd

Photos are so poor

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #1

I was making a Pinterest board, with Folksy items today. I chose a theme of “Shop Early for Christmas” - I know it’s Very early, but it was fun…
However, although there are some lovely Christmas-themed items on Folksy already, I had to leave out so many shops, simply because the quality of their photos is so very poor.
It’s a real pity, as I’m sure many of the items are lovely - it’s just that the photos do not do them justice.
Many are taken from too far away - too much background, not enough item.
Or the overall photo is grey and fuzzy-looking.
Many have not been edited for colour-balance, so the white looks grey or blue and other colours have a cast on them, which spoils their appearance.
A lot of photos have been taken against a background that is inappropriate - brightly coloured, so that it drowns the item, or full of other stuff - busy, in other words - so that you can’t really work out which is the item for sale and which is the background.
I know that many sellers can’t afford a “posh” camera, but you can improve even photos taken with a phone. You can learn some basic techniques for lighting and setting up your shots - plenty of info available - start on Folksy Blog!
There is free editing software out there on the Internet - for instance Gimp - with instructions and tutorials available for you to learn about them.
Most cameras come with some form of editing software too, even if it’s just to adjust colour balance.
I don’t take the world’s best photos myself, but I have put a lot of effort into improving the quality and appearance of my photos. They are a lot better than when I first started and I take up any opportunities to find out about improving - eg. articles posted on the Folksy Blog or elsewhere online.
If we sellers want to make sales, we need to make the effort and set up our shops to look as if we care about our products. It’s a pity to take hours making something lovely, but not to sell it - or get any exposure for it - because it’s let down by poor listings and photos.
On a positive note though, I found lots of lovely items for my Pinterest board, so it’s already pretty full up!

(Angrycatcrochet) #2

Yeah I think it takes a lot of practice. I don’t know the first thing about editing software but I started the other day with gimp. I’m going to be working through all my old pictures and replacing the ones I don’t like. I’ve also spent a lot of time looking at the front page and other sites to train my eye better.

It takes work but it is worth it :slight_smile:

(Claire Davis) #3

It certainly does take a lot of practice. If I look through some of the old pictures from when I first started selling they’re quite cringeworthy! I use Gimp and was quite put off at first as it seemed so complicated but there are loads of really helpful blog posts out there which explain how to use it in simple terms. I find them better than the ‘official’ gimp help pages as they assume you don’t know anything about it to begin with! I replaced my old camera about 18 months ago because it broke, I paid about £200 for a decent Canon one which I’ve been really pleased with but I know a lot of people have success with phone cameras so you definitely don’t need to pay a lot. Good editing makes a world of difference or like you say @LizzieMade just setting the shot up well in the first place.

(Skybluepinkpolkadots) #4

I completely agree with you, I only use my phone for taking photos but take some really pretty pictures (even if I do say so myself!), I’m afraid to say that the vast majority on here look like cheap eBay items rather than the lovely handmade craft item that they are. It’s such a shame. It’s also the reason that I came off Zibbet - they had the same problem but across the whole board, everyone was doing it!

You’re right, it doesn’t take too much effort and it’s possible to take some really beautiful pictures with simple tools and know-how : )

(Sarah Eves) #5

I think many people who take pictures with phones just don’t realise that while it may look perfectly fine on screen, it loses clarity when uploaded.

And lighting - so many photos are shrouded in grey from being filmed indoors with poor lighting.
And then there are the ones with arm shaped shadows across the item :smile:


(Marg) #6

Lizzie, I agree about photos. I am good at sewing, stitching, I can sing and I can dance, I can cook a very good curry, but take a good photo I cannot, I am not a photographer, I have got Gimp, but cannot get my head round it. I put in quite a lot of effort as you suggest, but still my photos are not good. So as you sound quite good, can you do something with my photos!! Marg. x

(Ronald Koorm) #7

Presentation is everything. You may spend hours or days or weeks making something with great skill but present it poorly via a poor photo and you’ve almost wasted your time.

Super-Basic tip - If using flash on a smartphone or camera and relatively close up/medium distance, then put some layers of white tissue paper over the flash and take the picture. The tissue softens and diffuses the lighting and almost always improves the image.

Portaits and close-up objects improve immensely. But not very effective for distance- shots.

Composition of the item in the picture is very important.

Many items need good image contrast to see the colours, shades and tones, etc. A bright but overcast day / cloudy day outside can be perfect for photographing items outdoors, but avoid bright sunshine unless you know how to use fill-in flash to control contrast.

I used to advise clients on colour and visual contrast, so have had to study this subject in depth.
Much better to have an inexpensive basic or moderate camera that you understand the controls and can use well, rather than have a fancy, expensive camera which is usually very complex.

Camera-shake and loss of sharpness is a problem, and even worse with smartphones and tablets, as they usually are not easy to hold still. Brace yourself against something sturdy or use a tripod or monopod, and you can get a greater percentage of sharp pictures.

I never ever use a smartphone for taking pictures, but some have had very good results with them, but only when they take care and know what they are doing and master the controls, so it’s your choice.

(Marg) #8

I can see I am going to have to look further into Gimp or something similar. I have just spent the last 2 hours looking to enhance one of my photos using gimp, but still find it complicated. I can see it’s going to take time and a lot of effort, because I want my photos to be good. Marg. x

(Ronald Koorm) #9

Try Adobe “Photoshop Elements”. This is a photo-editing programme which probably dominates the market , being a cut down version of Adobe’s Professional version ‘Photoshop’. Lots of 'how -to -use ’ books on Elements out there, many with pictures for people who don’t have a lot of time.
Like many people you have to try it out, make lots of mistakes, and get better with practice.

I have three versions of ‘Elements’ plus other programmes, and found one of the early versions does almost 90% of what I need to do. Some versions are even given away free, when you buy a scanner or similar.

I saved a firm I used to work for, thousands of pounds by buying them a copy of Elements and showing they could resize hundreds of pictures a batch at a time , when the staff were wasting hours doing it picture by picture. About four or five clicks of the mouse and Elements solved the problem.

There are alternatives too, but ‘Elements’ is well-supported, and although you have to pay for it, look for older version unused copies online, which are cheaper. And no, I don’t work for Adobe, the publishers !

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #10

@memicrafts maybe this? (I’m not that clever, but it’s perhaps a bit brighter?)

I used Photoshop Elements (I only have v7, but it’s ok). It’s the sort of edits I do with my own photos. More difficult as I only had a copied 640 x 640 image from your Folksy shop.

I tried fiddling with the shadows on the background, but wasn’t doing very well - as I said, I’m not that great at this editing… still learning!

(Claire Davis) #11

That looks good! You could do the same sort of thing with gimp by adjusting the colour levels, although I wouldn’t be too sure about the shadows either…

(Joy Salt) #12

…and in the meantime. newly back from my 3+ week trip to France, I am unable to photograph the glass I need to make as my camera is BROKEN.

It is so important to me that I arranged, while I was away, to send it off to the menders as soon as I got back.
Wthin 45 minutes of arriving home yesterday my Minolta Dynax 5D digital SLR camera, that I cannot do without for my glass making, was in a parcel at the post office.

When it comes to glass it, unfortunately, is not just technique and practice (plenty of the latter) but the camera which counts.
While my phone camera takes excellent shots of scenic views and is actually pretty good on fused glass, it absolutely can’t deal with glass hanging in the window. Nor unfortunately can our little compact digital.

So fingers crossed it is mendable…
I’m still looking for recommendations, from other Glass Artists,
Pretty Please

as they are the ones who know the problems of getting good glass pictures, on what camera I should buy - as I’m going to get a new one whether the other is mended or not.
And if it can’t be mended, it will soon be very Urgent that I buy a new one and just don’t know where to start.

(Melanie Commins) #13

GIMP is an amazing free product but it is complicated to use, especially if you’ve not much experience with photo editing and all you’re wanting to do is brighten, adjust colour temps etc.

For a real basic one that is much more simple to use try Picasa:

Editing software can only do so much though. If you have good, even lighting it will make it much easier to get a more polished final image. If you’re photographing to sell it’s worth investing in some sort of continuous lighting system (lights that stay on as opposed to flashes) for photography … like a light box for smaller items or a soft box (or two) for larger ones. They’re not as expensive as you might think (my kit of two soft boxes, stands and super bright daylight bulbs in a big carrying case cost £50 from ebay) but they do make a massive difference. Point and shoot cameras and phone cameras really struggle in low light conditions (blurry, grainy pics etc), so if you improve on the lighting it will help a great deal. It makes editing a lot easier too.

Edited to add: If you want to see what I mean by soft boxes I put a picture on my facebook page a couple of days ago of mine in use. I was working on a magazine tutorial so taking images of my sewing step by step. The lights are so bright they make the non-illuminated parts of the room look really dark even though it’s daylight outside the window just to the left of the pic :slight_smile:

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #14

Ah yes, Picasa… but I wasn’t sure if it was free, so I didn’t mention it in my post above… Thanks!

(Marg) #15

Thanks Lizzie, that tote bag looks really good. I tried gimp yesterday, but couldn’t manage to save it properly. So I went on the internet and found lots of tips and free programmes. I think if I just alter the brightness and contrast my photos may look better.

Thanks all who have helped. I am now going to try picasa, and I have a free afternoon to experiment.
I do get dishartened if I can’t do something, but I will have to keep trying.

Marg. x

(Esterina Kearse) #16

I also have Gimp, but find it quite complicated. At the moment I use Windows Live Photos to edit the brightness and contrast. Will also try Picasa, I also use my mobile phone to take my photos, but I do have a Pentax digital camera which is 4 megapixel. I think this is the same as my mobile phone, might go and try it to see if my pictures improve. Need to charge it up first though.

Esterina x

(Ronald Koorm) #18

For the shadow areas, you should try to highlight them with one of the tools on Elements or Picasa, eg “magnetic lasso tool”, and then play around with the ‘levels’ control to make the shadows disappear, or at least make them a lot lighter. ( ie “Enhance”-“Lighting”- " Levels" on Elements)
You may need to draw around the outline of the shadow to highlight it successfully, which can take a bit of time.

But more easily, you could highlight the bag or alternatively , draw around the bag outline, which has a clear, definite edge, and do an inverse select.i.e.“Select” then “Inverse”.

Then you can select a colour such as white under “Filter” and “Adjustments” then “Gradient Map” , select your colour, and effectively it pastes the white you have selected into the surround, so you have just the bag and no shadows. Works with any colour or shade.

That is a lot faster.
Hope this helps.

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #19

Thanks Ronald, I did try some stuff, but it was more tricky than the basic edits and I didn’t have any time left (had to go out). I will try your suggestions with some of my own photos and see how I do.
Thank you for the help!


(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #20

I’m glad you like the result Marg - it shows that it’s possible to make some improvements by editing your photos. Hope you didn’t feel that I was “digging at” you or anyone, when I talked about photo quality. It is difficult to get good photos, but there is lots of info available to help. I have heard people say good things about Picasa, so maybe you will find it helpful.
The Internet has so much info about photo editing - try searching on Pinterest as there are quite a few pinboards with links to articles by photographers etc. And of course, Folksy Blog has some articles with good photo advice too.

I loved that bag by the way - the fabric is very pretty!

(Denise Hayes) #21

If you want to learn to take photos that don’t need lots of editing look at - in even her free wokrshop, Lyndsey shows you how to take product shots that you dont’ need to do more than crop them. Take a look in my shop and you’ll see the difference - look at the scarves!

When I have the money I’m going to take her 5 week course…