Folksy Ltd

Taking photos - again!

(Roz) #1

I know this topic has been done to death but as it seems to be one of the more difficult and yet more important aspects of selling on line I thought I’d ask another question

I know if I go out and buy a fancy DSLR, studio lighting and a photography course on how to use it all I will achieve good results BUT I have limited funds and must use what I have at my disposal.

I have

  • a basic compact camera with some programmable features
  • an area in the brightest room in the house (conservatory)
  • a set up which includes a bright white background
  • basic photo editing software

I am unable to take the majority of my photographs outside for the following reasons

  • I am not a natural gardener and trying to find a part of the garden that would be an acceptable background is not easy!
  • the majority of my items are very light (being made of felt) and it only needs the slightest breeze…need I say more!

I have had a play but with the best will in the world I am unable to get my background to appear white without completely overexposing the subject matter so my question is -

Do I use an overexposed image?
Do I accept a slightly grey background?
Do I use a different coloured background where the colour mismatch is not so obvious - if so what colour is best?
Is there a way to whiten the background without altering the image colour (which is actually fairly true to colour) and without buying complex editing software.

Help - I have just taken 125+ photos, really don’t want to start again!

(Samantha Stanley) #2

I’m a total novice at this myself, but it seems to me that your image has a slight pink cast to it which could be corrected by your photo editing software. You need to select the colour option and cool it down a little bit, which will also make your yellows appear less orangey. I think that all backgrounds end up slightly grey, the most important thing is how well exposed the item itself looks. I personally think you could go a bit lighter on this one. Also I find that the pix appear slightly darker on folksy than they do when I’m editing them, so you could take that into account.

Love Sam x

(Deborah Jones) #3

I am watching this thread with interest as I have similar problems with my pics.
I don’t like seeing overbrightened items , as you lose texture and depth , and having colours as true to life as possible seems important. But the front page and press like white backgrounds.
Also speed is fairly important too , I don’t want to spend ages editing pics of one off items.

(Silvapagan) #4

One thing to remember is that although you could spend hours editing your pics to get the colours just right, someone else using a different monitor or different phone to view the image may have different colour settings and may not see the item the same way that you do.

I would prefer a clear (not fuzzy) photo(s) to one that was exactly the right shade of whatever colour the item is. As long as the item is in the correct colour range (so it’s red and not purple or brown) then I am willing to be surprised when the item arrives. I know not all buyers are a forgiving as I am, but everyone sees colour differently and it’s not something I am going to get overly hung up on.

(Melanie Commins) #5

Is your backdrop in that image white or cream? It looks a bit more cream than the flat surface underneath.

It’s true that you can use software to correct colour aberrations due to light source, but you can’t make a non white background white very easily.

If it’s just the light making the two surfaces look a different shade then you could try using one large backdrop that curves down to the horizontal surface rather than two pieces of card laid perpendicular to one another. The curve will stop you getting that line of shadow at the back of the setting and will also help to reflect the light a bit better. It can be a bit of a pain in the proverbial doing this with card though, it’s easier to do it with something heavyish that doesn’t crease but can be draped (I use a DIY backdrop that I made from some el-cheapo white faux leather type stuff and a dowling rod).

That being said, I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with your picture. I can see that you won’t be able to get a white background out of it … it might be a tad underexposed, but the light looks even and the colours seem true.

(Roz) #6

The backdrop is white and it is a single piece that runs vertically and then horizontally so should be the same colour! I think I’m going to have to play some more before I get photos I’m happy with! This is one of the better ones!

(Helen Smith) #7

Even if your pieces of card are the same colour they will look different because of the way the light falls on them. If I were you I’d get a big piece of paper and position it in a scoop so that it is both the background and floor. There will still be some variation in colour but you won’t get that harsh line between background and table.

I think the only way to get a really flat white background is to ‘cut out’ your item using photo editing software - that’s what they do for magazines and the like but it’s fiddly and I’m pretty sure Folksy admin prefer a more ‘real’ background for FP features.

ETA: I like to use off white paper as a background, it just seems to work better than a harsh white.

(Sonia Adam) #8

Another way to get a white background is to use ‘photofuze’ (I think that’s the correct spelling). It’s a free online photo-editing site that allows you to virtually ‘cut out’ your item and put it on a pure white background.
I tried it a while back and I think it takes a bit of time & practice to get it looking good but worth a try.

(Melanie Commins) #9

It is possible to get a pure white background without ‘cutting out’, but you need a good white backdrop (no creases) and bright white lighting.

Cut out photo’s never look natural because the light on the object usually doesn’t match the background and the shadows are missing. There’s not much worse than an underexposed image cut out on a bright white background … okay, there probably are worse things but it still looks fruity! :slight_smile:

(Roz) #10

I am wondering, seeing as my mannequin is white would it be better to have something other than a white background - i.e… use an actual grey background or is that a complete no no? I think some of my pictures just look too washed out round the edges.

(Silvapagan) #11

I prefer the first photo.

(Camilla) #12

One of the most interesting things about watching Yeshen take product shots when he came to the Folksy studio was that instead of shooting against our white walls, he blue-tacked a large piece of pale grey mountboard on to the wall behind the products. Apparently this is easier to work with than pure white, and because it’s flat there won’t be any unwanted creases or flaws in the surface.

This post might give you some good tips (and hope too!)

Have you had a look at this product shot by Suzie Lee? The tall (and oh so very pretty) mannequin allows the scarf to drape beautifully, and avoids the problems of different colours where the wall meets the table.

I would try bringing the scarf and mannequin forward a bit, away from the wall, and shoot from front on. This angle would be a good additional shot, as would a close-up. It’s such a HUGE improvement already though :smile:

(Roz) #13

Thank you Camilla @Folksycontent, I might try a pale grey background and see what happens - i’m determined to get there in the end! Unfortunately space and finance forbids the purchase of a tall mannequin! What I really need is more time.

(Stephanie Guy) #14

I just had a little play in corel paintshop pro

I use it for all of my photo editing, you just click on the areas that are supposed to be white and it adjusts the white balance. Is it still the right colour?

(Stephanie Guy) #15

I think I agree that you need a different colour background, the mannequin disappears.

(Roz) #16

Thanks Stephanie - going to try again tomorrow. Think the photoshop editing has turned the scarf a bit green!

(Sue Mellem) #17

Roz I’m forever trying to get whiter backgrounds and struggle as you do.

One school of thought seems to be that conservatories are not the best place to take photos, which is where I usually take mine. I’m now trying out using a window in the spare room / computer room - I watched a tutorial the other day and the photographer advocated having a single source of light and using white card to throw light onto the less-lit surfaces. Not sure that it’s going to work for me as the window is not particularly big.

One tip I’ve found is to cover a board or piece of card with aluminum foil (dull side showing) and use that to reflect light back to get a more even and lighter background and it does make a big difference if you can set it up.

Also, can you adjust your white balance setting to manual? And then measure or calibrate it against a white background (apologies and ignore me if you’re already doing this).

Good luck - off to follow up on the links in Camilla’s @Folksycontent post now

(Ronald Koorm) #18

Have said this before on other threads on photo colours, if you are serious about your colours of items then purchase a colour matrix grid from a specialist photo shop. Some come either on a special paper sheet or in a simple folding wallet, and you can take a picture of your item with the grid in the periphery, and then compare the true colours to the picture and adjust in software.

Warehouse Express do some, including the X Rite Color Checker Passport, but there are others, and Calumet in London do some too. You are looking at about £60 or £70 unless you can find a second-hand grid.
Also, most people don’t calibrate their computer screens to show accurate colours, and then it is all trial and error. That matters a lot when printing too.

Contrast to the item with the background is preferable, and grey in various shades is a good option. Bounced electronic flash indoors gives you much more control with a simple, controllable-output flash, or two flash units even better.

You choose - Do you want accurate colours and using a grid, which can be cropped out of the final picture, or happy to spend your time and frustration with trial and error ?

Finally, I don’t always use a colour grid, but I have sufficient experience to use an 18% grey card for exposure, and adjustments in software.

(Roz) #19

Think I’m making progress!

Ronald @Rkaimages - thanks for advice but as I mentioned at the start of this thread I have to achieve the best I can with what I have available to me £70-£80 on a colour grid and additional electronic flash units are not really an option at the moment! Maybe when I’ve sold a few!

Camilla @Folksycontent, I know you can’t go advising on everyones photos but would really appreciate it if you could have a look at this listing and see what you think - any improvement? Which of the photos do you think would be best for the main pic? Now got to work on sizing so it doesn’t get cropped in preview but off to the day job now!

(Sue Mellem) #20

Roz - that looks great - definitely making progress in leaps and bounds