Potters & Sculptors - Making Rock from Mud
We had a discussion on this topic previously, but it seems to be gone now. Perhaps the discussion was "owned" by someone who left the network, and deleted their content. Now we need to start at square one.
Getting good images of your work can be vital, if you need to sell your work, or even if you just want to have a good digital record of your glaze testing. To get access to galleries or art and craft festivals, your photos can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. In online selling photos can trip the balance between a sale and no sale.
Choice of cameras, backgrounds, lighting, composition, and image processing are important considerations for achieving results that meet your needs. Please bring your questions and observations to this forum topic. There are some excellent photographers among us, who can help you improve your shots.
If anyone happens to find the original discussion for this topic please let me know its address so I can reset its location.
I use Gimp as well (on PC). It's a rough transition if you're used to PS though. Lightroom is a really sweet piece of software but you can achieve the same results with Gimp, it just takes some doing.
Tom Humphries said:
I think that anything shot in natural sunlight - not necessarily outdoors, but near a sunny window will look better with even a decent new generation camera phone, than the same shot with artificial lighting with any fancy camera. Though I prefer the look of pots in natural surroundings, e.g on a table with intended items around/ in it. I guess if you want that endless white background you need a light box etc.
My preferred photo editing software is Gimp, much like photoshop but free open source on Mac - not sure if it's on PC. But all I would probably do is 'auto balance' the levels or something.
People talk about Photoshop as the gold standard for photography. But it was really developed for graphic manipulation for print publishing at the dawn of "desktop" publishing. It's geared to separating elements from images (photographic and graphically created) and stacking them in layers on other images, and doing all kinds of things that we often call trick photography. A small part of the program is devoted to darkroom type techniques for photographs.
In 2007 Adobe released Photoshop Lightroom as a digital darkroom and cataloging database for digital camera images in jpeg and camera raw formats only. It has Tethered Capture Support for some (but not all) Nikon and Canon DSLRs, meaning that camera shots go instantly from the camera into the program, giving you real-time large format views of your images as you shoot. This allows you to adjust lighting and composition to get a better image to start with. Another of its capabilities is to copy all the enhancements from one image to a whole group of similar photos at once. For example I take shots of my pots with the same camera settings, manipulate one to get it as good as possible, then apply those settings to the rest of that group of images. Lightroom is based on non-destructive processing, so all edits are reversible, and at any point you can reset an image back to its original state, as it came out of the camera.
Lightroom is intended for professional and serious amateur photographers, who will invest time and effort into learning its capabilities, and already have a solid base in the principles of photography. I don't recommend it for casual photographers or technophobes. You can subscribe to the https://creative.adobe.com/plans/photography program for $10 per month and always have the latest version of Photoshop and Lightroom installed on your computer via download.
Here is an introductory video demo of Lightroom 3 (current version is 5.7) (by a power user).
I don't know if this was mentioned before, but there is a nifty little free image editing utility called Infanview that you can find at this web site Infanview
I have been using it for years and it does a good job of allowing you to do basic tweaks of your picture files. I seldom need any other utility.... give it a look, it,s free and easy to learn.
Besides, believe it or not, Amazon.com now holds an exclusive patent on taking photos against a seamless white background.
If you need to photograph on the regular, there are a few things you can acquire to make it easy.
A product softbox - you can get these on Amazon. They're about $25 USD for a 24/24/24 pop-up type. They have bigger sizes too.
A DSLR camera - An older camera is fine! Any Canon in the Rebel range, any Nikon in the 300 range.
A 50 mm f/1.8 lens. You can get these used on line for about $100
A surface that is big enough for the softbox
Two lights. If you can find two desk lamps with ****EQUIVALENT TO 100 WATT LED bulbs*****. Do not use incandescent bulbs! They are hot and they will melt your softbox or burn fabric. USE LED bulbs!
White balance: auto
Aperture set to 5.6
Shutter set to 160 or if that gives you dark images, slow it down to 125.
FYI shutter speeds are parts of seconds; in these two cases, 160th of one second and 125th of one second.
Set your item in about the middle inside the softbox, position the lights about 12 inches away from the softbox, one on each side. You can set your lens to auto focus (you'll see a switch with AF/MF on the side of the lens; choose AF)
You may want to sit on a chair facing the back so that you're stable and you have that chair back for camera stability - impromptu tripod.
Shoot - check the lighting.
If your shots are dark you can do any of these things:
Move the lights closer to the box - about nine inches away on either side, or
Change the ISO to 200, or
Change the shutter speed to 100, or
Change the aperture to f/5
If the images are too bright, you can do any of these things:
Lower the ISO to 100
Change the shutter speed to 200
Change the aperture to f/6
Move the lights to 14 inches either side of the softbox
As a general rule, however, if you're shooting at ISO 125, shutter between 160th and 125th, and aperture f/5.6, in a white softbox, you should get pretty good images.
The shutter in the camera is analogous to the blink of your eye
The aperture in the camera is analogous to how your eye's pupil works.
ISO refers to how sensitive to light the camera's sensor is. In film world, ISO (and ASA) refer to film "speed." ISO actually stands for "International Standards Organisation." In the context of cameras and sensors, it means no matter what camera or brand you buy, the sensitivity of the "film" will be the same.
If all you have is the camera on your phone, a softbox and two lights will definitely work.
If you need more help, or have questions, contact me here, or via email!