In her first article Kim told us about the importance of good product photography for our sales online and that we don’t need to call upon the services of expensive web designers or advertisers to promote us, but rather that we can achieve this by our own selves.
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Many websites and online magazines, such as the b2zone, use a 16:9 format. No, you don’t have to do calculus to figure this out. Basically, all you need to do to take successful photographs in the correct format is to use horizontal or landscape format instead of vertical or portrait format. (Later in this article, I will tell you how to make some of the necessary camera settings; such as a true 16:9 format ratio, focus, etc.) Our phones, by their basic design lead us to hold them vertically instead of the horizontally.
(The phone on the left is vertical and the right is horizontal format.)
It takes a little more thought to hold your phone/camera in a horizontal format. We have to be conscious of the buttons on the sides and that our fingers don’t get in front of the lens. Then, after we have taken our handheld photographs, we take a quick look and they appear to be good and sharp but if we zoom in on our product’s detail, we will often see that the detail is not sharp. Remember our customers will be doing just that, using their phones and computers to zoom in on every detail! When you are considering buying a product, don’t you look very carefully at every detail before you press that “Purchase Now” button? I know I do!
That’s where a tripod of some sort is very helpful. It can be a tabletop tripod or a floor model. For those of you whose art pieces are small this is easily accomplished with a simple tabletop set up. A floor tripod is best used when taking photos of larger pieces or working outside. Again, this is not expensive. Numerous websites have inexpensive tripods and phone holders that you can use. Sometimes, a little imagination is needed but it can be accomplished. In this photo, I have a selfie stick phone holder attached to a small tripod. I purchased the selfie stick with detachable phone holder for approximately $5 USD and found the tabletop tripod in the family camera bag. The selfie stick I purchased had a screw to tripod phone holder mount in addition to a go-pro mounting bracket. The screw on phone bracket will also work on my larger tripod when I need it. While shopping, I also noticed that small tripods were around $15 USD.
(I took this photo with my own Samsung Note 4 Smartphone in 16:9 format.)
So we have our phone set up on our tripod and we are ready to shoot. This should be easy, just push the button right? Well, not exactly. When we just shoot our camera tries to determine the best focus and exposure for everything in the frame. We want to direct the focus and exposure on to our product instead of any design elements or background we have added to our set up. If using your smart phone, select the camera option. Once in the camera option, go into the camera settings by selecting the little gear icon or the little dots to give us other camera setting selections. From here you will see flash options, focus options, self timer and a number display that sets the format and size of the file and then either 3 small dots or other gear icon for additional settings. The file size will be indicted by a number with a circle around it. When we select the number with a circle around it, we will have the option of setting a file size that is compatible with the 16:9 format. Without getting too complicated, the file size determines how many pixels and space the file will occupy.
The file size and pixels determine how large of a print you can make or how detailed the image will be. A good file size for use on social media is around 6.0 MB. To ensure we are using the correct format, all we need to do is click on the number and select the corresponding 16:9 format. We will see lots of options, don’t be intimidated. For now, we only want to select the correct format/size and if available, an option called “Tap to take photo.” This function lets you select exactly where you want the focus and exposure to be and takes the photo at the same time. If available, this is a very helpful option. If your phone does not have the “Tap to take photo” option, just use the auto function and tap the screen directly over your art piece, to set the focus, before hitting the shutter button and it will work similarly. It sounds more difficult than it is. Picture 4, shows the settings you want to look for on your phone/camera and what those setting might look like. Zoom in on the below picture to see the options closer.
(Examples of Samsung Galaxy S4.)
Preview article No.3
In our next b2zone magazine Edition 10, Kim will give you some helpful information about the importance of light, the proper lighting and white balance. She explains how we achieve to depict our products in their original color.