I’m taking a short break from what seems to be endless re-formatting of old photos and blog posts to get everything to look proper here on the new BEAUTEZINE layout. As I’m going through old photos, from present working my way further back, I started giggling when I would see my “old photography set-up” because it has changed so much. But it sparked something in my mind- bloggers, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy equipment (although it does make taking photos much more convenient by reducing post-editing time), but you CAN work with what you’ve got. My photography routine has changed dramatically from this, but I thought it might be helpful for some of you who have blogs that aren’t too familiar with advanced photography or editing… For example, you can see above a photo of a hair product, before and then after editing it.
Take a look at the full before shot, before cropping it. Look at my set-up! This was back when I first started BEAUTEZINE…. All you needed for this set up was two sheets of paper taped together (to make an ‘infinity background’) and taped to a Kleenex box (behind, to create the curve of the background). The table is a $5 IKEA table and my horrendously expensive lighting? A large window behind me. Granted, I do have a very nice camera- but this was the exact same set up that I used when I had a $200 point and shoot camera…. you just need to know a few basics about editing photos.
There are a few things you can do to make a photo really stand out- make sure the colours are true to life, that the exposure and levels are optimized and you can sharpen it a bit to enhance edges. This is what I do to all my photos and I do it right in iPhoto (but you can do the same thing in most photo editing programs).
1. White Balance - Whatever the program is, you’ll usually be able to properly white balance the photo by using an eye-dropper type tool to pick out a neutral white or grey in the photo, and this will remove any color cast. I just click on the white background to white balance.
2. White Level - This tool is much better than compensating with “exposure” because it makes the whites even brighter. Every photo will be different, and the amount you change this level will depend on the colours and shades in the actual photo. I usually just go by what I see and stop when its bright, but not SO bright its cutting out from the photo.
3. Dark Level – This tool darkens and enhances shadows, which is much better than using the “contrast” tool because it really just focuses on those areas. It really makes your blacks stand out and creates depth in the actual product. Usually I only slide this one over a tiny bit, but again, it depends on the photo itself.
4. Sharpness – I don’t always use this tool, but sometimes I will to really enhance the edges of the photo or if there is any writing. Don’t use it too much or the photo will start to look grainy, bit a little can go a long way.
5. Crop – Obviously, I need to crop this photo to get all the rest of the background out of the photo. The size you crop it will depend on the dimensions you like (I use 4×3 on this blog, but yours might be different).
And here’s the final result! As you can see, the product stands out a LOT more…. the grey background has been brightened, the colours are true to life, the edges are sharper and the definition in the photo is much more apparent. All with only a few quick post-edits (that you’ll get super fast at, I promise)…and all you needed was a few sheets of printer paper. This set up is very reliable and easy to put together, but the only downside is that you really need to do it on a bright sunny day to allow enough light to come through the window. That is the main reason I switched over to lightbox photography, but for the occasional blogger or for someone who just needs a better set-up without spending anything, try this out!
Good luck and let me know if you are interested in seeing more of these blogging tutorials :)