Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To Take Better Pictures

"How do I take better pictures?" That is the second most asked question I get. The answer is simple, I really don't know. I am not a photographer. In fact I could not even define some of the most simple photographic terms if my life depended on it. Fortunately I have the Internet.

My photographer was recently out of town for a week. I needed some pictures to list some new items. I called my sister and asked to borrow one of her cameras. She has five kids, so I knew she had at least one camera. She loaned me two. One was some type of Sony and the other was an Olympus.

I know about how to set up a light box and how to light things by watching my photographer work.(This post about Photography can be helpful to you as well) I always wondered what she was doing with all the knob turning and changing settings and such. Now was the time for me to learn all about that.

The very first thing I did was search for a tutorial on the camera I was using. Now, I didn't look up just any kind of tutorial, I got really specific in my search. I searched for "How to take closeup pictures of jewelry with the Olympus model number." It turns out that several people had taken the time to talk about how to set the camera for great pics. I did not even have to read the owners manual.

Now, my lighting wasn't perfect so I had to figure out how to fix that after the fact. I am very fortunate to own a copy of Photoshop CS4 and I do know my way around some of it. I searched on the Internet for "Ways to lighten a photo in Photoshop CS4." Yes, you guessed it, there were tutorials galore. Now, I will say that some of the tutorials on Photoshop were too far advanced for me to have a clue what they were talking about but after looking through a few articles I found what I was looking for.

I realize that most people cannot afford a high dollar camera or expensive photo editing tools. You can make the best of what you have. Photoshop Elements is a great program that costs a fraction of what Photoshop will cost you. You can also try out some really great FREE open source photo editing software. Gimp is a great open source program much like Photoshop, in fact, you can use the add on for it that makes it even more like Photoshop. There is a bit of a learning curve with it. Fortunately there are tutorials galore.

Using a 10 mega pixel or better camera makes a lot of difference. You can buy a camera for under $100 that will shoot great pictures. Just make sure it has a Macro setting. That is what helps you take close up pictures. Around Christmas time, especially Black Friday, is a great time to pick up a good camera. You can get a $200 for under $100 sometimes. Just do a little research and look for tutorials on the exact camera model before buying one.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Let me know what kind of camera you use for your pictures and what kind of experience you have had with them.


  1. Great post, thanks!

    I Love GIMP! In fact I blog about it! If you're looking for GIMP tutorials, I've got 'em :)

    I agree that there is a learning curve, but I don't think it's any greater than the learning curve for Photoshop (I've had CS4 and I now have CS5 in addition to GIMP and I end up using GIMP anyway most of the time.)

    It's also great to hear that you're saying you don't need a super expensive camera to get great pictures. I think the same thing. In fact, I'm writing a few posts on how to make a point and shoot picture look more like it came from a DSLR.

    Thanks again, this is really great!

  2. I also use Gimp and love it. I use photoscape a bit, but prefer Gimp. Still haven't bought a good camera for my shop pictures, but my HTC EVO camera so far is doing good!

  3. Hello Eric! Mine is a 6.0 mega pixel (whatever they are!) Praktica Luxmmedia 6103 camera. It's my second one (the other was a freebie from off the internet - postage paid the only charge! which I still have as my webcam!). You will see I don't spend much on photography! Doubtless I could do much better, but find that if I wait for a sunny day, choose my sites carefully and place the toys in the right spot and point the camera at it, most times it comes out OK. Take several shots at a time, and then select the best of the bunch for listing purposes. Not very scientific, but it works.

  4. I use a Canon EOS Rebel and a Nikon Coolpix. Tripods for both, and use a lightbox, and often shoot my pieces outside. Since I don't use Windows, prefer Linux for my OS, I use Gimp for editing... and LOVE IT!! The setting under Color/Curves fixes a lot of lighting issues. Thank you for posting this!!

  5. Hello, nice read-thanks for sharing. Surely will keep the macro setting in mind as I am on the lookout for a camera for my miniature pieces.
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  6. I use GIMP for my photos all the time! It's a great program, especially if you don't have wads of disposable income sitting around.

    All of my photos are taken with an HP Photosmart R927 camera. It's an 8.2mp point-and-shoot, but it does a decent job. I picked it up for less than $50 at a shop I used to work at because it was a display model.

  7. I use a Fuji FinePix A920. I bought it in a hurry when my last camera was stolen. I edit with Windows Live Photo Gallery. I think my photos could be better, but they're very decent and serviceable, and I am making sales, which is the most important.