Friday, March 01, 2013

Fashion Photography Kit - Introduced

We are often asked how to take clothing pictures using a model or mannequin?

We have just introduced a Fashion and Clothing Photography Kit.  Although we have had for some time a popular kit that works great for shooting flat or folded clothing, that kit was not the best for shooting clothing on models or mannequins.  Our new kit is specifically for shooting clothing or accessories on a model or mannequin.  This is our first kit which includes strobe (flash) lights.  In the past we had been reluctant to introduce a kit with strobe lights since it requires a camera with a hot shoe. But cameras with hot shoes have really dropped in price. So after being asked by our friend Susan Pitcher, who owns the clothing stores Dressed and Ready in Montecito, California if we could put together an inexpensive and simple kit so her employees, who weren't trained photographers, could easily take quality images of the designer clothing she sells, we accepted the challenge.  The result is our new Fashion and Clothing Photography Kit.

You can see for yourself how great the kit works.

The kit is super simple to set up or to take down and store.  And it allows anyone with a camera that has a hot shoe* to take awesome clothing photos that looks like they were taken with a much more expensive setup. 

So if you have were asking yourself, " How do I take fashion photos on a budget"? We now have the answer: The TableTop Studio Fashion and Clothing Photography Kit for only $435 is an inexpensive way for inexperienced photographers to take top quality fashion photos.

*(A hot shoe is the metal connector on top of a camera that looks like this.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunlight vs. artificial light for product photography

I recently received this question:

Given that we have a sun room with ceiling-to-floor glass doors letting in lots of sunshine in all seasons, what factors would you consider in choosing between artificial lights and sunshine if you have that choice (i.e., daytime, cloudless sky)?
Below is my response comparing the advantages and disadvantages of using sunlight (or natural daylight) for product photography vs. using an artificial light source like fluorescent light or incandescent light. My response applies to product photography, especially for objects which can easily be accommodated indoors. Obviously, if you are shooting yachts, airplanes, or redwood trees my response would be different.

Sunlight does have a couple of advantages:
Sunlight is free and it is very bright.
On the down side:
The sun is constantly moving across the sky, so the orientation of your setup will need to change frequently.
The color of sunlight changes throughout the day. Sunlight is visibly more orange early or late in the day. But even over the course of a few hours in the middle of the day, the color of sunlight will change enough to potentially cause color related problems with your images. And if the sunlight light is bouncing off of anything like walls, bushes, tress, etc. it will also pick up a color cast which can be difficult to eliminate .
If you are not using something like a light tent as a diffuser, the sunlight will probably need to be softened. In addition, since it is a single directional light source, direct sunlight usually needs to be supplemented with reflectors. Reflectors can be difficult to support or position precisely. It's normally easier to rearrange a light fixture than it is to precisely control a reflector. And a fluorescent light fixture like one of our Kuhl Lites doesn't cost much more than a light stand with a reflector arm. So a lot of the cost savings of using the sun is lost, if you also need to buy holders for reflectors.
There is no sunlight available at night. With artificial lights you can shoot any time of the day or night any day of the year. Limiting your product photography to the middle part of sunny days will no doubt be somewhat constraining to the rest of your schedule.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Setting Manual Exposure - How To video

I often advise folks to use Manual Exposure if their camera has that feature. Manual Exposure gives you the most control over the exposure (lightness or darkness of your images). At first it seems intimidating, but it is actually easy to learn and after you have used it a few times, you probably won't want to go back to using any of the automatic exposure modes like Aperture Priority.

We created a short video tutorial to show how to set the exposure manually on a digital SLR camera. In this case we used a Canon Digital Rebel T1i, but the procedure is very similar for most other digital SLR cameras. The only difference is that the dials and buttons might be located in different locations. Below is the YouTube version of the video. It's not the most professional video on the web, (we are product photographers; not videographers) but hopefully you will find it helpful. Your feedback is welcomed:

<a href="">LinkedTube</a>

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Photofly 2.0

Just read in the NY Times about Autodesk Photofly 2.0. It looks like our 3D Spinning Photgraphy Kit with the EZSpin Turntable will be perfect for capturing images to use with Photofly. I will give it a try and post the results soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

There are lots of reasons why it's important to use a tripod

As you read through the How To Guides on our sites you will notice that we continually stress the importance of using a tripod for product photography. The number one reason to use a tripod is that it will help you get sharper images. It doesn't do you any good to have the camera's lens focused correctly, if the camera is moving when you press the shutter. Even the slightest amount of camera movement will make for a blurry image. Therefore it is critical that you have your camera mounted on a sturdy tripod when taking product shots. (A tiny tabletop tripod or a cheap department-store tripod might be slightly better than no tripod; but they are not likely to give you a really sharp image. It is important that your tripod is sturdy).

There are also other benefits to using a tripod that go beyond just helping to get a sharper image.

- Using a tripod forces you to slow down a bit and spend a little more time composing your image. It is amazing how simply placing the camera on a tripod will cause you to evaluate the scene more closely than if you were just pointing and shooting. When the camera is on a tripod you are likely to give more thought to the angle of the camera, the angle of the subject, what the background looks like, and so forth. All of those elements will contribute to a better final image.

- Using a tripod gives you the opportunity to take several shots from the exact same location. This can be especially useful if you will later use image editing software to composite (combine) several shots. When there is a wide range of tones from light to dark in a scene it can be very useful to shoot the subject twice using different exposures. You can then composite the light areas of one shot with the darker areas of another shot of the same subject. If the camera has not moved between shots, the task is much easier. Compositing images from handheld shots are much more difficult.

- There are still more reasons to use a tripod, it makes it easier to use a remote shutter release, allows you to change the position of the subject without moving the camera, it allows you to shoot subsequent shots of different subjects from an identical camera angle, and so forth. So for whatever reason you decide is important, there are lots of benefits to taking product shots with a good sturdy tripod. The only real downside is that you need to acquire a good tripod and you need to expend just a little more effort to actually use it. But once you have it and see the improvements in your images, you will find the effort well worth while.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photographing Gift Baskets

We recently had a question about photographing gift baskets. Of course an EZcube light tentworks great for shooting gift baskets. And keep in mind that baskets are fairly large so you will probably need a larger size EZcube to allow you some flexibility with your shooting angles.

But here's the real tip. When taking a photo of a gift basket, shoot it without a cellophane wrapping. The cellophane might be critical for shipping and it probably gives your basket a nice finished look. However, cellophane wrapping is very difficult to shoot. Because cellophane is so reflective and sections of it are positioned at alls sorts of crazy angles, it is nearly impossible to avoid unwanted glare when shooting a subject covered in cellophane. And loose cellophane creates even more of a glare problem. So do yourself a favor and shoot your pictures of gift baskets before you cover them with cellophane.

To convince yourself that even professional photographers remove the cellophane before taking a photograph of a gift basket, visit a site like Harry and David. You'll see they have removed the cellophane for their photos.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is an inexpensive lens OK for jewelry photography?

We frequently receive questions like this one from Gary M.:

"I just purchased a Canon Rebel XS with EF-S, 18-55mm lens. I will need some of your items such as the EZCube and other products. First I need to know if this lens is sufficient for jewelry photography."

This question comes up a lot because the entry level digital SLR cameras like the Canon Rebel, Nikon D40, D40x and D60 series are often bundled with inexpensive lenses. These are really nice cameras which are now selling for very affordable prices, including a basic lens.

Quality wise, the inexpensive bundled lenses should be OK, especially if your are shooting images that will end up on a web page. The main issue with lenses for shooting images close up is the minimum focusing distance. As long as the lens can focus on a subject which is about a foot away from the front of the camera, it should be fine. (It needs to be able to focus that close when it is zoomed out to 55mm, not when it's in wide angle mode.)

If you aren't on a tight budget, then a 60, 100, or 105 mm macro lens can deliver better images. But considering that a good macro lens often costs $500 or more, many of you will want to stick with the lenses already bubdled with the camera.