Saturday, May 10, 2014

How product photography....the camera

I've been sharing bits of "how to" info from time to time. When is say "how to", i just mean how i do things. Not that this the one and only way to do a thing. Far from it. Humans are creative by their very nature and as a consequence there are as many ways to do things as there are humans in this world .Yay!!! So here is my "how to" do product photography.

Once upon a time in the long long ago past i did this product photography thing professionally. I had all sorts of expensive equipment. I had several 4x5 large format cameras, medium format and 35mm film cameras with changeable backs, all kinds of lenses, heavy duty strobe lighting, soft boxes, light stands, special light meters for reading the color of light and on and on. It was quit a physical work out to just set up for a shoot. And very expensive to buy the equipment and expensive just to buy and develop all that film.

But i sold all that equipment 20+ years ago to help me get started on my clay art career.

And now we have this wonderful Digital form of photography. Digital photography has made this wonderful world of photography accessible to everyone who has a phone with a camera ; )
And now the quality of the digital images has reached a new level closely approximating the quality of film. I remember sitting in a profession workshop hearing about the new digital cameras on their way and how LONG it would be before they were good enough to be used professionally.

Well, digital photography has been used professionally for some time now. And now it's possible buy for a comparatively very modest amount of money a camera that can shoot images that are very sharp, clear, with accurate colors and useful for all sorts of professional applications. Of course you can spends lots of money on a digital camera, too. And you can have pictures shot by a professional photographer. But maybe you require lots of good photographs. I have right now 74 pieces of art in my Etsy shop. Each item has 4-5 photographs from various angles and closeups. It would be really expensive to get everything shot professionally. The photos currently in my Etsy shop were shot before this new camera that i will be talking about here.

So, i do my own photographs. And i'm going to share with you how i do this. I hope it is helpful and i also hope that i can get some tips and ideas from all of you who do your own photograph as well.

The camera

I just got this little point and shoot camera made by Canon that i am really quite happy with. It's a PowerShot SX510 HS. Here is a picture that i just shot last night with it.


I used the macro setting for this shot. This cat is about 8" tall and the camera is close in, about 12" away. I used a little table top tripod to keep the camera stable to prevent image blur. I also used the self timer to eliminate any movement that could happen when my finger touches the shutter button. I used to use a cable release back in the day ; ) I may still have one of those relics around somewhere. weird.

I selected the "large"( L) image size. There is a super fine image possibility for even more digits.

Speed: I chose ISO 80. I believe this creates an image with less "grain" even in a digital camera. Not really sure what ISO means in a digital camera but it used to mean film speed. The faster (higher number) film speeds could be used in low light situations. The high speed films had more light sensitive material (silver) embedded in the film. These bits of silver were visible in the finished picture as "grain".  So for a sharp picture you want to have more light on the subject and use the slowest film speed available. In this camera, the slowest speed is ISO 80. That's pretty good.

I used to use Kodachrome 64.

Next week: 

Lighting set up. Simple make it yourself deal.

A few more shots from the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS

Friday, May 9, 2014

Kiln firing...

The kiln is cooling down from a 20 hour firing. It's about 1100 degrees right now.... I'm always eager to see how things look inside but have to wait until later on this evening for it to be cool enough to open.  ( 200 degrees )  The computerized kiln i use lets me choose the details of a sequence of firing segments. Here is how it looks for a combination bisque and glaze firing of small pieces. this has been working for me pretty well as far as not having things crack or explode in the kiln. But i never really know for sure until i open it up and see what the fire has created.